NFL U Weekly Matchup Guide: Week 9

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AllCanes Radio With James Burgess

Every Thursday Night joins All Canes Radio to bring the latest news on not only current Hurricane football but also proCane news and exclusive interviews with current and former proCanes live from the Titanic Brewery in Coral Ga Gables. Click here to listen to this week’s show and hear our exclusive interview with former Hurricane great LB James Burgess, who also played for the San Diego Chargers. Burgess talks about not only his UM and Pro playing days but gives insight into his son, James Burgess JR. who looks to be part of Miami’s 2012 recruiting class.

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After rough introduction to NFL, DeMarcus Van Dyke steps up play as starter

ALAMEDA, Calif. - DeMarcus Van Dyke has come a long way from his rough introduction to life in the NFL.

Picked apart in the preseason and throughout training camp, the Oakland Raiders' rookie cornerback is coming into his own after getting thrust into a starting role.

Despite being targeted regularly by teams that have tried to avoid throwing at the more-accomplished Stanford Routt, Van Dyke is holding his own. He has allowed just 10 completions on 26 passes thrown toward him so far this season, according to STATS LLC. That's the eighth-best rate of any cornerback who has had at least 20 passes thrown his way.

"Like I told you before, once you know you're a great player your confidence is never shaken," Van Dyke said. "I came in with the confidence and I am just trying to run with it now."

Van Dyke started just three games at Miami as a senior but stood out at the NFL combine, where he ran a 4.25 40-yard dash. Along with the sprinter speed that made him so attractive to the Raiders, coach Hue Jackson has praised his loose hips, 6-foot-1 size and makeup as attributes that should help in man coverage.

But because he weighed only 180 pounds, some people questioned whether he could hold up against more physical receivers.

Van Dyke struggled at times in training camp and was exposed in the preseason. On his first play as a professional, he lined up against five-time Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald and was beaten for a 43-yard gain. He later allowed a TD pass in that game as the Cardinals picked on him repeatedly.

It only got worse in the third preseason game on national TV, when New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees beat Van Dyke four times on the opening drive.

But the Raiders kept believing in Van Dyke and ended up cutting two cornerbacks taken in last year's draft, Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden. That belief is paying off now for the Raiders.

"It was just how fast he could get used to the speed of the game at this level," Jackson said. "Obviously he took his lumps early in the preseason. People went after him. I think what people are finding out is he's very resilient. He keeps working at it. He's not going to back down now. Now he's starting to make some plays. He's made an interception here or there. I think people are starting to see this guy's got ability and talent, and I think his confidence is growing because of it."

Van Dyke started the season playing behind veteran Chris Johnson and missed the third game of the season with an injury. But with Johnson sidelined with an injury since September, Van Dyke moved into the starting lineup against Houston on Oct. 9 and has been up to the challenge. He allowed one completion on five throws in his direction in that win over the Texans.

He was targeted 12 times the following week by Cleveland's Colt McCoy and held his own, allowing five catches for 63 yards. Kansas City threw at him eight times the following week and he allowed four catches for 33 yards and intercepted a pass.

"The main thing is that he is just settling in," Routt said. "They kind of went after him in the preseason, but he has done just fine the last three games. He is just getting comfortable. It's also helped that you guys aren't on his back anymore, with all the plays that he gave up or whatever early. He is playing the way he played at the U."

Van Dyke's transition has been eased by the teaching he gets on the Raiders, who have two Hall of Fame cornerbacks on their staff in Rod Woodson and Willie Brown. Woodson has pressed his cornerbacks since the start of training camp to be aggressive and "pull the trigger" — something Van Dyke struggled with at first.

But as evidenced by his interception in his last game, Van Dyke is showing signs of improving at playing the ball, which was a major weakness when he arrived a few months ago.

"It's been a process from preseason on to Week 8," Van Dyke said. "Got to just keep grinding. Got a long season. Got to keep doing what Coach Woodson wants me to do. I feel more comfortable out there every rep I take in practice and in games. As the season goes along, I think I should get better every practice."

Click here to order DeMarcus Van Dyke’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Eight not enough for Frank Gore

Not that Frank Gore's candidacy for MVP needs defending, but just in case: The San Francisco 49ers' running back has gained 28.6 percent of his rushing yards against eight or more defenders in the box.

