Bears sign D.J. Williams

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year contract Friday.

After offering longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher a one-year, $2 million contract that he refused, the Bears got Williams for a base salary of $900,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. He can earn a maximum of $1.75 million if he reaches all his incentives.

"We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him," Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. "This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension for part of the 2012 season. We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at 'Mike' (middle) linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft."

Williams spent nine years in Denver where he started 115 regular-season games and registered a career-best 141 tackles in 2007. The 30-year-old veteran has played both middle and outside linebacker.

He appeared in just seven games last season with one start after being suspended nine games by the NFL for two separate incidents. He was suspended the first six games of the 2012 season for violating the league's banned-substances policy after the league said he supplied a "non-human" urine sample during a drug test.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tacked on an additional three-game suspension after Williams was found in violation of the league's substance abuse policy when a jury convicted him of driving while impaired in a case that dated to November 2010. That incident was the second time Williams had been arrested under the suspicion of driving while impaired. He previously pleaded guilty to a charge in 2005, and the Broncos stripped him of his captainship.

The Broncos released Williams in the offseason to avoid paying him a $6 million salary in 2013.

The Bears had a clear need at linebacker after the club allowed Urlacher and fellow starter Nick Roach to leave via free agency. The Bears broke off contract negotiations with Urlacher on Wednesday.

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All Canes Signing Event w/ proCanes Brandon McGee & Mike James SUNDAY


All Canes is located at 5831 Ponce de Leon Boulevard - Coral Gables, FL - 33146 a foul ball away from Mark LIght Stadium.

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All Canes Radio With Future proCane Dalton Botts & proCane Leonard Myers

Every MONDAY Night joins All Canes Radio to bring the latest news on not only current Hurricane football but also proCane news and exclusive interviews with current and former proCanes live from Shake Shack in Coral Gables.

Click here to listen to this week’s show and hear our exclusive interviews with future proCane punter Dalton Botts and proCane Leonard Myers.

Listen to future NFL P Dalton Botts talk about his days at The U, what he is doing to get ready for the NFL Draft and much more! Also listen in to what former proCane DB Leonard Myers has to say about his days at The U, his days as a Patriot with Coach Bill Belichick and much more!

THIS COMING MONDAY, APRIL 1st AllCanes Radio has as guests proCane LB DJ WILLIAMS & proCane WR AC TELLISON. FREE BEER from 7-9pm at Shake Shack Coral Gables. JOIN US!

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Brandon McGee visits Bears

The Chicago Bears had a pre-draft visit with Miami Hurricanes CB Brandon McGee. McGee is expected to be a mid-round pick.

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Dolphins, Eric Winston close to deal

The Miami Dolphins are hosting free agent offensive tackle Eric Winston on Wednesday hoping to hammer out a deal, according to Adam Schefter. Winston was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the offseason, marking the second time in two years he was released. He was sent packing by the Houston Texans in 2012. Miami could use the help on the offensive line after watching Jake Long walk out the door, as he signed with the St. Louis Rams a four year, $36 million contract. Second-year tackle Jonathan Martin is expected to fill Long's shoes on the left side, but things are also uncertain on the right. Last year, Martin played there, leaving the door wide open at that position.

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It's a sad day for Ravens, fans as Ed Reed signs with Houston Texans

How are reporters and editors view Ed Reed signing with the Houston Texans:

Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens reporter: It is obviously a sad day for Ravens' fans and for good reason. Reed is one of the best players in franchise history and a sure bet Hall of Famer. For more than a decade, he has not only been one of the best Ravens but he's been one of the most entertaining to watch. But the Ravens' offseason blueprint has been clear and quite  frankly, Reed, who turns 35 in September and who struggled last season, doesn't fit into that going forward. Now more than ever, this is a new era for the Ravens. I think they'll miss Reed's leadership and his mentoring of players more than his on-field production. There is a part of me that wished that Reed retired this offseason, that the final images of him on a football field would have been the safety dancing around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 30 minutes from where he grew up, and celebrating his first Super Bowl victory. But with how much he has meant to the NFL, the Ravens and the city, he deserves to go out however he wants.

Aaron Wilson, Ravens reporter: Ed Reed leaves the Ravens with a rich legacy as one of the most instinctive ballhawking safeties in NFL history. A dynamic center fielder, Reed had a unique way of baiting quarterbacks into mistakes. The 34-year-old joins the Houston Texans at a time when his game was still productive with flashes of the old vintage Reed. However, he was also hampered at times by durability issues and a decline in range that's understandable at his age. Reed's intellect and dedication to film study set him apart and his willingness to mentor younger teammates the way Ray Lewis did with him when he first arrived in Baltimore. Reed was unpredictable on the field and rarely hesitated to express himself off the field. There won't be another player or personality quite like Reed in Baltimore. Bottom line: Reed was never dull to watch or listen to.

Matt Vensel, reporter/blogger: While nothing was surprising at all about the news that Ed Reed is signing with the Houston Texans, I still feel a little bummed out about it now that it became official. It has been a joy watching Reed up close since I started covering the team in 2008, and it may be a long, long time until we see another ball-hawking safety as good as him. Few defenders were as dangerous and as exciting with the ball in their hands. I will miss those big plays.

Ron Fritz, sports editor: I always wanted to see Ed Reed with the ball in his hands, whether it was an interception return or a punt return, just to see if he was going to lateral the ball. Reed has noticeably slowed down as a player, but he’ll be a big loss in the locker room for the Ravens. He’s a tremendous athlete who will be remembered in Baltimore not only for his Hall of Fame career, but for his charity work, especially at the Booker T. Washington Middle School. He didn’t just provide money, he gave his time.

Kevin Cowherd, columnist: If it was hard to imagine the Ravens' defense without Ray Lewis, it's almost impossible to imagine it without No. 52 AND Ed Reed. Reed will be sorely missed for his savvy and play-making abilities. But he wanted more money than the Ravens were willing to pay and the respect of a big contract, and now the Ravens begin to build a whole new identity on defense.

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Loss of Reed means end of era for Ravens

In losing seven starters from their Super Bowl championship team, the Baltimore Ravens know they can fill the spots left by the likes of inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, safety Bernard Pollard, cornerback Cary Williams and center Matt Birk.

But there is no replacing safety Ed Reed or linebacker Ray Lewis. Baltimore will get someone like Michael Huff to start at Reed's free safety position and the team will find another inside linebacker to take over for Lewis. It's just impossible for the Ravens to replace what these two future Hall of Fame players meant to the franchise.

When Reed agreed to terms with the Houston Texans on Wednesday night, the Ravens didn't just say goodbye to another key piece to a championship team. With Reed gone and Lewis retired, this marked the end of an era for the Ravens. This move defines a Ravens offseason where the focus has been on the future and not the sentiment of the past.

Reed and Lewis were cornerstones of the franchise. They were the emotional leaders. They provided the confidence and the swagger. They got into the heads of quarterbacks and running backs alike and provided game-changing plays when the Ravens needed it the most. For most of the past decade, teams knew they couldn't run on No. 52 in the middle and couldn't throw deep against No. 20 patrolling the secondary. It's hard to imagine the Ravens without either Reed or Lewis, much less both.

There was always a comfort level knowing the best linebacker and the best safety of the generation was suiting up. The Ravens defense has had Reed or Lewis on the field for the past seven seasons. Over the past 11 years, the Ravens played just five games without both of them, and went 1-4 in their absence.

The Ravens knew there was a chance Reed could sign elsewhere. The team treated Reed's free-agency situation the same way it did with Lewis three years ago. Reed was allowed to test the market to see if he could find a better deal. Unlike Lewis, Reed didn't come back.

The Ravens will miss Reed's leadership more than his play on the field, which is ultimately why they didn't outbid the Texans. This isn't to say Reed failed to make an impact, because he did affect games. His presence changed the way offenses attacked Baltimore. In the playoffs, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning avoided throwing to Reed's side of the field. Reed added an interception in the Super Bowl.

But Reed, who will turn 35 in the first month of the season, isn't the same playmaker from a few years ago. That's why teams weren't lining up and opening up their checkbooks for him. He is a liability when it comes to tackling. He missed 15 tackles last season, and that doesn't include the two times that a player leapt over him. Reed also has had four or fewer interceptions in three of his past four seasons.

What hurts the Ravens the most is losing Reed's locker-room presence. While everyone saw Lewis motivating teammates in a pregame huddle every week, many players felt Reed was the more influential leader. He preferred to speak to players behind the scenes.

It's amazing to think that Reed came close to never playing for Baltimore. In fact, the Ravens didn't target Reed in the 2002 draft. Team officials were hoping linebacker Napoleon Harris would fall to them. The Raiders took Harris (who ended up playing for four teams in seven seasons) one spot ahead of the Ravens. Even after that, owner Steve Bisciotti thought the Ravens should taken cornerback Lito Sheppard over Reed.

In the end, the Ravens chose Reed with the 24th pick of that draft and the rest is team history. Reed will be remembered for making plays all over the field by taking risks, whether it was jumping a route or haphazardly lateraling the ball. He's picked off 61 passes, the most interceptions in the NFL since 2002 and 11 more than anyone else during that span. He is the NFL's all-time leader in interception-return yards, recording the two longest interception returns in NFL history (107 and 106 yards). Reed has scored 14 touchdowns in his career (including playoffs), reaching the end zone off interceptions (eight), blocked punts (three), fumble returns (two) and a punt return (one).

The Baltimore defense isn't in total shambles. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb become the new foundation. The aura isn't the same, however, because none of these players carries the same legacy of Reed or Lewis.

