Photos From The Hurricane Football Reunion & 2010 Spring Game

On Saturday had the opportunity to atttend the Annual Hurricane Football Reunion Party at Miami Prime Grill in North Miami. The event was attended by over 50 former Hurricane greats including the likes of Warren Sapp, Clinton Portis, Dan Morgan, Edgerrin James, Kenard Lang and many more.

Gerard Daphnis of Canes4Life organized the event which also honored the 1989 National Championship team. All the former players then headed out to the 2010 Spring Game where the University of Miami offenses put on a show. Click here to view our full photo gallery of over 400 pictures from the Hurricane Reunion Party and Spring Game. Enjoy!

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Jeff Feagles signs with Giants for 23rd NFL season

Punter Jeff Feagles will be back with the Giants for his 23rd season, according to Giants VP of communications Pat Hanlon.

The 44-year-old's future with the team was uncertain last month, when The Star-Ledger reported he and the Giants were locked in a contract standoff that was far from a resolution. On March 18, the team signed former Australian Rules Football player Jy Bond. But Feagles, whose two-year deal was up after last season, signed a new contract with the Giants Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

At the end of the 2009 season, Feagles said he wouldn't make a "knee-jerk" decision on his future. But he maintained he was physically able to keep playing and will now do so with the Giants.

Feagles made the Pro Bowl in 2008, when he had a career-high net yards average of 40.2. Last season, the directional punter struggled with a few mis-kicks before the bye week. He finished the season with a net average of 36.0 and 23 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line.

Click here to order Jeff Feagles's proCane Rookie Card.

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Johnson says he and Portis will complement one another

Larry Johnson has brought the mentality of a starter to the Washington Redskins and says he’ll see how things shake out after the club made the somewhat odd decision to back up an aging Clinton Portis with another back whose best days are behind him.

"I wouldn't come in and say I want to be the third guy or the fourth guy," Johnson said today in his first meeting with Washington media, according to Jason Reid of the Washington Post. "I just come in to work hard and wherever they have me on the depth chart is wherever they have me. But it's going to be all [based] off of how hard I work here."

How the backfield shakes out, we’ll see. The Redskins have been addressing the issues on the offensive line first, and the quarterback issue will come squarely into focus on draft weekend. Shanahan has always made do with running backs in his system.

"We kind of complement each other,” Johnson said. “It's never, 'Oh, I'm coming here to take your spot.' It's never been no kind of feel like that.
"I still have a lot left. People keep forgetting I didn't really play much my first couple of years in NFL, let alone college. I still have a lot of burn left and haven't really been nicked up or hurt, thank God, as far as my whole career.”

Click here to order Clinton Portis' proCane Rookie Card.

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Noise: Gaby Sanchez, admired by deep leaguers, alt rockers

At first glance, Florida's Gaby Sanchez(notes) is just another mediocre Helton in an arena filled with heavy hitting statistical rock stars. Essentially, he's fantasy's version of a xylophonist - unadored by groupies, only appreciated by the Violent Femmes.  

But behind the sophomoric jokes and assumed marginality lies a player with quality upside, even for novices who believe the free-swinging LaRoches (Really more Adam than Andy) are a flying trapeze act.

Sanchez is your prototype homegrown talent. Born and raised in Miami, he played infield for the much ballyhooed 'U.' Believe it or not, he was also one of the few dozen fans who grew up idolizing Marlins. Images of Bobby Bonilla and Jeff Conine(notes) surely adorned his bedroom wall.

Now an elder prospect at 26, the former Hurricane could yield instant value. Staving off future heartthrob Logan Morrison(notes) in spring training, Sanchez won the starting first base job by maintaining a light mindset. Instead of applying unneeded pressure onto himself, an approach he failed to follow last year, he entered camp more relaxed and open-minded. His forceless demeanor led to gaudy exhibition numbers. Over 54 at-bats, he's stroked a .352 BA with two homers, five RBI, 13 runs and a stolen base. His 15:4 K:BB disparity is slightly alarming, but Fredi Gonzalez is optimistic the youngster has the eye to succeed. Though Sanchez is a self-described "gap-to-gap kind of guy," Gonzalez believes his pop is better than advertised. From the Palm Beach Post:

"Gaby, given a lot of at-bats, may be a 15- to 20-home run guy. For a first year in the major leagues, I'll take that."

Baseball America projects 25-plus homers for the junior Marlin in the near future. Based on his plus patience, high contact numbers and respectable power totals accumulated in the minors ('09 Triple-A: 314 at-bats, .290-16-55, 0.95 BB/K), their foresights are reasonable. It's also important to note, he possesses double-digit speed. Two seasons ago at Double-A, he swiped 17 bags.

Sanchez is slated to bat in the undesirable eighth position, a spot which severely limits his RBI upside. However, with a strong start he could be promoted to sixth, right behind Dan Uggla(notes).  

Most unchallenged owners would skewer the Cadbury bunny if it left Sanchez in their Easter basket. After all, as Grizzly Behrens pointed out back in February, the average line among top 30 first basemen a season ago was .285-30-99-85-4.  But for fanatics in 12-team and deeper leagues which require a corner infield or utility spot, the four percent-owned (330.12 ADP) commodity is rosterable. He could be the East Coast version of James Loney(notes) - not spectacular, but servicable. 

If Sanchez roars out of the gate, you can surely bet he'll be "Gone Daddy Gone" off waivers.  

Fearless Forecast: 467 at-bats, .278 BA, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 61 R, 8 SB 

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Dodgers Snub Brian Barton

The Dodgers released Brian Barton. Meanwhile, Garret Anderson will evidently make the opening day roster. There’s something amusing about these two statements.

Anderson is a veteran. He’s fought in numerous baseballing wars endured in the Los Angeles market for years upon years. Anderson’s career has become a parody of itself. In the past he was always the choice for most underrated player, and now he’s just bad and overrated. Since 2005 Anderson has been an above average hitter once and above average fielder once. His combined WAR during that time is 2.8, but he’s been paid in excess of $40M to be an annually below average player. He figures to back-up the outfield and first base positions while pinch hitting as well.

Barton is considerably younger than Anderson, right-handed – which may ultimately be his downfall – and also an outfielder. His Major League sample size is too small to draw conclusions from and in 640 Triple-A plate appearances, his OPS is only .720, although that underrates Barton, who walks more than the usual minor leaguer. He’s still cheap, offers more upside, and he’s fast. If those reasons aren’t enough to secure Barton a roster spot over Anderson, then so be it. However, the Dodgers will regret this maneuver if the National League institutes a rule surrounding aerodynamics knowledge and scoring runs.

Oh yes, Barton has knowledge of aerodynamics, and as he shared in this interview a few years back, he grew up dreaming of being an astronaut, and how the pursuit of those dreams affected his status as a baseball player:

BB: When I was younger I had dreams. I wanted to be an astronaut growing up. As I got older and older, I really just wanted to be a baseball player. Everything else at that point became secondary. This is my dream and what I’ve spent pretty much all my life doing. And then from the outside world it was almost taken from me because a lot of people–the majority I didn’t even know–felt like they knew what I wanted out of life. That was one of the main things that hurt, especially when draft day came up. A lot of people who never saw me play, a lot of people I’ve never even talked to in my life now had what I saw as a pretty glaring role in determining my future.

That kind of bothers me a little bit because I think any time you make a decision on me you should at least come talk to me–know what’s going on in my mind before you just assume things.

As an aside: Human beings generally classify people based on three physical attributes. Those are: Shape, size, and color. For the life of me, I can’t shake the idea that somewhere, in some manila folder on some desktop is a scouting report that compares Barton to another black outfielder with speed and smarts; that outfielder being the scholarly Fernando Perez.

There is a case to be made here that Barton is a better player at this point in time. He is easily a superior defender and baserunner, and the average wOBA of his CHONE and ZiPS projections is .307. Anderson’s CHONE/ZiPS average is roughly .314. That’s about a run difference over 200 plate appearances, which disintegrates once the aforementioned defensive and baserunning are taken into account.

And hey, even if you don’t buy into the argument that Barton could be a Dodger, he should definitely be on Cistulli’s All Joy Team, right?

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Photos From The Hurricane Football Reunion & 2010 Spring Game

On Saturday had the opportunity to atttend the Annual Hurricane Football Reunion Party at Miami Prime Grill in North Miami. The event was attended by over 50 former Hurricane greats including the likes of Warren Sapp, Clinton Portis, Dan Morgan, Edgerrin James, Kenard Lang and many more.