That's the highest percentage among all players with at least 400 yards rushing this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

I put together the chart below after Lotharun2 asked in the comments section of an earlier item where Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy ranked in yards against these stacked defenses.

McCoy has 17 carries for 72 yards against eight or more defenders in the box. That works out to a healthy 4.2-yard average. But with a dynamic quarterback and playmakers on the perimeter, the Eagles make it tougher for defenses to load up against the run. In my view, that explains why McCoy has gained a relatively low percentage of his runs against eight or more in the box.

The 49ers prefer heavier personnel groupings featuring two tight ends. They have enough speed at tight end to enjoy flexibility from these groupings, but the team has not consistently put an emphasis on downfield strikes.

Tough Sledding: Percent Yardage vs. 8+ Defenders in Box (min. 400 yards total)

Running Back
7 or fewer
8 or more
Pct. vs. 8 or more
Frank Gore
Adrian Peterson581
Michael Turner476
Maurice Jones-Drew587
Ray Rice392
Ben Tate420
Arian Foster440
Willis McGahee391
Rashard Mendenhall362
Ryan Mathews437
Shonn Greene370
Darren McFadden534
Steven Jackson393
Cedric Benson409
Beanie Wells455
LeSean McCoy
Ahmad Bradshaw405
Matt Forte658
Fred Jackson707

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

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Devin Hester wins another special-teams award

Devin Hester has done it again: The Chicago Bears wide receiver/kick returner has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month.

Hester recorded eight punt returns for 130 yards (16.3 average) and a 69-yard touchdown in October. He had nine kickoff returns for 278 yards (30.9 average) with a 98-yard score.

This is Hester’s third career Player of the Month Award (December 2006 and September 2007), most in franchise history.

Hester was the only player in the NFL to record both a kickoff and punt return touchdown in October. His punt return touchdown was the 11th of his career, which set an NFL record, breaking a tie with Eric Metcalf (10).

Hester has 16 kick return touchdowns in his career (11 punt, five kickoff), with the two touchdowns in October. He also has 17 return touchdowns (11 punt, five kickoff, one missed field goal) during his six-year career, tied for second most in NFL history with Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, trailing Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (19).

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

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Frank Gore and Clinton Portis, together again

Frank Gore, who comes to FedEx Field this weekend with the 49ers, had himself quite an October. He played in four games and rushed for 127 (vs. the Eagles), 125 (Bucs), 141 (Lions) and 134 (Seahawks) yards.

This is no small feat. Only a dozen NFL backs in the last 50-odd years have had a streak of four games or longer in which they rushed for 125-plus yards. And only Clinton Portis, a running mate of Gore’s at the University of Miami, has done it twice – once with Mike Shanahan’s Broncos, the other time with Jim Zorn’s Redskins.

Maybe you’d be more impressed if I listed some of the backs who haven’t done it: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tony Dorsett, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, Fred Taylor, John Riggins, Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn and Ricky Watters. (In other words, 15 of the top 20 rushers of all time.) Jamal Lewis never did it, either, not even in his 2,000-yard season with the Ravens. Tiki Barber? Eddie George? Shaun Alexander? Nope.

OK, without further ado, here is the company Gore keeps. By the way, the record for consecutive 125-yard rushing games is six, shared by three players (just in case Frank wants to keep his streak going Sunday):

Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers, 1980 (6 straight, Games 6-11) – 178, 203, 202, 157, 130, 206.
Eric Dickerson, Rams, 1984 (6 straight, Games 10-15) – 208, 149, 132, 191, 149, 215.
Chris Johnson, Titans, 2009 (6 straight, Games 6-11) – 128, 228, 135, 132, 151, 154.
Jim Brown, Browns, 1958 (5 straight, Games 1-5) – 171, 129, 182, 153, 180.
O.J. Simpson, Bills, 1975 (5 straight, Games 1-5) – 173, 227, 138, 159, 126.
Barry Sanders, Lions, 1997 (5 straight, Games 12-16) – 216, 167, 137, 138, 184.
Clinton Portis, Broncos, 2003-04 (5 straight, Games 11-14, 1) – 165, 170, 218, 139, 148.
Larry Johnson, Chiefs, 2005 (5 straight, Games 12-16) – 140, 143, 167, 131, 201.
Otis Armstrong, Broncos, 1974 (4 straight, Games 11-14) – 146, 144, 183, 142.
Marcus Allen, Raiders, 1985 (4 straight, Games 11-14) – 135, 173, 156, 135.
Terrell Davis, Broncos, 1998 (4 straight, Games 5-8) – 168, 208, 136, 149.
Clinton Portis, Redskins, 2008 (4 straight, Games 5-8) – 145, 129, 175, 126.
Frank Gore, 49ers, 2011 (4 straight, Games 4-7) – 127, 125, 141, 134.

