Fan Gets Tattoo Of Redskins proCane Trio From Their Canes Days

From “The U” to the Washington Redskins, the trio of Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor and Santana Moss hold a special place in a lot of fans’ hearts.

For this person in particular, though, they are also memorialized in a tattoo of the three during their days at Miami.

"You hear people say how much you impact their lives but to see this was RESPECT! It's often forgotten as time passes & memories fade that we made an impact that will last forever! @eighttodanine took me under his wing as a freshman, I took S.Dot under mine his rookie year & together we caused #HELLONEARTH #THEUCREATEDSOMEMONSTERS #THEU," Portis captioned the photo. 

The first to go through the five-time National Championship program was Moss, a walk-on turned No. 1 receiver.

Next was Clinton Portis, who rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 12 touchdowns in three seasons.

Sean Taylor was the last of the group to play college ball, as the hard-hitting safety nabbed 10 interceptions and scored three touchdowns during his last season in 2003.

They all also played together with the Washington Redskins for three and ½ seasons before Taylor’s death in 2007. 

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Lamar Miller better in three receiver sets

According to Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel Lamar Miller averaged 6.1 Yards a carry when running in three receiver formations. He also noted that Miller saw 81 percent of his snaps out of the shotgun and added that the Dolphins likely do not trust Miller and the offensive line in short yardage. They passed more than twice as much as they ran with Miller in third/fourth and short situations. (Sun-Sentinel)

Fantasy Impact: Miller excels when the defense is spread out and allows Miller to work in space. Using his speed and putting him in positions where he could succeed may have been the reason the Dolphins limited the amount of work he received last season, prefering to keep up his efficiency. After bulking up, Miller is likely to see an uptick in his usage but whether it will actually benefit Miller or hurt his efficient play remains to be seen.

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Leonard Hankerson rises

Leonard Hankerson, WR He was signed as a free agent primarily because of his familiarity with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme from Washington. Hankerson made plays that make you wonder why he wasn't more productive with the Redskins. Then again, he had a serious knee injury in 2013 that stunted his growth. If Hankerson continues to shine on Sundays like he did in practice, then the Falcons might be unstoppable in the passing game.

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Patriots 'did a lot of work' in scouting new TE Asante Cleveland

Tight end Asante Cleveland, who was acquired in a trade from the 49ers on Tuesday for offensive lineman Jordan Devey, practiced with the club for the first time and wore No. 44. Bill Belichick said Cleveland adds depth at a position that has been thinned by injury. "We did a lot of work on him out of college from Miami," he said. "We didn’t really want to give up Devey, but you’ve got to give up something to get something. I think hopefully both guys will be able to help both teams in positions of need."

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Massive proCane rookie LT Ereck Flowers not about small talk

EAST RUTHERFORD – Ereck Flowers wants to only talk about football.

Well, truth be told, the Giants’ starting left tackle and first-round pick would rather not discuss that in tremendous detail, either.

So if you’re wondering if there is significant meaning to what he posts on his Twitter page, whether the messages include lyrics to favorite songs or philosophical phrases that motivate or inspire him, Flowers is not willing to reveal any specifics.

If you are hoping to learn what aspects of his technique have improved since the Giants drafted him ninth overall four months ago, at least from his perspective, those questions are better asked to someone else. Flowers declined to elaborate on anything mentioned above in an interview that lasted 1 minute, 43 seconds prior to practice Thursday.

Make no mistake: There’s nothing wrong with 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers choosing to let his actions speak loudest, of course, and considering the quality of noise he has made so far, the Giants are fine with that, too.

Enough pressure is on the 21-year-old to perform in the spotlight, and making sure he provides answers filled with intrigue and emotion to reporters is pretty far down his things-to-do checklist this summer.

"I know he’s a man of very few words, so you guys [the media] probably don’t get as much out of him as you may want to," Giants left guard Justin Pugh said with a laugh. "But he’s heading in the right direction. It’s a bright future for him."

The future for Flowers must be now, though, and the Giants have confidence in the offensive lineman from the University of Miami to figure out what it takes to play in the NFL while honing his skills and protecting the blind side of Eli Manning.

"I’m just looking to get better," Flowers said, and that’s quite an understatement having been thrust into the spot vacated when left tackle Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in the weight room in the spring.

Instead of anchoring the opposite side of the line at right tackle, Flowers finds himself on an island where one false step against – quite often — the NFL’s premier game-changers at defensive end can ruin the offensive game plan at any time.

Flowers held his own in his preseason debut Friday night against the Bengals.

There was some good and some bad, including a 15-yard facemask penalty when he lost his balance in pass protection, but as far as first impressions go, this was a positive one.

On his first professional snap, Flowers drove off the ball and got to the second level rather easily, engaging Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk and buckling him on impact before pushing him 5 yards deep from the point of attack on a Rashad Jennings run.

Coach Tom Coughlin didn’t exactly throw bouquets at Flowers and the rest of the Giants’ starting offensive line, as is his want, especially after a sluggish performance overall, offering a blunt "OK" as what was essentially the highest grade available.

But Flowers has impressed his teammates on both sides of the ball with his power, not to mention an ability to pick things up quickly in terms of schemes and checks at the line.

"His hands are getting better, his confidence in his sets," Pugh said. "I think the game’s starting to slow down for him."

Defensive end Damontre Moore and Flowers got into a heated skirmish during practice earlier this week, and both players – expected to be significant contributors this season – had to be separated and held back by teammates.

When cooler heads prevailed, Moore said he told Flowers: "Man, I’ve never felt somebody that strong."

"He’s one of those guys where I legitimately tried to use both of my hands to get off of him [and couldn’t]," Moore said, adding: "I can only imagine if he was going full tilt against somebody else. I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that."

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Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss Options For Panthers

Nightmare became reality for the Panthers on Wednesday with news that No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is done for the season with a torn ACL. With Benjamin headed to injured reserve, the Panthers could look to sign a veteran receiver.

Let's take a look at who's out there. It ain't pretty.

Reggie Wayne: The Colts' hero struggled to make an impact last season and never really seemed to make it back from the torn ACL in October 2013. He'll turn 37 in November.

Wes Welker: Once the most productive slot receiver in football, Welker saw his career derailed in Denver following multiple concussions. The 33-year-old lacked elusiveness last season, an observation backed by his career-low 9.5 yards per catch average.

Santana Moss: The longtime Redskins receiver is about five years past his prime at this point. He did manage eight touchdown receptions as recently as 2012.

Santonio Holmes: It's been a long time since Holmes won a Super Bowl for the Steelers with his combination of great hands and eye-popping athleticism. Holmes, 31, was never the same guy after he suffered a serious foot injury with the Jets in 2012. He was church-mouse quiet in a stint with the Bears last season.

Brandon Lloyd: Resurfaced with the 49ers last season, making three starts in 14 games. Like Holmes, he has some history as a locker room troublemaker. Lloyd led the league with 1,448 receiving yards in 2010 -- he's never gone over 1,000 yards in any of his other 10 seasons.

Robert Meachem: A rotational vertical threat with the Saints, Meachem has just four touchdowns in his last three seasons. He'll be 31 in September, making him the spring chicken of this group.

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Ted Hendricks, Ed Reed selected to the Football Writers Association of America 75th Anniv All-America Team

Former Defensive End, Ted Hendricks and Safety, Ed Reed were the 2 Miami Hurricanes selected to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) 75th Anniversary All-America Team announced Thursday.

Ted Hendricks made First Team and Ed Reed made Second Team – Hendricks a two-time All-American (1967 & 1968) at Miami, eventually converted to Linebacker (under Don Shula) in the NFL, where he was later elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Reed, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, was a two-time All-American (2000 & 2001) and won a National Championship (2001) with the Hurricanes, in addition, he won a NFL Super Bowl (XLVII) with the Baltimore Ravens (where he holds the franchise record for interceptions).

Combined with Miami’s 2 selections, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) had a combined 15 former All-American players selected, making it the second highest total out of any conference (behind the Big 10 with 19 selections). Pittsburgh led all ACC schools with five selections, followed by Florida State with 3 selections, and then, Miami coming in at third with the 2 selections.

“A nomination ballot with selected players from all FWAA All-America teams was sent to the entire membership this spring. The popular vote was then taken into consideration by a Blue Ribbon Committee of FWAA past presidents, current board members and officers. That committee put the finishing touches on selecting the 75-man team. In order for a player to be considered for the FWAA’s 75th Anniversary team, he was required to be on a previous FWAA All-America team,” according to a Press Release sent out by the ACC. “The FWAA, which was founded in 1941, has picked an annual All-America team since the 1944 season, making it the second longest continuously selected team in major college football.”

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Frank Gore has a big fan in Matt Forte

With Chicago Bears holding joint practices this week with Indianapolis Colts in advance of their preseason game, two of the NFL's best running backs are getting a chance to spend some time together.

Bears running back Matt Forte has known Colts back Frank Gore since Forte's rookie season in 2008 and the two have trained together in the offseason previously.

"Great player. A guy who has been doing it a long time,” Forte said of Gore, via ESPN. “Frank is not a guy who has to come out and you have to stay on him to do stuff. He’s going to be a hard worker. He’s a very gifted running back in his vision and he’s quick, so if the hole is there, he’s going to find it. They’re getting a solid player. He’s going to be productive. He knows how to take care of his body as well. That’s why he’s shown he should be playing this long.”

Gore, who joined the Colts in the offseason after 10 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, is coming off a 1,000-yard season and has run for more than 11,000 yards in his career. Forte said Gore's style of play offers teams what they're looking for in a successful back.

“I always talk about how Frank is,” Forte said. “He’s got a low center of gravity. But he still runs with good pad level, so he can run over people. But he’s also shifty. So Frank has that low center of gravity, which helps him out in breaking tackles. And then he has great vision, which helps him hit the holes. So in a running back, when you look at scouting him, you want a guy who has great pad level and good vision. That’s Frank.”

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Danny Valencia gets some love, and opportunity, from A’s

Danny Valencia always could hit. A’s reliever Dan Otero played against him in high school — and with him on a South Florida travel team after their senior year — and recalls Valencia’s exploits well.

“He could absolutely rake,” Otero said. “Everyone knew who he was. I remember his first batting practice. Here was this tall, skinny kid pumping balls over the fence. It was home run central.”

Valencia, though, didn’t always get love from the scouts, going undrafted out of high school. Even when the Twins took him in the 19th round in 2006, their area scout wasn’t overly impressed with the then-University of Miami third baseman. It took a national cross-checker to suggest him as a possibility.

“I thought I was drafted a lot later than I should have been,” Valencia said. “I felt very underrated and overlooked because I played on a team at Miami where we had a lot of great players.”

That, though, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing - many a ballplayer has fueled his drive to the big leagues with an “I’ll-show-you” attitude. And Valencia has also had to battle the perception that he’s a platoon player.

“You have a huge chip on your shoulder,” he said. “You see certain guys get opportunities year after year while I’ve had to fight for everything, I haven’t been given anything.” That starts with being a 19th round draft pick, you don’t get the opportunities you get if you’re a first rounder.”

Since coming up with the Twins in 2010, Valencia has bounced around, going to Boston in 2012, Baltimore in 2013 and Kansas City and Toronto in 2014. Some suggest this might be because he doesn’t have much of a filter, though Valencia says he’s toned it down in recent years.