Gerard Daphnis of Canes4Life organized the event which also honored the 1989 National Championship team. All the former players then headed out to the 2010 Spring Game where the University of Miami offenses put on a show. Click here to view our full photo gallery of over 400 pictures from the Hurricane Reunion Party and Spring Game. Enjoy!

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Buchanon Open To Returning Punts


New Redskins cornerback Phillip Buchanon said today on Comcast SportsNet's Washington Post Live that he is open to returning punts.

“Punt return is definitely still part of my game,” he said in a phone interview. “I returned punts in Oakland and Houston, but in Tampa, the special teams coach – his and my style didn’t fit.”

Buchanon said he was slated to be Detroit’s punt returner last year, but a neck injury early on opened the door for Dennis Northcutt.

The Redskins released returner Antwaan Randle El this offseason and have gotten very little out of the punt return game lately. Using DeAngelo Hall and Santana Moss could remain an option, but not on a full-time basis.

Buchanon’s best season returning punts was 2003 when he averaged 13.6 yards per attempt and scored two touchdowns.

Buchanon was released by Detroit, and said a big reason he signed with the Redskins was the presence of Mike Shanahan.

“He definitely runs a professional type of team atmosphere, and he has a lot of respect for his veteran players, the way his practice [regiment] is,” Buchanon said. “I heard a lot of good stuff about him over the years. I haven’t heard anything bad about him. That’s why it’s a good situation.”

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

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Shockey Denies Relationship with Former Porn Star Traci Lords

Page 6 of the NY Post reports that Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey attended a party for singer-songwriter Sylvia Tosun during the Winter Music Conference in Miami, FL and "got acquainted" with former porn star Traci Lords. Shockey denied any sexual relationship between the two via his Twitter account about an hour ago...

I,m not Wilt Chamberlain nor do I profess to be. I,ve been linked to many women both professional and in the entertainment field While its...ield. While its flattering to my bachelor status they are unfounded and untrue. I have a mother who must read these lies and inuendo,s understand I am in a relationship with the New Orleans Saints...I met Traci Lords and then page 6 writes this.. wow    

Shockey seems to be the only one making a big deal about this; not the NY Post. While the title of the original article might be a bit misleading, further reading reveals it only alleges the Shockmeister was "chatting it up" with the former porn star. Nothing about any relations. In fact, the article states the real fun was when the tight end picked up Tosun and the party's host, Tom Lorde-Alge, the next day "for a joy ride around Miami in his souped-up vintage Dodge Charger." You know, the car he posted a picture of sitting in front of the Saints facility on Twitter last August. 

Canal Street Chronicles would like to thank Jeremy for keeping this, the most boring off-season in Saints history, slightly more exciting. Even if none of it's true. 

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

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Jon Beason knows his payday is not far away

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason knows he might have to wait a little longer for his payday. But after reading the news the past few days, he also has a better idea of what's headed his way when that day finally comes.

Beason said Wednesday he was well aware of the six-year, $48million deal signed by Houston middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans on Tuesday, a deal that included $21.75million guaranteed.

"I don't have a pen and a notebook or a tape recorder, but let me ask you a question," Beason said with bit of a laugh. "Do you think I'm in the same class as DeMeco Ryans, or better?"

The parallels between the two certainly exist, and it would be hard to find anyone in this area code who'd pick the other guy.

Ryans, 25, the Texans' second-round pick in 2006 (33rd overall) has become the signature defensive player on a rising team. He's been to two Pro Bowls and has started every game since arriving there.

Beason, also 25, the Panthers' first-round pick in 2007 (25th overall) just as quickly became a leader here. He sneaked into his second Pro Bowl as a late injury replacement, though he's still sore about being a second alternate.

He has, however, posted the three highest single-season tackle totals in franchise history, and barring injury should be second on Carolina's career tackles list before the first frost of 2010.

But while Ryans is stacking bills, Beason is still grinding away on his rookie deal and thinking about what might be some day.

He's just not sure at the moment when it's coming.

Beason, returning to town after training in Miami since the end of the season, said he wished the Panthers would offer something now. In past years, former first-rounders with three years under their belts would be in line for raises.

But in the upside-down and uncapped 2010 NFL landscape, such deals are flowing slowly.

Beason joked that until his peer/mirror-image Patrick Willis gets paid, he's probably going to have to wait. Even more than Ryans, Willis is the player often compared to Beason. The San Francisco star, who was chosen 11th overall in 2007, has had some level of contract talks with the 49ers, but nothing seems imminent there either.

Miami signed free agent Karlos Dansby to a five-year, $43million deal this off-season as well, establishing the club all linebackers want to join.

Willis and Beason are next (though Carolina's Thomas Davis won't be much cheaper), and the deals likely won't be far apart financially or chronologically.

"The NFL's done a good job of keeping myself and Patrick Willis joined at the hip," Beason said. "Whether he gets a deal first, or it happens to be me, the other one's going to be right behind him.

"I just don't think it's going to happen right now."

While he's hopeful the Panthers will extend an offer this year, he said there's no pressure on them to do so. He's under contract through 2011, and with a potential lockout on the horizon, Beason knows leverage is not with labor.

"From all the people I've talked to, with a lockout coming, I just don't think it's going to happen now," he said. "If there is a lockout after this season, then I expect it would be after we resume football.

"Either way, it's good to see Dansby, good to see DeMeco get what they deserved."

Beason's careful to note he doesn't want to come across as bitter. He identified the Panthers as a preferred destination before he was drafted here, hoping to land alongside friends and former Miami Hurricanes Dan Morgan and Damione Lewis.

Now more than ever, he's become the team's signature star on defense, voted a captain in his third season and clear to run the room now.

"I signed a five-year deal, and ultimately, they've got me as long as they want me," Beason said. "My goal is to retire a member of the Carolina Panthers. ... At the end of the day though, everybody wants their value, and I know I'm one of the better guys in the league at my position.

"Hey, every other team might think Jon Beason's awful, but as long as the Carolina Panthers think I'm great, that's fine. They've told me they love me, they've made me think they want me to stay."

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

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Bears need to take full advantage of Hester

Using Devin Hester in the slot is a fine idea.

So is using him as a split end. Or using him as a flanker.

The best idea is using him as all three.

Using Hester only as a slot receiver would be like using your smart phone only to make calls. Both are capable of so much more.

When Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz talked about using Hester similarly to how he used Az Hakim in St. Louis, he was alluding to the fact Hester has some similar qualities to Hakim.

As a slot receiver, Hester can use his quickness to get open. He can take advantage of matchups against bigger defenders. And he is capable of catching the ball in traffic and going the distance. Yes, he has an ideal skill set to play the slot.

But he also has the skill set to be an outside receiver.

I was initially skeptical about Hester's conversion to being a full-time receiver, but he has proved me wrong. He is a complete wide receiver with the potential to improve.

Last season, his first as a full-time receiver, Hester had 757 yards. He probably would have had 900 had he not strained his left calf on Dec. 6, forcing him to miss the next three games. He's fully capable of a 1,200-yard season in 2010 if he is an every-down player.

Even if he ceases to improve, Hester is capable of more production in Martz's offense. He should get more opportunities, given that Martz is more inclined to call for passes to wide receivers than Ron Turner was.

Martz's offense should bring out the best in Hester the way a grass surface brings out the best in an athletic tennis player. Martz's passing game is dependent on receivers who come out of breaks quickly so quarterbacks can deliver the ball on timing, as opposed to delivering on sight. Accelerating out of breaks is what Hester does best.

Hester's ability will translate to Martz's offense — and would translate to any offense. He's not a "scheme guy" who needs a specific kind of offense in order to thrive.

Last year Hester played every wide receiver position and ran every route. He was at his best on posts, slants and crossing routes. He knew how to beat the jam, and his hands were reliable.

Hester is no Larry Fitzgerald when it comes to jump balls, but most speed receivers aren't, especially if they are on the shy side of 6 feet. Steve Smith, Bernard Berrian and DeSean Jackson aren't either.

Asking Hester to win jump balls would be like asking Shaquille O'Neal to dribble. Either way, you are courting turnovers.

Jay Cutler had it right when he said after the Bears' first preseason game last August, "Devin is more of a go-get-it guy; he's not really a jump-up-and-get-it (guy)." So it's up to Cutler and Martz to make sure Hester is trying to run past defenders instead of fighting for floaters.