This is new territory for the Ravens. The top players in franchise history, Lewis and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, were Ravens for life. It won't be the same storybook ending for Reed, and maybe that's the way it should be. Lewis and Reed leaving the Ravens at the same time.

The Ravens' 2013 season isn't simply about defending their Super Bowl title anymore. It's the start of a new chapter for the franchise and its defense.

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Bidding farewell to Ed Reed, the most interesting, entertaining athlete in Baltimore

Sportswriters inevitably get the question: How do you cover teams you once loved as a fan?

The standard answer is that you stop rooting for the jersey and start rooting for the best story. That’s true to a point but incomplete. It’s near impossible to cover a team and not become fascinated with some of the individual personalities. You don’t exactly root for them, but you are drawn to them.

And that brings me to Ed Reed and his departure from Baltimore after 11 mesmerizing, mystical, confounding and deeply entertaining seasons.

Reed is the most captivating athlete who has passed through the city during my time as a writer. And for that reason, I’m unashamed to say I’ll miss him. 

The first time I had the pleasure of writing about him, during the 2009 playoffs, he had puzzled everyone by idly remarking that he might try baseball. He had manned third base and closed games for Destrehan High School, just outside New Orleans. And with the daily realities of NFL pain management tugging at his mind, he spoke whimsically of a career change.

Mind you, he was in the middle of perhaps his most spectacular stretch, having intercepted 10 passes and scored three defensive touchdowns in the previous seven games. In the previous weekend’s playoff game in Miami, he had raced past everyone to intercept an overthrown pass and had then reversed his momentum and cut through the entire Dolphins’ defense on his way to the end zone.

The play was pure Reed, like Willie Mays playing football. He zoomed out of nowhere to make a play that defied the normal rhythms of an NFL game. And instead of stopping at one remarkable feat, he kept pushing, determined to paint a masterpiece.

Moments like that allowed us to forgive Reed his kooky laterals. The man wasn’t content with being ordinary.

Anyway, what struck me during that 2009 reporting experience was not anything Reed had to say. He was in one of his frequent man-of-few-words phases.
No, what came through was the reverence teammates shared for his acumen. Fellow safety Jim Leonhard told me that every week, Reed did something that made him say, “I’ve never seen that.”

Domonique Foxworth, as smart an athlete as you’ll ever meet, couldn’t believe how much Reed gleaned from a few hours of watching film. Years later, Foxworth would tell me he had never seen Reed’s equal in outguessing the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

Safeties tend to be relative afterthoughts in NFL game planning. But not Reed. He weaponized the position. You could hear it in appraisals from the NFL’s brightest minds — Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning. Reed was the guy they feared in preparing for the Ravens.

Sure, Reed occasionally exhausted the patience of fans and team officials with pronouncements that seemed just as offbeat as his movements on the field. He talked often of retiring in recent offseasons as shoulder and neck injuries gradually diminished his playing abandon. There was the famous scene after the Ravens lost the 2012 AFC Championship Game. Instead of fielding questions about his future, Reed serenaded the locker room with a bit of Teddy Pendergrass.

But come training camp last summer, there he was, sporting his familiar samurai beard with the tinge of gray. And there I was, back to write about him and Ray Lewis as they prepared for one more ride. This time, I found an expansive Reed as we stood in a hallway near the team cafeteria and talked for 30 minutes.

Most veteran pros have mastered the art of blandness, but Reed, if you catch him on the right day, is an interesting listen. He speaks in elliptical passages that wander away from the question only to wind back to the essential issue.

He couldn’t help but wrestle with his football mortality, he told me, and yet after a summer of soul-searching, he felt he had more to give — to his younger teammates and to the game itself.

Again, I was struck as much by what others said as by Reed’s own words. The outside world regarded Lewis as the Ravens’ leader, one of the most dynamic front men in all of sports. But when I discussed mentoring with younger Ravens such as Jameel McClain and Lardarius Webb, they couldn’t stop talking about Reed. They saw him as far more than some football Zen master. They could talk to him about life — family relationships and the art of keeping football in its proper context.

The team needed his wisdom as injuries and ugly losses cast doubt on the fate of the season. Lewis again became the story as the playoffs opened, announcing his impending retirement days before the Ravens began a stretch of unexpected inspiration.

But just as fervently as his longtime teammate, Reed saw a perfect ending on the horizon, a Super Bowl to be contested in New Orleans, 20 miles from his hometown of Saint Rose, La. When the Ravens arrived, Reed embraced the spotlight like never before, beaming as he answered dozens upon dozens of questions about coming home.

On my favorite afternoon of that week, I spent a few hours at Destrehan High, speaking with Reed’s mother, Karen, and the teachers and coaches who mentored him. Karen Reed was shy of questions but proudly showed off her hand-sewn purple Ravens boots and purple nail polish. The coaches remembered the way Reed listened to gospel on long bus trips and his folk-heroic mastery of anything athletic, from kicking a football to throwing the javelin to hitting home runs. His second mother figure, Jeanne Hall, described the way his charm and depth showed through even before he had his life together. She was convinced he’d become a comedian or a preacher.

Everyone at Destrehan still called him Edward. And Reed’s boyish exultation proved to be one of the genuine pleasures of the Ravens’ victory.

When he spoke of leading a “second line” through the downtown streets to the team hotel, it wasn’t hard to picture him actually doing it. During the victory parade, it seemed he might disappear into a crowd of Baltimoreans, the Lombardi trophy tucked under his arm like an intercepted pass. In the weeks that followed, we even saw him as a red carpet reporter at the Oscars, chatting up George Clooney.

Business interceded as it usually does in pro football. The Ravens held to their discipline, refusing to overpay Reed now that he’s no longer a core asset. And he did the sensible thing, squeezing the last, best payoff from a sport that grinds down the bodies of its greatest practitioners. No need for bitterness on either side.

And yet, a touch of sadness seems in order. One of our indelible characters is gone and his like shall not pass this way again.

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Orioles option infielder Danny Valencia

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles optioned third baseman Danny Valencia to Triple-A Norfolk during Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Valencia, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox this offseason for cash considerations, was 10-for-31 this spring. He hit a game-winning solo home run in the Orioles’ 8-7 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday in Fort Myers, his only one of the spring.

The 28-year-old Valencia entered camp as a possible right-handed designated hitter because of his .316/.359/.472 career batting line against right-handed pitching. He also competed for a utility infield spot this spring, playing both third base and first base.

Valeneica will likely open the season at the starting third baseman at Norfolk.

This offseason, Valencia's name appeared on a list tied to a Miami-area anti-aging clinic that is being investigated by MLB for supplying major league players with performance-enhancing drugs. Valencia addressed the report on the first day of camp, denying that he's every used PEDs.

The move trims the Orioles big league camp roster to 44 players, including 12 non-roster invitees.

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White Sox optioned OF Blake Tekotte

White Sox optioned OF Blake Tekotte to Triple-A Charlotte. Tekotte batted just .222 this spring prior to the demotion He can play all three outfield spots and isn't a terrible hitter, though, so he offers decent depth in the minors.

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Jon Jay feels comfortable 'quarterbacking' outfield

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Long before he found himself in a holding pattern at the professional level, Jon Jay had learned the necessity of waiting his turn.

It started during his days at Columbus (Fla.) High School, when, despite being a talented teenage player, he didn't even make the junior varsity team as a freshman. He joined the varsity his sophomore year but didn't start until his junior season. Such was the reality for players trying to break into one of the Miami area's elite high school programs.

As a senior, Jay was a member of a state championship team.

He expected to wait at the University of Miami too, signing a letter of intent at a school that, at the time, had four junior outfielders. Jay didn't care. It's where he wanted to play. Circumstances -- two transfers and an injury -- created an immediate opening for him, even though Jay had already braced to wait.

He finished his collegiate career a three-time All-American.

"I didn't have the best tools out there, but I did what I needed to do as a college player to prove myself," Jay recently recalled. "I've always looked at things as a challenge. At a young age, I learned to understand how the business side of this sport goes."

It all prepared Jay for his professional path, which, after a quick climb to Triple-A, stalled because of the absence of an immediate fit with the big league club. Jay, who turned 28 on March 15, spent parts of three seasons with Memphis. When he was finally summoned to St. Louis in 2010, he bounced around the outfield, filling in as needed.

It wasn't until the Cardinals dealt center fielder Colby Rasmus at the 2011 Trade Deadline that Jay finally sensed the Cardinals committing to him. He prepares for the 2013 regular season having proven his value as an everyday center fielder, much in the same way that Allen Craig has finally found his everyday job at first base.

"It might not have been as fast as we would have liked it to have been, but we were patient and worked hard," Jay said of his and Craig's journey to the Majors. "We did what we needed to do, and instead of pouting about it, we worked every day. Now, it's nice to come into the season as a starter, even though it doesn't change how hard I work. But you know the role. You know what to expect. You know in Spring Training, exactly what you need to do to get ready."

Jay, who made a diving catch to save a run against the Mets on Thursday, solidified his credentials as a capable Major League center fielder last season. He became just the third outfielder in Cardinals history (minimum 108 games) to play errorless defense. And, as manager Mike Matheny describes it, Jay took over the task of "quarterbacking" in the outfield.

Despite playing between two outfielders -- Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran -- with a combined 24 years of service time and 15 All-Star appearances, Jay willingly took charge.

"That's not an easy transition, especially when you have guys of that caliber around you," Matheny said. "It's hard to jump in and really take that leadership role, but I think that's part of his natural makeup. He has those leadership characteristics in him. It was something he was excited about this offseason to kick it to another level."

