Ed Reed Climbing NFL INT List

Among the many departures from the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII-winning team, Ed Reed's was one of the most impactful for the fans.

A big reason for that is not that he retired, as Ray Lewis did. It's that he chose to wear another uniform, that of the Houston Texans, who won two games in 2013 and earned the first overall draft pick.

One thing Reed did during his first season away from Charm City is continue his climb up the league's all-time interception list.

Reed picked off three passes this season raising his lifetime regular-season total to 64. 

That propelled him from 10th on the all-time list up to sixth, rocketing him past such luminaries as Ronnie Lott, Dave Brown, Darren Sharper and Dick LeBeau. LeBeau, who is now Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator, was a star defensive back for the Detroit Lions several decades ago.

If the 35-year-old Reed plays next season, he would need one pickoff to tie ex-Cincinnati safety Ken Riley for fifth place on the list and four to draw even with fourth-place Dick "Night Train" Lane, who played primarily with the Lions during the 1950s.

There appears to be no chance Reed would reach the all-time record of 81, which belongs to former Washington and Minnesota safety Paul Krause, who played during the 1960s and 1970s.

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Andre Johnson & Chris Myers Named to All AFC South Team by ESPN

The odd thing about the Houston Texans' nine Pro Bowl selections last season was how under-represented the defense was. Seven of the nine Texans who went to Hawaii last season were offensive players, including quarterback Matt Schaub, who told me upon arrival that he was confident he could lead the Texans to the Super Bowl.

This year's All-AFC South team -- voted on by Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco, Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, Colts reporter Mike Wells and I -- has a similar tilt. Five Texans offensive players are represented -- receiver Andre Johnson, guard Wade Smith, center Chris Myers, left tackle Duane Brown and running back Ben Tate. Meanwhile, defensively only ends J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith made the cut. Texans punter Shane Lechler kept the special teams portion from being an all-Jaguars affair.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Orlando Franklin Named To All AFC West Team by ESPN

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Stack records and touchdowns like the Denver Broncos did this season and people notice.

The Broncos finished with a single-season record for points scored -- 606 –- as quarterback Peyton Manning threw 55 touchdown passes, also a single-season league record. The Broncos also became the first team in league history to have five players score at least 10 touchdowns; no other team in league history has had more than three.

As a result, there are plenty of Broncos' names dotting the All-AFC West team's offense, selected by the division’s NFL Nation reporters. Manning was selected along with wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas, guards Zane Beadles and Louis Vasquez and right tackle Orlando Franklin. Manning was the least sacked starting quarterback in the league of those who threw at least 320 passes -- 18 times.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Jimmy Graham Named To All NFC South Team by ESPN

Just like it played out in the NFC South standings this season, it was a neck-and-neck battle for supremacy between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers when it came to ESPN.com’s All-NFC South team. Ultimately, the Panthers edged the Saints with 10 representatives, compared to New Orleans’ nine.

Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams was the division’s leading rusher with just 843 rushing yards. The Saints who made the list on offense -- quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, receiver Marques Colston, right tackle Zach Strief and guard Jahri Evans -- were all worthy selections. The same for punter Thomas Morstead.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Sam Shields Named To All NFC North Team by ESPN

On the defensive side of the ball, Clay Matthews remained one of the division’s biggest impact players despite missing five games because of a broken thumb. But the biggest surprise was the development of second-year defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who was the Packers’ best interior pass-rusher. Cornerback Sam Shields' emergence as the team’s top cover cornerback will earn him a big paycheck in free agency, whether it’s from the Packers or another team.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Calais Campbell Named To All NFC West Team by ESPN

Arizona tied Seattle with four defenders on the 12-man team as all four defensive Pro Bowlers earned a nod. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was honored along with defensive end Calais Campbell, who were both Pro Bowl alternates. Linebacker John Abraham, who finished with 11.5 sacks and moved into the top 10 on the all-time sack list, was one outside linebacker and Patrick Peterson was named at cornerback, infiltrating an otherwise all-Seattle secondary. If Dansby had trouble making this squad, than Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington would've struggled cracking this rotation especially playing just 12 games because of a suspension.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Antrel Rolle Named To All NFC East Team by ESPN

There are four New York Giants on this year's All-NFC East team, and it's no surprise that all four of them play defense. The Giants finished the year ranked eighth in the league in total defense and 28th in total offense. There was no offensive player on their team worthy of any consideration other than wide receiver Victor Cruz, and there's no way to argue that he should have cracked the division's top three ahead of DeSean Jackson, Dez Bryant or Pierre Garcon.

So the defensive players who made it were defensive end Justin Tuck, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and safeties Will Hill and Antrel Rolle. Unlike past years, when I ran the NFC East blog and picked the team myself, this year's team was voted on by the four team reporters who cover the NFC East's teams -- myself, Todd Archer in Dallas, Phil Sheridan in Philadelphia and John Keim in Washington.

I approve of the choice of Tuck, who had a fine year and finished with 11 sacks thanks to the six he got in December against the Redskins. And I voted for Hill and Rolle as the division's starting safeties. Rolle gets (and attracts) the attention and played well, but I think Hill was the better player this year once he was back from his season-opening four-game suspension. The two of them function very well together in the Giants' system at safety, and that was a concern after they let go of Kenny Phillips -- finding a partner who could switch off with Rolle during the games and depending on the situations. Hill has done it and done it well.