The perception might be out there that Hester won't be able to learn Martz's offense in short order. That has roots in the perception he didn't always know what he was doing in Turner's offense.

That perception was not accurate, according to multiple people in the Bears organization who should know. Hester struggled more with learning how to be a wide receiver than he ever struggled with learning the playbook. But he's past that now.

Hester is a hard worker who will embrace the challenge of Martz's offense. The Bears should throw every bit of it at him — as well as all the passes they can.

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

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Miami's Own Sanchez Earns First Base Nod

Their uniforms don't yet read "Miami," but the Fish got a little more 305 in 'em yesterday when manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled Gaby Sanchez in his office to announce the 26-year-old former catcher had won the battle for first base.

Sanchez, who was not only born in Miami but played his college ball as a Hurricane, beat out top minor league prospect Logan Morrison in a competition for the opening day start -- largely on the strength of his sweet spring swing.

Statistically, it was a no brainer. Sanchez has hit .409 this spring (compared to .244 for Morrison), to go with a .460 on-base percentage and .659 slugging percentage. Add that up, and it comes to a very nice OPS of 1.119 -- best on the club this spring among players with at least 30 at bats. 

"It's something I've worked my entire life for, to be the Opening Day starter of a baseball team and to be able to do it for a team I grew up watching," thrilled Sanchez, who attended dozens of Marlins games growing up including World Series games in 1997 and 2003, Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter in 2006, and the one in which Andres Galarraga hit the longest home run ever for Colorado.

(Hey, play your cards right, kid, and someone might just go to Jared!)

Morrison was sent down on Monday, but naturally, should he get off to a good start, Sanchez may eventually be given the ol' Marlins heave-ho in a trade. But for now, he'll bat eighth, and serve as the team's emergency third catcher so that Gonzalez can use John Baker and Ronny Paulino as pinch-hitters.

Sanchez' annointing leaves the Marlins' lineup nearly intact as the April 5 season opener at Shea draws near. There's still a matter of a final bullpen spot, a battle which involves right-handers Tim Wood and Rick VandenHurk, but, you know, it's the Marlins bullpen -- might as welll save some cash and give that job to Sanchez, too. What's that, he's never pitched? Jeffry Loria says he sounds like a steal!

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Photos From The Hurricane Football Reunion & 2010 Spring Game

On Saturday had the opportunity to atttend the Annual Hurricane Football Reunion Party at Miami Prime Grill in North Miami. The event was attended by over 50 former Hurricane greats including the likes of Warren Sapp, Clinton Portis, Dan Morgan, Edgerrin James, Kenard Lang and many more.

Gerard Daphnis of Canes4Life organized the event which also honored the 1989 National Championship team. All the former players then headed out to the 2010 Spring Game where the University of Miami offenses put on a show. Click here to view our full photo gallery of over 400 pictures from the Hurricane Reunion Party and Spring Game. Enjoy!

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Tracking proCanes - Robert Bailey is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami, and NFL defensive back Robert Bailey. Bailey played eleven seasons for six teams, the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, the Detroit Lions, and the Baltimore Ravens from 1991 to 2001 in the NFL Bailey was drafted in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Rams. He was nicknamed "Beetle" after comic strip character.

On October 23, 1994 as a member with the Rams, Bailey made the longest punt return in NFL history when he ran 103 yards for a touchdown in a game against the New Orleans Saints.What makes this return stand out is that every single player on the field assumed the ball was going to bounce through the end zone after the punt. Everyone, that is, except Bailey, who was the only person to see that the ball never bounced out of the end zone and was lying in the end zone still in play. He ran up, scooped the ball up, and returned it for a touchdown before anyone realized what had happened. A broken neck against the Green Bay Packers ended Bailey's NFL career in 2001. Bailey currently works in the sports marketing business with Rosenhaus Sports' agency. You're down here in Miami working with Drew Rosenhaus, talk about what you do for his firm and how you ended up working with him?
Robert Bailey: I started with Drew as a player, he was my agent. I was one of his first clients and finished my career with him which is unusual these days with more than 50% of players changing agents. When I retired after 11 years I had a good understanding of the business so he decided to bring me on board. Ten years later, I am the President of RSR.

pC: At what age did you start playing football, and did you play any other sports?
RB: I started playing football when I was ten years old. I played all sports but football I mastered.

pC: Were you a Hurricane fan growing up? If not, who did you like? If you were which former Hurricane player did you really like?
RB: I really did not watch college ball growing up but I did watch the NFL a little. My favorite player as a young kid was Tony Dorsett.

pC: Who recruited you out of High School?
RB: Coach Soldinger and Jimmy Johnson [recruited me]. Jimmy came to my house and said" You should want to be with us, not we want to be with you" I was sold right then.

pC: You're a Cane but you almost went to....
RB: U of Minnesota

pC: What was the toughest thing about playing at the U?
RB: There was nothing tough about playing at “The U,” that was all I knew.

pC: What's your favorite memory of your time at Miami?
RB: Running out of the tunnel with the smoke.

pC: You covered some great wide receivers during your days at Miami who was the toughest to go up against in practice?
RB: They were all tough and that made me a better player in the NFL.

pC: You won 2 National Championships talk about those experiences.
RB: They were great but truthfully it was common place back then. It was expected every year.

pC: Talk about Dennis Erickson and Jimmy Johnson as coaches. Jimmy. What was the difference between the two coaches?
RB: I loved Jimmy. He was the Principle to us and Erickson was a substitute teacher.

pC: Talk about the whole U is Family and the tight bonds players make and keep. Has that helped you in your job with your Hurricane clients?
RB: All Hurricanes stick together. That’s why when Jimmy was at Miami we weren’t allowed to be in fraternities. We were all we had. That lasts forever.

pC: Talk about your NFL days and the transition from the U. You were a 4th round pick by the Rams. What was the biggest adjustment when you first entered the NFL?
RB: The politics. I always competed on the field but there is a business off the field behind closed doors and salary and politics played a big part. In college, the best played and you had 4 yrs to prove you were one of the best.

pC: What was the key to your success and longevity as an NFL player?
RB: Physically, I was an above average player but mentally I was a Pro Bowler. I felt like I was the smartest player on the field and I knew everything that was happening.

pC: You won two Super Bowl rings, one with the Cowboys and one with the Ravens. Would you say one was more memorable than the other?
RB: They were both great memories. Many Hurricanes played with me on both those teams so I have to give them equal value.

pC: How was it playing on such a great defense like the Ravens' defense of 2000 which included fellow Canes Duane Starks and Ray Lewis?
RB: It felt great to play with guys who were very talented and knew how to play together. Our defense was the reason we won the Super Bowl.

pC: You hold the record for the longest punt return in NFL History. Talk about that play, and do you every think the record will be broken?
RB: As I said before, I was the smartest person on the field and I knew every rule. I took advantage of 11 other players that did not know that particular rule. Now every coach is showing that play so it won't happen again.

pC: Who was the toughest NFL receiver you had to go up against and why?
RB: Joey Galloway in his prime. That guy had speed, speed and more speed.

pC: What do you think about the last couple of years and the current state of Hurricane football and why do you think Miami hasn't been able to develop top defensive backs like yourself more consistently?
RB: I believe in college football the four year plan helps every school to eventually be good. When a school becomes good, high school athletes eventually start to go to other schools so they won't have to wait a long time to finally play. Eventually, the bad school becomes good and the good school becomes bad.

pC: What is a misconception people have about the University of Miami?
RB: That we were thugs all the time. We were thugs on the field but pretty smart guys off of it.

Word Asssociations: give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:
Randy Shannon: Positive Larry Coker: Nice Orange Bowl: Legendary Dolphins Stadium: Business Sebastian the Ibis: huh? Jimmy Johnson: Leader Art Kehoe: Friend Ray Lewis: Boss Warren Sapp: Stud Coral Gables: Safe The Fiesta Bowl: Incredible Ohio State: Bitter

pC: Favorite NFL Team?
RB: I like all the NFL teams.

pC: Favorite NBA Team?
RB: The Heat.

pC: Favorite Baseball Team?
RB: The Marlins.

pC: Favorite Food?
RB: Fruit.

pC: What Band/Group I would find most of on your iPod?
RB: All old school/R&B.

pC: One movie you could watch over and over?
RB: The Book of Eli.

pC: One TV show you cannot miss?
RB: Spartacus.

pC: You didn't say Young and the Restless soap opera. You appeared once on the Young and the Restless, talk about how that came about. Do people still tease you about that one?
RB: I knew the executive producer, so that’s how I got on. Sometimes they still tease me.