This spring, Jay also found guidance in guest instructors Jim Edmonds and Willie McGee. The three analyzed ballparks, hitters and approaches together in a way Jay said he never had before.

"That's what comes with being a center fielder," Jay said. "You have to take ownership. You really have to step up. I think that's what makes the great center fielders great. They play fearless out there. They take charge. They're not afraid to say, 'I messed up.'"

Jay's leadership has been evident this spring -- even off the outfield grass, as he's taken the initiative of being a buddy to prospect Oscar Taveras. He's an accountability partner of sorts, helping Taveras learn how to read hitters' swings, how to adapt his positioning and how to play with maturity.

He's been a combination of teacher and friend.

"I look up to Jay," Taveras said through a translator. "I feel more confident out there now. I like how he's aggressive out there on balls."

Matheny recently instructed Taveras to watch how Jay approached something as innocuous as shagging balls during batting practice. Matheny wanted Taveras to see the effort, yes, but also the enjoyment.

"He's doing everything short of diving in batting practice," Matheny recalled. "He loves to do this. He's out there going hard for one round of batting practice. That's his plan. He's just out there like a kid enjoying the game of baseball."

Something interesting has happened, too, Matheny noted. Taveras has started to mimic Jay's pregame seriousness.

While solid on defense, Jay will again be asked to spark the offense. With Rafael Furcal out for the season, Jay is set to hit leadoff, a spot where he took half of his at-bats in 2012. He finished the year tied for fourth in the National League among leadoff hitters with a .303 average.

On a team not constructed around speed, Jay brings that element. He led the Cardinals with 19 stolen bases last season and has been testing his limits and leads throughout Grapefruit League play. The Cardinals have encouraged him to be advantageous, but not reckless. They value having him on base more than they do the extra 90 feet.

This concept of taking advantage of opportunities should come natural to Jay -- it's the same path he walked to get here.

"I knew everything would work itself out here in this organization," he said. "There was not another organization that I wanted to be with. It's paid off."

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Chris Perez to throw in minors game Saturday

Chris Perez (shoulder) is scheduled to make an appearance in a minor league game on Saturday afternoon.

Perez has tossed a couple of problem-free bullpen sessions and told reporters earlier this week that his shoulder feels "100 percent." The Indians closer is fully expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

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Ed Reed heading to Houston Texans

Baltimore Ravens fans may be still reveling in the Super Bowl win, but some of the gloss is now off as free-agent safety Ed Reed has all but made it official that he will be playing next season for the Houston Texans, ending his legacy with the Ravens.

In a report by ESPN, a league source said Reed has told the Texans he plans on signing with them. Reed visited the Texans last Friday but left without having a deal in place.

Apparently that changed Wednesday as Reed apparently made it clear that he will no longer be part of the team he's been with since he came into the NFL.

In a text message to, Ravens coach John Harbaugh all but confirmed Reed's tenure in Baltimore was over, saying, "Ed is a great friend and player. I will always appreciate our time together ..."

Houston reportedly offered Reed a three-year, $12 million deal, sources indicated. But at an average of $4 million per season, that is a far cry from what Reed was seeking from either the Ravens or another team, namely, a deal close to the $7.2 million he earned last season.

The Ravens had hoped Reed would stay with the team, but at a greatly reduced salary.

"On the hopeful scale, I'd say it's of high hope," Harbaugh said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "It's high on the measuring stick. We'll just have to see how it works out."

Unfortunately for the Ravens, it worked out for the Texans, who needed to make a big free agent grab like the eight-time Pro Bowler Reed after losing three key players to free agency: safety Glover Quin to Detroit, and tight end James Casey and linebacker Connor Barwin to Philadelphia.

Reed will be reunited with former University of Miami teammates Andre Johnson and Chris Myers at Houston.

Reed spent 11 seasons with the Ravens. He holds the team record with 61 interceptions, and a league record of 1,541 return yards from those pick-offs. He scored 14 touchdowns in his career and is the only NFL defensive player to score touchdowns on a punt return, blocked punt, interception and fumble recovery. This past season, he had 58 tackles and led the Ravens with four interceptions, having appeared in all 16 regular season games as well as the playoff road to a win in the Super Bowl.

Apparently expecting Reed to leave, Baltimore is expected to soon have a visit with Oakland Raiders free agent safety Michael Huff, according to ESPN.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith was shocked that the Ravens will now go forward without Reed and now-retired Ray Lewis.

"No Reed or Ray in Baltimore????? This season is gonna be weird," Smith tweeted.

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Devin Hester no longer wide receiver for Chicago Bears

Devin Hester admitted at the end of last season that football no longer was fun. Arguably the greatest return man in NFL history even talked about retirement, but new coach Marc Trestman still wants him around.

But not on offense.

Trestman told Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that Hester "feels really good" about the team's plans to use him strictly as a specialist going forward. The plan is to line up second-year pass-catcher Alshon Jeffery as a starter across from Brandon Marshall, Trestman added.

The move is long overdue. Hester underwhelmed during his 46 starts at wideout over the past five seasons. As electrifying as he can be on special teams, the 30-year-old pulled down just 26 passes for 242 yards last year.

Jeffery endured struggles of his own last season, battling through hand and knee injuries as a rookie. He has a tendency to make a big play before vanishing, but Jeffery is a better fit for Trestman's vertical passing game.

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Eric Winston Has Drawn Interest From Patriots, Among Other Teams

If the 2013 season started right now, third-year tackle Marcus Cannon would be the starter on the right side for New England.

It looks like the Patriots may be interested in some competition for the TCU product. New England has shown interest in Eric Winston, according to Adam Schefter of Winston is a seven-year veteran out of Miami. He spent the first six years of his career with the Texans before signing a four-year, $22 million deal with the Chiefs last offseason.

Kansas City released him on March 6. The 6-foot-7, 310-pounder has played on the right side of the line his whole career, and the Patriots’ starting right tackle, Sebastian Vollmer, is also a free agent. If Winston signs on with New England, it could mean the end of Vollmer’s career with the Patriots.

New England has some competition for Winston’s services. He visited the Dolphins on Wednesday, while the Eagles, Chargers and Cowboys have also shown interest.

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Cleveland Browns Free Agent Rumors: Kellen Winslow or Dennis Pitta Options After Benjamin Watson?

The Cleveland Browns have already made a few big splashes in free agency by signing Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant and the team could be making another move soon, as they try to replace tight end Benjamin Watson, who signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent.

According to, the Raiders are interested in signing Kellen Winslow, as are the Cleveland Browns, as he was a former star for the team and also has a relationship with new head coach Rob Chudzinski, who worked with Winslow while at the University of Miami. Winslow is a free agent after being released by the Patriots last season and according to the report, he is finally fully healthy after dealing with knee surgery.

The Raiders are interested in Winslow after losing Brandon Myers, who led the team with 79 catches for 806 yards and four touchdowns, while the Browns want to replace Watson. The team may have an advantage after Chudzinski coached Winslow at Miami and he could be a solid addition to the offense for Brandon Weeden, who is expected to be challenged in his second year as a starter.

Winslow had some of his most productive years in Cleveland, although while he was with the Browns he was also in his motorcycle accident. The 29-year-old is young enough to still be an impact player and he could help Weeden with the more intermediate routes and the middle of the field. The Browns had tried to go after Jared Cook, but he signed with the Dolphins.

Watson signed a three-year deal with the Saints and will bring solid hands and blocking skills to New Orleans. Watson made 49 catches for 501 yards and three touchdowns last season and has 321 career receptions for 3,776 yards and 28 TDs in his time with the Patriots and Cleveland. He has played in at least 12 games every season except 2004 and he played in all 16 games in two of his three years in Cleveland.

Winslow was with the Patriots last season and made one catch before being released, but it was a mutual parting. He has dealt with injuries in the past, but he appears healthy for the first time in a number of years and could show the form he had when he signed a six-year, $36 million deal a few years ago.

Winslow appeared to be one of the top tight ends in football while with the Browns and he was productive with Tampa Bay after being traded, making 77 catches for 884 yards in his first season and the following year he led the team with 66 catches for 730 yards. Winslow was eventually traded to the Seahawks and then released. The team also could try to steal Dennis Pitta away from the rival Ravens.

The Browns would love to improve their offense heading into next season and if Winslow can produce like he did in 2007 when he had 1,106 receiving yards, the team could be much better in 2013. The team ranked 25th in passing yards per game with 245 and new owner Jimmy Haslam has said he wants to upgrade the offense and the quarterback position. 

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Santana Moss' production, conditioning in 2012 prompted Redskins to keep him

PHOENIX | The Redskins could have saved $4.5 million in salary cap space by releasing veteran receiver Santana Moss last week. Moss instead agreed to a paycut that saved the Redskins $2 million, according to two reports.

So why didn’t the Redskins save the full amount by releasing the 33-year-old slot receiver? His team-leading eight touchdown catches last season and good conditioning were factors.

Moss, who ranks fourth on the franchise’s all-time receiving yards list, responded last season to coaches’ challenge to report to training camp in better shape. His 573 receiving yards in 2012 ranked second on the club.

“I liked the way Santana played last year,” coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday at the owner’s meetings. “He came in in excellent shape. I think he was a big part of our offense. There’s a big upside to Santana next year because he’s very familiar with our offense. He did a great job in our third-down package. I expect him to come in in the same type of shape and make the same plays he did last year.”

Shanahan did not consider Moss’s 34th birthday is in June.

“I don’t look at somebody’s age,” he said. “I look at what they did for us. I had Jerry Rice at the end of his careericon1. I knew what Jerry did. I know what some older players do when it comes to offseason conditioning, how they handle themselves. I thought it was Santana’s best year out of the three years. He made a commitment to being in great shape and doing the little things you have to do to give your football team a chance to have some big plays.”