Click here to see the rest of the players named.

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Greg Olsen Sets Panthers Record

TE Greg Olsen is the first non-wide receiver to lead the Panthers in receiving yards (816). WR Steve Smith (745) had led in 10 of last 11 years, with a broken leg in Week 1 of 2004 the only exception. Olsen set the record for most receptions (73) by a Panthers tight end in a season, breaking his own mark he set last year (69).

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Antrel Rolle: Extension with Giants is “ultimate goal”

Giants safety Antrel Rolle was a bright spot in a dismal Giants season, finishing the year with 98 tackles and six interceptions.

That’s likely why Rolle balked at the notion that the team would want to talk to him about his contract before next season.

“I don’t think there is anything to talk about. I still have one year left on my deal,” Rolle said, via NJ.com. “I don’t think there is anything to talk about.”

Rolle has a $7 million salary for next season and a $9.25 million cap figure, with the latter number one that the Giants might want to see come down as they try to fill other holes on the team. Assuming they’re open to the idea of keeping Rolle beyond 2014, an extension would be the easiest way to make that happen.

Rolle called an extension that kept him with the Giants through the end of his career “the ultimate goal,” which would certainly contradict the idea that there’s nothing contractual to talk about with the team. Perhaps Rolle was thinking solely of a pay cut, which he certainly didn’t do anything to deserve on the field this season and would have little reason to accept because he’d find other employment pretty quickly if he parted ways with the Giants.

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Devin Hester: Wins Return-Yardage Crown

Hester racked up a league-leading 1,698 combined return yards this season.

Working strictly as a return specialist this season, Hester appeared to regain his fastball, so to speak. His 14.2 average on punt returns would have ranked third in the NFL had he received enough opportunities to qualify, as punters wisely chose to kick away from him often. Hester was less easy to avoid on kickoffs, finishing with an average of 27.7 yards on 52 returns, good for the second-best mark of his career. The 31-year-old is set to become a free agent in the offseason, but with few players capable of replacing Hester's impact on special teams, look for the Bears to submit a competitive offer to retain his services.

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Stopping Jimmy Graham will be key for Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles defense has improved throughout the season, but even in victory, their Achilles heel showed on Sunday night -- covering the tight end.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten torched the Eagles to the tune of 12 catches for 135 yards on Sunday night, easily the veteran tight ends best game of the season.

While Witten is a solid player, he is not what he used to be -- and he certainly isn't in the class of New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

Something that is bad news for Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis.

"He's the No. 1 target they have and he's been their most consistent target," Davis said on Tuesday. "He's a big, athletic tight end, catches everything thrown near him. They move him all over the place so it's tough to practice and get a beat on how to help guys on him.

Graham once up again put up big numbers this season, finishing with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns. At 6-7, 265 lbs, he is a matchup nightmare for any team, let alone one that struggles to cover tight ends to begin with.

"I think we have been good at times and struggled at times," Davis said of his defenses' ability to cover tight ends. "Like anything, the talent level of the tight end that's coming at you, how much I help on the tight end with a call or I don't, depending how many weapons they have or the situation, sometimes I give a lot of help, sometimes I don't and I think it just moves, it's a moving target."

The Eagles do not have a ton of experience covering Graham, as he has has faced them just once in his career, finishing with seven receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.

How the Eagles decide to cover Graham will be interesting.

Amongst the linebackers, there is no clear answer as to who can matchup with Graham. The Eagles most athletic linebacker is Mychal Kendricks, but at just a little under six feet tall, Kendricks gives up nearly seven inches to Graham. Kendricks is also best when he is allowed to rush the passer, so having him drop back into coverage all day is not ideal for the Eagles.

Connor Barwin is a possibility, as he has the size to hang with Graham, but does not have the speed to keep up with Graham.

It is possible the Eagles could decide to stick a cornerback on Graham, as they have two tall, long cornerbacks in Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.

On Tuesday, Williams said that he doesn't have a ton of experience covering tight ends, but would be willing to try if asked.

"They have been physical. Made him change his footing. Stop and start. He isn't exactly the fastest guy out there -- he has good speed, but he is a build up guy. If you give him a free release, he is going to have a lot of success. But if you get in his face, and you harass him a little bit, I don't think he necessarily likes it."

Although they will need to use either Williams or Fletcher on Saints wideout Marques Colston -- who is 6-4 -- they could put a smaller corner on the Saints other wideout, Kenny Stills, who is just over six feet tall.

Putting a player like Roc Carmichael on Stills would allow the Eagles to let Fletcher or Williams matchup with Graham, presenting the Eagles with perhaps their best chance of containing the Pro-Bowl tight end.

No matter how they decide to do it, however, it is going to be critical for the Eagle to try to slow down Graham.

In the Saints four losses this season in which Graham played, the tight end averaged just over four catches a game. In the Saints 10 wins with Graham, he averaged close to seven catches.

Meaning if the Eagles want to advance past the wild card round of the playoffs, stopping Graham is going to have to be priority No. 1.