“For the most part, I’m a straight shooter. I’m going to tell you how I feel,” he said. “I’m a lot quieter than I used to be. I used to be a lot more outspoken.”

He felt he particularly didn’t fit in Minnesota, and his mother, Mindy, said: “Danny came out of the University of Miami and he had that Miami swagger. And the Twins were so Midwest. He stood out. He’s found other teams since that are better suited to his personality.”

He’s a little reminiscent of former A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, who became a friend in Toronto — both are competitive and brash and can annoy opponents.

“That’s why I like Josh Donaldson. He’s himself,” Valencia said. “He might rub some people the wrong way, but at the end of the day, do you want to go to war with him? Absolutely. He’s a gamer. He’s ready to play every day.”

And that’s something Valencia prides himself on. He likes to arrive early so he can get in all the work he needs to when it’s quiet and he can focus.

“I take this really seriously,” he said. “You won’t really see me on the couch or playing cards. I hate the feeling of going out there and feeling not prepared. This game is so results driven, but I can live with bad results if I know I was as prepared as possible.”

Much of this no-nonsense approach can be traced to Mindy Valencia.

“She is my toughest critic,” he said. “She definitely pushes me. She made sure I was always working hard on baseball. She never let me be the one who didn’t really work hard.”

Mindy Valencia said her son was plenty competitive on his own, but she does recall throwing bottle caps for him to hit at an early age to help him work on his swing. “I thought he needed to be prepared,” she said. “He had a tee. I took him to a batting coach. The other kids’ parents just had them show up.”

She said her dad, Seymour, was always at Valencia’s games, yelling for him to strike everyone out when he was pitching. “There was always pressure on Danny to be at the top of his game,” she said.

He likes to have his fun, too. Valencia enjoys traveling and went all over Europe last offseason, in part to watch soccer — he’s a Barcelona fan. And he has an inquisitive mind. He’s interested in history and business, among other things.

Valencia has been an asset for the A’s since he was acquired from Toronto for a $20,000 waiver claim. He plays every day, against left-handers and right-handers, batting third or cleanup. He has four homers and 10 RBIs in 12 games, and he’s batting .275, which doesn’t surprise Donaldson.

“He has a rep for hitting lefties, but I think he can hit righties, too,” Donaldson said. “He brings good energy to the park every day and he wants to help the team win.”
The A’s have Valencia under club control for two more years and he believes they are just a few moves from being a playoff team again.

“This is what I’ve always wanted,” he said of his everyday role. “Obviously, I wish it had happened earlier in my career, but at the same time I’m happy I’ve had some limited success to prove the doubters wrong. But it’s hard to change people’s perceptions once they’re set.”

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Damontre Moore on Ereck Flowers: 'I've never felt somebody that strong'

Damontre Moore and Ereck Flowers got into a heated fight at the end of Monday's practice that required the two players to be separated by teammates and took several minutes to defuse. But the reason for the scuffle -- and Moore's frustration -- may have yielded some of the best news the Giants have gotten all camp.

Moore said he and Flowers worked out their differences later. Moore said he even told Flowers: " 'Man, I've never felt somebody that strong.' ''

Moore is going into his third year as a defensive end in the NFL and has gone against some of its best offensive tackles. He said he wasn't just blowing smoke when he praised the strength of the 6-6, 329-pound rookie left tackle.

"I'm not gonna lie,'' he said. "I've met some strong guys, but I've never been hemmed up like that. He's one of those guys where I legitimately tried to use both of my hands to get off of him [and couldn't].''

That's what led to the fracas.

"Tempers get flared in the heat of battle,'' Moore said. "Nobody likes to be a loser, and when you have two high-intensity, competitive guys, things get a little riled up.''

Moore came away from the confrontation acknowledging that he has to do a better job of controlling his anger on the field. He and general manager Jerry Reese spoke for several minutes after the melee, and Moore said he understands he has to "stay as close as possible to the line but also by the same token not tip over it.''

He also learned that Flowers is the wrong guy to mess with. The Giants are counting on Flowers to man that left tackle spot in place of the injured Will Beatty, and so far he has shown the ability to do so. He looked good in the joint practices against the Bengals. Tom Coughlin said he did "OK'' in the preseason game, and he certainly has left an impression on Moore.

"It definitely is good to have that guy on your side,'' he said. "Going against him and getting hemmed up like that, I mean, we're teammates, so obviously we all know that we hold back from each other. I can only imagine if he was going full tilt against somebody else. I wouldn't want to be on the other end of that.''

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DeMarcus Van Dyke: "I'm here for a reason"

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- If DeMarcus Van Dyke makes the roster, he'll play against all three of his former teams this season. 

His second outing against some familiar faces will come on Saturday against the Oakland Raiders, when the Vikings welcome ex-purple like Bill Musgrave, Christian Ponder, Mike Tice, Jack Del Rio and even J'Marcus Webb. Van Dyke said there's no hard feelings for the team that drafted him in the third round (81st overall) in 2011, just 69 selections after the Vikings took Ponder with the 12th-overall pick. 

"I don't have any type of juices going on," Van Dyke said. "It's just another game out there against guys I kind of know. [Cornerback] Chimdi Chekwa, [running back] Taiwan Jones, [assistant DBs] coach [Rod] Woodson is still over there." 

Van Dyke, 26, was one of the final picks made by the Raiders' late owner/general manager Al Davis before his passing in October 2011. Van Dyke didn't last long under the new general manager, Reggie McKenzie. He landed with Pittsburgh before he parted ways in August 2013 with an injury settlement, the same outcome he had with the Kansas City Chiefs last season.

He signed a one-year, veteran minimum deal with the Vikings in January to mark his fourth team in five years. 

Continued NFL chances come for Van Dyke, a college track standout at the University of Miami who posted the fastest 40-yard dash time at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.28. That raw talent lifted him up to a third-round pick despite starting just three games for the Hurricanes as a senior in 2010. He finished his 'U' career with 21 starts in 51 games. 

"He can really run," defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "He can line up and run with the best of them, but understanding what we need to get out of him by call, fundamental technique is the biggest thing." 

Now under a respected defensive coach in Mike Zimmer, Van Dyke is still adjusting to the coach's techniques while trying to find a place to dig in as a NFL cornerback. The Vikings looked to get longer and more athletic at cornerback, which is where Van Dyke (6-1, 187) comes in. With second-year cornerback Jabari Price suspended for the first two regular season games and fourth-year cornerback Josh Robinson held back with a partially torn pectoral muscle, the window for Van Dyke, who highlighted his training camp with a two-interception outing this month, appears open. 

"This is my fifth year in the league," Van Dyke said. "I want to show them I'm here for a reason, I can play cornerback."

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Undrafted Ladarius Gunter gains support of Elliott

The Packers’ penchant for utilizing undrafted free agents is beyond compare.

Jayrone Elliott went from a no-name camp body to the final 53 last year and sees the same potential in this year’s camp MVP: LaDarius Gunter.

“He is a special talent,” Elliott said. “Very long guy and I’m trying to tell him that he can do very good on defense but at the same time to make the squad you have to go on special teams.”

Gunter’s practice exploits transferred to the preseason playing field with an interception last week.

“It was big for me to get a lot of exposure and a lot of confidence,” Gunter said. “It was a confidence builder for me. I’m just looking to carry that momentum into this week.”

“I was talking to him and he was telling me his phone was going crazy,” Elliott said. “And I told him that this is only the beginning. You haven’t done anything yet but it may seem like it but there still three (preseason) games left.”

Gunter has made plays day after day in practice, and had a good preseason debut, but he knows that his work towards making the final 53 is just getting started.

“I kind of don’t think about that right now because it’s not over so when it’s over then we’ll see where it’s at,” Gunter said. “Anything is possible and that they do like free agents and they let the best guys play so I’m just trying to come out here and contribute.”

And Elliott is Gunter’s biggest fan.

“I’m trying to be the best leader I can be and these guys look up to me because not many undrafted guys make it so if I can be a big brother to these guys I’ll take advantage of it,” Elliott said.

“Every day he always comes to work with a smile on his face and says let’s go got let’s do this let’s do that so we kind of gets me going,” Gunter said.

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Could Reggie Wayne be an option for the Panthers?

On Wednesday, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin suffered a torn ACL in practice that will sideline him for the entirety of the 2015 season - leaving the Panthers with no good receiving threats.

In his rookie season last year, Benjamin played in every game and caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 13.8 yards per reception.  That leaves the Panthers with players like Corey Brown, Devin Funchess, Jerricho Cotchery, and Ted Ginn at the wide receiver position - in other words, it's not good.  Tight end Greg Olsen will be counted on to be a huge part of the receiving game.

What this means for the Indianapolis Colts is that they will miss Cam Newton's top receiving target when they travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers in week eight on Monday Night Football.  But perhaps even more interesting will be who is on the team during that week eight game to face the Colts.

Of course, this is all purely speculation right now, but former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne makes a ton of sense for the Panthers right now.  He's a veteran wideout who could help bring some stability to the position while still providing solid play as a wideout - he's not going to be the Reggie Wayne of a few years ago but would still be the best receiver on the team.  Furthermore, he could help teach and mentor a group full of young receivers, like he did with many receivers in Indianapolis (such as T.Y. Hilton).  Could it be that when the Colts travel to take on the Panthers in week eight they'll be facing one of Indy's all-time greats?  Nothing has been reported yet, but it makes a lot of sense for both sides.  The Panthers need a player to step in right now in the short-term, and Wayne wants to play one more year. According to the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person, the Panthers have not yet reached out to Wayne - but despite that, it does seem like a fit.

Many Colts fans will now ask whether a trade could be worked out between Indy and Carolina, as the Colts have a ton of depth at the wide receiver position and the Panthers, well, don't.  We can just go ahead and rule out T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson as trade targets, as I think we all know that they are not going to be traded.  Some have wondered whether Donte Moncrief would be a good option for the Panthers, and the answer is yes.  But I'd be pretty surprised if the Colts traded Moncrief, and the same goes for first round pick Phillip Dorsett.  So that leaves Duron Carter, the talented receiver who is the Colts' number five.  He really impressed in training camp, and his talent is something the Panthers could work with.  The thing is I'm not sure whether Carter is really ready to step up and take such a big role right now, and that's what the Panthers need.  Carter is a player you'd acquire with the future in mind as much as the present (which is what the Colts did), and the Panthers need help right now.  Carter would certainly help, but he might not be the best option for them - I think getting Reggie Wayne as a free agent would be a better move for Carolina's situation right now than getting Duron Carter in a trade.  So could we see a trade between the Colts and the Panthers?  Sure, with Ryan Grigson we've learned to never rule out training camp and preseason trades.  But at this point, I don't think it's something too likely.

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Colts' Greg Toler on Phillip Dorsett's speed: 'He flat out burns down the field'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts starting cornerback Greg Toler has lined up across from countless receivers in practice during his seven-year NFL career.

Larry Fitzgerald. Reggie Wayne. T.Y. Hilton.

So lining up across from first-round pick Phillip Dorsett would be just like going against the receivers listed above.

It wasn't the same.

Toler and Dorsett were on the outside racing down the field when the veteran cornerback took his speed to “fourth gear” to try to stay with the speedster out of the University of Miami.

What did Dorsett do to make sure he could get by Toler?

“All of a sudden he dropped it into seventh gear,” Toler said. “I was like, ‘Wow.’ I had to tell him to slow down. He flat out burns down the field. You sit on his routes too much or miss on a jam and it’s a foot race.”