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Gaby Sanchez's seventh-inning homer lifts Bucs

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Gaby Sanchez hit his team-leading fourth Grapefruit League home run as the Pirates rallied for a 4-3 win over the Red Sox at McKechnie Field on Monday afternoon.

Trailing, 2-1, in the seventh, Pittsburgh got a leadoff walk from Josh Harrison and then Sanchez crushed a Chris Carpenter offering over the left-field fence.

For his second straight start, James McDonald endured a shaky first inning and then settled into dominance. On Wednesday, he allowed three runs in the first to Toronto and then retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced. In Monday's game, he gave up two runs on three first-inning hits and then held the Red Sox to one other hit over his final 4 1/3 frames.

The right-hander also notched six strikeouts and issued three free passes.

One day after Jon Lester hurled six perfect innings, Boston starter Clay Buchholz pitched one-hit ball for five innings on Monday. Buchholz gave up his first run of the spring, but he was extremely sharp for a fourth consecutive start, limiting the Pirates to a second-inning homer by Neil Walker. In 13 1/3 innings, the righty has allowed seven hits and a run.

For Walker, who was hampered by injuries the last six weeks of the 2012 season, the homer was his first since Aug. 12.

Ryan Lavarnway's two-run single off McDonald in the first gave Boston a quick 2-0 lead.

Jason Grilli, the Pirates' new closer who had been away participating in the World Baseball Classic with Italy, made his first Grapefruit League appearance since March 3. Grilli came on in the sixth and retired the side in order.

Michael McKenry tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when he hit a leadoff homer off Oscar Villarreal.

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MLB denies that Ryan Braun is target of investigation

Scottsdale, Ariz. - Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred denied that MLB has targeted Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun specifically in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, as suggested by a USA Today article.

"Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor," Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

The USA Today article Wednesday labeled Braun as "MLB's Public Enemy No. 1" in its investigation of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic alleged to have sold performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players.

Braun's name was among many baseball players listed on the log books of clinic operator Tony Bosch. Braun explained that his defense team enlisted Bosch's services as a consultant in their appeal of a positive drug test for elevated testosterone levels in the winter of 2011-'12.

Monetary figures were posted in those logs next to Braun's name, which his attorneys said represented a dispute over fees owed to Bosch for his consulting. Lead attorney David Cornwell later said Bosch's input was not helpful in the successful appeal of Braun's positive test.

After Shyam Das ruled in Braun's favor on a chain-of-custody issue, MLB fired Das as its independent arbitrator. MLB's anger over that ruling fueled its pursuit of Braun, according to the USA Today article.

After that report surfaced by the Miami New Times, Braun met with reporters and said he would take no questions about the Biogenesis connection but said he would cooperate fully with MLB's investigation. A major-league source said all players listed in the logbook would be interviewed.

MLB suspended minor-league pitcher Cesar Carrillo for 100 games - 50 for having his name in the Biogenesis logs and 50 for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Carrillo, a former teammate of Braun's at the University of Miami, was not on a major-league 40-man roster and therefore not protected by the union from sanctions.

Major leaguers who don't cooperate could be subject to punishment, which likely would be appealed by the players union. The Miami New Times refused to turn over its Biogenesis documents to MLB, which does not have subpoena power.

In the USA Today article, which said MLB wants Braun "badly," he said, "I'm extremely confident and secure in who I am, and how I live my life. I will never allow anyone or anything to get me down or change that.

"I've always tried to do everything right in life and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. You get to the point where you almost don't care what people think. But anybody that knows me and who has ever known me knows who I am. They know the way I live my life. They know I'm a good person."

Approached Wednesday morning in the Brewers' spring camp about the USA Today article, Braun said, "Anything I have to say about that I've already said."

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Padres need breakout year from Yonder Alonso

The news coming out of the Padres' camp has seemingly been all gloom and doom of late. Which makes Yonder Alonso's recent resurgence at the plate all the more refreshing, even if these are still exhibitions.

Over the last seven games, the Padres first baseman is 6-for-19 with three home runs and six RBIs. This after he started the spring 3-for-22 and struggled to make contact, much less hard contact.

When the games do start to count, Alonso, soon to be 26, may remain the Padres' best bet at a ray of sunshine.

With Chase Headley out, Carlos Quentin coming back from a balky knee and Yasmani Grandal suspended, Alonso for now is the preeminent power bat in the lineup (not counting an unproven Jedd Gyorko), even if he did hit only nine home runs in 2012.

The evidence suggests he's capable of more.

He hit a team-high 39 doubles last season (eighth in the NL), he posted good power numbers in the minors and, tossing aside less meaningful spring trends, he consistently makes contact.

The next and needed step for the Padres: He breaks out in 2013.

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Steve Bisciotti: Gut feeling is Ed Reed will be a Raven

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti believes safety Ed Reed will remain with the organization. That's what his gut tells him, at least.

Bisciotti made an appearance on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" on Tuesday and asked what his gut feeling was on the Reed negotiations.

"That we have him," he replied.

Reed recently visited with the Houston Texans and told The Baltimore Sun he wants a similar amount to the $7.2 million he earned in 2012. Reed reportedly turned down a three-year offer that averaged around $4 million per year. Bisciotti might be confident, but tempered expectations.

"It will be tough, but we've got guys that will fill in," Bisciotti said. "Ed is a special guy and I'm encouraged that Ozzie's still talking with him."

Bisciotti spoke about the possibility of being the first Super Bowl champion since 2003 to open the following season on the road. There's a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles that might keep the Ravens from kicking off the NFL season on Thursday, Sept. 5.

"We're close. We obviously have to make a quick decision," Bisciotti said. "There's a lot of parties with Major League Baseball that have to come together and find out if it's an obstacle they can overcome.

"Disappointed for the fans. If we're forced to do it, then we have to do it. ... I'll be disappointed, but we'll get over it."

The Ravens' owner also told a story about Joe Flacco being comfortable walking away from the team's contract offer before the season. In turn, the organization was fine with declining Flacco's offer. They decided to let the season play out. In the end, Flacco came out on top with a six-year, $120.6 million deal with $52 million guaranteed.

"It was not like I was rooting against him," Bisciotti said with a laugh.

Bisciotti certainly didn't seem stressed about anything these days. It's good to be the champ.

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Michael Irvin Recalls Visit With Jeff Lurie In The Hospital After Career Ending Injury

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is throwing snow balls at Santa Claus. There is booing Darren Daulton’s children. There’s the court at Veterans Stadium. And there is cheering Michael Irvin’s injury. Those are the go-to stories that people use when discussing the dark side of Philadelphia fans.

While being taken off the field in a stretcher, suffering a career-ending spinal cord injury, Eagles fans cheered. Almost 15 years later, Irvin said that he and Eagles fans have a mutual respect.

“I meet guys all the time, guys from Philly, and they say ‘man I hated you, but I love you now man. You’re passionate just like I am, I love that. I love seeing it on TV.’ So, you know, I have an appreciation for that,” Irvin told 94WIP’s Brian Haddad on Saturday. Irvin is now a an analyst for the NFL Network. “My affair with Philly has been very intense. Very, very intense. Strong emotions when I was with Dallas. You know when I came out there when I first retired, and we would come out to do a game, and the people in Philly would say ‘we hate you!’ and the veins in their neck.”

Irvin still remembers the injury, and the hospital visit that ended his Hall Of Fame career, and he says it was all meant to be.

“I do believe in the spiritual side of it all, how things work. It was perfectly ordained,” Irvin said. “When I was laid up, when I was taken off the field in Philly, it was on a stretcher. They rushed me to the hospital. Of course Jerry [Jones] rides with me to the hospital and I’m sitting, I’m paralyzed, can’t move, and the owner comes in the room, and he just, you could tell man, he’s in a place, his lips are shaking, very emotional. Jeff Lurie comes in and I wanted to free him, but also share truth with him. And I looked over and I said to him, I said ‘I’m good,’ you know, and I said “I understand your people, they’re very passionate, like I am, they were just saying ‘get him off the field, he’s been killing us for ten years!’ And I do believe that that’s what it was. And honestly, to have shared that night with him, and then get the words that I get fifteen years later from fans saying that exact thing, that’s why I say it was ordained.”

Even though Irvin’s career was cut short by a brutal injury, and there is a constant flow of news suggesting that brain injuries in the NFL are commonplace, Irvin says he’d never sue the league. He also doesn’t take the side of President Obama, or other players who question whether they’d allow their children to play the game.

“I’m a football player. Seeing my [sons] play football, oh my god,” Irvin said. “My wife said, when they had the concussion thing on [television], she said ‘I’d rather the boys play basketball.’ I said ‘ok baby,’ just not to have any more arguments. And you know, not to uh, after getting caught in the hotel room and messing up all the things I’ve done. I said ‘yeah baby, whatever you want.’ But she said it to Michael and Elijah, my sons, and they said ‘yeah mom, we like basketball, but we’re football players mom, that’s what we are.’ And man, you’re talking about, my heart smiled from one side under my arm to the other, a huge smile.”

“It’s the greatest game in the world,” he said.

Irvin said he cried when he was finally inducted into the Football Hall Of Fame in 2007, and didn’t want to take his induction blazer even after the ceremony ended, and then, even later than that. “When I finally got in, I wasn’t taking that jacket off,” Irvin said. “When I came in the room, she was like ‘what are you doing? You’re not getting into bed with that thing on like that.’ Oh yeah baby, yes I am.”

