Fish alongside Hurricane greats

Fish alongside Hurricane greats Warren Sapp, Brett Romberg, Bubba Franks, Gary Dunn, and Damione Lewis in the second annual University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Dolphin Tournament on Friday and Saturday in Islamorada. A kickoff party will be held Friday at Ocean View Pub and Inn. Email or call K.C. Jones at 305-925-3660.

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Q&A with TE Jimmy Graham

Saints Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham spoke with NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes and Jamie Dukes after he was named No. 14 on “The Top 100: Players of 2012.”

Below are some nuggets from the interview. You can watch the full interview here. 

On being the top tight end on NFL Network’s “Top 100: Players of 2012”…
“I was honored because it was my peers who voted for this. I know there are going to be debates with me versus Gronk (Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski).”

On earning so many accolades after being a third-round draft pick…
“It’s been a long process. It’s been a lot of hard work. One of the craziest things is that I am so young. I am still learning. Every day in OTAs and mini-camp practices I am taking another strive forward. To be playing the game for two and a half years now, I still feel like there is a lot of room or me to grow.”

On where he can improve…
“No. 1 for me is blocking. Sometimes with the sets and schemes we have I am not doing it as much but last year in the beginning I was blocking a lot more. I know that it is something that will help me get open. If I can block and protect Drew (Brees), defenses are going to have to respect that where they can’t always double cover me.”

On how QB Drew Brees has helped him improve…
“Drew is like an older brother to me. He has really taken me under his wing. The thing about him is that he is so hard on me. Every time I make a mistake he is the first one telling me what to do but it’s tough love. He is always constructive with his criticism. He has been one of the main parts of me growing so quickly.”

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Leonard Hankerson Interview

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Jonathan Vilma's counsel seeks injunction if Goodell does not reverse his suspension

Attorneys for Jonathan Vilma filed a statement in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana Wednesday, which said that if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell does not overturn his yearlong suspension of Vilma, they will seek an injunction against his punishment.

The statement, written to Judge Helen Berrigan, said that since Vilma's attorneys believe the issue is related to his defamation suit, filed against Goodell on May 17, the injunction should also be handled in Berrigan's court.

"We are writing to inform the court that, in the event Mr. Goodell does not rescind his suspension, Mr. Vilma intends to seek injunctive relief in a separate action filed in this District, which we believe would be considered a related case and assigned to your Honor pursuant to LR 3.1 and 3.1.1," his attorneys said in the statement.

Vilma's counsel said in the statement that they believe Goodell could hand down a decision on the Saints linebacker's suspension soon, though NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said on Tuesday that the league has no timetable for making a decision.

Goodell suspended Vilma for one season after the NFL concluded he played a leading role in a Saints pay-for-performance bounty program run during former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' tenure from the 2009-11 season.

Other players facing suspension include defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (eight games), Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games) and linebacker Scott Fujita (three games). Hargrove and Fujita now play for the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns respectively but were with the Saints for the 2009 season. 

Vilma tipped his hand earlier in the week when he reacted on Twitter following the NFL's statement that Goodell would not make a decision on the appeals Monday.

"What's this guy waiting on? Make your ruling so we can get on with phase 2 already," Vilma wrote. 

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Vince Wilfork viewed as bargain

In a recent piece on, NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora sorts through the 11 best bargains and 11 worst contracts in all of football (note: he examined only contracts signed under the old NFL CBA).

A pair of Patriots linemen, nose tackle/end Vince Wilfork and guard Brian Waters, cracked the bargains list, with respective salaries for 2012 of $5 million and $1.5 million.

In the case of Wilfork, LaCanfora cites his value to the defense, stating that he is "at the core of everything Bill Belichick does toggling from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and he can still be downright dominating in crucial situations."

Waters, who joined the Patriots shortly before the start of the 2011 regular season, excelled in his first year with the team, although it remains unclear if he will return to the squad in 2012. Should he hit the field again (instead of opting for retirement), the Patriots will keep intact their standout tandem of guards, which also includes Logan Mankins.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization have long succeeded in managing the salary cap and player contracts, and have shown an aptitude for acquiring productive veterans at discount prices. Besides Waters, Belichick hit a home run with 2011 free agent signees Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, who teamed up for 20 sacks.

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Ryan Braun hurting

Braun played the entire game Tuesday despite being plunked on the left elbow in the first inning by the Cincinnati Reds' Bronson Arroyo.

He was feeling the effects Wednesday, however. So much so that he was unable to play in the series finale.

"I can barely bend my arm," said Braun, who also was sporting a bandage on the spot he was hit.

Braun wears a neoprene sleeve with some additional padding on the elbow, but the ball still hit him with enough force to injure him. He's now been plunked seven times on the season, third most in the National League.

Braun remains hopeful between the day off Wednesday and Milwaukee's scheduled off-day Thursday that he'll be back in the lineup Friday, when the Brewers open a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.

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Ryan Braun holds last spot in outfield in latest All-Star vote

Cincinnati - In a season marred by myriad injuries, poor play and just plain old bad luck, Ryan Braun has been one of the lone bright spots for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The leftfielder is putting up numbers similar to or better than he had up to this point in 2011, when he went on to win the National League's most valuable player award, with a .311 batting average, 20 home runs, 52 runs batted in, .596 slugging percentage, .392 on-base percentage and 13 stolen bases.

Will that be enough to earn his fifth consecutive starting nod in the All-Star Game? The Brewers certainly hope so.

Major League Baseball released its final balloting update Tuesday, and Braun ranked third among National League outfielders with 3,168,617 votes. The top three vote-getters are named starters for the game July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers led all NL outfielders with 4,118,524 votes, and Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals was second with 3,717,483. Braun's third-place standing is a reversal from last week, when he fell into fourth place behind Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants.

Cabrera stood at 3,045,884 votes as of Tuesday, a reversal that Braun said he knew about but wasn't necessarily following.

"People always bring it up to me, especially the media, so of course I'm aware of it," Braun said Wednesday. "But we're playing a game every day, and it's far from the forefront of my thoughts or my focus. But I'm certainly always aware of it.

"I've always appreciated everybody's support. It's been awesome. It's really meant a lot to me."

Braun is bidding for his fifth consecutive all-star start, an honor that might well become a lock anyway with Kemp still dealing with a hamstring injury. But having to fight for votes is a new experience for Braun, who had led all NL outfielders in voting the previous four years.

Considering that and the tumultuous off-season he experienced with his successful appeal of a 50-game suspension in the wake of a positive drug test, Braun was asked if a starting spot would be more meaningful to him this time around.

"No," he said simply. "No."

Voting closes at 10:59 p.m. Thursday, and the Brewers are doing everything possible to try and get fans to use their 25 votes. Social media has been a valuable tool in getting the word out, and a team spokesman has even spent considerable time during the current road trip passing out "Vote Braun" placards and T-shirts to Brewers fans in the stands.

Those same T-shirts even made their way into all the lockers in the Brewers' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park.

While Braun said he won't be caught wearing one - "Never. No chance," he said - he's thankful for the team's support.

"It's very meaningful, absolutely," he said. "I definitely appreciate it."

Fans can vote on, on the individual websites of the 30 major-league teams and also on mobile devices. The results will be announced at noon Sunday on TBS.