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
RB: I spend time with the family.

We at would like to thank Robert Bailey for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson, Mike Rumph and more!

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Frank Gore doesn't want to be in a committee

Frank Gore admitted Monday that he "wouldn't like it" if the 49ers installed a three-man running back committee this offseason.

Neither would his fantasy owners. "I feel I can play first, second and third down," Gore said. "If I cant get in a rhythm, I'll speak up and tell my coaches that - that I can't get in a groove." 49ers de facto GM Trent Baalke recently suggested that the Niners could use a three-headed monster if they drafted C.J. Spiller to go with Gore and Glen Coffee. The scenario is unlikely.

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

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Campbell ready to be a leader for Cardinals

PHOENIX - As a second-year pro, Calais Campbell needed to step in for the departed Antonio Smith on the defensive line.

Entering his third year, Campbell plans on stepping into a new role: Team leader.

Campbell joined Sports 620 KTAR's Gambo & Ash Monday and said he has always thought of himself as someone who could lead the team.
"I think, definitely, now that I'm more comfortable and I feel a lot more confident to speak up and get on guys and stuff like that," he said.

Campbell said there are other leaders on the defense, including safety Adrian Wilson and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, so there will not be a void in that area this season.

Another person who could fill a leadership role is veteran Joey Porter, the team's top free agent acquisition.

"That's a big pickup, a very critical pickup," Campbell said of his new teammate. "I think he'll help make my job a lot easier, commanding more double teams and stuff."

Campbell is coming off a year in which he tallied seven sacks, establishing himself as one of the up-and-coming defensive linemen in the NFL. But, Campbell said there is still room for him to improve.

"This is the most critical time of the year as far as getting in shape and trying to get your body to respond," he said of spending time in the offseason. "I hit the gym real hard to make sure I'm physically in the best shape I can be in both as strong as I can be and as fast as I can be at that weight."

And while Campbell is doing what he can to be ready for the 2010 season, the questions that surround the team going forward seem to come up at every turn. One of the biggest questions, how Matt Leinart will do replacing Kurt Warner, is one Campbell said he is not worried about.

"I think Matt has all the potential to be a great quarterback, he has all the mechanics, he's a winner," he said. "He has the ability to play the game and I think this is a good opportunity for him."

Click here to order Calais Campbell's proCane Rookie Card.

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Olsen working out with Bears teammates

There have been a lot of reports about tight end Greg Olsen this offseason, from trade rumors to unhappiness about his expected role in Mike Martz's offense.

Olsen, however, isn't letting his supposed displeasure change his work habits.  And it appears he's backed down from wanting to be dealt elsewhere.  The Bears have shown no desire to move him publicly.

The former Miami Hurricane has attended the team's voluntary workouts for more than a week, and already has "a decent grasp on some of the new offensive philosophies Martz is expected to employ," according to ESPNChicago's Jeff Dickerson.

It wouldn't shock us to hear Olsen's name mentioned again in trade rumors again at draft time, but it sounds like he won't be a problem for the Bears should he stick around.

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

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Perez gives up three runs in ninth

Chris Perez walked three and was charged with three runs in one-third of an inning as part of an 11-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday night.

In a nutshell, this is the risky part about using Perez as your closer. Nobody will argue that he has electric stuff, but he can come unglued at times, much like he did during Monday's appearance against the Dodgers. The 24-year-old fireballer has 10 walks in 9 1/3 innings this spring.

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Photos From The Hurricane Football Reunion & 2010 Spring Game

On Saturday had the opportunity to atttend the Annual Hurricane Football Reunion Party at Miami Prime Grill in North Miami. The event was attended by over 50 former Hurricane greats including the likes of Warren Sapp, Clinton Portis, Dan Morgan, Edgerrin James, Kenard Lang and many more.

Gerard Daphnis of Canes4Life organized the event which also honored the 1989 National Championship team. All the former players then headed out to the 2010 Spring Game where the University of Miami offenses put on a show. Click here to view our full photo gallery of over 400 pictures from the Hurricane Reunion Party and Spring Game. Enjoy!

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Buchanon Signs With the Redskins

Cornerback Phillip Buchanon signed a one-year deal with the Washington Redskins on Monday.

The deal is worth $1.5 million, with $750,000 in incentives, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Buchanon has started 40 games in the past three seasons for Tampa Bay and Detroit. He was released by the Lions on March 4.

"We are very excited to add a veteran corner, such as Phillip, to our defensive backfield," said Mike Shanahan in a team statement Monday. "He has had a lot of success in this league and brings with him the ability to create turnovers. He will be a big part of what we are trying to accomplish defensively in Washington."

Buchanon, 29, is joining his fifth NFL team. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders as a first-round pick in 2002. He later played for Houston, Tampa Bay and Detroit. He has 18 career interceptions, but he had none last year in 13 games.

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

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Frank Gore not thrilled with three-headed backfield

De facto 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke recently has said that the Niners might try a three-headed monster at tailback.  The team's current workhorse, Frank Gore, isn't a fan.

"Personally I wouldn't like it," Gore said of the concept, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Whether Gore likes it, of course, doesn't matter.  The Saints won a Super Bowl with three tailbacks, and the NFL remains a copycat league.

Besides, it makes sense.  The approach tends to keep players healthy, and it can extend careers.

It also keeps players from becoming superstars and commanding huge contracts, which explains why Gore doesn't like it.

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

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Source: Olsen at voluntary workout

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen was present at Monday's voluntary workout at Halas Hall, according to a source familiar with the situation, a sign that Olsen has gotten over his initial concerns about playing in a Mike Martz offense.

Olsen, who also showed up at the facility to work out last week, is said to already have a decent grasp on some of the new offensive philosophies Martz is expected to employ. Multiple sources indicated Olsen was extremely upset this offseason when Martz was hired as offensive coordinator and was unsure about his future in Chicago. However, these recent developments only strengthen the notion Olsen is committed to playing for the Bears in 2010.

Acccording to the source, other notables in attendance at Monday's workout, which consisted mainly of lifting weights, were Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers and center Olin Kreutz, who is rehabbing from offseason surgery.

Coach Lovie Smith was the only coach at the workout.

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

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Graham To the Ravens?

Omar Kelly tweeted today that "after talking to someone in the scouting community I'm putting my money on UM TE Jimmy Graham ending up with the Ravens or Vikings." The Ravens have an aging TE in the Todd Heap, and the Vikings have Visanthe Shiancoe who did have a pretty good 2009 campaign.

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New Redskins CB Phillip Buchanon Still Has Speed

The Redskins announced the signing of cornerback Phillip Buchanon today, providing me with another seemingly simple name to misspell. (One L or two? N-O-N or N-A-N?)

Buchanon will be expected to provide valuable depth for a secondary that's extremely youthful once you get past the two starters. Byron Westbrook, Justin Tryon, Kevin Barnes, Doug Dutch, and Marcus McCauley have combined for a total of thirteen starts between them, and nine of those come from McCauley's 2007 rookie campaign with the Vikings. Leaving out McCauley -- who a fair number of Redskins fans probably never even knew was on the team -- the remaining four guys have appeared in any role in just 48 games, much of that on special teams duty.

Buchanon was the 17th pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, going to the Oakland Raiders. Current Redskins general manager Bruce Allen was the Raiders' personnel guy then, so he has a history with Buchanon, and the Redskins have a history with reclamation projects from the first round of that draft.

Buchanon is just the latest such guy; last year, the team's big offseason longshot was Mike Williams, who was once the fourth pick in that draft, and their big free agent signing was Albert Haynesworth, the fifteenth pick. Late last year, Levi Jones -- the tenth pick in 2002 -- signed on to add depth along the offfensive line, but he's currently an unrestricted free agent.

The Redskins have also had RB T.J. Duckett (18th pick) and CB Mike Rumph (27th pick) on their roster from that draft ... and that doesn't even mention their own 2002 pick, Patrick Ramsey (32nd). The second round is full of Redskins-related guys as well (including Clinton Portis -- a teammate of Buchanon's at Miami -- and Ladell Betts), but enough's enough.

Buchanon's career started off strong, as both a cornerback and a punt returner, but he's seen diminished success over the last five years, which he split between three teams. Still, as recently as last season, he was capable of making at least one hugely highlight-worthy play, chasing down all-world Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, punching the ball loose, and tackling Peterson to prevent him from recovering the fumble.