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Yonder Alonso, Eddy Rodriguez Have Madness For Miami

PEORIA, Ariz. — The alma mater of Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez and first baseman Yonder Alonso has appeared in 23 College World Series, of which they have won four. However, in men’s basketball, the University of Miami is seeking its first NCAA championship, something Rodriguez and Alonso are confident will happen in just a few weeks.

The Hurricanes are the second seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s East Region. They open play on Thursday against the University of the Pacific.

“It’s unbelievable. Normally we’re a baseball and football school and now our basketball team is getting close to maybe achieving that prize of winning the championship,” said Rodriguez, who was the starting catcher for the University of Miami before being drafted in 2006 to the Cincinnati Reds.

Despite Rodriguez’s devotion to his alma mater, he says he won’t be filling out a bracket this year. “I personally don’t [have a bracket]. I know that Yonder does and he’s a big Miami guy too, but if I was doing mine I’d be pulling for the home team all the way throughout.”

Alonso did fill out a bracket, and he’s definitely behind his former team. He picked the Canes to go all the way, predicting an 88-82 win against Gonzaga.
Alonso played baseball at Miami for three seasons, leading the team to the College World Series in 2008 as the No. 1 seed. That year Alonso was drafted seventh overall by the Cincinnati Reds, and was traded to the Padres in 2011.

“They’re getting better and better and finally they put it all together. I’m definitely pulling for them in March Madness,” said Alonso.

Luckily for Rodriguez and Alonso, the Padres have Thursday, the first full day of the NCAA Tournament, off. They plan to take advantage of that and watch Miami take on the fifteenth seeded Pacific Tigers.

Alonso is going to have teammates over to watch the game, while Rodriguez will watch the Hurricanes before attending a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game Thursday night.

Padres’ outfielder Will Venable shares March Madness from a different perspective. He played basketball at Princeton University and competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2004.

“Playing in the Ivy League you only get to play really big games when you go outside of the conference, but even some of the games we were able to play didn’t amount to half of what it meant to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Venable recalls about playing in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament as a junior.

“You realize how important it is not to just your team but to everyone around the country. It’s really something special to be a part of.”

With Princeton not making the tournament this year, Venable will be rooting for Georgetown, home to his former coach at Princeton, John Thompson III.

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Danny Valencia's ninth-inning homer powers O's

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Danny Valencia pummeled a solo homer over the Green Monster with two outs in the top of the ninth to break a tie and lead the Orioles to an 8-7 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday at JetBlue Park.

The third baseman played for Boston during the latter part of last season and is likely to start this year at Baltimore's Triple-A Norfolk affiliate.

Down 7-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, Boston rallied with a six-spot. Mike Carp, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Mauro Gomez, Jonathan Diaz and Jackie Bradley Jr. all had RBI hits for the Red Sox during the rally.

Orioles lefty Brian Matusz, who is trying to earn a rotation spot, wasn't unhittable, but he still got the job done. Over five innings, Matusz scattered six hits and a run, walking one and striking out two.

"For me, I have the mentality of wanting to build up pitches and innings and be a starter this year, and that's my mentality and taking advantage of the opportunity when [manager Buck Showalter] gives me the ball."

Would Matusz be disappointed if he doesn't land a starting job?

"You know what? That's really not on my mind right now," said Matusz. "My focus is just taking care of working out in the weight room … staying on my cuff program and just getting stronger, staying in good shape, keep competing and let those things fall into place."
Showalter said Matusz is still in the mix for a starting job.

"Nobody's really taken a step back," said Showalter. "We got a little less than two weeks, so we'll continue to take in the looks we have and try to make a good decision."

Is it too early in Matusz's career to consign him to the bullpen?

"I don't know about consign," said Showalter. "There are guys that go to the bullpen and come back to start."

In 68 games as a starter, Matusz is 21-33 with a 5.51 ERA. In 18 relief appearances, he's 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

"I'll be frank with you," said Showalter. "If he hadn't had the success he had in the bullpen, we probably wouldn't be having this decision. So it bodes well for him as far as his ability to make our club in some form. It does have something to do with some of the thinking, but I do not look at it as a bird in hand that he's going to be as successful in the bullpen as he was last year. I got nothing to make me think he wouldn't be, but I think this is the time of year you get in a lot of trouble if you assume something just because it happened last year."

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Are Ravens, Texans in a real tug of war for Ed Reed?

As the Houston Texans continue to haggle with the agent for veteran free safety Ed Reed after his visit Friday, the Super Bowl champion Ravens haven't closed the door on trying to retain the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

To characterize the situation as a true financial competition would be a bit of an overstatement, though.

The Ravens' tight salary-cap situation could preclude them from making Reed a major negotiating priority. Plus, the 34-year's old age, durability concerns and decline in range could work against a reunion with the Ravens.

The Ravens would like to have Reed back, but not for $6 million annually and definitely not for the $7.2 million he made in the final year of his expired six-year, $44.5 million contract.

As for the Texans, a league source with knowledge of the situation characterized the Texans' initial three-year offer as low enough that a fast deal was unrealistic. Talks are ongoing with the Texans and Reed's agent, David Dunn, who has kept Ravens officials informed of what's going on as both teams and Dunn attend the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.

Players for both the Ravens and Texans remain hopeful that Reed chooses their team, but it appears that the Texans are willing to commit more money to the nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

"Any team that's fortunate enough to get him is getting a Hall of Fame player," Texans quarterback Matt Schaub said Monday night at the Ed Block Courage award banquet at Martin's West. "He's one of the best if not the best safety to ever play the game and still in his prime. If you can add that kind of player, the leadership, the intensity he brings to his job, he's going to make the whole team better.  It's the nature of the business. We'll see what happens."

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, who attended the event and accepted Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs' award on his behalf, said he has remained
in touch with Reed throughout the process.

"That's the business side of it," Smith said. "It's tough for a lot of people to understand, especially the fans. We'll see what happens. I hope he ends up back in Baltimore. I've been texting him, not about what's going on, but just talking to him and seeing how he's doing. We'll see.

"He always has a positive attitude. Fans are killing him on Twitter, but he's taking it in stride. He's enjoying it."

Former Ravens cornerback Chris Carr, who was in town to accept an award for San Diego Chargers teammate Quentin Jammer, is hopeful that Reed will conclude his career in Baltimore by signing one more contract with the Ravens.

"It's difficult," Carr said. "Once a player starts getting older, organizations don't want to invest in a player that's older. Ed Reed has been such a special player and he means so much, not only on the football field, but as a leader and teaching a lot of the young guys what to do in that secondary. Especially with Bernard Pollard leaving, I think it's really vital for the Ravens to sign him back.

"As a fan and a former Raven, I hope he stays here in Baltimore. It's unfortunate so many players who were part of the success are gone. It's the business and the salary cap doesn't give you too much wiggle room. It's weird because you can never predict what Ed's going to do."

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Kenny Phillips comes to the Eagles on the cheap

Former Giants safety Kenny Phillips didn't just settle for a short-term deal with the Eagles. He did it without pocketing any guaranteed money.

Details of Phillips' deal show the oft-injured safety signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the NFC East rival, according to multiple reports. Phillips could earn another $1 million in incentives if he meets a variety of performance bonuses, including making his first career Pro Bowl.

But the deal does not contain a traditional signing bonus, meaning the Eagles can cut Phillips before the season begins without any substantial financial penalty. Phillips was limited last season with recurring knee injuries. He's still currently rehabbing.

If Phillips does remain on the Eagles' roster for the entire season, the 2008 first-round pick will collect an $850,000 base salary, $1 million roster bonus (to be paid out over 17 weeks) and a $150,000 workout bonus.

Phillips, 26, has struggled with knee injuries the past few seasons. Clearly that affected the market for his services.

The Giants recently offered him a deal, but Phillips jumped within the division anyway. The 26-year-old said he wanted a "new start." He gets that with the Eagles, but he'll have to prove himself once again if he wants a long-term deal next offseason.

Philadelphia may also re-sign Phillips during the season if he can stay healthy and be productive. In the meantime, his signing is of the low-risk, high-reward variety. The Eagles believe Phillips is on the road to recovery and there is a good chance he returns to form.

"We do think he's fine," general manager Howie Roseman said. "Kenny is a talented guy. The Giants, a very smart organization obviously, drafted him in the first round. We've seen a lot of Kenny. Kenny will tell you he was not 100 percent last year when we saw him in Week 17. That wasn't who he was.

"But give a lot of credit to his agent Drew [Rosenhaus] and Kenny for the willingness to come here and basically try and show us what he has because we do like the player."

And the player must like the Eagles considering there's no guarantee he sees any of the money they committed to him in that new deal.

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Healthy Kellen Winslow draws interest of Raiders

The Oakland Raiders looked into signing Kellen Winslow late last September after the tight end was released by the New England Patriots. Once Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie opted to pass, Winslow didn't play another down the rest of the season.

Now that Winslow's surgically repaired knee is feeling better, the Raiders again are expressing interest,'s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

While McKenzie had no need for Winslow last season with Brandon Myers exceeding expectations, he now has a vacancy at the position after Myers signed with the New York Giants.

We wouldn't be surprised if Winslow also is on the Cleveland Browns' radar after they lost out on Jared Cook and allowed Ben Watson to depart. New Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski also has a close relationship with Winslow after coaching him at the University of Miami as well as in Cleveland.

Even with Winslow's newfound optimism over his knee, it's no guarantee NFL doctors will give him a passing grade on a physical.

The 29-year-old acknowledged last summer that 99 percent of NFL players would retire rather than play through the pain in his six-time surgically repaired knee. As recently as January, The Plain Dealer noted that Winslow still was "suffering from tremendous pain" in the knee.