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Jonathan Vilma might seek injunction to keep playing

Lawyers for New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma have notified the judge hearing his defamation lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he will file an injunction challenging his season-long suspension if Goodell rules against his appeal.

Vilma's lawyers filed the notice with U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan in federal court on Wednesday, according to in New Orleans.

Following an investigation by the NFL, Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the Saints' "bounty" program from 2009 to 2011.
Vilma then sued Goodell for defamation, claiming that the commissioner damaged his reputation and his ability to earn a living. Goodell has until July 5 to respond to the allegations.

Goodell held a hearing on the appeals of Vilma and three other players suspended in the bounty case on June 18. He has not said when he will announce his ruling.

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Greg Olsen Hosts Kickball Tourney

Even when they've moved on to other teams, former Bears still seem to get a kick out of coming back to Chicago.

Carolina Panther tight end Greg Olsen will return to the city of his former employer on June 30 to host the 9th annual Kicks for a Cure kickball tournament in Grant Park.

The event is billed as the largest kickball tournament in the world and raises funds for Olsen's cancer charity, Receptions for Research.

Matt Forte and Indianapolis Colt Drew Stanton will be playing on Olsen's team this year.

Sixty teams are participating in the tournament, which sold out in 15 days.

But even though it's too late to play, spectators can purchase day passes for $50 which allows entrance into the Hutchinson Field event, as well as food and beverage throughout the day.

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Lauryn Williams Hopes Third Time Is the Charm

Heartbreaks and near-misses have kept a former University of Miami star sprinter from a gold medal.

Lauryn Williams, the world's fastest woman in 2005, is hoping to get one more chance at redemption during the Olympic trials.

"Hopefully the third time is the charm going for gold,” she said. “I've had some ups and downs, but I am really looking forward to the ups again.”
Williams will be without her biggest fan for the first time. Her dad, David, died after a long battle with leukemia and kidney disease in 2008. He underwent dialysis while watching her previous trips to the Olympics.

Her father’s death was just part of the reason Williams took a year off in 2010.

"Success sometimes, it can be overwhelming," she said. "Skydiving, skiing, flag football, you name it. I pretty much did it in 2010. All really cool experiences and ways to get out and kind of explore."

But once she returned to the Coral Gables track she calls home, adjusting didn't come easy. Williams didn't make the world championship team in 2011 and suffered disappointment.

"You think because you've done it, you can do it again because you're focused, but honestly it doesn't quite work like that," she said.

Now she’s training at the University of Miami with her college coach, Amy Deem, and is optimistic again.

"I'm back to that place where there is nothing to lose, and not because I’m 20 years old again, but because now I understand and have experience that it's not the end of the road when you don't win and life does go on,” she said. "So I think that 2012 will be that much sweeter for me making this team because I've really experienced all the different aspects of it now."

Deem agreed.

“It’s been a rough couple of years for her,” Deem told NBC 6. “I’ve seen a lot of great things this year in practice. I’ve seen her doing things she hasn’t done in years, if at all, so I’m very excited about where she is. It’s just a matter of being able to do it when it really counts.”

Williams did not qualify in the 100-meter dash over the weekend, but will race in the 200 meters this week.

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Ryan Braun wants to be a Brewer for life

Ryan Braun is batting .312 with a league-leading 20 home runs, plus 52 RBIs and a .596 slugging percentage, yet he dispels any notion that he might be the best right-handed hitter in the National League, with Cincinnati's Joey Votto the best lefty.

"I think that it's really difficult to say that one player is better than everyone else in the league," Braun said. "[But] it's an honor to be even included in that conversation.

"I think something like that is earned over time, and over the past five or six years, I have been pretty consistent. I don't think I am at the point yet where I deserve that distinction. Maybe one day I would, but not yet."

The Baseball Writers' Association of America would seem to disagree, as its members voted to give Braun the 2011 NL MVP Award.

Braun said that although the award is an honor, it hasn't changed his modus operandi when it comes to baseball.

"I always look forward, continue to move forward. I never get too excited about the success that I've had in the past. This is a very humbling game, so the goal is to always continue to have success, and I guess all my goals at this point have become team-oriented," Braun, ever the team player, said. "It was so much fun to go to the playoffs last year. [The Brewers were] two games short of the World Series, and the goal is to get back to that point as a team."

And for Braun, this year being a team player means compensating for the absence of powerhouse Prince Fielder, who was signed as a free agent by the Tigers in the offseason.

"I think the biggest challenge is consistency and longevity, and I [place] a lot of value [on] trying to be as consistent as possible, as productive as possible and to help my team win regardless of who's on my team, who's hitting behind me or what the circumstances are," Braun said. "It certainly becomes more challenging when you lose a player as good as Prince is, but for me, personally, I still have a job to do, and I try to do it the best that I can.

"You can't replace a player like Prince with a single other player, so I think everybody collectively kind of tries to pick up the pace for what we've lost. But the biggest thing about Prince is the energy he played with every day. He brought so much energy to our team, and I think it is just as challenging to try to replace that as it is the production."

Braun attended the University of Miami in case baseball didn't work out, but he won't have to worry about that possibility now. Nevertheless, he stresses the importance of school.

"You never know if sports are going to work out or not," he said. "My parents always instilled upon me the importance of an education and taking my education seriously. And even if sports does work out for you, you still have life after baseball or whatever sport it is that you play, so it's really important to take your education seriously."

And even though Braun made it in sports, he still uses what he learned from his major in Business Management and minor in Sports Management on a daily basis.

"As much as anything else, it's nice to have an idea of what I am getting myself into as a baseball player," he said. "You have a lot of opportunities, marketing deals, endorsement deals, financial opportunities -- it's nice to be able to read through a contract and have an idea of what it actually says."

Speaking of contracts, last April, Braun signed with Milwaukee through the 2020 season, an extension of the seven-year deal he and the Brewers inked back in 2008. The deal will net Braun a grand total of $145.5 million and a chance to spend his entire career in a Brewers uniform.

That's something he would be happy to do.

"I was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers. They helped to develop me as a baseball player and as a person. I've certainly enjoyed my time in Milwaukee and have been very fortunate to be on two teams that played in the postseason," he said without an ounce of hesitation. "I truly believe in the organization and the depth, the future, of our organization."

And with Braun set to be the team's cornerstone, so do Brewers fans.

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Yonder Alonso returns to Padres starting lineup

HOUSTON -- First baseman Yonder Alonso was back in the fifth spot of the order for Wednesday's game against the Astros after not starting the last three games with a sore knee.

Manager Bud Black said it was good to see Alonso in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat.

"He's a rookie player trying to establish himself in this league," Black said. "He wants to be out there. He wants to play. This guy has been a guy who plays every day."

Alonso made his 66th start of the season on Wednesday in the Padres' 76th game. He pinch-hit in Tuesday's game, striking out in his only at-bat in the ninth inning.

Entering Wednesday, Alonso was batting .253 with two homers and 18 RBIs. After a solid May, he struggled a little in his first 21 games in June, hitting .181 with 15 strikeouts and three walks.

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Chris Perez rips into Browns fans

Because the city of Cleveland hasn't endured enough slings and arrows in recent years, there's this:

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez believes the city's sports fans have issues. Deep issues.