Speed. Exceptional speed, in fact (4.2-second 40-yard dash).

That’s the reason why the Colts went against what many thought they should do by taking Dorsett over an offensive or defensive lineman with their first-round pick back in late April.

Who cares that Indianapolis already had Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson on the roster. The Colts wanted more speed. And that's what Dorsett has given them so far.

Dorsett didn’t disappoint in his first preseason game. He had four receptions for a team-high 51 yards while starting with Johnson in the Colts’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend.

But as Dorsett sat shifting his phone back and forth between hands on Monday, he didn’t have much interest in talking about his receiving yards. Losing a fumble was more important to him.

“I don’t look at things like how many catches I had and things like that,” Dorsett said. “I look at what I can improve on. Fumbling is definitely one of the things I can improve on. I have to learn from it by working hard in practice on my ball security.”

Colts coach Chuck Pagano echoed Dorsett’s words.

“He’s a big play waiting to happen, but again, he has to take care of the football,” the coach said. “You’re looking at a guy that’s going to be an outstanding football player. But you know, what you’re going to remember is the turnover. He’s going to be a dynamic guy for us.”

Dorsett, according to the people I talked to, has been a sponge since he reported for rookie minicamp back in May. He’s been that way with the coaching staff, quarterback Andrew Luck and especially Hilton and the veteran Johnson. Dorsett really had no choice but to be a sponge because the Colts plan to line him up and use him in an assortment of ways this season. He can line up in the slot, on the outside, come in motion and take a reverse. He's also the primary punt returner.

That’s just how skilled Dorsett is.

“He’s a fast study,” offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “One of the things that’s been surprising about Dorsett is his ability to digest a lot of information and be able to play multiple positions in our offense. It’s always been a challenge for a lot of young players to be able to come in and handle the volume that we put on them. He’s done a pretty good job.”

Dorsett’s ability to grasp concepts quickly came after he made the switch from quarterback to receiver his sophomore year in high school. The switch came once he realized he was too short to play quarterback.

“When I want to apply myself to something, I’m really good at learning it,” Dorsett said. “The hardest part is knowing what position you are at one moment and then somebody else coming and you’re going to a different position and your whole mindset has to change to run a different route and all that. You have to be on your toes because you never know what position you’re going to get.”

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Seantrel Henderson steps on the gas

PITTSFORD – Alone, on a football field, under the baking Midwest summer sun, Seantrel Henderson heard a voice in his head that told him exactly what needed to be done.

Got to run these gassers. Got to push yourself. That July 30 conditioning test will be here before you know it. Can’t fail. Fail, and you give the Buffalo Bills coaches one more reason to doubt that you have what it takes to be a starting offensive tackle in the NFL. Fail, and you might very well be out of a job, period.

You know they’re still furious about the mindless travel planning that resulted in a missed flight and a missed first practice of minicamp and a demotion from first to third string. You know they’re still unhappy that you were carrying too much weight and moving sluggishly during those offseason drills.

So, between late June and through most of July, Henderson would go to one of two football fields in his native Minnesota – at his high school, St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall, or at the University of Minnesota – and run back and forth across the width of the surface. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with some work on his blocking technique and weight-lifting included in this solitary regimen.

The goal was to complete each segment of a half-gasser (the width of the field) in about 20 seconds, the standard for linemen. He would do 10 of them, just as he would be required to do in the test before being cleared to participate in camp drills at St. John Fisher College.

“I ran as much as I could until I was just burnt out,” Henderson said. “If I didn’t make it one day, I would just try to make it the next day.”

He ditched the junk food and ate healthy, courtesy of his great aunt’s cooking. His diet mainly consisted of roast turkey and/or chicken, sandwiches and salad. Lots of salad.

As a result, Henderson dropped 10 pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame, going from 358 to his current 348. He passed the conditioning test. He won back his starting job at right tackle. For now, at least.

“I was just pretty much trying to stay on the right path and do everything right when nobody was watching,” Henderson said. “Once I got here, I was ready to go.”

Now, the challenge is about staying put. Henderson started all 16 games at right tackle after joining the Bills last year as a seventh-round draft pick from the University of Miami. But once he finally arrived at minicamp, he was reminded by the coaches that they have another option, Cyrus Kouandjio, whom the Bills made a second-round choice from Alabama in 2014. Kouandjio, who performed so poorly in training camp and the preseason that he never saw the field as a lineman last season, leapfrogged over Henderson into the No. 1 right tackle spot.

For Henderson, the message was received, loud and clear. That is primarily why, for the second time in as many preseason games, he’ll be the starter Thursday night when the Bills face the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

From now on, Henderson will remember to build in more travel time on his way back to work in Buffalo. By cutting it too close in June, he wound up being stuck in Chicago due to a lightning storm and didn’t hit the field until the second day of minicamp. That was unacceptable to Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and his position coaches.

“I was supposed to be on time,” Henderson said. “I wasn’t, so that was my fault. But I just kept grinding and kept grinding until I got here, and I’ve been doing the same every day. I’m just doing everything I’m supposed to do and doing the right things. … Just get on the schedule, stay on the schedule, always be on time for everything and everything should go well.”

“You can tell he’s really working hard to be a good player this year,” Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said.

That wasn’t nearly as evident during the offseason. Henderson’s body looked sloppy. He seemed to be moving as if he were standing ankle-deep in thick mud.

No wonder Kromer could often be heard barking expletives in Henderson’s direction during minicamp drills.

“Once you’re out of shape and you’re too heavy for your body, everybody that gets in that situation doesn’t have much success,” Kromer said. “Because you can’t move as well as you’re expecting. You’re expecting to be able to do things you can’t do, so, yeah, he was a little behind. And, gosh darn, did he work hard and come in in shape and ready to go.

“Seantrel is self-motivated. He can work. He knows what he needs to do. And when it came time he needed to get it done, he did. You get what you earn. When you’re doing a good job, you earn more reps. When you’re not getting the job done, you earn less reps.”

Despite the rough patches of the offseason, Henderson is happy with the coaching he receives from Kromer and assistant offensive line coach Kurt Anderson. He firmly believes he’s becoming a better player because of what he has learned in the way of techniques.

“Kromer taught us a lot of techniques that I really didn’t learn last year that have actually been helping me with my game,” Henderson said. “Just small stuff, just ways to step, ways to get your hands on the guy, even just the thought process before the ball is snapped. Kromer explains things until he knows that you understand it. He’s very repetitive.”

His rookie season was a growth experience, an often hard-knocks education of life in the NFL. He made plenty of mistakes.

He paid a hefty price by letting pass-rushers get too clean a path to the quarterback or by missing assignments in run-blocking.

But Henderson survived well enough to hang onto the starting job, even if, in many ways, it was by default because there wasn’t anyone better on the roster.

“I feel like I’m still working to where I want to be as a technician, as an offensive lineman,” he said. “But I will say, since I already went through a whole season last year, I know what to expect and I would say I am smarter when it comes to the game right now.”

Besides his one year of NFL experience, there are those daily practice encounters with perhaps the best defensive line in the NFL.

Preparation doesn’t get a whole lot better than trying to do the impossible: keep three Pro Bowlers (Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams) and Jerry Hughes away from the quarterback.

Most of the time, Henderson gets to face Mario Williams.

“He’s a freak, man,” Henderson said. “He’s fast, strong. You don’t want to get pushed back into the quarterback by Mario. I just think, ‘Get my hands on him first.’”

Although, by most indications, the starting right tackle spot is Henderson’s to lose, nothing has been officially decided. Henderson is well aware of that.

All of that hard work and sacrifice in Minnesota won’t mean a thing if he allows himself to return to the guy who wasn’t working as hard as he needed to be during the offseason.

Overweight, out-of-shape players quickly become ex-players. They become ex-starters even faster. Henderson views Kouandjio as a formidable challenger, but not an enemy.

“Me and Cyrus are cool,” he said. “We’re actually good friends. We hang out, we help each other with what we can do better as far as our craft and things like that. It’s not, ‘I’m not going to talk to you because we’re competing for the same job.’ When it comes to competing, we compete. Afterwards, we’re cool.

“I’m going to just keep competing every day until the coach says,” to one of them, ‘This is your spot,’ or, ‘This is your spot,’” Henderson said. “I think we’re still just going hard and competing with each other every day. Both of us are just on our assignments, getting the playbook down pat and just knowing what we’re doing out there.

“It’s going to be a battle until it’s time for the first regular-season game.”

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Michael Oher, Olivier Vernon scuffle

Scuffle: After a lengthy lecture to players by Carolina coach Ron Rivera and Miami's Joe Philbin prior to practice, Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon and Panthers left tackle Michael Oher got into a scuffle during a speed-rush drill. Oher did a nice job of blocking Vernon, who went to the ground. With Oher standing over him, Vernon jumped up and took a swing. Players from both teams wound up in a big pile separating the two before it could escalate.

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WATCH: Jimmy Graham leaps, rips away touchdown from Seahawks DB

The Seahawks like to talk about new tight end Jimmy Graham's willingness to contribute to the running game by blocking for the first time in his career. But really, the team didn't trade for him so that he could help Marshawn Lynch run through defenders.

This is why the Seahawks brought in Graham, a tight end with 386 catches and 51 touchdowns in his career.

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Brandon Meriweather Contract Details

EAST RUTHERFORD ? Safety Brandon Meriweather came to the Giants with no strings attached. The veteran wasn't guaranteed a single dollar when he was signed earlier this week. 

Meriweather's deal with the Giants is for one year and the veteran minimum of $870,000 with no guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with the contract. The individual requested anonymity because terms of the deal were not officially disclosed by the team. 

Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, did not receive a signing bonus or any guarantees. It's a completely risk-free move for the Giants, who were short on players at the position because of injuries to rookies Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson. 

The deal with Meriweather is considered a "minimum salary benefit" signing. That means even though he would make $870K if he's on the roster for the regular season, he will only count $585K against the salary cap. The "minimum salary benefit" was designed to make low-level veterans more attractive to teams.

Meriweather did receive a split deal that protects him (to some degree) in case of injury. 

The details of the contract show where the Giants stand on Meriweather. He's a wait-and-see proposition who is by no means guaranteed a spot on the roster, despite sprinkling in with the first-team defense after two days. 

Even wide receiver James Jones, signed several weeks back, received some kind of guarantee from the Giants. He pocketed a $30K signing bonus and has another $50K due if he makes the 53-man roster. 

Meriweather simply received an opportunity to impress the Giants, free of charge, for the summer.  

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Follow-up thoughts on Patriots' trade for Asante Cleveland

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few follow-up thoughts on Tuesday's trade in which the New England Patriots acquired tight end Asante Cleveland in exchange for guard/tackle Jordan Devey:

1. With Scott Chandler still not 100 percent ready for action, converted defensive end Jake Bequette sidelined with injury, and No. 1 man Rob Gronkowski potentially being held out of preseason action as a precaution, the Patriots obviously felt they needed another experienced player who could boost their tight end depth and help them get through the preseason. Cleveland, with six career games played as a rookie in 2014, becomes the second most experienced/healthy tight end on the roster, behind Michael Hoomanawanui. The other tight ends are undrafted rookies Logan Stokes (LSU) and Jimmay Mundine (Kansas).