"Watch Phillip Buchanon," intones FOX color guy Tim Ryan, "comes right from behind, punches it out, and then makes the tackle so that Adrian Peterson can't go get on the ball and Jason Hunter comes up with the recovery. Huge, huge play by Phillip Buchanon." If he can still do that this year, I'll have no trouble remembering that it's two Ls, N-O-N.

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

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Pro Timing Day workout could push Sam Shields into NFL Draft

Could Sam Shields be this year’s version of Spencer Adkins in the NFL Draft?

Adkins, a linebacker, started only five games at UM and barely made an impact for the Hurricanes but managed to get himself drafted in the sixth round by the Atlanta Falcons after an off-the-charts performance during Miami’s Pro Timing Day a year ago.

Adkins ran 40 yards in 4.43 seconds, broad jumped 10-feet, 2 inches, vertical jumped 36 feet, 1/2 inches and bench pressed 225 pounds a total of 30 times.

Now there is Sam Shields, who registered the best numbers overall during UM’s Pro Timing Day last Friday. According to’s Gil Brandt, Shields “worked his way into draft consideration” by running the 40-yard dash in 4.30 and 4.33 seconds and also adding a 39-inch vertical jump and doing 15 bench press reps of 225 pounds despite weighing in at only 190 pounds.

Shields had a checkered career at UM. He played receiver his first three seasons, but never matched the potential he showed as a freshman when he caught 37 passes for 501 yards and 4 touchdowns. Off-the-field issues that resulted in multiple suspensions had many wondering if the Sarasota native would even finish his career in a Hurricanes’ uniform.

Prior to his senior season, Shields was moved to cornerback where he started 10 games last season. Shields started 10 games, but didn’t have any interceptions and his two pass breakups came in a rout of Division I-AA Florida A&M. His most important contributions came on special teams, where he served as the team’s gunner on punt coverage.

While his production at Miami was inconsistent at best, there was never a question about Shields’ athletic ability. He proved that last Friday with numbers that could get him selected at the back end of the draft. Whether Shields’ arrest two weeks ago for marijuana possession is a factor in his draftability remains an open question.

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The Vince Wilfork Foundation 7th Annual Draft Day Fundraiser

Join us now in our fight against diabetes.

April 22, 2010 will be our 7th annual draft day fundraiser. The fundrasier will once again take place at Pinz in Milford, Ma. For more information on  location please go to they are the official host of the Vince Wilfork Draft Day Fundraiser. Over the past 6 years we have raised over $350,000.00 with over $100,000 in each of the last two.

Please help us make this years event just as sucessfull. This year my wife Bianca and I are matching all funds raised up to 50,000.00 your contribution will help us reach our max matching amount. All donations are tax deductible and you will receive record of your donation in the mail.

Joslin Diabetes Center and The Diabetes Research Center at the University of Miami are two of the organization that profit each year through this event. As many of you know this is near and dear to my heart as I lost my father to a battle with diabetes. There is no amount to big or to little, every donation helps the fight for a cure.

You can make a donation online by clicking here.

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

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Jim Kelly on Tebow: 'A class act, great guy'

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly kick-started his public campaign to pull his former team back into the NFL fold Sunday night.

It began with Tim Tebow.

Kelly, who has talked up Tebow over the past few months, had dinner with the former Florida Gators quarterback on Sunday night, Kelly's spokeswoman Tricia Cavalier said Monday. It's unclear whether the dinner occurred before or after the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner met with the team.

Kelly was traveling and unavailable for comment. Kelly's wife, Jill, first revealed the two had dinner in a post on her Twitter account Sunday night.

"He's a class act and a great guy," Kelly said of Tebow, according to his wife's post.

Bills coach Chan Gailey expressed interest in Tebow last week, saying he has "every tangible" you could ever want in a quarterback.

Kelly has been a vocal supporter of Tebow and has made it little secret he'd like to see the team draft him.

"I wish I could say more," Jill Kelly wrote. "If only I were there too! LOL! It was a great night! Now before U go 2 bed - pray for our Buffalo Bills!"

The Bills, who hold one draft pick in each of the first four rounds (overall Nos. 9, 41, 72 and 107), have started nine different quarterbacks since Kelly retired. Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick split time in 2009, with Fitzpatrick taking the reins in Week 6.

The quarterback who led the Bills to four AFC championships has said a key to a return to greatness for the franchise begins under center.

"Whether it's Tim Tebow, whether they'll have a shot at him when draft time comes ... you have to look at the top three quarterbacks in the draft, really study them," Kelly said to USA Today in November. "And you look for a guy with good character, good leadership ability and good arm strength."

The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls from 1990 through the 1993 season with Kelly at quarterback. But there's been little to shout about at Ralph Wilson Stadium lately: Coach Dick Jauron was fired in November and 2009 was the team's 10th consecutive season without making the playoffs.

Kelly said he sought to offer assistance in luring coaches and players to Buffalo and eventually wanted to become part of an ownership group that would keep the Bills in western New York.

"You have to start with the head coach and you have to start with finding a good signal caller," Kelly said, according to the USA Today report. "You look at Indianapolis. You look at Pittsburgh. You look at New England. You look at what Drew Brees is doing in New Orleans. San Diego. All the teams that are doing well, they all have quarterbacks.

"The teams that are struggling, they don't have a quarterback," Kelly added. "You need that guy behind center, not only the guy who can throw the ball and make big plays. But to be the leader and be able to pull people together."

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Bounce-back season for Burrell is needed

MURDOCK - Andrew Friedman has had a good track record with more hits than misses during his first four years.

The Tampa Bay Rays vice president of baseball operations was not going to stand pat after losing the World Series to Philadelphia in 2008.

Looking for another bat to provide pop in the lineup, Friedman scoured the free agent market.

He landed his No. 1 choice.

Looking for a right-handed hitter to complement the predominantly left-handed Tampa Bay lineup, Friedman landed the Phillies' Pat Burrell, who signed a two-year, $16 million contract.

All Burrell had to do was come close to replicating what he had done during his previous nine years in Philadelphia, averaging 28 home runs, 92 runs batted in and a .257 batting average.

He did not come close.

Burrell hit .221 with 14 home runs and 64 RBI.

"Not a lot of good," he said. "I know that."

There were a number of factors that contributed.

Burrell switched leagues, playing in the American League for the first time.

"It was an adjustment," he said. "But when you get in that batter's box, you have a job to do. Some of the down time in between is an adjustment, but that wasn't as big an issue."

"The first time through the American League was a problem," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "He spent all that time in the National League knowing that pitching and the ballparks."

There was the shift from playing every day in left field to serving as the designated hitter.

"When you're used to being out there and you're not, you need to find things to do to keep you in that playing mode," Burrell said. "I'm going to have changes with the in-season stuff. You can't replace playing."

And there was the neck strain that forced him to miss a month from May 11 to June 11.

"The problem was I didn't address it quick enough," Burrell said of the slight herniations in his C5-6. "By the time we found out what was going on, I let it go too far. That's obviously a mistake on my part."

Burrell did not make excuses, just stated the facts.

"I was doing things wrong," he said. "I couldn't get hot. It's frustrating with everything going on with the team and being new here with a new role. It was a frustrating year all the way around."

With the extended offseason from not making the playoffs to not having to report to spring training early for the World Baseball Classic, Burrell had plenty of time to reflect and get in shape.

"Coming into camp, he's more familiar with us, the American League, the East, the pitching he's going to face," Maddon said. "He's going to be a lot more comfortable, and I expect a lot more out of his this year."

When Burrell reported to camp, he had repositioned his 235 pounds to make him stronger after a stint at Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona.

"I worked out with Pat all offseason, and he's had more fire than I've ever seen," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said.

Burrell also put 2008 in the rearview mirror.

"You have to," he said. "Yeah, you want to put it behind you, but you want to build from it. I've had bad seasons before. It is extra motivation for you to give it that much more focus and determination to turn things around."

He has more reasons for the extra motivation.

In the final year of his contract, Burrell knows if he is going to continue his playing career in the majors, it is going to take a bounce-back season. He sees players of his caliber who are without contracts heading into this season.

"Of course, that's the whole deal," said Burrell, batting .158 this spring with one homer and four RBI. "You want to do everything you can to put yourself in the best position. I'm looking forward to that challenge."

Maddon has used Burrell in left and right field this spring, but does not plan to use him in the outfield during the regular season.
All Maddon wants is for Burrell's bat to come around.