Case in point: The Indians hover above .500, playing decent baseball, but nobody's buying tickets. Perez sees a group of malcontents more interested in sticking pins into LeBron James dolls.

Cleveland's age-old obsession with the Browns? Unhealthy and strange, according to Perez, who hails from Florida.

"That's what I don't understand," he recently told The New York Times. "Their whole thing is, 'We want a winner.' Well, why do you support the Browns? They don't win. They've never won. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don't understand it. It's a double standard, and I don't know why.

"... They've had a lot of years of misery. They say, 'You just don't understand because you don't live here,' O.K, maybe I don't. But that doesn't mean it has to keep going."

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Aubrey Huff understands situation

San Francisco Giants 1B Aubrey Huff (knee) hit in the batting cage Tuesday, June 26, and is in a very good mood as he nears a return. He understands when he returns, it will be in a reserve role. "(1B Brandon Belt) is doing a great job. If I'm on the bench, that's fine. I'll get ready to get a big hit," Huff said.

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Life minus football: Rashad Butler

The AFC South blog asked Houston Texans right tackle Rashad Butler what he would be doing if there was no football in his life.

Here’s his reply: “I’d probably be a personal trainer, training tackles. Wait, no football at all? OK, I’d try to be the world’s strongest man. I like lifting weights, I’m a competitive guy. That would be perfect for me. I’m always watching the world’s strongest man competitions. I can’t do Olympic lifting or bodybuilding. World’s strongest man would keep my competitive juices flowing, keep me working out, staying in good shape. I would say I’d probably be good flipping tires. I’ve done some, but not to that extent, or tires that heavy. It looks fun to me.”

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Matt Bosher Most Affected By Lockout During Rookie Season

Perhaps one of the less-written-about storylines in professional football is the pressure a punter faces every time he steps out on the field.

Naturally, the position isn’t exactly written about all the time. A good punter is like a good offensive lineman: You only hear about him if he’s suddenly not so good, and if he’s good, he might as well be invisible.

When a team spends a draft pick on a punter, however, that pressure has got to increase exponentially.

Matt Bosher — drafted by the Falcons in the sixth round in 2011 out of Miami — posted some rough early results in 2011, with punting averages ranging in the low-to-mid 30s, and it didn’t take long for fans to call for Bosher to get the boot.

With the lockout last year canceling OTAs and minicamp, Bosher — like most rookies — was affected immensely, but special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong thinks it was the No. 1 reason why the rookie punter was slow out of the gate.

“He would have liked to avoid a slow start last year,” Armstrong told, “but he suffered the most from the lack of OTAs and minicamp because we knew there were some things that we needed to address with him, but by the rules, we couldn’t get to him, we couldn’t address his issues, so we had to do it during the season.”

Once Armstrong got Bosher caught up, the effects started to show on the field as Bosher finished the season extremely strong. In the last six games of the regular season, Bosher averaged more than 50 yards per punt in every game except one, when he averaged 47.8.

Bosher finished his rookie season with a 42.7 yards-per-punt average, which put him at No. 30 in the league in the category, but his first portion of the season provided an unbalanced look at Bosher’s potential.

In 2012, Armstrong is looking to avoid the low numbers as he expects Bosher to continue to grow into a reliable leg for the Falcons.

“You’d like to see him start off with the same consistency that he finished the season with,” Armstrong said of Bosher’s progression heading into 2012. “I think he will grow. He’s become more knowledgable about his profession. He’s done a nice job here in the offseason with his work, so I think he’s preparing himself, because he wants to avoid a slow start.”

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Weighting wins for WRs Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson

Chase Stuart is doing some interesting stuff at

The most recent entry of note looks at career weighted winning percentages for the 100 wide receivers with the most receiving yards in NFL history.

Of the 14 active players on the list, the top guy and the lowest-ranking guy both belong to the AFC South.

And they should come as no surprise.

Reggie Wayne is at No. 7, with a weighted winning percentage of .698. Thanks, Peyton Manning, Bill Polian and the Colts.

Andre Johnson is at No. 95, with a weighted winning percentage of .433. Thanks, expansion situation, Charley Casserly and David Carr.

Interestingly, Wayne and Johnson are friends, linked by the University of Miami.

They hold each other in high regard and hang out together when they can. They share relatively low-key, workman-like personalities.

Johnson’s “suffering” came to an end last season as he played in his first two playoff games. If he can stay healthy, the Texans may finally be in position to help him move up this list before he’s done.

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Q&A: Tavares Gooden

The San Francisco 49ers recently wrapped up veteran minicamp and are now taking time off to get ready and recharged for training camp. According to many, the team’s offseason program was a rewarding experience which enabled the players to gain understanding of the playbook while getting prepared for the upcoming season. Find out how the offseason workouts went for linebacker and special teams ace Tavares Gooden, who enters his second season with the 49ers.

Q: What was the best aspect of having an entire offseason with Jim Harbaugh and his staff?
A: It’s been cool to have this opportunity to show the coaches what I really have. Now I just feel like having a whole summer with the team and getting to know the players and getting familiar with the playbook and the terminology will help me. The thing that I really like about it is that I’m here and I’m able to be with the team and the coaches every day. I didn’t have that opportunity last offseason because I came here in Week 1 of the season and I had to learn on the fly.

Q: What was your favorite drill of the offseason program and how did it improve your game?
A: The linebacker drills here are a little different than what I’ve done before in my career. The difference here is that we move a lot faster in our drills. Out here, I call linebackers coach Jim Leavitt “Drill Faster with the Drill Master” Jim Leavitt. That’s what I call him: Drill Master. He drills us up. You’ve got to get warmed up before practice and then get ready to go. I didn’t do the gauntlet drill but ask Randy Moss about my hands. I caught a one-handed pass from Alex Smith the other day. I got decent hands; I got nice hands.

Q: How prepared do you feel like the defense will be heading into the season?
A: We did some unimaginable things last season with very short time with a team that was just put together. This season we actually have time to learn what’s going on. That added with the talent has added depth to our team because guys are getting to understand positions better and it’s expanding our team. It’s just knowledge. I’m approaching it right now like I’m a rookie because that’s what I feel like, so I’m taking everything serious like I’m a rookie. I’m starting back over and I’m trying to reset my mind. That’s what I’ve been doing throughout these OTAs and minicamp. I’m asking questions like I’ve never even played the game before and that’s what makes guys better is when they ask questions and start to realize how to become a student of the game. If I make a mistake in practice I want to learn what I did wrong. I’m constantly thinking about those things before the play so I don’t repeat those mistakes and can improve my game.

Q: Is there a particular teammate that you really clicked with this offseason?
A: It would have been C.J. Spillman but he doesn’t really hang out with me. It would have been Tramaine Brock but he’s a Heat fan. So it’s Larry Grant.

Q: What do you like to do in the Bay Area when you’re not playing football? A: Video games. I hang out with my son and future wife at the house out here. After football it’s family and that’s it. Nothing else. Got three dogs I got to walk back home so after this I head back there and take care of my responsibilities.

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Riquna Williams scores season-high 27 points in Shock's win

TULSA, Okla. -- Rookie Riquna Williams scored a season-high 27 points and Ivory Latta added 21 to lead the Tulsa Shock to a 91-75 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night.