(FYI: Shanahan is the only coach to have two backs on the list – Portis and Davis.)

Click here to order Frank Gore’s or Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee downplays hand injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee says his broken right hand shouldn't hinder him Sunday at Oakland.

McGahee practiced Thursday for the second straight day and was able to carry the ball in either hand.

"He's looked great," offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. "It's great to have him back out there."

McGahee missed last week's game against Detroit after undergoing an operation to insert screws and a plate into his right hand, which he broke on a defender's face mask at Miami a week earlier.

This week he's been wearing padding over the incision.

"I don't think it will affect me," McGahee said. "I'm feeling pretty good about it. It's actually not getting in the way, so there's no problem there."

McGahee said he's not worried about defenders targeting his right hand, either, because he can always cover it with his left hand.

"If they do" go after it, "then I'll go after them," he said. "I will get the last laugh."

McGahee said he suffered what doctors call a boxer's fracture.

"I can bend my hand without it hurting or anything," he said while demonstrating by clenching his fist and relaxing his hand.

McGahee wasn't the Broncos' starting tailback when Denver lost 23-20 to Oakland in the opener. Denver rushed 13 times for 38 yards in that game, and coach John Fox said Thursday that he "abandoned the run too quickly" that night.

"We're going to have to do a better job of balancing the attack this time around," he said.

And that's where McGahee comes in, broken hand and all.

He's had three 100-yard games since supplanting Knowshon Moreno as the starter in Week 2.

"We really didn't do nothing at all in that first game," McGahee said. "I had four carries and Knowshon had the rest. I probably had like 9 yards (actually just 3), so I know I didn't do anything. This is the time right now to do something to turn our season around."

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Matt Bosher Showing Improvement

Falcons sixth-rounder Matt Bosher, the team’s punter, has been relied on the most of any Falcons rookie. After enduring some early struggles, his average of 66.4 yards is tops among five rookie kickoff specialists, and his 11 punts inside the 20-yard line have him tied for the fifth-most in the league.

Like Bosher, Atlanta experienced a rocky start. Now, fresh off back-to-back wins and a week of rest, its rookies will continue to be relied upon in the Falcons’ quest for another NFC playoff appearance.

“The team found its rhythm,” Bosher said. “You just have to go out every week, practice hard and finish everything you do. I think that’s something we’ve done the past few weeks especially.”

Click here to order Matt Bosher’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson misses practice

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak hasn't ruled out wide receiver Andre Johnson for Sunday's game against Cleveland after the star wide receiver missed his second straight day of practice Thursday.

Kubiak said Johnson, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, was feeling better but the Texans didn't feel he was ready to practice. The receiver went through an intense workout Monday that left him sore and caused him to miss the practices. Kubiak expects Johnson to return to practice on Friday.

"I'm not scared to play Andre if he doesn't practice," Kubiak said. "He knows what's going on. This is strictly about his health and how he's feeling."
Johnson was injured Oct. 2 against Pittsburgh and had a minor procedure to repair the right hamstring injury early the next week. He has missed four straight games and the Texans dropped the first two without him before winning their last two.

With Johnson out, the Texans have just four healthy receivers on their roster. Jacoby Jones has been starting opposite Kevin Walter while Johnson recovers, and the Texans also have Derrick Mason and Bryant Johnson.

Walter led the group with five receptions for 70 yards in Sunday's win over Jacksonville, which improved the Texans to 5-3 and 3-0 in the AFC South. Tight end Owen Daniels also pitched in, snagging four passes for 60 yards.

Kubiak has been impressed with their work while Johnson sits on the bench.