Has resting his leg for the majority of the 2012 season made that much of a difference in his health?

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On Ed Reed letting go of the Ravens

Ed Reed is sure acting like a guy who's hoping the Baltimore Ravens will still step up and give him the kind of deal he's looking for.

But more likely he's facing the harsh realities of an expensive, aging superstar.'s Ashley Fox doesn't think Reed is going to get the two-year deal with between $10 and $11 million he can have from the Houston Texans in Baltimore.

If the Ravens can move on from Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin, Bernard Pollard, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, they can move on from Ed Reed. Life will go on.

And really, it is time. The Ravens can cut ties with Reed, a beloved member of the franchise, and be good. They can do it with a clear conscience. They won a Super Bowl with Reed, despite all the insanity of last season, when Reed flirted with retiring or quitting or spending time with his family or whatever he was going to do.

The Ravens are loyal, but giving Ed Reed big money would be bad business.

Baltimore stood by him. It won with him. And a decade from now, when he is retired, Reed can come back with (Ray) Lewis and Boldin and Ray Rice and Joe Flacco and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their greatest professional achievement, and there should be no bad blood. There should be cheers and roses and good feelings.

It ended the way it was supposed to, with Reed on top.

And now it should end.

I agree. It's hard to see and accept the end, I'm sure. But it's not like he doesn't have other opportunities.

If Houston -- where good friend Andre Johnson is a star receiver -- doesn't feel like a fit, it may be hard to find anything comfortable.

As Fox says, the Ravens are taking emotion out of it. As hard as it may be, Reed's got to do the same.

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GM confident in Jon Beason

Carolina Panthers general manager David Gettleman said he is confident LB Jon Beason (knee, shoulder) will be able to hold up for an entire season. "We're pleased with his progress. He's working extremely hard. He's a professional, and he wants to play," Gettleman said. "At the end of the day Jon Beason's a football player. That's what he wants. He's working very hard at his rehab and we're very confident that he'll be fine."

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Devin Hester talks with ESPN

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Chris Perez says he’s 100%

On March 1, it was revealed Indians closer Chris Perez was shut down for "three to four weeks" with soreness in his pitching shoulder. Perez himself expressed optimism that he'd be back earlier than that and would be ready to go for the start of the season. And it looks like he was right.

Perez told reporters Monday he is "100 percent" and "should be ready for opening day, barring anything unforeseen." (via Paul Hoynes on Twitter)

Assuming Perez is recovered in time to be with his team on opening day, it would mark the second straight season in which Perez suffered a spring injury and then healed quicker than his ballclub expected him to.

Perez, 27, had 39 saves in 43 chances with a 3.59 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings last season, making his second straight All-Star Game.

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PHOTO: Check out this Oklahoma man's giant Ray Lewis tattoo


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Report: Ed Reed at center of Ravens-Texans struggle

The Houston Texans allowed Ed Reed to leave town without a deal Friday. Getting the Pro Bowl safety to come back might be a chore.'s Jason La Canfora reported the Texans will face competition for Reed's services from the Baltimore Ravens at next week's NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

La Canfora said a deal for Reed is likely to come together in Arizona, with top brass from both teams planning to meet with Reed's representatives. The Ravens are expected to make a push to re-sign Reed after the Texans' offer "wasn't substantial enough" to lock down the 34-year-old safety, according to La Canfora.

A report from The Baltimore Sun on Friday stated interest between Reed and the Texans remained "heavy," according to a source, but USA Today reported the Ravens "won't let him walk without a fight."

With Reed's better days behind him, it's clear the Texans didn't blow him away with their offer. That has opened the door for Baltimore to fight for Reed, who certainly would look awkward playing in anything but Ravens purple.

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Former N.Y. Giant Kenny Phillips 'didn't like the Eagles'

Free agency can make unexpected bedfellows.

Longtime Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings just signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. Marcus Allen went from the Oakland Raiders to the Kansas City Chiefs. The list goes on.

Former New York Giants safety Kenny Phillips, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles last week, reportedly said he has to adjust to sleeping with the enemy.
"I just knew I didn't like the Eagles," Phillips said at introductory press conference Friday, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia reported. "You're playing against them for so long, that's what you were taught as a Giant. Just like the Eagles were taught, you don't like the Giants. That's just how it goes.

"It's weird. It's definitely weird. But at this point I can't say I hate the Giants. When I was with the Giants I kind of disliked the Eagles. But I can't just say right now I hate the Giants. I guess I'll have to learn to hate them."

The Giants made Phillips a first-round draft pick in 2009, and they won a Super Bowl in 2011. He was a playmaker when healthy, but recurring knee problems made him expendable. The Eagles were cautious themselves with a one-year deal.

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Ed Reed recruited by Andre Johnson

Updating an ongoing story, free-agent FS Ed Reed (Ravens) went out to dinner with Houston Texans team officials, WR Andre Johnson, and OL Chris Myers Thursday, March 14. Johnson actively recruitEd Reed to potentially join the Texans.

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Kenny Phillips has to 'learn to hate" the Giants

Kenny Phillips admits "it's weird" being on the other side of a bitter NFC East rivalry.

And he is going to "have to learn to hate" the Giants. Phillips left the Giants for the Eagles on Thursday for a one-year deal.

"I just knew I didn't like the Eagles," Phillips said at his introductory news conference on Friday, according to "You're playing against them for so long, that's what you were taught as a Giant. Just like the Eagles were taught, you don't like the Giants. That's just how it goes.

"It's weird. It's definitely weird," he added. "But at this point I can't say I hate the Giants. When I was with the Giants I kind of disliked the Eagles. But I can't just say right now I hate the Giants. I guess I'll have to learn to hate them."

Phillips, 26, was drafted by the Giants in the first round in 2008. He underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in 2009 and has been trying to regain the explosive playmaking abilities he had prior to the surgery.

The Giants, who are limited by their salary cap, let Phillips walk in free agency with bigger priorities, like free agent left guard Kevin Boothe, still unsigned.

The Giants have Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown (a restricted free agent who was tendered a second-round RFA tender), Will Hill, newly signed Ryan Mundy and Tyler Sash at safety.

"Just basically a new start," Phillips said when asked why he left New York for Philadelphia. "I'm thankful that the Giants drafted me. I won a Super Bowl with the team, had some great friendships and they're a great organization.

"But it's just time for a new start," he continued. "I looked at the season (the Eagles} had last year, and I heard a lot of good things about (them) before I signed. And they're bringing in guys to make this team better, and I just want to be a part of it."

So now Phillips has the next several months to try to develop some hatred for his old team.

One thing he hopes to show this coming season is that his knee is healthy.

"It feels good," said Phillips, who also missed nine games last season with an MCL injury. "Since the season ended, I’ve been rehabbing five days a week and continue to get strong.

"I took my physical (Friday), and the doctors liked what they saw," he added. "If they didn't, I wouldn't be sitting here. I'm 100 percent right now, and I'm just ready to get back to work."

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Baltimore Ravens determined to hold on to Ed Reed

PHOENIX -- Don't expect Ed Reed to leave the Baltimore Ravens without Ozzie Newsome waging a determined bid to keep the all-pro safety.

The Ravens general manager told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday night that he anticipates Reed's status will be finalized in the coming week, and that he expects to meet with agent David Dunn this week while in town for NFL owners meetings.

Reed, 34, an unrestricted free agent, completed a two-day visit with the Houston Texans on Friday without striking a deal that could add to the list of impact players to defect from the Super Bowl champions.

The scenario reminds Newsome of the case in 2009 with Ray Lewis, who was also represented by Dunn as he explored the market as a free agent before ultimately returning.

"Four years ago, we went down this same road with Ray," Newsome said. "Dave always does a very good job of keeping us in the loop. That doesn't mean that Ed will come back, and it doesn't mean that he will leave."

It could hinge on whether Newsome puts together an offer strong enough to convince Reed to stay put. Reed, preparing for a 12th NFL season, earned $7.2 million in 2012.

Newsome would not discuss specifics of his proposed deal, and Dunn could not be reached for comment.

Keeping Reed, though, would obviously represent a much-needed offseason victory for the Ravens and Newsome, who after signing Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to the richest contract in NFL history (6 years, $120.6 million), were rocked by a series of departures as the new league year began last week.

Newsome, strapped under the $123 million salary cap, traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick -- the most that could be salvaged for the big-play receiver who appeared destined to be released after refusing to cut his $6 million salary. Then a pair of emerging linebackers, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, departed on the first day of free agency with contracts totaling $75 million. And cornerback Cary Williams bolted, too. This, on the heels of the retirements of Lewis and veteran center Matt Birk.

While several pillar players remain -- including Flacco, linebacker Terrell Suggs and running back Ray Rice -- it will be incumbent for the Ravens to have another strong draft next month and for the younger talent that Newsome brought aboard over the past couple of years to emerge as significant players.

"I've learned through the years, whether it's on offense or defense or special teams, you've got to be careful for how quickly you transition," Newsome said.

"You've got to make sure that you contain certain elements, while you let other elements go."

Reed, a likely Hall of Famer and respected leader, is surely one element that Newsome isn't quite ready to let go of without a last-gasp attempt to keep him.

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Newly retired Ray Lewis still soaking up the moment

Wearing a black fedora and a dark checkered blazer and with his daughter at his side, Ray Lewis attended the premiere screening of the DVD that chronicles the Ravens’ Super Bowl winning season last night at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric.

His first offseason appearance in Baltimore as a retired player, Lewis admitted that it felt a little weird to not be preparing for another year of football.