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Antrel Rolle's $7 million salary a problem? Not if you ask the Giants safety

Coming off perhaps the best season of his accomplished career, Giants safety Antrel Rolle was puzzled by a reporter's question about the team needing to talk with him about his $7 million salary and $9.25 million salary cap figure for next season.

Rolle, snubbed for the Pro Bowl last week despite a strong season, believes he's lived up to the terms of his contract with his play on the field. He finished with 98 tackles, 2.0 sacks, six interceptions, a forced and recovered fumble.

“I don’t think there is anything to talk about. I still have one year left on my deal,” Rolle said. “I don’t think there is anything to talk about.”

It doesn’t mean if the Giants came to the veteran safety he’d be standoffish. Rolle would talk with the organization and be willing to add years to his current deal, especially if it made finishing his career with the Giants a possibility.

“Whatever the Giants want to do – you know I’m a professional and I handle my business in a professional manner – if that’s what they want to do, I’ll be all for it,” Rolle said.

“I definitely want to retire a Giant. I just want to be here. I’m just worried about the 2014 season, being here and making a run [at the Super Bowl].”

Rolle, 31, says he has at least four more years left where he can play at an “elite” level. It’s hard to argue considering he showed no signs of slowing down this season.

In fact, Rolle played a bigger role with the Giants this year than in the past. His versatility was key in defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s defense, and his responsibilities in the locker room and huddle increased.

Rolle was a Giants captain for the first time in his four years with the team. He played an integral part in keeping the team together and resurrecting a defense that started the year poorly but finished a respectable eighth in total defense. Rolle was one of the players who put together an impromptu Week 6 meeting with Fewell that reversed the defense’s fortunes. Those are the actions of the kind of player the Giants would seemingly like to keep around for a long time.

“That’s definitely the ultimate goal, to get an extension and add more years to my deal, and be able to be a part of this organization throughout the rest of my seasons,” Rolle said. “I’m not a guy that wants to play 14 or 15 years. I’ve never been that kind of guy.

“I just like to play and be effective while I’m here in this league. I know I easily have four more years to play at an elite level.”

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Giants express interest in bringing back Jon Beason, sources say

Happy New Year's, Giants fans. All indications are that the Giants want to bring middle linebacker Jon Beason back next season.

The Giants have already expressed an interest in keeping Beason and there is a strong likelihood he returns for 2014, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told NJ.com. Beason is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

The Giants traded a seventh-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for Beason in early October. The move was instrumental in turning around the Giants’ defense, which struggled early in the season. They finished eighth in the NFL in total defense with a strong second half.

Beason, 28, had 98 tackles in 12 games with the Giants. Veteran safety Antrel Rolle said Tuesday on WFAN that keeping Beason is “a must.” Former Giant and current NFL Network analyst Shaun O'Hara said over the weekend it should be the Giants' top offseason priority.

The well-respected Beason has repeatedly expressed his desire to remain with the Giants.

“I would love to play here next year,” said Beason, who suffered an Achilles tear in 2011 followed by a knee tear in 2012, after the season finale on Sunday.

“I want to continue to play football at a high level and I’m trying to win a championship. … That’s my No. 1 priority, right. And that is something I think we can do here. I think the pieces are here and you don’t really need to look elsewhere.”

The Giants were apparently happy with his performance. So happy that they have already begun the process of trying to retain his services.

“Jon came in and I think he stabilized our defense,” general manager Jerry Reese said in his postseason press conference. “He came in, he had a voice right away and he fit in very quickly with the players. He did a good job for us.

“We think it was a good trade at the time and we still think it was a good trade. We’ll evaluate Jon as we move into the offseason and we’ll see where that goes.”

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Good news for Gore: Packers’ struggling run defense is next

Here’s a fearless wild-card prediction: Frank Gore will have more than 14 yards Sunday against Green Bay.

Gore had that rushing total in last week’s regular-season finale against Arizona, which boasts the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. In stark contrast, the Packers are, well, not quite as adept at stopping the run, to put it politely.

Green Bay finished the regular season 25th in rushing yards allowed per game (125.0) and 28th in yards allowed per attempt (4.6). An ominous sign entering their meeting against the 49ers: They morphed from average to awful as the season progressed.

In their last nine games, Green Bay allowed 157.2 rushing yards, 5.2 yards a carry and seven 100-yard rushers. Seven 100-yard rushers since November? The 49ers have allowed seven 100-yard rushers in their past 78 games dating to 2009. In addition, Green Bay’s 1,415 rushing yards allowed since Nov. 4 is just 120 fewer than the 49ers have allowed this season.

On Sunday, the Packers won’t have All-Pro outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who re-broke a thumb in Week 16 that required a second surgery. Matthews originally broke the thumb on Oct. 6 and had pins surgically inserted.

“You’re always cautious with players after surgery,” Mike McCarthy said Monday to the Green Bay media when asked about Matthews’ availability in the playoffs. “Right now he’s out for this week and that’s really what we’re focused on.”