"Andre is our big gun. He's a great player, a tremendous player and when you lose a guy like that for four games in a season it's very tough," Kubiak said. "It's tough on the quarterback, tough on the group, tough on the receivers. I think they've all kind of responded in their own way. They've all made plays and it's been a grind for them."

Running back Arian Foster had just one reception for 12 yards against Jacksonville, but his 299 yards receiving in the last four games have led the team with Johnson out.

"That's always been a part of what we do," Kubiak said. "He's excellent with his hands. He's a three down player and we're going to always make sure that people have to worry about him doing that as well as running the ball. It's just another way of him touching the ball."

Foster's receiving yards have been helpful to the team with Johnson out, but it has been his running that has helped them get back on track in the last two games. Foster has 227 yards rushing combined in the last two games. He is the ninth leading rusher in the NFL with 532 yards despite missing two games.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Big Vince Wilfork takes heat

FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork [stats] has heard the criticism of the Patriots [team stats] secondary. How could he not?

Following the loss to the Steelers, one that saw quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pass for 365 yards, the defensive backs have been roasted on every form of media available. Yet the captain Wilfork wants one aspect of the situation clear: If you’re going to blame anyone, blame everyone.

“We all take part in that,” Wilfork said. “You’re not going to sit back and say, ‘You know what, they catch a ball because they’re not covering.’ It’s part of us up front, too, not being able to get to the quarterback quick enough. It works hand-in-hand. It’s not track where you can go out and throw the shotput and run the 100-yard dash, win the medal by yourself. You win together.”

Wilfork put the onus on the front seven to pressure the quarterback, even after a week that included five sacks. He wanted to make sure the secondary members didn’t feel like it was all their fault not getting off the field on third down or allowing a 20-yard in-cut.

“Twenty yards down the field?” Wilfork said. “That gives us a lot of time to work up front, get to the quarterback. So, we have to take some of the blame, too. And we are. So, one thing this team does, and this defense does, is we keep working. Bill (Belichick) challenges us every week and we keep working. Work hard, just have to work harder. But that’s what we do.”

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

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Bond strong between Bucs' Freeman, Winslow

Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman's inconsistent performance and dropped passes by his receivers plagued the team's aerial attack in the first half of the season. The miscues have tested Freeman's confidence in some of his top targets. TE Kellen Winslow has been guilty of a few of the drops, and he and Freeman have engaged in some heated sideline conversations this season, but we hear Freeman trusts the eighth-year tight end as much as any teammate. Winslow led the team in receptions in each of the past two seasons and is tied with WR Mike Williams for the team lead this season with 31. Winslow's yardage and touchdown production is well off his usual pace, though. Sources say Winslow has been frustrated with the few drops he's made and the team's overall inconsistency this season, but he does not appear concerned about his numbers, or the fact that Williams, whose hands have been less reliable than Winslow's this season, has been targeted a team-high 63 times.

Click here to order Kellen Winlow’s proCane Rookie Card.

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UM Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012 to be Introduced at Saturday's Homecoming Game

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame will introduce its Class of 2012 inductees, featuring NFL stars Ed Reed and Bryant McKinnie, at the end of the third quarter of the Homecoming game against Duke Saturday at Sun Life Stadium. Also selected were women's tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, the school's first African-American football player Ray Bellamy, All-American pitcher Robbie Morrison, Olympic hurdler Patrina Allen, basketball star Desma Thomas Bateast and All-American lineman Rich Mercier.

This year's class will be officially inducted at the 44th Annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet to be held Thursday, March 29, 2012 at Miami's Jungle Island.  For information on tickets, go to or call 305-284-2775. 

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation whose sole purpose is to recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.  All tax-deductible donations help showcase their achievements for Hurricanes fans to enjoy for generations to come. 

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Four proCanes Named in Peter King's Midseason All-Pro Team

Peter King of Sports Illustrated named his midseason All-Pro NFL team and four proCanes made the squad.

TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
MLB Ray Lewis, Ravens
RT Eric Winston, Texans
PR/KR Devin Hester, Bears

See the rest of the All-Pro team here

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

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NFL U Week 8 2011 Full Stats

Andre Johnson WR (Texans): DID NOT PLAY DUE TO INJURY (Hamstring)

Darryl Sharpton LB (Texans): layer but did not record a tackle and then was injured and left the game.