“Honestly, there’s no pressure because every year is always a new year, every offseason is always a new offseason. You’re always gearing up for something,” Lewis said. “But for me now, it’s more gearing up for business, more gearing up for life and more gearing up for the kids. The pressure meter is down a little bit and that’s probably the biggest difference.”

Lewis announced his pending retirement a couple of days before the Ravens playoff opener against the Indianapolis Colts. At the time, he could have hardly imagined that his 17th NFL season would end with Lewis helping the Ravens win their second Super Bowl, a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Asked last night about how retirement is treating him, Lewis said: “Life is good. A lot of things are going on, spending a lot of time with the family, spending a lot of time with the kids. I’ve just been relaxing a lot and really soaking up the moment.”

Lewis was the honorary starter of the Daytona 500 and he recently threw out a first pitch at a Detroit Tigers spring training game in his hometown of Lakeland, Fla.

However, one thing Lewis hasn’t done is return to the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. In fact, he said that he’s yet to even clean out his locker.

“I really haven’t,” Lewis said. “I haven’t been back over there yet. When I go back, I’m just going to relax and chill when I do go back. I haven’t moved anything out yet.”

Lewis retired because he wanted to spend more time with his kids, including his son, Ray III, who will be a freshman on the University of Miami football team in the fall. However, he won’t stray too far from the NFL. Lewis is expected to serve as an analyst for ESPN.  

“It will probably happen, but it will happen on our timing,” Lewis said when asked about his future television role. “I think both sides understand what we’re doing and where we’re going with it.”

While Lewis has said that he’s not interested in being a coach, it’s likely that he’ll still be around the Ravens at different points going forward.

A future Hall of Famer, Lewis will undoubtedly be enshrined in the Ravens’ Ring of Honor and owner Steve Bisciotti even talked about having a statue of the linebacker erected outside M&T Bank Stadium.

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Speculation mounts that Ed Reed will be a 49er

He may not have two tickets to paradise, but he could have one-way air fare to San Francisco.

On Monday, when the news broke that Ravens safety Ed Reed has hired agent David Dunn, a league source who is as plugged in as anyone predicted that Reed will sign with the 49ers.

Earlier today, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted that some believe the Niners will make a push for Reed if they lose safety Dashon Goldson.

Since we strongly believe that Niners are highly likely to lose Goldson, Reed necessarily is in play.

Strengthening the potential connection is the fact that Dunn also represents 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

Which means that, in the sudden NFC West arms race that has broken out between the 49ers and the Seahawks, Seattle will need to respond with a bold move of their own.

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Panthers clear way for Jon Beason on outside

The Carolina Panthers are releasing linebacker James Anderson, according to Adam Schefter.

Your first thought probably is that this is a salary-cap move. Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Anderson was scheduled to count $4.4 million against the cap. He has $4.2 million in outstanding pro-rated bonus money that likely all accelerates toward the 2013 cap. The only way there is any real cap benefit to this move is if the Panthers designate Anderson a June 1 release and spread his cap hit over this year and 2014.

I think this move is more about making things more clear at linebacker and I think it’s a strong sign that Jon Beason is staying, although he almost certainly is moving to outside linebacker and perhaps doing it with a restructured contract.

With Anderson, the Panthers had four starting-caliber linebackers and they play a 4-3 defense. It has become very clear that Luke Kuechly is going to be the middle linebacker going forward.

With Anderson out of the picture, Beason and Thomas Davis are set as the outside linebackers.

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Ed Reed leaves Texans' building without deal, talks continuing

After two days of being aggressively recruited by the Houston Texans, veteran free safety Ed Reed left Texas on Friday afternoon without agreeing to terms as he returned to his home in Atlanta.

In what remains a fluid situation with the two sides still haggling over money and not so far off financially that doing a deal would be unrealistic, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year plans to contemplate his options over the weekend while attending to a previous obligation unrelated to football.

Reed is seeking a contract ranging from $6 million to $7 million per year, and the Texans' proposal is at roughly a $5 million annual average, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.

Talks aren't expected to advance again until the NFL owners meetings that start Monday in Arizona. Reed was paid $7.2 million last season in the final year of his Ravens contract.

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One source said that Reed's agent, David Dunn, is shopping the Texans' offer around the NFL.

The Ravens have kept tabs on the situation by remaining in contact with Reed's representatives. Although the Super Bowl champions still hold interest in Reed, 34, their tight salary-cap situation and his asking price makes him returning to Baltimore far from a lock, per a source.

The Ravens didn't stand pat Friday as Reed was in Houston. They reached an agreement in principle with former Dallas Cowboys starting defensive end Marcus Spears on a two-year, $3.55 million contract.

Spears, 30, is slated to take a physical and sign his contract within the next three days.

As for Reed, his six-year, $44.5 million contract expired after the season and he became an unrestricted free agent.

Reed was impressed with the Texans' sales pitch and felt comfortable with the AFC South organization during his two-day visit, per sources close to the situation.

And Reed delivered that sentiment via his verified Twitter account while heading to the airport, writing: "Houston is a good city, great time with everyone!"

Reed was ferried to Houston with general manager Rick Smith on Texans owner Bob McNair's private jet, dining Thursday night with coaches and former University of Miami teammates: wide receiver Andre Johnson, one of his closest friends, and center Chris Myers.

Johnson told Houston reporters, including the Houston Chronicle, on Friday that he remains upbeat about the Texans' chances of signing Reed.

 “Ed said, ‘Get me to Houston,’ ” Johnson said. “I think we’re going to get it done. Everything is positive. He’s a good friend and a great player. He’s a great leader and a ball hawk. I’d love to have him be part of our organization.”

Despite an aggressive push to land Reed, it didn't result in the quick deal that many expected.

Whether Reed, who intercepted four passes last season and picked off San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl in his home state of Louisiana, goes on other visits remains unclear.

The Indianapolis Colts, coached by former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, have already addressed the safety position by signing LaRon Landry. The 49ers have met with Louis Delmas and Charles Woodson, but Delmas returned to the Detroit Lions on a two-year deal.

The 49ers, whose head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and general manager, Trent Baalke, are, like Reed, represented by Dunn have yet to bring in Reed for a visit, but are regarded as a potential suitor for the nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

For now, the Texans are the focus for the Reed camp.

And the Ravens are intent on finding bargains that fit into their budget.

That includes continuing to hold dialogue with former Pittsburgh Steelers star outside linebacker James Harrison, according to his agent, Bill Parise.

Former Ravens strong safety Dawan Landry is another possible link for the Ravens after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Spears is a 2005 Cowboys first-round draft pick who was selected 20th overall out of LSU.

He was cut this year after signing a five-year, $19.2 million contract in 2011.

Spears, 30, has 226 career tackles and 10 sacks with three forced fumbles. Last season, he had 25 tackles and a sack in six starts.

A natural 3-4 defensive end at 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Spears was released after the Cowboys hired defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and changed their primary base defense to a 4-3 front.

The move reunites Spears and Canty after both entered the NFL with the Cowboys eight years ago.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has made strengthening the defensive line a priority and has already signed former New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty to a three-year, $8 million contract since the start of free agency.

“The base of a good defense is to be good along the defensive line,” Newsome said in a statement. "We didn’t play to our standards last season, partly because of injury. With the expected better health of players like Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee and the additions of Marus Spears and Chris Canty, we have a chance to improve.

"Spears, like Canty, can play multiple positions along the line. He brings a lot of snaps and big game experience to us. We like the way Marcus plays. He will fit in with the Ravens way of playing.”

Meanwhile, tight end Dennis Pitta, who was assigned a second-round tender of $2.023 million, was the subject of two preliminary inquiries from NFL teams, according to sources.

Because Pitta wasn't assigned the first-round tender of $2.879 million, the Ravens are slightly vulnerable should another team submit an offer sheet. They own the right of first refusal to match any offer sheet. If they didn't opt to match, and no one has submitted an offer at this time, they would be compensated with a second-round draft pick.

The restricted free agent market is notoriously dead, but NFL teams do have a high opinion of Pitta.

It's unclear if the interest of teams will translate into any action regarding Pitta, though.

The Miami Dolphins, who had a high grade on Pitta coming out of BYU, filled their tight end spot with former New York Jets starter Dustin Keller on Friday.

The 49ers are another team believed to be interested in addressing the tight end position.

No offer sheet has been submitted for Pitta, though.

Pitta is a young player the Ravens would ideally like to sign to a long-term deal in the future.

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Is Andre Johnson recruiting Chad Johnson to Texans?

Back in December, Chad Johnson made an open plea to all 32 NFL teams asking for another chance to play professional football.

Now, former Miami high-school opponent Andre Johnson is trying to recruit the teamless wide receiver for a roster spot on the Houston Texans.

"I haven't set up any meetings. I could put a few words in, but that's not my call," Andre Johnson told Comcast SportsNet Houston. "I think he'll get another opportunity. I think he'll be very successful, get back to the Chad that we're used to seeing playing football."

A contrite Chad Johnson continues to express regret over the domestic battery arrest that led to his release from the Miami Dolphins last summer.

"I'd love to get a second chance to play the game that I love," Chad Johnson said via Comcast SportsNet Houston. "It was taken from me and I think I've learned my lesson and really, it's in God's hands."

Chad Johnson, predictably, is on board with the idea of joining the Texans. "If I could be that last piece," Johnson said, "especially with me being somewhat humble and being in a position where I have to prove myself again, which could be scary."

Chad Johnson concedes he's in "no position to be picky."

While the newfound humility is refreshing, it might not be enough to land him a job with the Texans. Now 35 years old, Chad Johnson no longer is an NFL-caliber starter and doesn't contribute on special teams.