2. Chandler, the free-agent signing from Buffalo, was working on a second practice field this morning and doesn't seem too far from a return. So I don't think this move had much to do with him from a longer-range perspective as it is getting through the next two weeks.

3. Cleveland has practice squad eligibility, so even if he doesn't make the Patriots' 53-man roster (he's a longer shot right now), he could still be part of the 63-man snapshot in early September. We know how the Patriots like developing tight ends.

4. The 49ers entered training camp with nine tight ends and media observers in San Francisco questioned Cleveland's chances to make the final 53-man roster. So the 49ers had depth to spare, and if Devey makes their roster, they will have essentially traded a player who likely wasn't going to be part of their plans for one that could be.

5. Cleveland didn't register a stat in six games last season, with his primary contributions coming on special teams.

6. Devey was a bubble player on my first Patriots 53-man roster projection (he just missed the cut), and I wonder if the early play of undrafted rookie David Andrews gave the club more confidence in thinning depth by trading Devey.

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Will Reggie Wayne get a look from Bears?

Do you think the Bears would take a look at Reggie Wayne? -- @Leni68Lenihan

It makes much more sense to me right now to determine if Marquess Wilson can be a productive player because he’s young and on his rookie contract. Wayne is 36 and turns 37 in November and he caught 64 passes for 779 yards and two touchdowns last season.

His name has popped up with a couple of teams so far but there doesn’t appear to be anything imminent. You’d have to wonder if Wayne would want to join the Bears. He could be in a position where he only wants to sign with a contender and the Bears would have a hard time selling themselves as that right now.

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Vince Wilfork is ‘OG, big Vince, big dog’ and mentor to teammates

Imparting knowledge to younger teammates is something that comes naturally to Texans veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

A five-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time Super Bowl champion entering his 12th NFL season, the massive defensive lineman has reached the age where he’s known for his wisdom.

“He comes out every day and teaches us the little things,” reserve nose tackle Louis Nix said. “He helps us with our technique and after practice we do little drills together just to help us stop the run and use our hands. Stuff like that. You just try to get any pointers you can from a vet and try to help better your game.

“He obviously is one of the top at his position and I just want to learn as much as I can. I love it, to be honest. Regardless of what happens at the end of the day, it is always a great opportunity to get pointers from somebody that has done it and that still can do it. I feel great about it, me and the guys on the team.”

As the elder statesman of the defensive line, Wilfork has his share of nicknames.

“Yeah, we call him OG, big Vince, big dog,” Nix said. “He doesn’t mind.”

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Jon Jay is progressing into baseball activities

Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a wrist injury, is accelerating into baseball activities as he continues his rehab process, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jay has been out since late June because of the lingering wrist injury.

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Ryan Braun passes Robin Yount to become Brewers' all-time home run leader

Ryan Braun moved past Hall of Famer Robin Yount on Milwaukee's home run list Wednesday to become the franchise's all-time leader.

Braun's sixth-inning solo shot against Marlins pitcher Chris Narveson was the 252nd of his career and gave Milwaukee an 8-6 lead.

Braun, a six-time All-Star, was the 2011 National League MVP after hitting 33 home runs. He followed with a career-high 41 homers in 2012, but was suspended for 65 games in 2013 for violating MLB's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and his involvement with the infamous Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

Braun came back in 2014, but set career-lows with a .266 average and 19 home runs. He did lead the Brewers with 81 RBIs and six triples as the Brewers led the NL Central for most of the season before falling apart late in the year. 

Braun, a nine-year veteran, is hitting .276 this season and now has 22 home runs with 72 RBIs. 

Hank Aaron, who retired as baseball's home run king, hit 755 career homers — playing the final two seasons of his 23-year MLB career with the Brewers, hitting 22 home runs with the club.

Prince Fielder, who is currently with the Rangers, is third on Milwaukee's all-time home run list with 230 homers over seven seasons. Former Brewers sluggers Gorman Thomas (208) and Rob Deer (137) rank fifth and 13th, respectively, on the franchise's all-time list.

Geoff Jenkins, who hit 212 homers over 10 seasons in Milwaukee, is fourth on the list. Former Brewers first baseman Cecil Cooper is the only other player in franchise history with over 200 career home runs, hitting 201 with the team from 1977-1987. 

Yount, twice the American League MVP, Thomas, Cooper and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor were key players on Milwaukee's power-hitting "Harvey's Wallbangers" team that reached the 1982 World Series before losing in seven games to the Cardinals. 

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Brandon Washington Involved in Camp Fight Between Rams and Cowboys

proCane Rams OL Brandon Washington (#70) along with many other players from both teams was involved in a Training Camp fight between the Cowboys and Rams.

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49ers deal tight end Asante Cleveland to Patriots for offensive lineman

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' impressive collection of tight ends has been reduced by one.

The team on Tuesday dealt Asante Cleveland, who played at Christian Brothers High School before the University of Miami, to the New England Patriots, a league source confirmed. In return the 49ers obtained offensive lineman Jordan Devey, who played both right and left guard for the Super Bowl champions last year. Devey appeared in seven games, starting four. ESPN first reported that he was heading to San Francisco.

The 49ers are trying to find a good combination at right guard and center. However, they also lack depth at tackle. Devey, 27, has experience there having played tackle and guard at the University of Memphis. He originally was signed by the Ravens in 2013 and spent time on the Patriots practice squad that season. He is listed at 6-6, 320 pounds.

The scouting service Pro Football Focus said Devey was responsible for one sack, three quarterback hits and nine hurries last season, and they gave him a rating on minus-19.

The 49ers signed Cleveland as an undrafted free agent last season. He spent the first half of 2014 on the practice squad before being added to the active roster when injuries to Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier created an opening. The Patriots were one of the teams interested in signing Cleveland after last year's draft.

The 49ers have an abundance of tight ends while other teams have seen injuries at the position. The 49ers have talked, for instance, with Washington where tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul sustained season-ending injuries.

San Francisco's top player at the position, Vernon Davis, was held out of Saturday's preseason game. McDonald and draft pick Blake Bell started the game with Garrett Celek -- who caught the team's only touchdown -- also entering in the first quarter. Carrier, Xavier Grimble and seventh-round draft pick Busta Anderson round out the position.

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Allen Bailey Nursing Injury

The Kansas City Chiefs are starting to feel the effects of pounding on each other everyday in practice. On Tuesday, trainer Rick Burkholder took the microphone after practice, something that always has bad news right around the corner. Burkholder explained that rookie linebacker Justin March has a torn meniscus, while Allen Bailey and Eric Fisher both have high-ankle sprains.

As for Bailey, hopefully his ankle is alright. We haven’t heard anything about how it was injured or the severity. There was no mention of it throughout practice, so it is tough to say. Ultimately, time is on Kansas City’s side. The next three games mean absolutely nothing, so getting our first-string veterans back for them is pointless.

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Watch Vince Wilfork and J.J. Watt dance during stretching

The Texans call this period "dynamic stretching."

It sure was dynamic today.

While most of his teammates were on a knee, nose tackle Vince Wilfork stood up and bobbed around to Houston rap anthem Wanna Be a Baller. His teammates around him did, too, though a bit more subtly.

We Are Texans... #texans #nfl #vincewilfork #jjwatt (@mrs75 @teamwilfork) #houston #htown

A video posted by Houston Texans Astros Rockets (@dtexanz) on

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Devin Hester still looking for ways to help Atlanta Falcons as playmaking receiver

Devin Hester is eager to show he’s more than an ace return specialist for the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s been an ongoing theme in his 10-year NFL career.

Hester says he understands his primary role with Atlanta is the same as it was in Chicago, to give the offense better field position as a punt and kickoff returner.

In his first eight seasons with the Bears — and particularly during ?five difficult years playing alongside quarterback Jay Cutler — Hester wanted to help out at receiver, too.

As the NFL career leader with 20 touchdown returns, Hester is still dynamic at his main job, getting named to his fourth Pro Bowl squad last season. But he takes pride as a playmaking receiver, too.

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Anthony Chickillo Making Himself Tough Player To Cut

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo has arguably been the biggest riser since the start of training camp. If not the biggest, certainly among the few who have seen their stock rise most significantly.

When the pick was first made, many wondered whether he was drafted to play defensive end or outside linebacker, even though the Steelers and position coach Joey Porter stated from the beginning that they wanted him on the edge and to drop some more weight in order to get him where they want him to be physically.

Because of the uncertainty over whether or not he would be able to make the transition from what was largely a 3-4 defensive end role in college to a 3-4 outside linebacker at the professional level, many were skeptical regarding the selection, but—though it is still relatively early—he could have the Steelers doing something you rarely see in Pittsburgh.

Should Chickillo end up making the 53-man roster, it will likely mean, barring injuries, that the Steelers have chosen to carry 10 linebackers into the regular season, which is something that I cannot recall them doing in recent memory.

But there are many signs that point to them carving out a spot for him on the roster, in spite of the fact that they actually only carried eight linebackers initially last year, with only three outside linebackers, before injuries necessitated that they do otherwise.

The fact that the Steelers have been working him actively on both the left and the right side is, to me, pretty telling that they think he has the ability to stick around, increasing his versatility, and thus his value. He has played both left and right outside linebacker in games already.

That also speaks to his level of knowledge about not just the defense, but the game itself, which should not be surprising as a third-generation football player. He has had a tremendous start in large part because his intelligence for the game is already at a level that is uncommon for first-year players.

Perhaps the most crucial detail, however, is the fact that the Steelers have been active in getting him on special teams. In the first preseason game alone, he worked on every special teams unit bar the field goal/extra point squad. He covered kicks and punts and also served on the return units.

Given that special teams is not something that he did in college, and the fact that he actually showed reasonably well for himself this early on, has to be encouraging with respect to his odds of staying on the roster. A few years ago, the Steelers force-fed another rookie outside linebacker, Adrian Robinson, special teams duties in order to justify keeping him on the roster.

It’s one thing to tell you all this, however, and another thing to show you. In truth, I’m battling a bad ear infection at the moment that has limited my workload and ability to review game tape, but I plan to have a more comprehensive look at what I’ve talked about above later in the week, explaining why Chickillo is primed to stay on this roster.

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Robert Ayers Jr. says 'enforcer' Brandon Meriweather 'brings a lot to the table'

EAST RUTHERFORD — Brandon Meriweather's reputation as a big hitter that tends to find himself on the wrong side of the rulebook has been fleshed out thoroughly since he signed with the Giants on Sunday. 

So far, all the right things are being said. Meriweather promised to play within the rules on Monday, and Tom Coughlin is going to make sure he has a chat with Meriweather about the issue. And obviously, given this is the era of concussion enlightenment, no one is going to endorse illegal hits.

But at the same time, football is a inherently violent game. And as long as Meriweather's physicality falls within the parameters of legality, it is going to be something the Giants' defense will appreciate and feed off. There is an excitement about adding Meriweather to the team, according to defensive end Robert Ayers Jr.

"He was an enforcer," Ayers told NJ Advance Media. "He's a very good player, and he's going to be a great add for us. He has a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge of the game, and he can help bring the young guys along. I think he brings a lot to the table. I'm excited to see him out there doing damage."

Signing Meriweather is an attempt - some will call it a desperate one - by the Giants to bring stability to a position that has seen the opposite so far during training camp. Meriweather is 31, and there are plenty of arguments he is well on the downside of his career, in addition to his history of four fines and two suspensions for illegal hits. He only played in 10 games for the Redskins last season due to injury and suspension.