In the 49ers’ 34-28 win over Green Bay in Week 1, Gore was limited to 44 yards on 21 carries. The Packers defense went to extremes to ensure they didn’t reprise last season’s playoff embarrassment, when Colin Kaepernick (181 yards) and Gore (119) headlined a 323-yard rushing performance. The tradeoff, of course, was that Kaepernick torched their secondary for 412 yards and three touchdowns.

On Sunday, the Packers will presumably try to find a happy medium. Whatever strategy they employ, I’ll stick with my bold prediction: Gore will rush for at least 15 yards.

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Adewale Ojomo: Titans announce futures signings

Titans signed DE Adewale Ojomo, T Jeff Adams, DT Chigbo Anunoby, CB George Baker, LB Brandon Copeland, C Tyler Horn, TE Adam Schiltz, and LB Jonathan Willard to reserve/future contracts.
"Futures" deals are often one- or two-year, team-friendly pacts with little or no guaranteed money and an opportunity to spend the spring in an NFL training facility. There are no especially notable names among Tennessee's reserve/future deals. They were all practice squad players during 2013.

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Vinny Testaverde sues his mansion's builder

ODESSA — Former football star Vinny Testaverde has sued the luxury builder of his sprawling lakefront mansion, claiming structural flaws led to a host of defects that "should not exist" in a multimillion-dollar home.

Testaverde, 50, and his wife, Mitzi, sued Gray Homes of Tampa Bay this month, seeking damages for faulty construction that they say tainted their $4.5 million Odessa estate with mildew, bugs and rotting wood.

The suit says "substantial volumes of water," have poured into the 12,000-square-foot mansion's wine cellar, cabana, exercise room and sauna. Roof-bearing columns and a staircase have sunk.

The Testaverdes are seeking damages for breach of contract and building code violations. The builder, which has not yet filed a response to the suit, did not return messages Monday.

Listed as being built with seven bedrooms, a three-story elevator and an eight-car garage, the Keystone Lake mansion was Hillsborough County's priciest home sold in 2007.

Gray Homes specializes in "esteem level homes" of between 4,500 and 14,000 square feet, its website says. After the Testaverdes' home was finished, owner Harry Gray told the Tampa Bay Times, "We build big houses for rich people."

The company builds three to five homes a year and has erected estates for the late Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco. As of Monday, its website still boasted that Testaverde was a customer.

Testaverde, a Heisman Trophy winner and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, set an NFL record for throwing at least one touchdown in 21 straight seasons. He last played for the Carolina Panthers in 2007 and now works as an offensive coordinator at Jesuit High School, where his son is a quarterback.

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Antrel Rolle on a "bittersweet" feeling

Safety Antrel Rolle reflects on the season and some of the decisions that will be made by the front office.

Q: What kind of feeling do you leave here with today?
A: Definitely a bittersweet feeling. Bitter because obviously our ultimate goal here is to play for the full season and let the wind take its course but and unfortunately we’re not able to fulfill that dream. At the same time I’m extremely proud of the way this team has bounced back and faced adversity. Even when people said we had nothing to play for, we had nothing to prove, we came out fighting. We came out fighting even harder and I think this team showed a lot of pride, a lot of fight and more importantly the love that we have for one another in this locker room throughout the remaining course of this season.

Q: Why did it go the way it did in your mind? Why did you not make the playoffs?
A: Obviously starting 0-6, that’s not a position that you want to be in and we made it extremely hard for ourselves at the beginning of the season. Winning seven out of the last 10 games is ideal for an organization and had we won a little bit more in the beginning, the situation would obviously be different at this time.

Q: Do you need big changes here?
A: To be honest with you, that’s not my call to make. I think obviously we’ve shown that we can win games and play to our potential with the later part of the season taking its place. We just weren’t in sync, we weren’t in sync those first six games, we couldn’t find a way to close out those victories and obviously it put us in a real tough situation.

Q: Would you be surprised if they did decide to make changes? Obviously you’re not the one making the decisions, but would it surprise you at all?
A: Changes happen every year with each and every team within this league. Changes are what’s to be expected at this point.

Q: I’m talking more about staff changes. Would that surprise you? You’ve had the same staff for the most part for a while here.
A: Like I said, that’s not my place to make any kind of decision or comments about coaching changes. I’m a defensive player and I speak only and entirely for the defense. Are there any changes that need to be made on that side? Absolutely not. I think we’ve shown that. Starting, at one point in time in the season, as the 28th ranked defense and to end the season at eight, I think that speaks volumes for us.

Q; You guys talk, obviously you wanted to be a top 10 or top five defense. Through it all, to finish eight, does it surprise you; what did that mean?
A: It doesn’t surprise us. We worked our butts off to get to that point, especially at one point in time being ranked the 28th defense within this league. We work together. Coaches, players, we all came together, we worked together and we made this happen. It wasn’t by luck, we just didn’t fall at number eight. We know we worked our butts off to get to that point.

Q: You talked about bittersweet, if you guys had another game to play do you think this defense could be a defense that could hold up throughout a playoff run?
A: Absolutely, that’s a no-brainer for us. I think we’ve shown that throughout the course of the season. Offense, people in this league, everyone gets paid. We’re all professionals, we’re all athletes, so the offense is going to make their plays. But as a defense, I felt like we did an exceptional job, especially through the latter part of the season. After that 0-6 start just going out there and playing and flying around and making plays and creating turnovers and giving our offense more opportunities to put the ball in the end zone.