Temeka Johnson added 11 points as Tulsa (2-11) got its second win in the last 12 meetings against Los Angeles. Williams' total was a WNBA rookie high this season.

"She is a microwave-type player and when she's hot, you draw up plays to keep her going," Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "She did a good job of taking the ball to the rim and finishing."

The Shock, 0-6 in games decided by seven points or fewer, won for the second time in four games after opening the season with nine losses.

"Tonight was very rewarding after some of the tough games we've been through," Kloppenburg said. "We wanted to be physical and give them some resistance from the start of the game, and our players followed the plan all night."

Kristi Toliver scored 21 points to lead Los Angeles (10-5), which dropped its second consecutive game and lost by 16 or more points for the third time this season. Candace Parker, who tied a season-high with 33 points in a victory over the Shock on June 20, was held to just two points on 1 of 6 shooting.

Williams' 3-pointer gave the Shock a 23-12 lead after one quarter.

"They had great playmakers at the guard position and they had good play from their guards all night," Los Angeles coach Carol Ross said. "They're explosive and quick and their guard play really took over the game."

Tulsa had a 19-7 run over the final 8 minutes of the second to extend their advantage to 48-25 at halftime. It was the Shock's largest lead at the break, topping their six-point advantage against Phoenix on May 22.

The 25 points were a season-low in the first half for Los Angeles.

The Sparks pulled within 13 points midway through the third quarter, but Tulsa finished the period on a 14-2 run to regain control of the game.

"I thought we had the right mindset to make a run, but Tulsa responded and hit some big shots," Ross said.

The Shock led by as much as 27 points in the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles' DeLisha Milton-Jones became the ninth WNBA player reach 5,000 career points when she connected on an inside basket with 7:57 left in the second quarter.

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Tim George Jr. making first Kentucky truck start

This weekend's 150-lap affair will mark Tim George Jr.'s first career Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Although the New York City native has yet to make any competitive laps at the 1.5-mile track in the Truck Series, he has made two ARCA Racing Series starts, earning an average starting position of 15th and an average finishing position of 18.5 while completing 98.5 percent (197 of 200) of his contested laps.-Richard Childress Racing.

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Ryan Braun in line for starting All-Star spot

Either every citizen of Wisconsin has decided to vote for Ryan Braun up to the limit of 25 times, or baseball fans in general have forgiven him for his brush with performance-enhancing drugs.

The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, whose positive drug test from last year was overturned on appeal, surged past the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera for the last starting outfield spot in the final voting update for the NL All-Star team, which was released today.

Braun, who has garnered 3,168,617 votes to Cabrera's 3,045,884, had fallen to fourth place in the previous update. Matt Kemp and Carlos Beltran are far ahead in the balloting for the other two outfield spots.

The teams that will represent both leagues in the July 10 event in Kansas City will be announced Sunday.

Braun, the defending NL MVP, is having another huge season, tying for the league lead with 20 home runs, ranking in the top five with 52 RBI and batting .314 with a .996 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. But he was jeered and taunted on the road early in the season after winning his appeal on what many perceived to be a technicality related to the chain of custody.

At this time, though, he's in line to make his fifth consecutive starting appearance in the ASG.

Kemp, who has been sidelined since May 31 with a strained hamstring, yielded his overall voting lead in the NL to Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who has the majors' best on-base percentage at .481.

Votto has garnered 4,475,180 votes to Kemp's 4,118,524.

Other than the third outfielder, the closest race in the NL is for the starting catcher spot, where the Giants' Buster Posey is ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina – an All-Star each of the last three seasons – by a tally of 3,335,982-3,119-530.

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Aubrey Huff has no intention of quitting

Aubrey Huff used an interesting word to describe his 2012 season. "Delirious," he called it.

He struggled to hit, went on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder, and then, just as he was about to get a bunch of at-bats as the designated hitter in interleague play, he sprained his right knee trying to leap the dugout railing to celebrate Matt Cain's perfect game.

In his first interview since the mishap, Huff was asked if he thought about going home and calling it a career. He said no.

"I've never been a quitter," Huff said. "I've always tried to finish something I've started. I don't want to raise my kids thinking it's OK to quit. You never know what can happen. You can get to the playoffs and you can get a big hit at the end. Look at what (Edgar) Renteria did after his 2010 season."

A variety of injuries limited Renteria to 243 at-bats. He was a target of fan scorn until he hit the three-run homer off Cliff Lee that propelled the Giants to their clinching victory in the World Series.

So, how does an athlete injure himself in a celebration? By colliding with another athlete.

Huff said that as he tried to leap the dugout railing, he bumped into Nate Schierholtz. Huff was jostled, his legs did not clear the railing, and he fell onto the warning track hands-first. As he landed, he slammed his right knee onto the ground.

He continued to the mound on adrenaline, feeling the pain later that night.

"I was so pumped up for Cain," Huff said. "It's been a long time since the playoffs when you got pumped up for a game like that."

Huff is taking batting practice and throwing. Though his knee feels much better, he has not begun to run and will not be near ready to return when eligible to be activated Thursday.

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Colin McCarthy, A 3rd Day Draft Pick That Impressed

Colin McCarthy, LB, Tennessee Titans (4th round, 109th pick) -- McCarthy was a beast against the run in his rookie year, finishing sixth among all inside linebackers in Stop Rate against enemy ballcarriers. When veteran Barrett Ruud was lost halfway through the season to injury, McCarthy really stepped up. He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play against the Buffalo Bills, and had a game-saving interception against Tampa Bay.

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What will Santana Moss' role be?

There have been a few posts in this space during the past few months that have questioned whether or not Santana Moss would be on the Redskins’ 2012 roster. Barring a drastic change in the situation you will not see any more such articles. 

In 2011, Moss had his worst season since 2002, when he was a returner and reserve receiver for the Jets. And then the Redskins added Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan as free agents and have been talking up a bigger role for second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson. It appeared that Moss, a Redskin since 2005, and his $2.65 million salary could be gone.

Moss didn’t have to read tea leaves to see that his job was in danger. Mike Shanahan recounted a conversation he had with Moss earlier in the offseason. “We talked to him very frankly and said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to come in in the best shape as you get older.  Sometimes your skills will go down a little bit unless you’re in great shape.’”

So Moss got in great shape. He lost 15 pounds. With Hankerson and Morgan sidelined with injuries during most of OTA’s and minicamp, Moss took full advantage and developed good chemistry with Robert Griffin III. 

“He’s been impressive,” said Shanahan.

Where he will fit in when September rolls around remains to be seen. In discussing who will play as the slot receiver, Kyle Shanahan said he sees Moss as “one of the premier guys in the NFL at that position.”

But he also said that Morgan and Hankerson are “very capable” of playing the slot. So, do Mike and Kyle give the majority of the action to Morgan, the expensive free agent, Hankerson, the potential future star, or Moss, who is 33 and is unlikely to be around when Robert Griffin III starts to hit his stride? The answer seems evident.

But if the Redskins run 1100 offensive plays this year thee will be some 2800 snaps at wide receiver to be distributed among the group, possibly more if they run more three- and four-receiver sets. Moss likely will be able to grab a good number of this snaps. From the looks of things now, he should be able to make the most of them. 