That would be another hit for Friedman.

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Sanchez wins Marlins' first-base job

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Miami-born and raised, Gaby Sanchez grew up a Marlins fan. He attended the University of Miami, and even during his Minor League career, he paid for a ticket to see his hometown team.

When Anibal Sanchez no-hit the D-backs in September 2006, Sanchez was at Sun Life Stadium as a fan.

Gaby Sanchez has come a long way since then.

On Monday, the Marlins announced that the 26-year-old will be their starting first baseman. The path was cleared for Sanchez when prospect Logan Morrison was reassigned to Minor League camp.

Shortly before the Marlins faced the Mets at Digital Domain Park on Monday, manager Fredi Gonzalez called Sanchez into his office to break the news.

"If we started the season tomorrow, Gaby is our first baseman," Gonzalez said. "We hinted the other day that [with] his flexibility, he can be our emergency catcher."

A fourth-round Draft pick in 2005, Sanchez did some catching in college, and he last played the position in a game as a Minor Leaguer in 2007.

Foremost, Sanchez will be looked upon to anchor first base. The plan also is to hit him eighth.

The Opening Day batting order on April 5 against the Mets projects to be: Chris Coghlan (LF), Cameron Maybin (CF), Hanley Ramirez (SS), Jorge Cantu (3B), Dan Uggla (2B), Ronny Paulino (C), Cody Ross (RF), Sanchez (1B) and Josh Johnson (P).

"Now, it's all about productivity," Gonzalez said. "I think Gaby has been able to handle it, hitting eighth. He asks good questions. I think he's going to be patient enough. He has good strike-zone recognition."

A year ago, Sanchez was in a similar situation. The Miami native entered the 2009 Spring Training with an inside track to win the job. But he had an injury-plagued and inconsistent spring, and opened the season in Triple-A New Orleans.

That was then. With another year of Minor League seasoning under his belt, Sanchez has enjoyed a strong Spring Training.

"Last year, I was going in my head, 'I can make this team. I can do this, and I can do that,' " Sanchez said. "When things are not going the way you wanted them to go, you started to press. I just put myself in a hole. This year, I went into it saying, 'I'm not going to make the same mistake. I'm going to go out there, and have fun and not worry about the stats.' Instead of worrying about what I need to do, rather than just going out there and doing it."

In Grapefruit League play, Sanchez has stood out. He's batting .409 with two home runs and five RBIs in 44 at-bats. Morrison, meanwhile, finished his Grapefruit League stint with a .209 average and six RBIs in 43 at-bats.

Morrison likely is headed to Triple-A. The 22-year-old left-handed hitter and fielder is regarded as a future star.

"I told him, 'This is our decision to send you down. It's not the end of the world,'" Gonzalez said. "Last year, Coghlan went down, and he came back and won Rookie of the Year. Be ready. If an opportunity arises, be ready to take advantage of it."

Morrison entered Spring Training as the 25th ranked prospect in baseball, according to's Top 50 Prospect Rankings.

"I see a very good Major Leaguer, not just an average Major Leaguer," Gonzalez said. "This guy can hit. Maybe he's going through what Gaby went through last year. This guy can run. He's not a cigar store statue."

In another roster move on Monday, reliever Scott Strickland was reassigned to Minor League camp. The right-hander will head to New Orleans.

The Marlins also lost the services of right-hander Hayden Penn, who was claimed off waivers by the Pirates. Penn had been in the mix to win a rotation spot when Spring Training opened.

With Strickland out of camp, the Marlins' final bullpen spot may wind up going to either Seth McClung or Tim Wood.

Rick VandenHurk is another possibility. But chances are VandenHurk will remain a starting pitcher, not a reliever. He will be able to do that at New Orleans.

Wood has been impressive in Spring Training, especially with his fastball and slider.

The question the team will ask is whether to stay with the experience of McClung or the youth of Wood.

McClung, in camp on a Minor League contract, has a clause to opt out of his deal on Thursday. McClung also gives flexibility because he has been a starter, long reliever and he's even closed in the big leagues. He is more of a multi-innings option than Wood.

Sanchez batted .289 with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs at New Orleans last year. He also appeared in 21 games with the Marlins, and he has 26 games of big league experience the past two years.

"I think I definitely had a different mindset," Sanchez said. "I came in here relaxed, and not worried about a different outcome. I took pressure off myself."

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Photos From The Hurricane Football Reunion & 2010 Spring Game

On Saturday had the opportunity to atttend the Annual Hurricane Football Reunion Party at Miami Prime Grill in North Miami. The event was attended by over 50 former Hurricane greats including the likes of Warren Sapp, Clinton Portis, Dan Morgan, Edgerrin James, Kenard Lang and many more. Gerard Daphnis of Canes4Life organized the event which also honored the 1989 National Championship team. All the former players then headed out to the 2010 Spring Game where the University of Miami offenses put on a show. Click here to view our full photo gallery of over 400 pictures from the Hurricane Reunion Party and Spring Game. Enjoy!

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Javarris James: Just Call Me `JJ’

Javarris James doesn't want to fly under his cousin Edgerrin James' shadow anymore, so he's shedding his `Baby J' nickname. "No more `Baby J,' man," James said. "It's not Baby J anymore. It's JJ. The only people that can really call me Baby J are in the family." James wants to make his own name.

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Kenny Phillips To Begin The Season On The PUP List?

There is now serious concern that Giants FS Kenny Phillips will not be ready for the start of the regular season. Although his post-microfracture rehab is reportedly going well, Phillips has not yet been cleared to run even. When asked if Phillips might be ready for the start of training camp, head coach Tom Coughlin didn't sound like it was a reasonable possibility. The likely route is to place Phillips on the PUP list.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips' proCane Rookie Card.

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Jarrett Payton Scores 2 TDs

The Chicago Slaughter beat the Alaska Wild 34-33 for its first win of the season Saturday night at the Sears Centre.

Quarterback Randy Hutchinson led the Slaughter (1-3), finishing 15 of 33 for 126 yards with 2 touchdowns. Wide receiver Shatone Powers had 5 catches for 62 yards, and running back Jarrett Payton rushed for 2 TDs.

"We have a bunch of young guys who need to learn how to work together," said Slaughter coach Steve McMichael. "They came out and they wanted to win. The talent is there, but the timing still needs to be perfected. But they are playing hard and they never give up."

After Alaska (2-2) took a 33-27 lead, Payton scored the game-winner on a 1-yard plunge with 31 seconds to play.

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Antrel Rolle could give Giants a 'Wildcat' look for Cowboys

The addition of safety Antrel Rolle could also change the face of the New York Giants' offense.

The Giants have been among the dwindling minority of NFL teams that do not use the ``Wildcat'' formation. The Dallas Cowboys call it the ``Razorback,'' but by any name it is a derivation of the single wing.

Arizona had Rolle take the direct snap in the ``Wildcat'' a few times last season. He gained nine yards on one run and had an incompletion on his only pass, which became a no-play because of a penalty.

At an introductory news conference on Friday, Rolle lobbied to be a two-way player. Rolle, a heralded high-school quarterback, told reporters that he can throw the football ``a million miles'' and is comfortable with the run, too.

``Once I'm here, I think they will get a pretty good feel of what kind of athlete I am,'' Rolle said. ``Whether they're going to use me with that, I don't know yet. I hope so. I think it brings another dimension to football. It's something that also can excite the fans."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was noncommittal about adding the ``Wildcat,'' saying of Rolle ``he's a very talented guy.''

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

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Javarris James avoids contact

CORAL GABLES — Javarris James is still elusive.

Just ask the media who tried to talk to the tailback after Friday's University of Miami Pro Day. None of them caught up to him to do an interview. One reporter did say hello to James long after the event was over, but that was it.

James, an Immokalee High School graduate, was one of 12 former Hurricanes who took part in the Pro Day. The others were offensive tackle Jason Fox; linebacker Darryl Sharpton; tight ends Jimmy Graham, Dedrick Epps and Tervaris Johnson; defensive linemen Eric Moncur and Joe Joseph; offensive lineman A.J. Trump; and defensive backs Sam Shields, Chavez Grant and Randy Phillips.

James' elusiveness likely was due in part to expectations of being asked about one thing: his health. Injuries limited him to 21 games and eight starts over the past two seasons.

James had neck, ankle and hamstring issues.

While UM strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey pointed out that they weren't knee injuries, NFL scouts will still be leery going into the NFL Draft.