Q: Any message to the fans?
A: I pretty much said what I needed to say. For the fans, we obviously thank them for sticking with us through the bad and the good times. Obviously the season didn’t go as planned for them but we’re definitely looking forward to 2014. I think we’ve found an identity here, I think we understand what areas need to be cleaned up and how to get it cleaned up and just move forward at this point. We’ll be back come in 2014.

Q: What’s the feeling like knowing that you have to clean out your locker entirely?
A: That’s never a good feeling. I think Jon Beason hated it more than anyone. He’s been talking about it for the last few days consistently. It’s not a good feeling, it’s not a good feeling at all. We play this game obviously for one reason, which is to win a Super Bowl and like I said, because of our play, we haven’t allowed ourselves to be in contention for that.

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Jon Beason on being a first-time FA

LB Jon Beason talks about the roster turnover in the NFL and the possibility of coming back to the Giants next year.

Every year it’s a case where it’s like, “Aw, how is this guy not here?” or, “we brought this guy in.” You just never know, there’s always so much change and that’s the bad thing about this business.

Q: Obviously this team was 7-3 the second half of the season. Do you sit there and say, “We’re close,” or do you sit there and say, “well 7-3 means nothing if we’re 0-6 to start?”
A: I think we put ourselves in a tough position to start the season but any time you win a game in this league, it’s hard to do. People take that for granted. You never know, man. Any given year, it could be somebody different and that’s the beauty of the league. It’s tough and we know that. We signed up for it, this is the highest competition right here, so to go 7-3 is something you can hang your hat on but at the same time it’s not good enough.

Q: Are the pieces there to be better next year?
A: I think so. I think we get some guys healthy, that’s the biggest thing. You just start fast.

Q: You’ve never been a free agent?
A: No, I haven’t.

Q: Does part of you want to test the market and see what the other 30 something teams, what they value you at?
A: I think it’s all about the situation. Being a free agent, it’s the first time where you get to choose where you want to play or who you want to play with and all of that stuff. But when you come to a place like the New York Giants, there are high standards, there are great players and this team has done it on a consistent level, so for me it’s all about winning at this point in my career.

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Ed Reed to get an MRI, wants to play for Jets next year, considering retirement

FLORHAM PARK -- When it comes to his future as an NFL player, all options—a medical check-up, playing next year, retirement—appear to be on the table for Jets safety Ed Reed.

"What's next for me, man?" Reed said in response to a question as the Jets cleaned out their lockers at the team's practice facility on Monday. "I'm about go and do an MRI, and get back to the townhouse and pack my stuff up, and figure out where I'm going to go."

Reed, who will be 36 next September, is a future Hall of Famer playing out the twilight of his brilliant career. He achieved pretty much everything in his 11 seasons with the Ravens, finally getting a Super Bowl ring last year. But he had offseason hip surgery (his second hip procedure since 2010), signed with the Texans as a free agent, and wound up getting waived. In mid-November, he landed with the Jets, mostly to serve as a slower, wiser elder statesman for the team's young defenders, especially first-round draft pick Dee Milliner.

But now? Reed said the MRI would be precautionary, a kind of scheduled maintenance for the wear and tear all those harsh NFL miles have put on his hip, if not also the rest of his aging body. He wants to keep playing, and is even open to staying with the Jets, who brought him on this year at a pro-rated salary of $940,000 that accounted for just $387,000 against the salary cap, per spotrac.com.

"If the team will allow me," Reed said of returning to the Jets, "and everything goes according to my offseason (plan), yeah."

Update (3:24 p.m.): A source told Metro New York the Jets would consider bringing Reed back "if the price was right."

Pro Football Focus gave Reed a cumulative grade of minus-4.9 for the season, though the worst of that was acculumulated during his time with the Texans. Reed did get all three of his interceptions on the year—bringing his career total to 65, tying him for fifth in NFL history—in the season's last four weeks. Those three picks also tied him for the Jets' team lead for the 2013 season. And he did manage to earn positive grades from PFF in the season's final two games.
Reed also played 72 percent of the defense's snaps in Sunday's season-ending win in Miami.

Jets coach Rex Ryan has spoken highly of Reed since his arrival. After Sunday's victory, Ryan praised Reed in particular for his positive influence on Milliner, who struggled for much of the year but collected three interceptions in the season's last two games.

Reed had previously said that playing another year for Ryan would entice him to consider returning to the Jets. Now that Ryan is definitely coming back in 2014, Reed reiterated his own desire to be back at 1 Jets Drive.

"It would make it a lot easier, because obviously I know the system," Reed said.

Reed said he felt comfortable physically during the year, and that he got stronger as the season wore on because his hip was healing. He did mention that it helped having Thursdays off from practice toward the end of the year.

"The longer I get away from the surgical date, it's better," Reed said. "I feel I will be a lot stronger because I'll have a whole offseason to work out, and really balance my rehab out. My left side was actually tighter than my right because I was compensating more, as far as my workouts."