Brandon Harris* DB (Texans): DID NOT PLAY, INACTIVE

Vince Wilfork DT (Patriots): 7 tackles, 6 solo tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles-for-loss

Brandon Meriweather S (Bears): BYE WEEK

Jeremy Shockey TE (Panthers): 1 catch 1 yard, 1 TD. Shockey scored his first TD of the 2011 season.

Jonathan Vilma LB (Saints): 3 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 TD on a fumble recovery.

Santana Moss WR (Redskins): DID NOT PLAY DUE TO INJURY (Hand)

Rocky McIntosh LB (Redskins): 7 tackles, 4 solo tackles

Leonard Hankerson WR (Redskins): Played but did not record any stats. Hankerson saw his first action of the season.

Calais Campbell DE (Cardinals): 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles, .5 sack

Antrel Rolle S (Giants): 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Kelly Jennings DB (Bengals): 4 solo tackles

Colin McCarthy* LB (Titans): DID NOT PLAY DUE TO INJURY (Hamstring)

Frank Gore RB (49ers): 31 carries, 134 yards, 1 TD

Kellen Winslow TE (Buccanneers): BYE WEEK


Greg Olsen TE (Panthers): 4 catches 73 yards, 1 TD

Devin Hester WR (Bears): BYE WEEK


Ray Lewis LB (Ravens): 5 tackles, 3 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection

Ed Reed S (Ravens): 4 solo tackles

Tavares Gooden LB (49ers): 2 solo tackles

DJ Williams LB (Broncos): 4 tackles, 2 solo tackles


Kenny Phillips S (Giants): 3 solo tackles

Reggie Wayne WR (Colts): 5 catches 61 yards.


Phillip Buchanon DB (Redskins): DID NOT PLAY, INACTIVE


Sam Shields DB (Packers): BYE WEEK

Jimmy Graham TE (Saints): 4 catches, 39 yards

Allen Bailey* DE (Chiefs): 1 solo tackle

Spencer Adkins LB (Falcons): BYE WEEK

Matt Bosher* P (Falcons): BYE WEEK

DeMarcus Van Dyke* DB (Raiders): BYE WEEK

Dwayne Hendricks DT (Giants): DID NOT PLAY, INACTIVE 

Richard Gordon* (TE) (Raiders): BYE WEEK


Eric Winston RT (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.


Bryant McKinnie LT (Ravens): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Chris Myers C (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Vernon Carey RG (Dolphins): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Orlando Franklin* RT (Broncos): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Brett Romberg RG (Falcons): BYE WEEK

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Falcons remain patient with punter Matt Bosher

FLOWERY BRANCH — Rookie punter Matt Bosher has had a jagged start to his NFL career.

He is averaging 36.9 yards on 32 punts, which ranks him 35th in the league. He has placed 11 punts inside the 20 and has forced 15 fair catches with his hang-time. The 15 fair catches is tops in the league.

“When you look at him over the last four weeks, three of the four weeks have been pretty good,” special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong said. “He’s done a pretty good job for us. He’s done a really good job of placing the ball.”

Bosher, who’s attempting to replace Michael Koenen, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent, also has been inconsistent on his kickoffs.

He has 10 touchbacks on 36 kickoffs (27.8 percent), which is 29th in the league for players with more than 20 kickoffs. Denver’s Matt Prater leads the league with 26 touchbacks on 30 kickoffs (86.7 percent). Koenen has 15 touchbacks on 31 kickoffs (48.4 percent).

“Kickoff wise, we still need to work on some things in terms of corner kicking and that type of stuff,” Armstrong said. “I think, all in all, he’s making progress. That’s the biggest thing. Is he where he really wants to be, I would say, not right now. But he is making progress. He is becoming more and more consistent.”

Click here to order Matt Bosher’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Rob Chudzinski is intriguing coaching candidate

Ability to work with young QB sets Chudzinski apart

While Panthers quarterback Cam Newton surely deserves a bulk of the credit for his early success, the coach behind this offense might soon find himself also benefiting from the improvements of Carolina’s offense. Rob Chudzinski, the Panthers' offensive coordinator, had already been an assistant discussed as a head-coaching prospect before this year, but he’s now proving more than ever that he deserves a shot.