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Getting to know Jason Fox

Get to know your Detroit Lions off the field! asks players questions to learn more about their football memories, plans after football, favorites and more!

T Jason Fox

Q: What is your favorite college football memory?
Fox: “When I scored a touchdown against Florida State.”

Q: What was your favorite show growing up?
Fox: “Saved by the Bell.”

Q:What's your favorite movie?
Fox: “Dumb and Dumber.”

Q: Who's your favorite musical performer:
Fox: “George Straitt.”

Q: What are your plans after your football career?
Fox: "I definitely would want to coach."

Q: Who's your favorite music to work out to?
Fox: "Anything rock."

Q: Where would you most like to travel to?
Fox: “Europe.”

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Finally, Frank Gore has some company in 49ers backfield

The 49ers strongly encouraged running back Frank Gore to take part in the team's offseason program when they signed him to a three-year extension last summer.

The enticement came in the form of an annual $400,000 workout bonus. Typically, Gore has remained in his hometown of Miami to train. There is no arguing with the results. After all, the only time during his six seasons as the featured back that he did not achieve 1,000-plus yards rushing was in 2010 when he sustained a fractured hip and missed the final five games.

Gore bounced back last season with the second-best rushing total (1,211 yards) of his career.

With nearly 1,700 career rushing attempts and another 300 catches, Gore is at the point where most running backs begin to slow down. Gore does not see that happening quite so soon, though.

"As long as I'm healthy and in great shape and ready to play, I'm going to be the Frank Gore I've always been," he said.

Although the 49ers have the most depth at running back that they've had at any point during Gore's career, there was no indication throughout the offseason program that anybody is ready to take his job.

Gore appears to have lost a step of explosion -- hey, that's only to be expected -- but he is still clearly the team's best option and most well-rounded running back.

Obviously, with no contact allowed during the offseason program, it's difficult to fully evaluate the running backs on the 90-man roster. Roster spots will be won and lost in training camp . . .

Perhaps, 265-pound Brandon Jacobs is the best-suited to fill in as the first- and second-down back if/when Gore needs a breather. Jacobs and Gore entered the NFL in the same year, but Jacobs has a thousand fewer touches.

Jacobs had a strong offseason. Mark Uyeyama, who heads the 49ers' strength and conditioning program, had him working harder than ever before, Jacobs said. If Jacobs runs powerfully when the pads go on in training camp, he can carve out a role as Gore's top backup on base downs, as well as the short-yardage option.

Kendall Hunter, the backup from a year ago, had his moments during the offseason program. He concluded one two-minute drill with a 50-yard touchdown reception from Alex Smith after shaking free from inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite. Hunter performed well as a rookie, and he should be even better this year. However, he's in a fight to earn the same amount of carries (112) that he got in his first season.

The 49ers invested a second-round draft pick in LaMichael James. Gore was impressed when he watched film of James. But the two have never been on the field together. Because of Oregon's late graduation, James is the only player who did not practice with the veterans during the offseason program.

The 49ers have wanted to see a greater commitment from Anthony Dixon, a sixth-round pick in 2010. As the No. 3 back last year, he played sparingly and was given just 29 rushing attempts in the regular season. He is going to need a strong camp to win a job.

Veteran Rock Cartwright got some reps at running back in the offseason program, but his spot on the roster will be determined by whether the team believes he can step in as a core special-teams player.

Bruce Miller took over at fullback from Moran Norris (now with the Houston Texans) and started seven games as a rookie. Miller is back as the unquestioned starter -- though it's unclear how often the 49ers will utilize two backs. One of the big developments of the offseason was the emergence of 295-pound Will Tukuafu, a defensive lineman, as an option at fullback. Tukuafu is very athletic and demonstrated the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Undrafted rookie running back Jewel Hampton (Southern Illinois) showed promise with his burst and hands. With a good camp, he can stick around on the practice squad. Undrafted fullback Cameron Bell (Northern Illinois) got back on the field after a hamstring strain in early May to see limited action.

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Jonathan Vilma wants NFL to make 'bounty' ruling

Jonathan Vilma doesn't believe his season-long suspension will be shortened or overturned via the appeals process, so he's already looking forward to the next step in his fight against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“What's this guy waiting on? Make your ruling so we can get on with phase 2 already”

According to the collective bargaining agreement, a suspension appeal would be the main recourse for the players who were suspended as a result of the "bounty" investigation. However, citing sources close to the players,'s Steve Wyche has reported the players also could be poised to challenge this investigation -- and Goodell's authority to rule against the players -- in court.

This would likely be the "phase 2" Vilma is referring to.

Should any prospective cases get to court, lawyers for the players also might be able to gain access to evidence and witnesses that they haven't been able to previously, according to Wyche.

Vilma's tweet shows the linebacker is ready for the next battle before the current one is even done.

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proCane Brittany Viola earns spot in Olympics

Brittany Viola
Brittany Viola, the former University of Miami star and daughter of 1988 Cy Young Award winning pitcher Frank Viola, won the women’s 10-meter platform Sunday at the U.S. Olympic trials and qualified for the London Games in her third attempt to make the Olympics.

Viola dominated the competition in Federal Way, Wash., winning by nearly 60 points ahead of second-place Katie Bell, who claimed the other qualifying spot for London. Viola scored 86.40 on her second-round dive, an armstand back dive from the platform with two somersaults and 1 1/2 twists, getting all 9s from the judges.

“A greater perspective that this is just another meet,” Viola said of her previous trials experiences. “Although there are a lot of lights and colors and Olympic rings everywhere, it comes down to the diver and the platform, and that’s something Katie and I can take into the Olympics.”

In the men’s competition, no matter what happened on the final dive Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais were already bound for London. Chris Colwill didn’t have that security.

With his Olympic hopes on the line and a sliver of a lead, Colwill’s final dive of the 3-meter springboard final was the highest-scoring dive of the entire competition.

Colwill rallied from third place to win the men’s 3-meter springboard, and Dumais held off Ipsen in the final round to finish second and reach his fourth Olympics in the event.

“Competing in the Olympics, that definitely was the biggest pressure, but I felt like I did a good job and enjoy myself and have fun and not worry so much about how the event was going to go and embrace the environment,” Colwill said.

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Aubrey Huff nearing possible Minor League rehab

SAN FRANCISCO -- Aubrey Huff returned to the Giants before Monday's game against the Dodgers, and manager Bruce Bochy said the 35-year-old Huff will work out in the weight room and is close to returning to the team.

Huff has been sidelined since Matt Cain's June 13 perfect game, when Huff sprained his right knee when he fell during postgame celebrations.
"I talked to him a little bit today, and he's doing a lot better," Bochy said. "He's getting close, and he's able to do some stuff now. He's making a lot of improvement."

Counting Monday's game, Huff has missed 11 games since being placed on the disabled list with the knee injury, and Bochy said a Minor League rehab assignment will be likely.

"We really haven't talked about it, but I do think it'll be a good idea for him because he's missed so much time," Bochy said. "That's something Aubrey and I need to talk about."

Huff, who was also on the DL earlier this season with anxiety disorder, is batting .155 this season in 58 at-bats with only four extra-base hits and five RBIs, but Bochy said Huff will continue to have a role as a left-handed bat off the bench.