Asked what kind of role he sees for himself in 2014—as a complementary part or a main cog in a team's secondary—Reed said, "Whatever it takes to win."
What about retirement?

"Man, I gave thoughts to retiring three, four years ago," Reed answered. "There's always that possibility, man. That's something I've always evaluated after every season since my first year. This is a violent sport, the sport is changing a lot, and organizations are changing. It's just a different game now.

"I think I was pretty good for having two hip surgeries and being able to play in this defense after being on another team, (plus a) first year through free agency. I have no regrets."

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Devin Hester wants to know where he stands with Bears

Bears kicker returner Devin Hester doesn’t want to be strung along. He wants to be told what the team envisions for him.

Hester, one of 27 Bears with an expiring contract, wants an answer as quickly as one of his cuts on the field.

“I really want to know right away,” Hester said after the Bears’ season-ending loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. “I’m the type of guy that I don’t want to go through the whole offseason not knowing where I’m going to be at. So hopefully we can get something done. Like I said, I want to retire as a Bear. I put in too much hard work here, and I did a lot of things around here and I’m pretty sure the fans want me back. So who knows?”

What Hester should know is that his potential replacement might have just moved into a locker at Halas Hall not far from his. The Bears’ decision to sign returner/receiver Chris Williams off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad Thursday could be an indication where the Bears are headed with Hester. Williams has a three-year contract; Hester does not.

Williams set a Canadian Football League record with six return touchdowns in 2012 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. An undrafted free agent from New Mexico State in 2009, Williams also had 1,117 punt-return yards and 83 receptions for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns that season. He’s considered an intriguing prospect.

“I had a few offers [from other teams],” Williams said Monday. “I was in a good situation in New Orleans, and I decided to stick that out. And then Chicago came, and obviously [there’s] familiarity. Once I sat down with my family and we just started talking, this seemed like the best place for me to continue my football career, so we made the move.”

His familiarity is with coach Marc Trestman.

“Obviously, I have a bit of history with coach Trestman playing against him up there in Canada,” Williams said. “A lot of the staff has seen me play before. They know what I’m capable of. I’m just excited to get going.”

Used exclusively as a return specialist this season, Hester was revitalized. He tied the NFL career record for return touchdowns (19, with Deion Sanders) in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins with an 81-yard punt return, and he set a team single-game record with 249 kick-return yards in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings. Teams still accounted for his game-changing ability, often kicking away from him.

Hester, 31, said it hurt coming off the field Sunday knowing it might be his last game with the Bears.

“This is where I was born and raised,” Hester said. “It’s not like I played three years and went six years somewhere. My whole eight years has been here.”
Williams said he didn’t feel like he was replacing Hester, saying he believes he’s just as effective as a receiver. Either way, he knows what Hester has meant to the Bears.

“Devin is amazing,” Williams said. “He’s one of the greats of all-time.”

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Three proCanes Named To Pro Bowl Roster

Three Miami Hurricanes were among those named to the 2014 Pro Bowl, announced by the National Football League offices Wednesday.

Andre Johnson (Houston Texans) was the lone proCane AFC selection

San Francisco 49ers' running back Frank Gore, who recently marked his team-record seventh 1,000-yard season, was an NFC selection along with Saints TE Jimmy Graham.

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Moss on Skins’ Season: ‘It’s Been Some Sh*t Man’

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The Washington Redskins finally brought an end to their miserable 2013 campaign with a 20-6 loss to the Giants on Sunday.

As you might imagine, 3-13 wasn’t the record most Redskins’ players would have predicted to start the season – or fans, or media, for that matter – coming off the team’s 10-6 record, and first NFC East championship in thirteen years in 2012.

Just how bad was this season for the Redskins?

“It’s been some shit, man,” said veteran receiver Santana Moss delivering the quote of the year, when asked to sum up the dreadful 2013 season.
The 34-year-old receiver has experienced just three winning seasons in his nine years as a Redskin.

While the tailspin is finally over, things may get worse before they get better in Washington.

Head coach Mike Shanahan – who told reporters after the loss he’d have a conversation with Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder about his future with the team on Monday morning – is largely believed to be on his way out.

With that expectation comes an uncertain future for the franchise, which would then have to embark on its fifth coachingicon1 search since 2000.

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Antrel Rolle rants on Twitter about Pro Bowl snub

Giants safety Antrel Rolle must have really been counting on the free trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

The NFL announced its Pro Bowl selections Friday night, and Rolle was voted a second alternate at strong safety. The always outspoken Rolle, who picked off six passes and forced a fumble this season, took to Twitter to vent his frustration at not being selected to the team outright.

“Tell me which safety has better numbers and made more game changing plays than me this year???? I’ll wait!!!!” Rolle wrote. “This probowl sh-- is a joke.”

No other Giant was named to the team or as an alternate. The other strong safeties that made it ahead of Rolle were Kansas City’s Eric Berry, Seattle’s Kam Chancellor and Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu.

“That’s why I play for myself, teammates, organization, family& fans,” Rolle wrote. “Nothing else matters. All this has done is added more fuel to my fire!”