NFL teams would be reluctant to burn a roster spot on him, even if Chad Johnson came with a squeaky-clean reputation and more disciplined routes.

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Reggie Wayne Gala Raises Big Bucks For Charity

Reggie Wayne exuded maturity when he walked into the St. Regis Resort Ballroom on Saturday night. Accompanied by his family and holding one of his young sons, Wayne didn't look like a receiver who had caught 106 passes for 1,355 yards this past season. He looked like a regular dad.

The Athletes First Classic, a charity event hosted by David Dunn's powerhouse agency Athletes First, honored Wayne, the six-time Pro Bowler, and local philanthropist Stephanie Argyos, raising more than $1 million for the Orangewood Children's Foundation in the process.

With behemoths like Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews, Von Miller, Nate Solder and Terrence Cody in attendance, the thing that stood out most about Wayne was his relatively normal stature at 6-0 and 198 pounds. At 34, he's coming off one of his most prolific seasons, which made it fitting that the young quarterback who helped him bounce back, Andrew Luck, was the one to present Wayne with the award.

When asked to describe Wayne's game, many of his colleagues praised his consistency. Considering he's only had one season below 1,000 receiving yards since 2004 (two years ago when he caught for 960), Wayne's mastery of the wide receiver position continues to set the bar high for young receivers such as Ryan Broyles, Michael Floyd and USC standout Robert Woods, all of whom were in attendance.

Fox Sports' Jay Glazer served as Master of Ceremonies while veterans Matt Schaub and Chris Cooley, up-and-comers Doug Martin and Shane Vereen, as well as prospects Woods, TJ McDonald, and Mike Glennon, attended the gala in support of Irvine-based Athletes First's charity event.

"Our mission with Athletes First is that we put the athletes first," Athletes First president Brian Murphy said. "You're not just helping the athletes on the field, but as people. One way is to give back to the community, using your resources to make a difference in the world. We started the Classic to give back ... Charity is really high on our list and it's important to us. It's part of our joy to help."

The night was a rousing success, not only for the Orangewood Foundation, which will use the seven figures worth of donations to help Orange County-based children in the foster care system, but for Wayne as well.

Consistency often goes overlooked in professional sports, but for Wayne, the night was a toast to reliability. The future Hall-of-Famer won't let that go to his head though, as he's got bigger fish to fry. Like getting his team back to the playoffs and getting his kids to crash after a raucous night.

Here is what some of the attendees had to say when asked for a short and sweet description of Wayne.

Ryan Mallet: "Consistent. He's a playmaker."

Joseph Fauria: "Beast."

Mike Glennon: "I can't think of one word. When I think of Reggie Wayne, I just think of Peyton Manning throwing touchdowns to him."

Chris Cooley: "Dependable."

Robert Woods: "I've been studying him and Marvin Harrison on tape for a long time, and he's just a great route-runner, great hips, and someone I strive to be like in the NFL."

Nate Solder: "Dependable."

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VIDEO: Vinny Testaverde Named Amateur Sportsman of the Year in 1986

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VIDEO: Ron Artest and Dequan Jones exchange words

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Robert Hite Playing Very Well For Iowa

The shots stopped falling and the Iowa Energy watched a 17-point lead vanish Friday.

It was another fourth-quarter grinder for Iowa, and that has been danger time all season. The Energy entered the game with a 5-20 record when the final margin was less than 10 points.

But something was different this time. Justin Hurtt and Othyus Jeffers made big shots. The Energy made free throws. The Sioux Falls Skyforce were clanking theirs.

The result was a 107-100 Iowa victory before an announced crowd of 4,464 at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We showed really good grit tonight,” Iowa coach Bruce Wilson said.

“Getting some stops in there, getting the rebounds when we needed to get the rebounds, and they helped us a little bit at the free-throw line. But I’ll take that because we’ve had that on our own end, too, where we haven’t hit our free throws.”

But never like this. Sioux Falls (22-19) missed 12 of its 14 attempts from the stripe in the fourth quarter, an epidemic of ugliness that spread throughout the team and gave Iowa a confidence boost with each misfire.

Iowa (10-32) had its best shooting half of the season at the outset, making 10-of-12 3-pointers to take a 71-57 lead at intermission. Robert Hite made a half-courter just before the first-quarter buzzer and Alex Ruoff grazed the backboard with a corner 3 that beat the halftime horn.

It was that kind of evening.

“We shot it well in shootaround, but I don’t know. It was a good day for us,” Hurtt said after scoring a game-high 24 points. “Guys were hot today.”

It didn’t last. Iowa missed all seven of its second-half 3-pointers and watched the Skyforce pound away at the lead. Sioux Falls outscored Iowa 60-32 in the paint.

“They came out a little more aggressive in the second half. We came out, we weren’t focused and ready,” said Hite, who has been pressed into service as the backup point guard after starter Chris Wright got called up by the Dallas Mavericks this week.

Hite tore his Achilles while playing in Italy last April and didn’t return to action until this winter in Iowa. He finished with 13 points and led Iowa with seven assists and four steals.

Beating a Sioux Falls team fighting for a playoff berth wasn’t the goal, he said. Finding anything positive in a season gone awry was.

“We’re not really concentrating on being a spoiler. We’re just trying to win games,” Hite said. “It’s been a tough season for us. And being in last place, a lot of guys don’t take us seriously. So whenever we step out there we want to put our best forward.”

SIOUX FALLS (100)—Nichols 7-16 4-6 19, Davis 4-5 0-1 8, Mays 5-8 4-9 14, Thompson 8-20 2-3 21, Barrett 5-10 0-2 12, Tarver 2-8 0-0 5, Saunders 3-4 0-4 7, Davis 4-8 0-0 8, Ayer 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 41-84 10-25.

IOWA (107)—Jeffers 5-10 6-6 17, Harris 5-12 5-6 16, Famous 3-10 2-2 8, Hurtt 6-13 10-12 24, Murphy 2-4 2-4 6, Ruoff 3-8 2-2 10, Gilchrist 3-6 2-6 8, Hite 5-10 0-0 13, Strong 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 34-76 29-38.

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Chris Perez to throw short session

Cleveland Indians RP Chris Perez (shoulder) is scheduled to throw off a mound on Saturday, March 16.

Fantasy Tip: This would represent progress in the right-hander's throwing program as he works his way back from this strain. He's aiming to be ready by opening day, but he'll be cutting it close, and that's assuming no setbacks. Vinnie Pestano could get a couple of save chances to start the year.

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Jemile Weeks had five at bats and played seven innings

Jemile Weeks had five at bats and played seven innings in a Minor League game on Wednesday, reports Jane Lee of

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Yankees have not reached out to Aubrey Huff

I guess Aubrey Huff knows where he stands in the universe. Brian Cashman said yesterday they’d be interested in Derek Lee, Scott Rolen, Chipper Jones and, in keeping with the “old guys who really don’t play anymore” thing, likely kicked the tires on Charlie Hayes. But not Huff:

“Out of curiosity, asked if the Yankees had reached out to Aubrey Huff. Answer: "No." So there is that.”

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Gaby Sanchez Backing Up 3rd Base Could Pay Dividends For PIrates

At the trade deadline last season, the Pirates added first baseman Gaby Sanchez and subtracted Casey McGehee. In doing so, they lost a player who had the ability to play both corner infield positions, thus relying on Josh Harrison to back up Pedro Alvarez at third.

However, Sanchez has come into camp this spring and shown an intriguing aspect of his game: the ability to play third base.

Sanchez, 29, has not played in a single inning at 3B in over 400 career MLB innings. He did play the hot corner in 148 minor league games, committing 37 errors in 395 defensive chance. The last time he appeared at third was in 2009 with the New Orleans Zephyrs.

He’s been logging some time there thus far in Grapefruit League play, in addition to ripping the cover off the ball. While it’s only spring training, it is great to see Sanchez regaining his strength; it sounds like he is fully healthy and ready to contribute in a big way. It would be huge for the Pirates if Gaby can play decent defense at third, as it would give them a few options to work with.

Sanchez would not only be able to rest Garrett Jones at first, but Alvarez at third as well. The Bucs need to replace Pedro’s power on his days off, and Gaby potentially has the ability to do so. He possesses a better bat than Harrison, which definitely gives him the edge. It would especially help when the Pirates face a left-handed pitcher, as both Sanchez’s and Alvarez’s career splits indicate. Only nine of Pedro’s 50 career home runs have come against southpaws, and his batting average has been much lower against them as well. On the other hand, the right-handed hitting Sanchez has put up a solid .291/.385/.484 line vs. LHP.

The ability to play third base makes Sanchez a much more valuable player. He’s very restricted as a first basemen only, especially since Garrett Jones should see the bulk of playing time there. At third, however, he can rest Pedro Alvarez for scheduled off days, against tough lefties, and sometimes when Pedro is in a slump. Alvarez is still a very streaky hitter who will see his share of slumps, but it’s important to keep that power in the lineup. Sanchez provides that strong bat, so he has the potential to be a formidable backup when called upon. Hopefully he can provide decent defense at 3B and give the Pirates that extra option.

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Marlins cut Scott Maine

Marlins optioned LHP Scott Maine to Triple-A New Orleans and RHP Arquimedes Caminero and 3B Zack Cox to Double-A Jacksonville.
They also reassigned RHP Michael Brady, LHPs Adam Conley, Brian Flynn and Raudel Lazo, INFs Danny Black and Derek Dietrich and OF Kevin Mattison to minor league camp. Maine and Mattison probably had the best shots at earning an Opening Day roster spot, but none of the cuts are a surprise.

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