"That's the plan right now -- have him available for the occasional start, have him come off the bench and bring experience," Bochy said. "Being a [former] DH gives him experience coming off the bench and being a pinch-hitter. It also gives us depth, and if something happens where he's swinging well, we'll have another proven bat to put in the lineup."

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Chris Perez fingers Cards pitchers

The Cardinals have become character actors in the drama resulting from last week's ejection and suspension of Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta for having pine tar on his glove.

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez, a former member of the Redbirds' bullpen, noted during a subsequent interview with XM Radio that several "older" Cardinal pitchers used various substances during his time with the club.

Perez later amended his comments to say, "It wasn't like an organizational thing." However, his comments managed to partially redirect the issue.
Several veteran Cardinals starting pitchers admitted being familiar with mixing a foreign substance with resin to better grip the ball.

"First of all, I don't know what Chris is talking about," responded Chris Carpenter, who has been with the Cardinals since 2003, including his 2005 NL Cy Young Award season. "Second, it is what it is. I understand it's in the rule book. But it's a situation that happens. There are probably a lot of pitchers in this game who need something at times to help them get a better grip.

"If you're talking about scuffing or putting Vaseline on the ball to make it move differently, that's a separate issue. But to do something to get a better grip on the ball? With guys throwing 100 miles per hour? I don't think that's cheating. Unfortunately for (Peralta), maybe they didn't like him. I don't know. Pine tar, sunscreen, whatever… it's not there to help the ball sink, cut or do funny things. It's a tool to keep it from flying out of your hands."

Major League Baseball suspended Peralta for eight games, a sentence many players believe overly harsh.

The Cardinals were parties to a potential controversy during Game 2 of the 2006 World Series when Detroit starting pitcher Kenny Rogers was spotted with noticeable smudges, apparently pine tar, on his pitching thumb.

Then-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn't ask umpires to check Rogers' glove but did request that Rogers clean his hand. La Russa received criticism at the time for not pressing the issue.

"If it's something like Rogers in the World Series, that was different. That was overboard," Cards pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "He was getting an unfair advantage. If you're talking about remnants of pine tar on his glove, I don't buy into that" being a violation.

"I really don't know how (Rogers) used it. I guess you can create more spin on your breaking ball if you use enough of it. But the reason we didn't like it was because it was so 'in your face.' If he had been a little more discreet with it nothing would have ever been said."

Wainwright acknowledges at times using a mix of resin and sunscreen to enhance his grip. Just as significant, the combo applied to his pitching arm helps prevent sweat rolling onto his hand.

"There's a difference in pine tar from oil and grease, things that make the ball sink, cut or do different stuff," he said. "That's different than doctoring a ball. If one of our pitchers gets a scuff on the side of a ball he can do all kinds of things with it. An emery board or something like that is totally different.''

Manager Mike Matheny declined comment on the matter but the team is among those believing the use of substance mixed with resin to better grip the ball is widespread if not universal.

"If you're doing something to find a better grip, I don't have an issue with that," Cards pitcher Kyle Lohse said. "I don't think hitters would, either."
Carpenter maintained "every single person at some point or time has tried something" to better grip the ball.

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Warren Sapp apologizes to Shockey

Former NFL star Warren Sapp said Friday he had apologized to Jeremy Shockey for publicly labeling him the "snitch" in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.

Appearing on Boston's 98.5 The Sports Hub, Sapp said he bumped into Shockey at a Miami Heat game a week after he controversially outed the former Saints tight end as the whistleblower who prompted the league's investigation into the illegal payment program.

Sapp said he took the opportunity to pull Shockey aside, telling him, "'I apologize for putting it on the street level and making it derogatory towards you.'"

Shockey, who played for New Orleans from 2008 to 2010, vehemently denied that he informed the league about the alleged bounty program, whereby Saints players were paid bonuses for injuring opponents.

Executives at NFL Network, where Sapp works as an analyst, reportedly disciplined him for naming Shockey on the air, but allowed the former defensive tackle to keep his job.

"The information that was passed to me, I stand by my source, but I hate that I put it on a level, that wasn't where it should be," Sapp said Friday. "That's what I apologized for, because I put it on a way lower level than it should've been."

Sapp then quipped he would be willing to settle things mano a mano if Shockey, a fellow Miami Hurricane, still had an issue.

"The two times I've seen him I haven't had a problem with him, but if he does we can go out in the grass and get it over with. I don't have a problem with getting my knuckles a little scarred up," Sapp said, laughing.

"This isn't life or death or anything like that. I mean, come on, we're playing a kid's game (football), getting paid a king's ransom."

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Ultimate Calais Campbell Highlights

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Michael Irvin's Madden NFL 13 Ratings Revealed

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Spencer Adkins Has Major Upside

Spencer Adkins’ of the Atlanta Falcons stats won’t overwhelm you, but he did show some flashes in the very few appearances he made with injuries to Nicholas and Mike Peterson late in the season and in the playoffs. He may have not stood out as a playmaker, but he didn’t do outright terrible either. He’s always been reported to have major talent and upside, but that he was a major project.

As a 6th round draft pick back in 2009, he’s made the outright active roster every year since and has been excellent on special teams. With the Falcons usually keeping 6 linebackers, it’s hard to believe Adkins won’t make the roster after starting in the playoffs, only being 24, and showing some of that long talked about upside.

Robert James is a story of “had potential, but never realized” if there ever was. It’s a wonder he’s still on the team in some form or fashion, but he is. James was drafted in the same class as Matt Ryan and Harry Douglas, but has not seen the field in live game action since. He has bounced around between the practice squad and off for several years now.

He went through injury issues and then he was suspended for violating the league’s drug policy and (to known knowledge) has never officially made the active roster. The fact is that James hasn’t even made the 53-man roster in 4 years of possibilities. It’s hard to imagine 2012 finally being James breakthrough when he’s 28 years old with tons of younger talent abound.

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Tommy Streeter Learning From Ups And Downs

Tommy Streeter had broken wide open, ready to stroll down the sideline for six points in 11-on-11 drills.

But when Curtis Painter’s pass dropped into Streeter’s outstretched hands, one arm was extended further than the other and the ball glanced off and fell to the turf.

Streeter heard all about it. A chorus of taunts came from the defensive backs, who were just feet away. Cary Williams called out that Streeter needed one of the defense’s white jerseys because he can’t catch.

Streeter got the last laugh though.

In the day’s final two-minute drill, Streeter faded to the back corner of the end zone. He reached out with one hand and hauled in the pass for a highlight-reel touchdown.

The offense went berserk, and veteran Anquan Boldin yelled for Streeter to punt the ball. He did, sending his offensive teammates into even more of a tizzy.

That’s how it went in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp for the Ravens’ sixth-round draft pick with a bag full of tools. He would show flashes of his vast potential, but also struggle at times.

“Every day I want to get better,” Streeter said. “That’s part of the process, making mistakes and learning from them. I feel like it’s a blessing to make them early. Then hopefully down the road I’ve suffered to the point that there’s nothing but glory in the end.”

Streeter came to Baltimore raw, but with 4.3-second, 40-yard dash speed, long arms and a 6-foot-5 frame.

He’s been working on all aspects of being a wideout, from the right way to prepare for practice, to body balance and positioning and his hands. The list doesn’t end there, but Streeter is chipping away at it.