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Rob Chudzinski Fired by Cleveland Browns After Only One Season As Head Coach

Rob Chudzinski is done after one season as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday night that Chudzinski was fired following the Browns’ 4-12 season that concluded with a 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Browns would make Chudzinski’s firing official later in the week, but the team wasted no time in making the decision and announcing it.

The Browns’ front office reportedly wasn’t satisfied with the way Chudzinski managed his team, and the franchise likely will turn to New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien to fill their coaching vacancy, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

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Devin Hester came close to breaking two returns

A block there or cutback here, and the NFL record for most return touchdowns could have been had by Bears kick returner Devin Hester. He looked that close at times in the Bears’ 33-28 loss against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Hester opened the game with a 39-yard kickoff return and then ­ignited the Bears’ strong second half with a 49-yard punt return ­after a three-and-out by the ­Packers to open the third quarter.

“The biggest thing on my mind was just getting our offense good field position,” Hester said. “I know when I give our offense good field position, we usually put points on the board.”

But that record-setting 20th return touchdown was a goal of Hester’s. He said so just a few days ago. He said it would be sad not to do it in a Bears uniform, knowing his future isn’t guaranteed because his contract expires.

If Sunday was his last game with the Bears, how does he want to be remembered?

“That I was going to come out here and leave it all on the line,” said Hester, who had five kickoff returns for 127 yards. “At the end of the day, they remember the last game and they know that this last game I put in my all and I fought to the wire. Until the last kick, I gave it my all.”

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Jon Beason on return to Giants: 'I would love to play here next year'

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The numbers are staggering. With Jon Beason at middle linebacker, the Giants were one of the NFL's best defensive teams. Without Jon Beason at middle linebacker, they were one of the worst.

The Giants allowed 36.4 points per game the first five weeks of the season before Beason, acquired in a mid-season trade from Carolina for a seventh-round pick, was inserted into the starting lineup. With Beason at middle linebacker, they allowed 18.3 points per game and finished as a Top 10 defense -- for the season!

Sure, there were other factors – like Justin Tuck resurrecting into the Pro Bowl player he used to be, Will Hill emerging as a standout starting safety and Terrell Thomas becoming a quality nickel cornerback. But the biggest change in the Giants' defense was the new leader of the huddle, Jon Beason.

Beason, 28, now becomes a free agent, one the Giants need to re-sign if they want to build off the defensive success of the final 11 weeks of this season. Fortunately for the Giants, he wants to return.

“I would love to play here next year,” said Beason, who suffered an Achilles tear in 2011 followed by a knee tear in 2012.

“I want to continue to play football at a high level and I’m trying to win a championship. … That’s my No. 1 priority, right. And that is something I think we can do here. I think the pieces are here and you don’t really need to look elsewhere.”

It will take a lot of work by the Giants' front office to keep the defense that gelled in the second half of the season together for another year. Five of the 11 starters Sunday (Beason, Tuck, Thomas, Linval Joseph, Trumaine McBride) are free agents. Two others (Antrel Rolle and Mathias Kiwanuka) will have their hefty salary cap numbers thoroughly examined.

Beason has to be among the Giants’ top priorities. He had nine tackles Sunday against the Redskin to finish with 104 in 14 games this season. Maybe more importantly, he's been an invaluable presence in the huddle and the locker room, something the Giants desperately lacked with their inexperienced early-season linebacking corps.

“The biggest free agent for the Giants this offseason has to be Jon Beason,” said former Giants offensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst Shaun O’Hara on ‘NFL GameDay First.’ “There is a big correlation between his arrival and that defense playing improved football. Also, in that building, he has been a leader for those guys…He has had a huge impact and they have to find a way to get him back.”

Beason thinks he can be even better next year with a full, healthy offseason for the first time in three years. He thinks the Giants’ defense can improve as well given the opportunity to get acclimated to each other's tendencies and the defensive scheme during OTAs, minicamp and training camp.

However, it all depends on the front office’s decisions in the offseason.

“We can be scary good,” Beason warned, his eyes lighting up like a child in a toy store.

How can you doubt him? This is a man that helped turn a scary bad defense … into a Top 10 defense. The Giants finished with the ninth-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing 332.2 yards per game. The splits looked like this: 395.2 ypg without Beason; 303.7 ypg with Beason.

Of course, there is always the possibility that the Giants defense will have a totally new look next season. It's the nature of the business. Everything they built the final 11 weeks of the season could go to waste.

“I want to be here, but I’m not going to say, ‘hey, it’s going to shock me if I’m not [here].’” Beason. “I just know crazy things happen.”

Yes, they do, like the Giants becoming a Top 10 defense after the way they started the season. Who would have believed that?

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Chase Ford catches 5 balls in victory

Vikings TE Chase Ford caught five passes for 43 yards in Minnesota's Week 17 win over the Lions.
Ford only played extensively because Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson were both on the shelf. A 2012 undrafted free agent out of Miami, Ford is under contract for $495K in 2014, and will return to compete for a roster spot.

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Devin Hester unsure of future

CHICAGO -- Three-time Pro Bowl return man Devin Hester wants clarity on his future with the Chicago Bears.

Hester, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after earning $2,107,523 in the final year of his contract, hopes to hear in the near future if he fits into the Bears’ plans beyond 2013.