"You can't make the club from the tub," said Gil Brandt, the former longtime general manager of the Dallas Cowboys who works as an analyst for

"I would imagine it's hard to play hurt all the time, and seldom do people who are hurt become healthy in the NFL. It's also a tough year to be coming out as a running back."

James recorded times of 4.55 and 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which were slightly higher than the 4.53 he ran at the NFL Combine.
James has been praised as a leader, pass blocker and receiver. He ran for 150 yards in the 21-20 win over Oklahoma last season.
He has shown great moments when he's on the field.

"Injuries are part of the deal," Swasey said. "But he's strong and never has missed a summer workout or any other workouts. He's served his role when he's in there."

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Patriots notes: Scratch Olsen

As we sashay from the Combine/Free Agency/Owner's Meetings portion of your offseason program and start looking harder at the draft, here's a few Patriots-related nuggets to digest.

A few weeks ago, a "Greg Olsen to the Patriots" rumor got flung up against the wall. Some of it stuck because the Bears tight end looked like he might be miscast in Mike Martz' offense and the Pats needed (and need) tight ends. The rumor fizzled and now it's dead, as Bears head coach Lovie Smith said this week to the Chicago Tribune that Olsen is "going to be a highly productive guy in any offense. He's faster than most tight ends out there. He can block the way most other tight ends can, but in the passing game he is a step ahead. He can be successful in this offense - not can - will. He will be successful in this offense." Olsen, a long, fast target with excellent hands (think a more accomplished David Thomas, whom the Pats dealt to the Saints last August), would have been hard to ignore in the passing game.

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

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Ray Lewis Relaunching Foundation

Ray Lewis has made a name for himself as not only a great linebacker, but also an incredibly giving philanthropist.

The Ray Lewis Foundation gives backpacks and school supplies to Baltimore-area students and Thanksgiving dinners to area families every year.

Now, he wants to take that family focus on the road with the launch of the “Ray Lewis Family Foundation.”  Lewis plans on doing more work in the Baltimore community, but also in his hometown of Lakeland, Fla., and perhaps even Africa.   According to the 11-time Pro Bowler, no city is out of his reach.

“We’re doing a lot of things to become a model that other foundations can go out and do the same things,” Lewis said.  “The reason why I changed it to the family foundation is because we’re trying to broaden what we do, no matter who you are in the community.  My vision is to help anybody that we come in contact with.

“I’m not just changing my foundation, but what I’m doing with it.  I’m going from state to state, city to city.  In Baltimore, I’m making some permanent changes, such as the things that I’m doing with the Commissioner and other people around here.”

The “Commissioner” would be Baltimore City Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld, with whom Ray worked on a training program for officers and families last year.  During the season, Lewis and his trainer, Monte Sanders of Optimum Fitness, go to the Baltimore Public Safety Training Facility for one day a week and lead a physical and spiritual workout.

Lewis said that was only the beginning and has designs on similar outreach in several locations.

“It kind of started there, and my grandmother, who is very ill, opened my eyes to going to other places,” said Lewis.  “That was special.  I don’t do it to get them to keep up with me.  I do it to help them.  I put them through it.  I would do this with my trainer anyway with regular people.  It’s one of the greatest blessings ever because of the lives we’re affecting.”

Stay tuned for more information about the Ray Lewis Family Foundation.  Lewis is also scheduled to host the sixth-annual Ray’s Summer Days on May 13-15.  The weekend-long event raised over $100,000 last year.

Click here to order Ray Lewis' proCane Rookie Card.

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Former UM, NFL star Leon Searcy finds peace after downfall

The Saturday sun is postcard perfect. A band, in colorful uniforms, is playing its happy music in the stands. Down below, the University of Miami football team grunts and collides, reminding all those limping old ghosts on the sideline of their treasured youth. Away from the action, white towel on his shoulder and sweat on his forehead, a wounded giant is talking about the day he fell upon his knees sobbing, apologizing to God and begging for help.

``I made some very poor choices,'' Leon Searcy says.

The contract the Pittsburgh Steelers gave him after selecting him 11th overall in 1992? He blew that. The one worth $17 million Jacksonville paid to make him the league's highest-paid offensive lineman ever at the time? Spent that, too. He shakes his head at what a cliché he used to be, dabbing that towel at the sweat on his temples.

``I spent all my time wanting to be a celebrity,'' Searcy says. ``You know the Rick James character behind the bar in the Dave Chapelle Show? That was me.''

Offensive linemen tend to be pretty anonymous, so Searcy went about buying attention and friends.

``Dinner and champagne? On me,'' he says. ``Strip club? On me. I was popping bottles and making it rain. I was supporting uncles and cousins. I was paying mortgages and first-class vacations. I had an entourage of leeches. Everything was suit, limo, flash and dash. What the hell was the matter with me?''

His 11-year NFL career ended with a $60,000 injury settlement from the Miami Dolphins. He went straight to the Aventura car dealership upon getting it and bought a Hummer in cash. Some of the things that got him atop of sports -- ego, fearlessness, the reckless belief that consequences were for other people -- swallowed him at career's end, when faced with all that silence that inevitably comes after the gladiator applause.

``I was delusional and in denial, but there was hell to pay,'' he says. ``Creditors banging on the door. Ex-wives beating me on the head. Child support. You know those giant mallets in the cartoons? I kept getting hit with those. I felt like I was in a small canoe, and I could see the waterfall I was about to go over, and I didn't have a paddle. Deep end, here I come.''

He took a job earning $30,000 a year and working 16-hour days as an assistant coach at Florida International University. By that time, he didn't even have a car. In the kind of relationship you find a lot in the UM huddle, but not in a lot of other places, former UM teammate Hurlie Brown drove Searcy everywhere.

``My soldier,'' Searcy says, and here you can see the giant's eyes get a little of that good sting.

Such a unique bond so many of these Hurricanes have, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. You can see it on the sideline during this spring scrimmage, as the sun shines and the band plays and Warren Sapp and Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James and Dan Morgan and dozens of others hug and laugh and remember. Searcy avoided all these little reunions in recent years. Would get the invitation and immediately throw it away as if afraid to look to closely at his past.

``Shamed away,'' he says. ``Didn't want everyone whispering about how I was broke.''

He is happy to be here today, though, as he begins to get up off those busted knees. NFL benefits are coming now that he has just reached his 40s, and he has erased his debt. He works with a software company and a worker's comp attorney and does some radio and TV. A daughter is headed to Colombia. And he says he is happier than he has ever been.

``I was empty and never had satisfaction before,'' he says. ``I was like an addict always looking for that new fix. The NFL lifestyle is very addictive, and when it is over, you are a fiend. There's no rehab or rest home for bad habits. I've been humbled, and it has made me cherish the little things and what is really important. I've got joy now. I talk to my kids every day. This has brought me to a better place. I'm so much happier with myself. I prayed my way out of it after I succumbed to the mess that I had made.''

Oh, there is still so much hurt. The violent game's highs come with impossible lows.

``Back. Shoulders. Hips. Neck. Hands. Feet. It is a challenge to get out of bed most mornings,'' he says. ``Painkillers every day. Struggle to function every day. But I'm better off than a lot of guys. I can't jog, but I'm not in a wheelchair. I don't take that for granted. I don't take anything for granted anymore.''

He has this great deep voice and this great deep laugh.

``Don't get me wrong now,'' he says. ``I have perspective, but I'd still like to have the money back, too.''

Click here to order Leon Searcy's proCane Rookie Card.

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Santana Moss likes what he sees in how Kyle Shanahan used Andre Johnson

Santana Moss doesn't need to study much game film to realize how effective a wide receiver can be in Kyle Shanahan's offense. One of his good friends is Houston receiver Andre Johnson, who was a teammate of Moss' at the University of Miami.

Moss has spent a lot of time the past few years enviously watching Johnson play in a potent passing attack.

"Just watching him play, I used to make calls all the time and say, 'How are you getting this wide open?' Dre will tell you," Moss said. "I just scratch my head at night, watching highlights. Man, you know he's getting the ball. Dre told me, they were just very creative."

Johnson has posted 1,000-yard seasons in four of the past seasons. When Kyle Shanahan was the Texans' offensive coordinator in 2008 and '09, Johnson had his two best seasons, topping 1,500 yards both times. He led the league, in fact, in receiving yards last year and was part of the league's top-ranked passing offense.

Moss is counting on the Redskins using him the way Kyle Shanahan utilized Johnson.