But Meriweather also has started 68 games in his NFL career, a staggering number given the Giants only had three NFL starts - all by Jeromy Miles - among their safeties before Meriweather arrived. So if the Giants can catch lightning in a bottle with Meriweather, it could be a calculated risk that pays major dividends. 

Ayers said Meriweather's presence will definitely give the Giants' defense a different dimension and edge. 

"He brings a mindset and he packs a punch. Things like that are contagious," Ayers said. "When you see a guy flying around, being aggressive and knocking people's heads off, that's contagious. The competitor in anyone, if you see another guy do that, you want to, too.

"He's definitely going to impact us not only as a player, but as a mindset and a character and a personality, and with his demeanor."

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Travis Benjamin poised for 'a big, big year' in 2nd season after ACL

PITTSFORD, N.Y. --- The Browns may have pulled a Rabbit out of a hat this season.

Receiver Travis Benjamin, a.k.a. The Rabbit, has quietly produced one of the best camps of all the wideouts this season, and is a virtual lock to the make the team after some folks had written him off.

In fact, coach Mike Pettine said Monday that the Browns are 'pretty set' with Benjamin as the lead punt returner, which pretty much secures a spot at the crowded receiver position.

And if Pettine asks for quarterback Josh McCown's input, he'll definitely get two thumbs up.

"Trav, he's a pro,'' McCown said after the first of two joint practices against the Bills here. "He just comes out and works hard, doesn't say a whole lot. He's got a great skillset as far as his speed. What Trav is doing really well right now is – you get a guy with speed like that a lot of time, but when the lights come on, either they play timid or they don't play at the high speed – Trav explodes off the ball every time we snap it, and because of that, he's using his speed to his advantage.

"It's causing space for him to get open, and that's why he's able to get balls. He's really doing a good job., Everybody's working really hard, but he's really helped us set a tone for how we're going to come off the football and work, and it's been cool to watch.''

Benjamin, entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, helped endear himself to McCown by waving his hand in the back of the end zone and catching a 2-yard touchdown pass against the Redskins.

McCown scrambled left away from trouble and then motored back to the right, finding Benjamin all alone with nothing but time on hands. Soon, the ball was in them and the two were celebrating.

"He was just hanging out back there waving his hands and he looked lonely, so I threw him the football,'' McCown said after the game.

It's become a familiar refrain and a frequent scribble in the notebook this preseason: McCown to Benjamin deep down the left sidelines. Or on a short slant. Or anywhere the quarterback can find him using his 4.36 speed to get open.

"He adjusts to it now,'' said Benjamin. "He knows that whenever I'm on the field and he sees the advantage, he's going to me no matter what. We have that great connection with each other."

The always affable Benjamin playfully scoffs at the notion that Taylor Gabriel, who boasts a 4.29 in the 40, is faster.

"I'm the fastest player on the team,'' said Benjamin, who was known as the Belle Glade Blur at his Florida high school.

He can say that again now that he's fully recovered from the torn ACL suffered Oct. 27, 2013 in a game against the Chiefs. Last season, he tried to play like his former self, but he just wasn't the rabbit-catching speedster he was back in high school. He was tentative on punt returns, and limited to 18 receptions for 314 yards and a team-high three TDs.

"I am more confident, more ready too fill in a position that needs to be filled,'' he said. "This offseason, I didn't have to go through rehab. I just worked on receiving, catching punts, catching balls and just running full speed all summer, just getting ready to come play."

The new and improved Benjamin has not been lost on Pettine, who's looking for ways to stretch defenses this season in his new role as offense guru.

"He surprised all of us last year,'' said Pettine. "I think he was looked at as 'Hey, he's a returner, he's on the bubble because he's coming off a knee. How effective is he going to be?' He never got going as a returner, but he certainly showed his capability as a wideout. It was a surprise. It was a very pleasant one.

"What's encouraging this year is if you talk to him and ask him, 'Hey, how do you feel compared to a year ago?' it's night and day, and that's usually true with that type of injury that it takes to that next year to really feel back to being your old self."

In the first practice against the Bills on Monday, Benjamin caught a few nice balls in one-on-one-drills and then shed a grabby cornerback to haul in a 40-yard TD pass from McCown in 7-on-7s.

"It's a big, big year for me,'' said Benjamin, the Browns' fourth-round pick in 2012 out of Miami. "Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns, I'm  just willing to go out here and put everything on the line for the Browns as much as I can."

With receivers such as Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor sidelined most of camp with pulled hamstrings, Benjamins has been streaking down the field, providing a sneak preview of what defenses can expect.

"I am ready to turn it up on all phases,'' he said. "Whenever they give me the chance to go into the game and make a play I am gonna make sure I have put my best foot forward to give the Cleveland Browns the best chance they got to win the game."

What's more, he promises you won't see him muffing punts and looking like a deer in the headlights with the ball on its way.

"(I want to be the No. 1 punt returner) very bad,'' he said. "1 out of 10 I would say (I'll be an) 11. I want to be back and help the Browns and get back to the point where I was the best in the game."

He's already got teammate Donte Whitner convinced. When Whitner was asked on Twitter who the most improved player on the team, he answered Benjamin.

As for whether or not he'll be here beyond this year, Benjamin's not operating on fast forward.

"I'm playing for now,'' he said. "I don't look far into the future. I'm just playing for the Browns right now, and hopefully, if things work out, I'll be here for another couple more years, God given, but other than that, I'm playing for the Browns right now."

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Jon Beason, Steve Spagnuolo develop close relationship

Just a few short months ago, Steve Spagnuolo and Jon Beason were strangers. They had admired each other from afar, but had never met much less worked together on the same team.


"I love Jon Beason," Spagnuolo, the new defensive coordinator for the Giants, said on Monday.

The two have been spending a lot of time together. Beason is Spagnuolo's middle linebacker, his voice on the field, and it's important the two foster a close bond. Before just about every training camp practice Spagnuolo and Beason spend one-on-one time together. Sometimes it's working on a drill or a technique. Sometimes it's just talking. But they seem to have found kindred spirits in each other.

"He's a guy who loves ball all the time, he's nonstop," Beason said. "We get a chance to hang out during the special teams period [early in practice] where I'm a little less involved than I would be, so we get a little one-on-one time…
Getting me over there it's, 'Let's take advantage of this five, 10 minutes that we have. Get you over here and let's talk about knock back and the way that I see you tackling as opposed to the way I see you tackling right now.'"

Beason is a nine-year veteran, but this is his first year in Spagnuolo's system, so he's learning like a rookie. But he's also learning like Beason.

"In a walk-thru he was moving the trash cans [that stand in as offensive linemen during drills] and I said 'You want to get those right,'" Spagnuolo said. "He said 'Yeah, I'm like that. I want to be perfect. It's a blessing and a curse.'"

Spagnuolo also showed Beason's energy in what he called a "sluggish" practice on Sunday as an example of what he wants to see from the other players on defense.

Football may be a game of Xs and Os, of strategies and physicality, but it also is a game of relationships. Spagnuolo learned that when he was in sync with Antonio Pierce during his previous tenure with the Giants. There may be none more important to the success of this year's Giants than the one between Spagnuolo and Beason.

So far, it's blossoming.

"He's a football player," Spagnuolo said. "He loves the game and when you are passionate about football you want to do the right thing. I love working with him."

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Andre Johnson Talks Colts Debut

The catch left him wanting more, but Andre Johnson knew.

After 12 NFL seasons, Johnson knows how veterans operate in the preseason, particularly in Week One.

Johnson’s debut with the Colts lasted just 11 snaps on Sunday, ending after a nine-yard grab to move the chains on a third-and-nine.

The lone reception from Johnson was a carbon copy of what he’s shown in Anderson.

With Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll behind Johnson and unable to get his arms around the 6-3, 230-pound wideout, Johnson gave Andrew Luck a clear throwing lane to hit him in stride.

“I was just anxious to get my first catch and to actually get out there in a game atmosphere,” Johnson said following his Colts debut.

“When you get that first catch, you want to keep playing but they snatched us right out (smiles). That’s part of it, part of the process.”

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Chuck Pagano: Dorsett 'a big play waiting to happen'

The Indianapolis Colts have talked up rookie receiver Phillip Dorsett since the moment he was drafted in the first round. On Sunday, we finally got to see what all the hype was about for ourselves.

Dorsett didn't disappoint.

With T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief both sitting out the preseason opener, Dorsett got the start and was targeted often by Andrew Luck in the Colts' 36-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dorsett finished with a team-high four receptions for 51 yards, displaying game-speed, solid route running and a quick-cut capability.

His day wasn't perfect, as the rookie left a few plays on the field and was stripped after a 20-yard catch.

Still, the Colts remain giddy about Dorsett's potential.

"He's a big play waiting to happen, but again he has to take care of the football," coach Chuck Pagano said, per the team's official website. "You're looking at a guy that's going to be an outstanding football player, but you know what you're going to remember is the turnover. But again, he's going to be a dynamic guy for us."

A turnover in the first preseason game isn't necessarily a bad thing if it keeps the hype somewhat curtailed while giving the young player something to improve upon.

Dorsett's immediate chemistry with Luck is a great sign for the rookie's production in 2015. He'll remain in a battle with Moncrief for the third-receiver snaps, but Dorsett displayed Sunday that he's got the makings of a stud.

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Phillip Dorsett 'most impressive' rookie

ESPN Colts reporter Mike Wells says first-round WR Phillip Dorsett has been the team's most impressive rookie.

Dorsett has game-changing speed and figures to be a deep threat right out of the gate. Still, T.Y. Hilton's contract extension is definitely a blow to Dorsett's short- and long-term fantasy value because the two share a similar skill set. Even with Hilton and Andre Johnson blocking his path, Dorsett still warrants late-round consideration with Andrew Luck under center. He remains on the first-round fringe in Dynasty rookie drafts.

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Looking for a playmaker on the Browns' offense? Don't count out the Rabbit

Rabbit is back: Benjamin was given the nickname “Rabbit” because as a kid he chased – and caught -- wild rabbits escaping from the burning cane fields of south Florida. He is the fastest player on the team and if you think not, just ask him. “There’s no doubt,” he said.

But it’s not only his speed that has been impressive. In his fourth season, he is doing things that good receivers do – playing bigger than his 5-10 and 175 pounds, fighting off cornerbacks for 50-50 balls, and in the preseason game against Washington, drawing interference on a debatable uncatchable ball, and then following McCown’s improvisation and drifting to an open spot at the back of the end zone for a short touchdown.

The extra year removed from knee surgery has restored Benjamin’s confidence at a time he is naturally reaching a new phase of his receiving career. The Browns are hoping – no, praying – that the confidence extends to his role as lead punt returner.

Benjamin’s troubles at punt return last year were marked by indecision on fair catches, fumbles, and a career-low 8.5 yards per return. It was particularly exasperating because he actually had his best year at receiver, if in a limited role -- 18 receptions for 314 yards and a team-high three receiving touchdowns.
I felt that Benjamin lost confidence as a punt returner because his knee injury occurred while returning a punt in a game in Kansas City in the 2013 season. He disagreed.

“There was no confidence loss at all,” he said. “I guess there was a ball or two I could have looked in and caught, but other than that, I didn’t have the most reps at punt return because we had Jimmy Leonhard and (Jordan) Poyer was taking most of the reps. But the reps I did get in, I could have taken advantage of more.”