“I really want to know right away,” Hester said following the Bears’ 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “I am the type of guy, I don’t want to go through the whole offseason not knowing where I am going to be at. I want to retire as a Bear. I put in too much hard work here and did a lot of things around here. I am pretty sure the fans want me back, so who knows.”

One of the organization’s most popular players since he debuted in the league in 2006 as a second-round pick out of the University of Miami, Hester said he’s currently in the dark regarding the Bears’ offseason intentions.

“To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hester said. “It really hurts walking off the field knowing that this could be my last time wearing a Chicago Bears uniform. It’s the most hurtful feeling that I have right now. This is where I was born and raised (as an NFL player). It’s not like I played three years somewhere else or six years somewhere else, but I know this is a business.

Everything I had in me I left it all on the field tonight. We just came up short.”

Hester returned a punt 49 yards in Week 17 while also handling five kickoffs for 127 yards. In his first season of being exclusively a return man, Hester finished 2013 with a 27.7 yard average on kickoff returns and 14.2 yard average on punt returns, including an 81-yard touchdown.

He joins a long list of prominent Bears players with expiring contracts. Among the players on the list: quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, defensive lineman Corey Wootton, safety Major Wright, center Roberto Garza, linebacker James Anderson and left guard Matt Slauson.

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Three questions with Lions right tackle Jason Fox, who is not ashamed of 'The U'

Every week, Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez asks one very special Lions player three questions that reveal everything about his hopes, his dreams and his character. Right tackle Jason Fox is on the hot seat this week, with guest questions provided by offensive linemen Dylan Gandy and Corey Hilliard.

Question: What did you do to put on 18 pounds the week you got hurt?
Fox: “See, that’s actually false information you received. I gained about 5 pounds. I mean, it wasn’t solid weight. I guess when you don’t practice and you keep eating the same way, you gain 5 pounds. I lost it the next week, once I realized I gained it.”

Question: While you were attending the University of Miami, did you have to take a course teaching you how to bring up the fact you attended “The U” in every conversation?
Fox: “No. I’m just not ashamed of my college. If I would have gone to Texas Tech or Oklahoma State, I understand I wouldn’t want to talk about it, either. I’d kind of be ashamed of it, too. But I’m proud of my alma mater.”

Question: How does it feel to be known as the most sensitive player in the offensive lineman room?
Fox: “I didn’t know we could lie when we asked questions, otherwise I would have made up stuff all year. I asked honest, truthful questions and it reflected the pure journalism standard I set for myself. ... But I will say I’m not the most sensitive person in the room.”

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Jimmy Graham finishes in top 10 overall in Pro Bowl fan voting

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham ranked in the overall top 10 of the final Pro Bowl fan balloting results with the selections to be announced Friday night.

Brees finished as the second-highest vote-getter in the NFL behind only Denver's Peyton Manning. Graham ranked ninth overall behind Manning, Brees, Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy. New England's Tom Brady rounded out the top 10.

Fan votes are one-third of the Pro Bowl voting component with player votes and coach votes as the other two-thirds.

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New Dodgers reliever Chris Perez is a present with a past

Who really knows if the Dodgers gave their bullpen a boost this week with the addition of Chris Perez?

But they most assuredly gave us a Christmas gift. Us, as in the media, a group that:

1) Celebrates the absurd.
2) Trumpets the outspoken.
3) Highlights the offensive.

In Perez, the Dodgers just signed a Triple Crown candidate. Unless you consider it uninteresting that Perez was busted in June after a package containing marijuana arrived at his home, addressed to the family dog.

Perez was playing and living in Cleveland at the time. The package reportedly was sent from Los Angeles, so maybe joining the Dodgers was simply Perez’s way of eliminating the middle man.

For the record, we’re of the opinion that marijuana use isn’t the most insidious crime on the planet. Perhaps that’s because, as a fan of the NBA, we appreciate the role weed plays in keeping that league going.

But we also support the notion that pets can be more entertaining than people, and, honestly, who wouldn’t want to meet a pooch that was on the receiving end of a pot shipment?

Whatever his explanation, Perez’s addition – and think about this one for a few seconds – now makes Brian Wilson’s beard only the second-most intriguing resident of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Wilson’s beard doesn’t even pack as much color as Perez does. Amazing.

The Dodgers certainly aren’t the Angels, and we don’t just mean because the Dodgers occasionally make the playoffs. The Dodgers also have significantly more personality in their clubhouse than do the Angels, who can be about as titillating as watching grass grow.

Speaking of grass, Perez also admitted to police last spring that marijuana found in his home was for his “personal use.” Authorities apparently were unable to get a similar confession out of Perez’s dog.

It’s easy to be less than serious about this topic because the charges Perez faced were a misdemeanor. According to reports, he eventually pleaded no contest and received a year of probation, meaning he might have been punished more harshly for speeding.

Throughout his time with the Indians, Perez often was called the “colorful closer.” He also answers to the nickname “Pure Rage” and has been known to bust out the celebratory moves of professional wrestlers as a way to punctuate noteworthy strikeouts.

The Dodgers had an overly animated pitcher once named Jose Lima, who cut a mambo album and performed at wedding receptions.

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