One thing he’s trying to perfect is being a red-zone target. Streeter and undrafted rookie quarterback Chester Stewart worked on fades after every practice. Stewart lofts the pass up and Streeter would often haul it in with one big mitt.

“[The end zone fade] is something that wasn’t even in the Miami playbook until I was there,” Streeter said, saying they used it once with him to score a touchdown versus Virginia Tech. “Ever since then, it’s been in the playbook.”

At the same time, Streeter has had stretches of difficulty at practice. His hands have let him down, or he hasn’t been able to get separation from defensive backs. Streeter used to let days like that get to him.

“I used to let a day get me down and frustrate me during the course of the week to the point that if my family or anyone tried to communicate with me, I was hesitant and would distance myself because it was on my mind,” Streeter said.

Streeter grew up mentally during his senior breakout campaign in Miami, when he caught 46 passes for 811 yards and eight touchdowns. With an all new set of NFL challenges, he’s continued that mental development in Baltimore.

Streeter said he was glad the defensive players got on him after his drop. It’s good that they expect him to make that play because he expects it of himself.

“We’re all collectively a team. They’re motivating me. That competitive practice makes us better,” he said. “One play, one practice, one day doesn’t define you as a person. At the end of the day, I’m still Tommy Streeter and I’m still happy.”

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Reggie Wayne #31 Top 100 NFL Players of 2011

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Vince Wilfork's INT gets top billing

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork has earned his place among the elite interior defensive linemen for his run-stuffing abilities. He’s nearly immovable, and the anchor to the Patriots defensive front.

But it was his hands that were on display on two occasions in 2011, as he recorded the first two interceptions of his professional career, displaying impressive ball skills for a player of any size, much less one who checks in well over 300 pounds.

The efforts of his first interception of the season, in which he batted a Philip Rivers’ pass in the air, hauled the ball in and lumbered for an extended return headlines the top defensive plays from 2011, as compiled by

Wilfork’s interception was a momentum swinger, as it prevented the Chargers from narrowing the Patriots 17-7 lead late at the end of the half, and subsequently set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as the first half game clock expired.

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Mike Florio on Saints, Jonathan Vilma

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Ray Lewis has right idea emphasizing quickness

Ravens MLB Ray Lewis reportedly looks slimmer than usual, and it's clear he's trying to become quicker. For Lewis, who’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, it’s a nod to a game that’s different than when he entered the NFL in 1996.

“(Anytime) you come back in your 17th year, you kind of want to come back with a different mentality and different thinking,” Lewis, who was listed at 240 in his rookie season, told reporters in June. “So, my mentality was, change with the game. There’s no more true, true, true, physical, physical fullbacks that are going to come at me and sledgehammer all day.

“So, everything is about mismatches now. And everything is about speed and about running and trying to get smaller people on the field. So, just adjust to the game, and as you see guys get older in their careers, you see a lot of people don’t do that. And that was my thing this year. … Everybody wants to go with all these little five-wides and all this different stuff. Just change with the game, and that was kind of my thought process.”

Of slimming down, Lewis said: "I think it becomes kind of easy when you go through the things that I went through in my regiment as far as training and then as far as eating and everything. So, it just naturally comes off, and as hard as you go with it, it’s just going to naturally take care of itself, and that’s pretty much, it’s been the course for me."

One longtime NFL defensive assistant who’s familiar with Lewis’ game believes getting leaner — Lewis was coy on whether he had actually shed a few pounds — is the right move for the future Hall of Famer.

“It’s very smart,” the coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told PFW. “Guys who know what they’re doing, that’s what they do.”

One example the coach cited was Giants DE Michael Strahan, who dropped weight toward the end of his career and still played at a high level.

Whereas a younger player can carry a few extra pounds and get away with it, that excess weight can be problematic for an older player, the coach said. “A lot of that extra weight is not good weight,” the coach said.  

Shedding a few pounds, the coach said, can be very helpful. 

“It’s easier on your joints,” he said. “You recover faster.”

The reduced bulk isn’t a big concern for a veteran, the coach said, “because you know how to play.”

One NFL personnel man told PFW that Lewis’ decision to try to get quicker isn’t uncommon among accomplished veteran players trying to fight off Father Time.

Of Lewis, the evaluator opined: “He knows that his window is closing fast.”

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Jason Fox not guaranteed Detroit Lions roster spot after injury

Jason Fox, an offensive lineman drafted in the fourth round in 2010, is in danger of not making the Detroit Lions out of training camp because of lingering injuries.

Fox missed the Lions' recent minicamp due to a knee injury, the latest in a line of setbacks that have hampered his career, according to He missed all of the 2011 season with a broken left foot, suffered during last year's training camp.

The Lions drafted Fox out of University of Miami with visions of him eventually earning a starting job at tackle, but the injuries have relegated him to competing for a backup role this season.

"He needs to put some time together where he's injury-free from an evaluation standpoint and proving that he can stay healthy over a long term," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

Fox has appeared in just four NFL games during his career.

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Roscoe Parrish gives Rivers depth at No. 3 WR

As successful as the Chargers’ passing attack has been of late, Philip Rivers has rarely had a productive option at the No. 3 receiver spot. Granted, he hasn’t needed it because of the play of Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Darren Sproles (before he went to New Orleans in 2011). This year, with Jackson gone, San Diego used free agency to make up for his loss in a big way, adding Robert Meachem, Roscoe Parrish and Eddie Royal to join Floyd and 2011 draft pick Vincent Brown, giving Rivers a deep receiving corps. During minicamp, head coach Norv Turner raved about Royal, who is expected to line up in the slot. Royal has yet to return to the form of his rookie season, when he had 91 catches for 980 yards and five scores, but the Chargers’ offense could be the right ingredient for him. Meachem will start on the outside opposite Floyd, and Parrish offers another option for the slot. The speedy Parrish has to stay healthy, but he did average 50 receiving yards a game in 2010 before getting hurt. 

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D.J. Williams appeals decision to dismiss NFL suit

Considering Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams wasn't afraid to take on the NFL, it should be no surprise he didn't accept a judge's decision to dismiss his lawsuit against the league.

Williams filed an appeal Friday to the U.S. District Court, District of Colorado's decision to dismiss his lawsuit. His lawsuit was dismissed Thursday by Judge Christine Arguello.

Absent an appeal, Williams would have to begin the 2012 season by serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's anabolic steroid and related substances policy.

The league claimed he manipulated his specimen.

Williams, an eight-year starter for the Broncos, sued the NFL — claiming the collector of his sample taken in August 2011 made chain-of-custody mistakes.

The league found Williams in violation of its drug policy because it said he had submitted a "nonhuman" sample to the collector.

Defensive lineman Ryan McBean had joined Williams in the suit against the league, but later accepted a settlement of a three-game suspension. McBean is now with the Baltimore Ravens.

It's been a tough few weeks for Williams. He created a firestorm two weeks ago when he revealed a portion of the Broncos' defensive playbook on his Twitter account.

Williams is facing trial in August on a DUI charge, so it's possible the former first-round draft pick could be facing a longer suspension under the NFL's personal-conduct policy.

Williams, who turns 30 next month, has been a starter all eight seasons since he was drafted by the Broncos in 2004.