Benjamin said his rehab on the knee in the 2014 offseason may have caused him to neglect his punt return role a little.

In any case, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has predicted a big comeback for Benjamin as a punt returner. And on Monday, coach Mike Pettine stated without equivocation that Benjamin is “the lead guy” at punt returner.

The renewed confidence shown by the coaches helps a lot, Benjamin said. “When you have a bond like that, every time Tabe has a punt return he calls my name and I’m gonna put my best foot forward.”

Contract year: So, Benjamin is healthy, more confident, more consistent, is developing into a more well-rounded receiver and … he is in his contract year.

He can be a free agent after this season, and if you don’t think that motivates professional football players then you haven’t been paying attention.

“It’s a big, big year for me,” Benjamin said. “Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns, just willing to go out here and put everything on the line for the Browns as much as I can.

“I’m playing for now. I don’t look far into the future. I’m just playing for the Browns right now, and hopefully, if things work out, I’ll be here for another couple more years, God willing.

“It’s going to be a great year for me.”

The Browns need it to happen.


Brandon Meriweather not going to change headhunting approach

Brandon Meriweather can’t tell you how he’ll operate with the Giants defense and he can’t tell you how long he’ll take to learn coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system.

The longshot savior of the Giants’ battered safety corps can only tell you this: He’s not abandoning the headhunting approach that defined the first eight seasons of his NFL career.

“I think every player you ever ask will say you play your game the way you play your game,” Meriweather said Monday. “Do you play within the rules? Yes. I’m going to play my game the way I play my game, but I’m also going to respect the rules.”

This is what the safety position has come down to for the desperate Giants: On Monday, the club introduced an enforcer-type safety who may not even fit into Spagnuolo’s schemes, a player known almost solely for his penchant for making helmet-to-helmet contact and drawing league fines.

This is the player who was called out by Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, who in 2013 suggested that Meriweather’s style of play was so violent he should be kicked out of the league. Meriweather countered that Marshall, then a Chicago Bear, should be kicked out of the league for beating his wife, although on Monday the safety insisted he held no grudge against Marshall.

“Listen man, that’s in the past,” Meriweather said. “I’m not one of those guys to hold grudges. I forgot about that a long time ago.”

Meriweather is the latest unknown quantity in a safety corps of question marks. He believes his physicality can be a “good” fit in East Rutherford, even as Tom Coughlin pointed out that the veteran must tweak his over-aggressive approach. Coughlin said he plans to speak to Meriweather about his playing style.

“The toughness part you want,” Coughlin said of Meriweather. “The penalties and the issues, you don’t want... He’s competitive, he’s very competitive. And to a certain extent, obviously, we want that. But we don’t want what goes with it, obviously.”

Yet that’s what’s long defined Meriweather, 31, who had few suitors until the Giants came calling Sunday.

Ever since his days at the University of Miami, his abundance of aggression compensated for his lack of size (5-11).

“We used to call him ‘Little B’,” said Giants linebacker Jon Beason, who played with Meriweather in college. “As he transitioned to a starter, his nickname became ‘Killer B’ because he literally would take people’s heads off. That’s the type of guy you want back there in your secondary.”

Meriweather is more than a hitter, too, said Beason.

“He will be coaching one day,” said Beason. “You’ll see a guy who understands what he’s doing.”

Beason added that he believes Meriweather’s approach to the game has changed, and that he’ll be able to play a cleaner, less penalty-filled brand of safety for the Giants.

“Nine years later, he realizes the target (for tackling) has changed,” Beason said. “It’s a violent game, unfortunately. I think Brandon’s learned his lesson.”

The Giants need Meriweather to find a way to fit. Rookie Landon Collins (sprained MCL) is losing valuable practice time to injury, and right now, Jeromy Miles, never a full-time starter in Baltimore, is the veteran in the safety corps.

Somehow, Meriweather must be more than a fine waiting to happen.

“Very aggressive football player, experienced, has started in the NFL,” Spagnuolo said, assessing his new safety. “I think all those things are good attributes. We’ll have to find out where he is with all the other things. He hasn’t been in football for a little bit right now.”


Travis Benjamin and McCown Clicking

PITTSFORD, N.Y.—It’s still early on in the preseason process, but quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Travis Benjamin seem to have already found a pretty good chemistry.

McCown hooked up with Benjamin in the first preseason game on the first pass from scrimmage and then capped the first drive with a touchdown to Benjamin.  After the game, McCown said he couldn’t believe how wide open Benjamin was. 

Last year, Benjamin had a knack for getting open in the back of the end zone in a couple of games, including scoring two late touchdowns in the Browns come back win over the Titans. He was asked if the defensive backs just lose track of him or how he gets open in those situations.

“I’d say my quickness and my speed, once I get the ball in one direction, it’s full speed ahead. If you’re off balance as a DB, once I get into my break, I’m always going to be open.”

 McCown agreed that Benjamin is using his speed to his advantage.

“Trav, he’s a pro,” McCown said. “He just comes out and works hard, doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s got a great skillset as far as his speed. What Trav is doing really well right now is – you get a guy with speed like that a lot of time, but when the lights come on, either they play timid or they don’t play at the high speed – Trav explodes off the ball every time we snap it, and because of that, he’s using his speed to his advantage.

“It’s causing space for him to get open, and that’s why he’s able to get balls,” he said. “He’s really doing a good job., Everybody’s working really hard, but he’s really helped us set a tone for how we’re going to come off the football and work, and it’s been cool to watch.”

Benjamin said that McCown is now looking for him in certain situations.

“He adjusts to (me getting open) now,” he said. “He knows that whenever I’m on the field and he sees the advantage, he’s going to me no matter what. We have that great connection with each other.”

In the combined practice with the Bills Monday morning, McCown lofted a deep ball down the sideline during 7-on-7 at Benjamin caught the ball for a touchdown, despite being interfered with on the play by the Bills cornerback.  Moments earlier, McCown hit Benjamin on a crossing pattern for a 12-yard gain.

“It’s going great so far for me right now,” Benjamin said “Me and McCown are on the same page and we just want to come out here in Buffalo and compete.”

Later on in team offense against the Bills to end the practice, McCown hit Benjamin on quick slants on two occasions, including one for a first down.

Benjamin thinks the offense held it’s own against the Bills strong defense, even though Mike Pettine said he felt the Bills defense got the best of the Browns offense.
“We did pretty decent,” Benjamin said. “We can always get better. We had a couple mistakes form the lines standpoint, a couple drops from the receivers and misses from the line. We had a couple of mistakes and can always come out and get better every day.”

Benjamin said playing against another team in practice really simulates a game-like atmosphere.

“It’s ramped up like a game situation,” he said. “You’re always trying to win on the tape because there are 31 other teams out there watching you. We just come out here and compete and try to get better every day.”

Many felt that Benjamin might be on the hot seat for a roster spot at wide receiver with the additions of Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Terrelle Pryor and draft choice Vince Mayle, but Pettine said in post practice that Benjamin is the team’s punt returner, when he was asked about Justin Gilbert taking turns as a punt returner.
Benjamin is in the last year of his rookie contract with the Browns and said this is a big year for him.

“This is big for me,” he said. “Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns and just willing to go out and put everything on the line for the Browns and my team.”

Benjamin led the Browns last year in receiving touchdowns with three and had his best year receiving with 18 catches for 314 yards (17.4 avg.) in 16 games after coming off an ACL injury in 2013.

Benjamin said he hopes to stay with the Browns and right now that’s where his focus is.

“I’m playing for now, I don’t look into the future,” he said. “I’m playing for the Browns and if things work out I can be here a couple of more years, but right now I’m just playing for the Browns.”

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6 things about Brandon Meriweather, including all his fines and suspensions

EAST RUTHERFORD ? With the safety position in flux, the Giants had to dig deep for reinforcements. What they found was a troubled 31-year-old with an extensive disciplinary file.

The Giants signed Brandon Meriweather on Sunday after losing two safeties in their preseason opener. Rookie Mykkele Thompson (Achilles) is out for the season and rookie Landon Collins (knee) is likely out several weeks. \

Meriweather adds a body and experience. And a bit of controversy.

1. Meriweather played four seasons and made two Pro Bowls (2009-10) with the Patriots, but was cut prior to the 2011 season. It was a curious fall from grace.
As ESPN's Mike Reiss explained at the time:

"Meriweather's shaky status on the roster first came to the forefront when he played the entire first half of the preseason opener. He was the only Pro Bowler on the team to do so ..."

There didn't seem to be a reason for his release other than performance. Meriweather spent one season with the Bears and the past three with the Redskins.

2. Meriweather has six career safety-related violations that resulted in fines/suspensions.
-- Fined $50K for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap in 2010
-- Fined $20K after a Week 4 helmet-to-helmet hit on wide receiver Steve Smith in 2011
-- Fined $25K the following week for a late hit against the Detroit Lions
-- Fined $45K for a Week 2 helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers running back Eddie Lacy in 2013
-- Suspended for a game later that season after two illegal hits on Bears wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall in a Week 7 contest.
-- Suspended the first two games in 2014 for an illegal preseason hit on Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.

3. Probably isn't close with Marshall, who now plays for the Jets. After Marshall suggested that Meriweather be suspended or taken out of the league completely for his dirty play in 2013, Meriweather fired back.

"He feels like I need to be kicked out of the league. I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league, too," Meriweather said.

"You tell me who you'd rather have?" Meriweather added. "Someone who plays aggressive on the field or someone who beat up their girlfriend?"

4. Holds the University of Miami tackle record for a defensive back with 293. Some pretty good defensive backs (Bennie Blades, Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle, etc.) played at Miami. 

5. Was involved in a shooting incident and stomped several times on an opposing player on the ground while at the University of Miami. He was suspended for he latter incident. 

6. Responded "I know I am" on Sunday to a question about whether he was still among the NFL's best safeties, according to quotes distributed by the Giants. He sure doesn't lack confidence for a player who was without a job until mid-August. 

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Jimmy Graham: 'I see the red zone as my zone'

What is the top asset you can add to the offense?
Jimmy Graham: I think definitely I’ll have some big opportunities in the red zone with such a great running game here. We will try to get the matchups we want by moving me around and using multiple tight end sets. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I have running ability and leaping ability. For me, that’s always been natural -- the ability to attack the ball in the air. I see the red zone as my zone. I’ve got red hair. That’s the reason they call it the red zone. I just get more confidence down there.

Russell Wilson has been compared to Drew Brees in the past. What similarities do you see now that you’ve been around both of them?
Graham: Truly, my relationship with Russ has been above and beyond my wildest imagination of how close we’ve become since I got here. Drew was like my big brother, but me and Russ are closer in age and it’s like having a twin brother in a lot of ways. The connection for us was immediate and it’s special. He has made my transition so easy because of our bond. On the field, we are just scratching the surface of what we will be able to do.

A couple of Seattle players were critical of you in the past. How do you feel your new teammates have accepted you?
Graham: One of the great things about going to Maui [35 Seahawks doing offseason workouts in April] was for all those guys to see who I am as a person and get to know me, because I’ve started a couple of fights [with Seattle players] before. I’m kind of a chippy player. I honestly play with every emotion I have in my body. Sometimes it comes off as maybe not the nicest person and maybe not the most humble. So it was good for [the Seahawks] to see that I am a humble guy and I’m just here to work. I’m not a selfish person at all. And these are really good guys. When you see them from the outside, you always want to know what is different about this team? Until you get in here, you don’t realize how much of a brotherhood it is and how close everyone is.