"They know how to move you around and get you to the points, where you don't have to always worry about being on that island, being out there," Moss said. "I used to be out there sometimes and I was wondering, 'Help.' I get a cover-2 shell or something and there was no way out of it."

Moss also had a favorable review of new receivers coach Keenan McCardell. Moss and McCardell were actually teammates in Washington in 2007, McCardell's final season as a player.

"Some of the best players are the best coaches," he said. "I will watch him - watch his film - and be able to be coached by just watching his film. You don't have to say a word to me. Some of us pick up like that. He don't have to say a word to me. I can sit back, see some of the things he did as a player, and say, 'Okay, I'm gonna do this more, I'm gonna do that more.' Now you have that coach, now you have him coming in, being able to instruct you in that form and in that way."

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Salmons scores 25, Bucks rally past Grizzlies

MILWAUKEE — John Salmons scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the Milwaukee Bucks rallied to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-103 on Sunday.

Salmons twice put the Bucks ahead in the extra period with baskets, including the lead for good when he drained a fading 14-foot jumper with 1:35 left.

Rookie Brandon Jennings added 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and Andrew Bogut had 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return after missing a game with a sore back to help the Bucks avoid a three-game losing streak.

Milwaukee is 16-4 since acquiring Salmons at the trade deadline from Chicago.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 31 points and 15 rebounds, but was clearly frustrated down the stretch, chucking his headband toward the crowd after being called for a foul with 45 seconds to play in overtime.

Milwaukee rallied from a seven-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter when Jennings took control. Jennings, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, had been struggling from the field in his past four games, but hit several contested layups.

He also made one costly mistake.

After putting the Bucks ahead 93-89 with a floater and again 94-92 with a free throw, he fouled Mike Conley in the corner with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.

The referees reviewed the shot, determining it was a 2-pointer, and Conley hit both free throws to send the game to overtime.

There, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who had missed the previous five games with a partially torn neck muscle, put Memphis up 98-96 with a jumper.

But Salmons hit a 3 to give Milwaukee a 99-98 lead. After O.J. Mayo, who finished with 17 points, had a run-out dunk with 1:48 to play, Salmons sank the jumper to give the Bucks the lead for good and Milwaukee hit six of its final seven free throws to seal it.

While Memphis came into the game just 1½ behind Milwaukee in the overall NBA standings, the teams have dynamically different postseason chances.

The Bucks are in fifth in the Eastern Conference and hold the tiebreaker over the four teams chasing them from behind, while the Grizzlies' chances are all but gone to catch Portland or San Antonio in the standings.

Milwaukee has also struggled with injuries and illness in the past few days. Bogut missed Friday's game because of a sore back that had limited him in his previous three and Ersan Ilyasova was out Friday with the flu.

Then, Carlos Delfino had to be taken off in a stretcher when he was inadvertently landed on by Heat forward Udonis Haslem on Friday night. Gasol had been out, too, and finished with 11 points and six rebounds before fouling out.

Milwaukee trailed 85-78 midway through the fourth, but the Grizzlies committed four turnovers down the stretch as the Bucks rallied. Ilyasova gave them their first lead of the period at 91-89 after a second-chance 3-pointer with 1:37 left.

But Conley's free throws sent the game to overtime.

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Gaby Sanchez: Winning First Base Job Battle

Update: Sanchez remains far ahead of Logan Morrison(notes) at the plate, hitting .405/.458/.595 in 42 at-bats, and barring an injury will almost certainly be the Marlins’ Opening Day first baseman.

Recommendation: Morrison is still thought to have a lot more upside than Sanchez, but in the short term Sanchez should provide you with regular playing time and decent enough production.

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Cardinals Option Out Jon Jay

On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that they optioned outfielder Jon Jay and infielder Tyler Greene to the roster of Triple-A Memphis.

Despite not yet having made his major league debut, Jay, 25, had two significant advantages over his outfield competition. First, he bats left-handed, something only Colby Rasmus does among the organization’s top eight outfielders. Second, he can play in centerfield, with the club needing a back up for Rasmus.

Unfortunately, he excelled at neither, batting just .237 (11-for-38) with just one extra-base hit. Jay also struck out eight times this spring. Further, he looked tentative in centerfield, seemingly not ready to play there in the big leagues. Hence, his return to Memphis became expected.

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PORT ST. LUCIE — Veteran infielder Alex Cora will be the first one to admit if the statistical analysis theories are a basis for determining roles within a team, he probably is not the guy the New York Mets are looking for as an everyday shortstop.

But with Jose Reyes likely out for the start of the season because of an overactive thyroid, Cora still believes he is the right candidate for the job.

Manager Jerry Manuel agrees — in the short term. He said Thursday that Cora is the first choice to replace Reyes, then in the next breath added that is assuming his star shortstop returns before the summer months hit. Cora has more confidence in his abilities.

“There’s a few questions, I guess, defensively,” Cora said. “People are talking about age and that I’ve slowed down defensively. There is some statistical analysis out there that says I am losing my range. I will just try to work on a few things, but if that’s something I can improve, I will just keep working on it.

“It’s one of those things where if you believe in it, I guess I am not the right guy because the stats say so, but if you see me play everyday, I still think I can do it. Let’s put it this way: I have been in the big leagues for 12 years and it’s not because I hit .300.”

The 34-year-old hit .251 with 18 RBI and one home run in 82 games last season — his first with the Mets. The club liked Cora, who owns a .246 career batting average, enough to re-sign him for $2 million during the offseason, despite the fact he was coming off two surgeries to repair ligaments in both thumbs — an injury Cora played through for almost two months last year.

When news about Reyes’ health surfaced last week, general manager Omar Minaya spoke highly of 20-year-old prospect Ruben Tejada as a possibility to replace Reyes. However, Manuel said Thursday it is still to be determined whether Tejada, who has never played above Double-A, is ready to make the jump to the majors. Should the Mets include him on the opening day roster, Tejada would need to be brought along slowly, Manuel indicated.

“If you happen to take a young player you’d have to find the right spots you think the guy would have a chance to have success and after that comes confidence and after that you let him go,” Manuel said.

“I haven’t seen enough (of Tejada),” Manuel added. “I think when you get down to that last week when the pitchers are kind of on top of their game, the position players are close to being ready, that will probably give us a better feel as to whether this will benefit us one way or the other.”

Tejada, who played with the St. Lucie Mets in 2008, signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Panama in July 2006 and spent last season in Binghamton as the youngest position player at that level.

He batted .289 with five homers, 46 RBI and 19 stolen bases.

Regarded as the organization’s best defensive infielder, Tejada is an “interesting player” to Manuel, and the manager said he would still consider him an option to make the team.

“He has some tremendous instincts to play,” Manuel said. “I like him a lot.”

For now, Manuel is still hoping Reyes, who is expected to be out another 1-7 weeks, returns in time to be ready for the start of the season, though that window is quickly closing with just over two weeks left in spring training.

“I am still holding out,” Manuel said. “I am still believing he will show up here in parking lot No. 7 any day.”

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AMERICAN sprinter Lauryn Williams unwittingly walked into a colours controversy on Friday's third day of the ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Champs at the National Stadium.

Mere hours after getting off a flight from the USA, she grabbed the first thing she could find and headed for the stadium. It turned out she had on colours closest to Wolmer's and got involved a friendly banter between commentators on a radio station.

Friday was not the first visit for the former IAAF World Championships 100m champion, but it was her first time at Champs, and like most first-timers, was amazed at the energy, noise and excitement of the event.

"So far, so good" she told the Sunday Observer when asked about her brief experience at the world's largest and best high school track and field meet.

"I have seen this stadium packed," said Williams, who won the 100m at the venue in 2002 when Jamaica hosted the IAAF World Junior Championships, "and I know how loud it can get."

This time Williams promised she would be among the thousands "jumping and screaming a shouting along with the competition."

Twenty-six year-old Williams told the Sunday Observer she was invited here by Olympic and World Championships medallist Ato Bolden, with whom she shares Trinidadian ancestry.

She said she knows as well as anyone else the passion Jamaicans have for track and field, having witnessed the Jamaican crowds at the Penn Relays.

Williams, who is renowned for her fast starts and was second to Veronica Campbell Brown in close 100m finish at the 2007 IAAF World Championships and who also has an Olympic silver medal from Athens in 2004, said she was not sure what colours she would wear on yesterday's final day, but ventured that she would look for something green in support of Calabar High.

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