If his appeal is denied, the Broncos are expected to open his outside linebacker position to competition between Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving and rookie Danny Trevathan.

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Sixth place not good enough for Lauryn Williams to return to Olympics

EUGENE, Ore. -- After her race was over, Lauryn Williams didn't stick around to watch the three women taking their victory lap around Hayward Field, slapping high fives with one hand and waving a miniature American flag with the other.

In between the semifinals and the final of the 100-meter dash Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials, Williams spent some time visualizing herself in that all-too-familiar position. She allowed herself to believe that this moment could once again be hers to share with the world.
"I told myself, 'I want one of those flags,' " said Williams, a Rochester native. "I even pictured the announcer saying 'Lauryn, you did it for a third time! How's it feel?' "

If she hadn't known how to dream big, she never would have made one Olympics, let alone two. But on Saturday night, as the yellow rays finally burst through the gray northwestern sky and bounded onto the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, it became clear from the moment the gun went off in the final that this night likely would signify the sun setting on Williams' sterling Olympic career.

She started too slow and knew it right away. Running in Lane 8, a station she earned by squeaking through the semifinals, the real race for London was being run on the other side of the straightaway, and she never could catch up to Carmelita Jeter (10.92 seconds), Tianna Madison (10.96) and Jeneba Tarmoh (11.07), who would take those flags that Williams envisioned as hers. Tarmoh's third-place finish was later called into question when officials declared a dead heat with Allyson Felix for the third and final spot. Officials from USA Track and Field were meeting late Saturday night to make a determination on how to resolve issue for the third spot on the Olympic team.

No matter. It didn't affect Williams. She finished sixth with a time of 11.18 seconds, and she admitted that, this time around, just making the final felt like an accomplishment. Once she was there, she looked around at those other women and gave herself a pep talk.

"I just told myself I deserve this as much as the other seven people on the line," Williams said. "I've worked as hard as them, if not harder. I've beaten everyone on that line at some point or another. Why not today be the day when I beat them again?"

From the time she woke up Saturday, this day was either going to be the end or the beginning of something truly special.

If it was the end, then it was the denouement of one of the best Olympic careers to come out of Western Pennsylvania in recent memory. Williams first realized that she was fast when her late father, David, took her to the Carnegie Science Museum as a child and she beat the time of a hologram rendering of 100-meter legend Florence Griffith-Joyner. After three years at the University of Miami, as a 20-year-old, she took the track world by storm, winning the silver medal in the 100 at the 2004 Athens Games.

If it was the beginning, then it was a tale of personal redemption and growth that would be told over and over again for the next month on the way to London. Williams had to leave the track behind in 2010 to realize how much she still had inside of her. Coming back was a different kind of experience. She didn't even make the final in the 2011 national championships, missing out on the world championships for the first time.

Still, she did not stop. She employed a small army -- a chef and a massage therapist and a lot of friends -- to help her get to Saturday with a fighting chance.

"I've totally been humbled by it all," Williams said.

She ran an 11.15 in the semifinals earlier Saturday, and it worked out that she was the final person to qualify. That put her in Lane 8 for the final, thinking about a transatlantic trip and one last shot at Olympic glory. But it didn't happen for her this time.

She will continue to race until her contract with Saucony ends next year, but she said it's doubtful she will be at the 2016 Olympic trials running for a shot at Brazil.

Williams will compete in the 200 meters later this week, but it would appear to be a long shot. The 100 is the event that has been her inspiration, her loyal partner all these years, and she gave it a worthy and meaningful final dance.

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Chris Perez believes pine tar use is widespread

HOUSTON (AP) – Outspoken Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez said Friday he believes there are pitchers on every team who use pine tar and other substances to manipulate the ball.

"If before every game if they stopped and checked everybody's gloves or something there would be one or two guys on every team that would just get popped," he said.

Clarifying comments he made earlier on a satellite radio show, Perez, a former Cardinal, said he wasn't specifically calling out St. Louis for doing it.
"I've only played for two teams and more guys did it on the Cardinals than here," he said. "That's the only thing I was trying to say. It wasn't like an organizational thing."

Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta was suspended for eight games on Thursday for having pine tar on his glove. The suspension came after he was ejected Tuesday night when Washington manager Davey Johnson asked the umpires to check his glove when he was warming up in the eighth inning.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was upset with Johnson's actions, saying he had inside information since Peralta pitched for the Nationals in 2010.

Perez believes the issue isn't pine tar on gloves, but rather that one of the many unwritten rules of baseball was broken when Johnson used inside information on a former player.

"I think the Rays are more mad about somebody calling them out," he said. "It had to be somebody that knew— that used to play with them. I have old teammates that I could tell (manager) Manny (Acta) to call out, but I'm not going to. It's not bush league, but it's still not on the up and up."

None of the St. Louis pitchers who were with the team when Perez was there were available for comment on Friday, but a couple of pitchers who have since joined the team weighed in on the issue.

Starter Lance Lynn wasn't sure how widespread the use of pine tar is.

"You hear about guys doing it, but I've never witnessed it myself," he said. "It's something you hear about around the league, one or two guys doing it."

Fellow St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse also seemed to agree with Perez that there's an unwritten rule about not using inside information on former teammates.

"If you're going to start throwing guys under the bus, then you'd better be sure there's nobody on your own team doing it," he said. "That's all I have to say."

Perez says he only uses rosin, but that he's seen players use pine tar, sunscreen, rosin, dirt and a mixture of those things. He doesn't believe that pine tar changes the pitches, but rather simply helps with gripping the ball.

"I use just rosin and it can get just as sticky as pine tar and if they checked me some games, there would be nothing in my glove, but my fingers would stick together because rosin with sweat and dirt is sticky," Perez said. "That's why it's out there is to help us."

Perez isn't one to hold his tongue, and called out Indians fans for lack of support in May and was fined by the league earlier in the season for a tweet after a series with the Royals in Kansas City. He also riled up Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson recently with a hand gesture he made after striking him out.

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Yonder Alonso to take a few days off to rest knee

SAN DIEGO -- First baseman Yonder Alonso will not start Sunday against the Mariners, nor Monday in Houston, due to a sore left knee. Alonso said he tweaked the knee sliding on the last road trip, though the pain is more the result of accumulated wear and tear.

"Alonso has a little bit of a cranky knee that we're gonna rest for a day or two ... this is not a situation where he's gonna be on the DL," Padres Manager Bud Black said. "Like all players, once you start the season and get into it, there's always something that's been nagging you. You go in that locker room, there's just something that doesn't quite feel 100 percent ... he got an injection last night to help the soreness, doctors think this will be what he needs to get over the hump."

The 25-year-old Alonso is currently second among Major League rookies with 17 doubles, and is tied for the fourth-most hits (64) in that group. He is hitting .254 with two homers and 18 RBIs in 70 games this season.

"It's sore, but I'll be ready in Houston," Alonso said. "I'll be fine."

Veteran left-handed bat Mark Kotsay will start in Alonso's place at first base on Sunday against right-hander Hector Neosi, and Black said he expects Jesus Guzman to handle first tomorrow night against Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez.

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Ryan Braun hitting streak

Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak to 18 games Sunday with a single in the for the Milwaukee Brewers. Braun also has a 27-game streak in interleague games. His 18-game streak is the longest current one in the majors.

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