This offense is based on the power running game of Marshawn Lynch. Do you feel you can contribute as a blocker, and how can you improve your blocking?
Graham: I’m 270 pounds. For me, that’s been the main focus of this offseason, to get my mind wrapped around this running game. It is a little different. I’ve never been in a read-option system. For me, it’s some different concepts. Their footwork is a lot different than the way I’ve done it, but man, it’s exciting. It’s something new, and the evolution of my game and growing as a player. I think it’s the perfect situation. You have the best running back in the NFL, and I’m excited to be a part of that.

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How Brandon Meriweather deals with head-hunter rep

He knew it was coming, which is why Brandon Meriweather smiled and nodded his head. The newest Giants player was asked about his reputation as a head-hunter.

“How did I know that was coming up?’’ Meriweather said Monday afternoon before practice. “Can we get them out of the way now, go ahead so we can leave ‘em alone for the rest of the year?’’

Entering his eighth NFL season and joining his fourth team, Meriweather has been suspended twice by the league for illegal hits and has violated the NFL’s rules against hitting defenseless opponents in the head six times, costing him more than $100,000 in fines.

Is he a changed man?

“I think every player you ever ask will say you play your game the way you play your game,’’ Meriweather said. “Do you play within the rules? Yes. When they make new rules, do you have to adjust a little bit? Yes. So I’m gonna play my game the way I play my game, but I’m also going to respect the rules.’’

In two weeks, the Giants face the Jets in their annual preseason meeting, meaning Meriweather will take the field opposite Jets receiver Brandon Marshall. Back in 2013, Marshall suggested Meriweather be thrown out of the league because of his vicious hits.

“Guys like that really don’t understand that there is life after football,” said Marshall, then with the Bears. “I respect the league trying to better our game, and guys like that, maybe he needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely.”

Meriweather, 31, anticipated being asked about Marshall, too.

He laughed.

“Listen, man, that’s in the past,’’ said Meriweather, who was on the Redskins at the time. “I’m not one of those guys to hold grudges. I let things go. That’s in the past. He might be holding a grudge, I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to him. But no, I forgot about that a long time ago.’’

Linebacker Jon Beason played four years with Meriweather at the University of Miami and declared his former Hurricane teammate can make an immediate impact.

“I think every player can make an immediate impact,’’ Meriweather said. “What your impact is is depending on you and depending on the coaching staff and what they expect from you.’’

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Clive Walford absent from Sunday practice, Smith returns

The Oakland Raiders had one of their new tight ends return to the practice field on Sunday and had another miss practice after his NFL debut as the team saw two players interchange injury status on a day where Rod Streater’s first practice appearance of camp stole the majority of the headlines in Napa.

Behind the attention of Streater’s return was the return of run blocking specialist Lee Smith, who signed with the team in free agency and missed Friday’s preseason home opener against the St. Louis Rams. Failing to get his first appearance while rookies Gabe Holmes and Clive Walford stole the show at tight end during the 18-3 win while 2014 starter Mychal Rivera received zero targets.

While Smith missed the preseason opener and Walford played in his first preseason game as a rookie, the third round pick was absent for Sunday’s non-padded practice. Walford missing practice after just returning last week from a hamstring injury in time to get on the field for Friday’s game against the Rams.

According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t confirm if Walford aggravated the hamstring injury that had him on the sidelines. Opting not to divulge on what had Walford away from the practice field after playing on Friday.

Luckily for the Raiders this August they have plenty of depth at tight end for practice snaps to be taken by other players as Smith, Holmes and Rivera all are eager to get as many opportunities to impress the coaching staff as possible. Walford hopefully has just a minor injury keeping him out for precautionary reasons, but after missing time for a hamstring injury the health of the rookie could be questioned as he has had struggles staying on the field throughout the Napa camp.

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Jon Beason wants to flag quarterbacks for making dangerous throws

During the last few years when Jon Beason has been doing more watching than playing, he’s obviously had time to think about the greater good of the game.

And after campaigning unsuccessfully earlier in training camp for more contact instead of less, he has now come up with an idea even more revolutionary and less likely to be implemented.

Via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News, the Giants middle linebacker said the answer to curbing big hits to defenseless receivers could rest with the guy throwing the ball rather than the guy doing the hitting.

“In my opinion, I think they should flag the quarterbacks for throwing the ball there,” Beason said. “Back in the day, certain routes in certain coverages said I could not throw this seam route because it’s cover-4, safety’s sitting right on top of there, I don’t want to get my guy killed. . . . Now that doesn’t happen, and that’s partly because a flag for a helmet-to-helmet or other big hit sometimes functions as a reward for the offense.

“Now you throw the ball, guys get hit, they may be hurt, maybe not. You roll around, the flag comes out. Well, it’s a good play for the offense . . . So you play to the rules. I think the onus should be on the quarterbacks not to throw those balls. Then we wouldn’t have those collisions.”

Beason was reportedly “half-joking” when he said it, because he’s smart enough to know such an idea would never fly.

Or maybe he was just thinking about the potential fines his new teammate Brandon Meriweather would collect if he had to take the field for the Giants this year.

Either way, putting the responsibility for dangerous throws on the quarterback is an idea only a linebacker could come up with.

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Yonder Alonso With Another Homer

Alonso went 2-for-4 with a solo HR. He scored two runs in the game.

Fantasy Impact: The HR was only his fifth of the season which is very low for a first basemen. He has a solid batting average and will have some solid games. Despite his benefits, first base is a solid fantasy position so there are a lot of leagues where there are enough better options to keep him from being a big factor.

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Danny Valencia hits another homer

Danny Valencia went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in Monday's loss to the Orioles.

Valencia drilled a Chris Tillman offering over the fence in right field in the second inning, giving the A's a temporary 1-0 lead. It's his fourth home run in 10 games since joining the Athletics. On the season, he has 11 home runs, 38 RBI, and a .294/.332/.534 batting line.

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Jon Jay nearing baseball activities

Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay is getting closer to participating in baseball activities, reports

Jay has been out since late June due to a wrist injury. He has been able to take batting practice in cages.

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Dolphins re-sign WR Tyler McDonald, waive Tommy Streeter

The Dolphins brought back wide receiver Tyler McDonald and waived wideout Tommy Streeter with an injury designation on Saturday.

McDonald was waived by Miami just four days ago after joining the club at the beginning of the year. He's a second-year pro out of South Carolina State who was briefly with the New England Patriots last summer. The 24-year-old has never played in a a regular-season NFL game.

Streeter appeared in two games with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. The former sixth-round pick started his career with the Ravens before stays in Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.

The Miami Hurricanes product signed with the Dolphins in June. This squad is stacked at receiver and Streeter had little chance at making the final roster even before this injury.

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Duke Johnson returns to practice

Browns running back Duke Johnson returned to practice this weekend after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury. The team was extra cautious with his and still is. Nonetheless, he's nearing a full return, even if head coach Mike Pettine insists they're going to ease him back. "(Johnson) was just jogging around," Pettine said. "We'll take it easy with him."

The sky is the limit for the Miami Hurricane's all-time leading rusher. His upside is Jamaal Charles. Johnson has big-play ability, natural pass-catching abilities and is better between the tackles than he gets credit for. He's currently being drafted as the RB40. There is no doubt that he has the ability to outperform his ADP. He just needs to stay healthy and earn his playing time.

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WATCH: Jimmy Graham's first catch as a Seahawk

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Anthony Chickillo Adjusting To Game, But Looking Good

As fans, often times all that is talked about and discussed are results. When you throw rookies into the conversation it can become dicey as their results are certainly not mind-blowing. With the two rookie outside linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo, the learning curve from college to the NFL has certainly been noticeable, but when you listen to their teammates and position coach, all is not lost for these young players.

Through two preseason games Dupree has accounted for 2 solo tackles and 1 assist, equating to 3 total tackles. Chickillo has accounted for 2 solo tackles. That is the end of the stat sheet for the rookies after two games, but all is not lost for the duo.

"They're going to be some headhunters. They've got professional type bodies, they're very smart and Coach Porter is doing a great job of implementing the system to them. And mentally because they got the physical attributes." Jarvis Jones told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"They're not making any mental errors. They're definitely working on things and getting better everyday. They're getting off the ball fast and making sure their games are well-rounded." OLB Arthur Moats added.

As for their position coach, Joey Porter talked about putting pressure on the young linebackers.

"I don't put pressure on them because I know what they are - they're rookies. Now what they did in college and what we are going to ask you do to here is totally different; it's going to be greatly different. What you did in college was good, because it was college. But this is you're playing for your livelihood now; you're playing for a whole different reason - we're chasing world championships here. And they're going to be scrutinized enough by the media to where I don't have to. They'll know where they fit by how they play. And they know the legacy (of Steelers' outside linebackers) they came into. And they know what the job they signed up for is. And the pressure that you guys put on them is going to be enough; I don't have to add no extra pressure to them. I just try to tell them, ‘Just play football and play it hard."

It is difficult to evaluate young players like Dupree and Chickillo with such limited repetitions, but it is clear to see the two haven't had the smoothest transitions to the professional level. Chickillo, who started out as the training camp darling, hasn't been as productive as many hoped in game action, and Dupree hasn't shown the burst which made him the top overall draft pick for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft. Often times the mental aspect of the game can slow down the physical aspect.
Despite fans often unfair expectations for rookies coming into the NFL, people within the Steelers organization seem pleased with where these two rookie outside linebackers are currently in terms of their progression. It may not have shown on the stat sheet yet, but certainly could in time.

The transition from the college game to the NFL isn't an easy one, and Anthony Chickillo and Bud Dupree are experiencing this first hand. The next logical question for the preseason remains: Which player will have their break out party first?

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Brandon Meriweather reunites with Jon Beason

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jon Beason and Brandon Meriweather enjoyed the NFL’s version of a family reunion today at Giants’ training camp.

The linebacker and safety were teammates for four seasons at the University of Miami (2003-06). They share a birthday, Jan. 14. The two players were selected 24th (Meriweather) and 25th in the 2007 NFL Draft.

And now they’ve reunited. The Giants today signed Meriweather, a nine-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler, to shore up the back of their defense, which has been depleted by injuries.

“Once a Cane (Miami Hurricane), always a Cane,” Beason said after practice. “So to me, it’s about putting the band back together. We played all four years together, he was All-American, he was the quarterback of our defense and got everybody lined up. Extremely intelligent player, could be coaching one day. Understands fronts, run fits, coverage, entry angles, how to break on the ball. That’s how you get big hits, taking the proper steps and anticipation. He’s going to help us tremendously, a veteran, another voice back there, and I think it’s going to make our secondary a lot better.”

“That’s my brother,” Meriweather said. “It’s like going to a family reunion. It’s like getting back with your brother. In his and my case, getting back with my little brother.”

Meriweather was the New England Patriots’ first-round draft choice in 2007. Beason was chosen moments later by the Carolina Panthers.

“We had an ongoing bet who was going to go first, and he one-upped me,” Beason said. “It was all good.”

“I beat him, he knows that,” Meriweather said. “I actually thought he was going to go first, but yeah, I beat him.”

Meriweather spent four seasons with the Patriots and has also played for Chicago and Washington. He was a Pro Bowler in 2009-10. So was Beason, who was traded here on Oct. 4, 2013.

Of course, the Giants are far less interested in their friendship than they are in how well Meriweather can play. With Nat Berhe (calf), Landon Collins (knee) and Mykkele Thompson (Achilles tendon, out for the season) sidelined, they need help at safety.

“I’m excited, man,” Meriweather said. “Anytime you can come to a great organization, you’ve always got to be excited and ready to help.

“I’m going to go in and I’m going to put my all into it. I’m going to get with coach every day until I get it the way I knew every other defense.”

Asked if he is still the player who was selected to two Pro Bowls, Meriweather said, “I know I am.”

Meriweather was thrown into the fire in the full-pads practice, taking far more reps than he anticipated.

“They actually threw me in and I didn’t know I was going to get that many reps at all,” he said. “I thought I was going to do some running around, but not that.

“It’s always good to learn on the fly. It’s always good just to learn, just throw them in and let them sink or swim. That’s the way you learn.”

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Cyclists begin 1100 mile ride to honor Sean Taylor

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Clive Walford catches two balls for 28 yards

Rookie tight end Clive Walford caught both targets for 28 yards. Christian Ponder completed his first pass for six yards to Walford, then found him for 22 yards two plays later.

Fantasy Impact: Rookie tight ends historically have a difficult time transitioning to the NFL. Walford should not be an exception. In addition, Mychal Rivera is listed as the starter so the fantasy value of both will be minimal.

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Ereck Flowers has solid showing in professional debut

CINCINNATI — Ereck Flowers' first official snap in the NFL threw him right into the fire.

The Giants' rookie left tackle fired out and, with running back Rashad Jennings soon to be right behind him, headed toward the second level. His objective? Pick up Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk, an established veteran.

Flowers, the Giants' first round pick, did just that, securing the block and pushing Hawk back as Jennings picked up three yards on the first play from scrimmage in the Giants' preseason-opening 23-10 loss at Paul Brown Stadium.

"It was pretty good," Flowers said. "I think I did pretty well, but I'm looking to improve. I felt good, I had fun. Football is football."

The first team offense struggled mightily on Friday night, especially on the offensive line, on the four drives the unit was together on the field. But Flowers, whose development has been hampered a bit recently by a hip flexor injury, put in a solid individual effort, picking up his assignments with consistency to cap what was a good week for the No. 9-overall pick between a pair of joint practices and the game.

Flowers said there was nothing about the game that surprised him, since "we had been practicing against them all week, so it was about the same."

There were a handful of times when a Bengal defender would get some pressure against Flowers on a pass rush, and Flowers did draw a facemask penalty to wipe out a nice gain when he lost his balance while blocking Bengals defensive end Will Clarke. But on the whole, Flowers did well, moving his feet and maintaining leverage

Flowers saw a variety of Bengal defenders - Wallace Gilberry, Clarke and Hawk, among others - and was consistent throughout both in the run game and in the passing attack. When the starting line then stayed in the game for a fifth series, Flowers helped the unit assert itself against the Bengals' reserves, leading to an 8-play touchdown drive.

The learning curve for a rookie left tackle is a steep one, but Flowers continues to give the Giants optimism so far during training camp that he can step into the crucial role admirably. 

"We need to keep improving," Flowers said, "and getting better."

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Giants sign two-time Pro Bowl Safety Brandon Meriweather

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today reinforced a secondary that has been thinned by injuries when they signed veteran free agent safety Brandon Meriweather, a former first-round draft choice and two-time Pro Bowler.

To make room on the roster, the Giants waived kicker Chris Boswell.

In addition, rookie safety Mykkele Thompson was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn Achilles tendon on Friday night in the preseason opener in Cincinnati. Because Thompson is not a vested veteran, he will continue to count toward the Club’s 90-man roster limit.

The Giants have lost several defensive backs to injuries, including safeties Landon Collins (knee, day to day), Nat Berhe (calf, day to day) and Thompson. In addition, four cornerbacks are currently on the shelf: Prince Amukamara (groin, day to day), Trumaine McBride (hamstring, day to day), Chykie Brown (knee, week to week) and Jayron Hosley (concussion protocol).

Meriweather, 5-11 and 204 pounds, has played in 99 regular-season games with 68 starts. His career totals include 402 tackles (277 solo), 15 interceptions, 6.0 sacks, nine passes defensed and three fumble recoveries.

In 2014, he started all 10 games in which he played for Washington. He finished with 53 tackles (34 solo), a career-high 3.0 sacks, 4 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Meriweather, 31, was a teammate of Jon Beason’s at the University of Miami. The New England Patriots selected him with the 24th pick in the first round in 2007; Beason went 25th to the Carolina Panthers. In his four seasons with the Patriots, Meriweather played in all 64 regular-season games with 40 starts, and in five postseason games with three starts.

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Lamar Miller doesn't mind increased workload

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller won't mind an increased workload in the regular season.

Entering his fourth season and coming off a career-best 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014, he might be ready to ask for more carries.

''Yeah, I'm going to start doing that,'' Miller said of asking second-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for more carries.

''I'm a team guy, so whatever the coaches call, I just try to do my assignment. But if I feel like we can run the ball this year, I'm going to try to open up a little bit more.''

Miller got 216 carries in 2014 - nearly as many as his first two seasons combined (228).

Only the Ravens' Justin Forsett had a better yards per carry average (5.4) than Miller (5.1) among starting running backs, who tied the Bengals' Jeremy Hill for the second-highest rate.

''I built confidence for myself having the season I had last year,'' said Miller, who also caught 38 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown.

''Coming into this year, I feel more comfortable with the playbook, blocking schemes, the whole 9 yards. I just want to keep being productive, keep making plays for this team - just be accountable. Have my teammates' trust in me to make plays.''

The Dolphins haven't had a running back get more than 241 carries in a season since Ricky Williams had 392 in 2003.

Could Miller get 300 carries this season?

''I know we're running back by committee,'' said Miller, who's joined on the depth chart by Damien Williams, LaMichael James, Jay Ajayi and Mike Gillislee.

''I don't know if we'd be able to get that many carries, but if we do, I'm willing to take on that challenge.''

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is open to anything that will keep his team's offense on the field.

''The ultimate objective is scoring points on offense, however we have to do that and whatever personnel we have to utilize.'' Philbin said. ''If one person can help us do that and (it means) giving him (22) carries a game to get 350 carries, I have no problem doing that.''

Miller is aiming to join Williams (2002-03) and Larry Csonka (1971-73) as the franchise's only players to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

He should start this season as the team's No. 1 back for the first time after sharing duties going back to his days at University of Miami.

''I have that same mindset as I had as a rookie,'' Miller said. ''I just come here every day and try to get better, compete with the younger guys. I'm the veteran of the group now. I try to push everybody so when that guy gets that opportunity, he'll take advantage of it.''

Lazor said Miller ''done a great job of becoming a student of the game from the backfield.''

Miller, who says he ''tries to lead by example'' has also become more vocal.

''When I first got here, the guy rarely talked to me,'' Lazor said. ''He communicates so much better with me now.''

''He knows what he's doing. He knows what issues we asked him to deal with from, and we've seen those things get better. The guy all year got more and more decisive in the way he ran the football. He played fast from the backfield. I expect nothing but it to keep going.''

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Five things you need to know about Brandon Meriweather

1. Heading into his ninth NFL season, safety Brandon Meriweather comes to the Giants after playing his first four years in New England (2007-10), one in Chicago (2011) and, most recently, three with Washington (2012-14). In 99 career games (68 starts), Meriweather recorded 424 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 15 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), nine forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

2. Originally a first-round selection by New England in 2007, Meriweather made back-to-back Pro Bowls with the Patriots in 2009 and 2010, a span in which he had 151 tackles and eight interceptions.

3. Meriweather made his first career start in Super Bowl XLII against the Giants, lining up as the Patriots’ nickel cornerback. Overall, he has played in five postseason games with three starts, recording 10 tackles and a pass defensed.

4. Last season with Washington, the 5-foot-11, 198-pound veteran started all 10 games that he played before being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 19 with a toe injury. Despite missing the final quarter of the 2014 season, Meriweather notched career highs in sacks (3.0) and forced fumbles (three).

5. A native of Apopka, Fla., Meriweather played at the University of Miami, where he holds the Hurricanes record for tackles by a defensive back with 293. His 182 solo tackles broke the Miami all-time record for safeties that was held by Bennie Blades (155), and his 77 solo tackles in 2005 broke the old Miami season-record for safeties that was first set by Daryl Reeh (68). Meriweather also became the first defensive back to ever lead the Hurricanes in tackles in a season (115 in 2005).

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Jon Beason Feels Good

LB Jon Beason was on the field for 13 plays in his first game following last season’s foot surgery.

“I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel like I was quick to the ball, explosive,’’ Beason said. He was not credited with a tackle and said he was trying to show new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo that he’s learning the system.

“I was just trying to do my job,’’ Beason said. “I just want to show Coach I understand what I’m doing and trying to be where I needed to be when I needed to be there. For the most part it was good, but you want to be more impactful, you want to make more plays to get off the field.’’

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Chris Myers shows up at camp in new role

Former Texans center Chris Myers reported to training camp – as a member of the media.

Myers has accepted a position with Sports Radio 610, the Texans’ flagship radio station.

Myers was released in March after playing seven years with the Texans and never missing a start. They talked to him about returning to the team in a reserve role, but it didn’t work out.

After practice, Myers interviewed several of his former teammates for the Sports Radio 610 website. Not surprisingly, Myers got a lot of handshakes and hugs by players as they came off the field.

Myers didn’t rule out a return to the NFL, but for now, he said he’s excited about his new part-time job with the radio station.

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Ryan Braun ties Robin Yount's Brewers HR record with grand slam

In grand fashion, Ryan Braun made some Brewers history on Sunday.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Braun unloaded for a grand slam. Here it is:

The blast was the 251st home run of Braun's career, which ties him with Robin Yount for the most in Brewers history.

Here's the top five:
1. Braun, 251
1. Yount, 251
3. Prince Fielder, 230
4. Geoff Jenkins, 212
5. Gorman Thomas, 208

The Brewers franchise only dates back to 1970 (or 1969, if we include the one Seattle Pilots season), so it's not all too surprising to see such a low number for the franchise leader. Some are even lower. Here they are:

Nationals/Expos (Vladimir Guerrero, 234)
Diamondbacks (Luis Gonzalez, 224)
Rays (Evan Longoria, 197)
Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton, 181)
Padres (Nate Colbert, 163)

Of note: Darryl Strawberry holds the Mets' record with 252, so the next Braun homer ties that. Also, that Padres leader is a pretty good way to stump your friends with a trivia question.

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Yonder Alonso settles beef with Justin Upton, wears catcher’s gear in dugout

Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso had to be tested for a concussion on Saturday after being hit on the head by Justin Upton’s helmet when Upton threw it in frustration. 

On Sunday, Alonso decided to play it safe and wear full catcher’s gear in the dugout, just in case. 

Thankfully, Alonso tested negative for a concussion and he seemed to have forgiven Upton by the time he spoke to reporters on Saturday night. 

“I was just watching the game and felt something just hit me right across the head,” Alonso said, according to “But it’s part of the game. Guys get upset. I’m fine. Luckily, everything checked out well. We’re going to move on.”

The two hugged it out on Sunday, too.

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