Chudzinski has never stayed idle in one place for longer than two NFL seasons, so he might not have generated the momentum necessary to gain the interest of owners around the league. But those owners should nonetheless take notice: With a rookie quarterback in place, Chudzinski’s offense ranks fifth in the league in total yards (fifth in passing yards; seventh in rushing). In addition to Chudzinski’s previous body of work as an assistant, his progress with Newton should be very appealing for any team in need of a coach who is also likely to have a young quarterback to mentor in 2012.

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Texans don't have a clue yet on Andre Johnson

According to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, the Texans really "don't have a clue right now" whether Andre Johnson (hamstring) will be able to play against the Browns in Week 9.

“Last week, he was very down," said McClain in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. "... Usually he’s very upbeat. He was more upbeat right when he had his surgery than he was last week when he practiced, and he said he felt a tugging on his hamstring where they operated. ... They’ll rely on him heavily to tell them the truth. He said the other day he wouldn’t jeopardize the future, and he’s usually smart about being hurt."

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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'G.I. Joe' Sneak Peek: Rock Goes Behind The Scenes


If "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" left you cold, its sequel — "Retaliation" — should warm you right up. The Rock is on board as Roadblock, leading an all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis as the original Joe, Ray Stevenson as bad guy Firefly, RZA as the Blind Master and returning "Joe" veterans Channing Tatum as Duke and Ray Park as Snake-Eyes. It's a strong cast and a great assortment of classic "Joe" characters that has at least this fan very, very stoked.

We haven't seen much from the film yet, but a new "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" sneak peek courtesy of Entertainment Tonight is shining some light on the subject. Read what ET found out on the set of the "Joe" sequel beyond the jump.

Roadblock Is A *Bleep* Easily one of the all-time most popular G.I. Joe characters, Roadblock finally makes his big-screen debut courtesy of Dwayne Johnson. Comic book and cartoon fans know Roadblock best for his excellent cooking and his tendency to rhyme all the time, but what else is there to know about the Rock's character?

"Roadblock's a BAMF," Johnson told ET, which he translated as "bad-ass mother-f****r." He's not just a BAMF, though — Johnson also describes Roadblock as "the glue of the G.I. Joes."

Rock And Willis Go Way Back Another major draw of the new "G.I. Joe" movie is Bruce Willis, who joins the team as Joe Colton, founder of the titular elite squad. Working with Willis has been a real highlight for Johnson, based on his description of his co-star.

"Bruce is the man," he said. "We've been buddies for some time now. It's been not only a pleasure working with him, but considering everything he's done in movies, the guy is iconic in our business on many levels. This type of movie in this setting where he is the creator of the Joes — he's Joe Colton — we get together and save the world together and kick all kinds of ass."

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Titans Work Out Leon Williams

The Titans on Tuesday worked our four linebackers, including three former fourth round picks:

Slade Norris (Raiders, Seahawks, Jaguars)
Chip Vaughn (Saints, Eagles, Colts)
Brandon Williams (Cowboys)
Leon Williams (Browns, Cowboys)

Norris, Vaughn and Leon Williams were fourth-round selections.

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Willis McGahee back at practice following surgery

Broncos running back Willis McGahee returned to practice today, eight days after surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand.

McGahee wore a glove and then had the hand wrapped as he took handoffs and warmed up with his teammates. McGahee appeared to be holding the ball in his left arm.

The Broncos moved today's practice to the South Suburban Sports Dome — an indoor facility about two miles from Dove Valley — for the second-consecutive Wednesday because of snow.

Every player made the trip to the bubble, but three — tight end Virgil Green (neck), safety Quinton Carter (concussion) and cornerback Cassius Vaughn (hamstring) — did not participate.

Head coach John Fox and quarterback Tim Tebow will meet with the media after practice, shortly after 1 p.m.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips serve up brash talk

Antrel Rolle is a prideful guy. Or, as he put it while walking off after his session with reporters today, a “cocky (guy).” Note the brackets in his quote.
So all of this talk about the New England Patriots, Wes Welker and the Giants’ brutal schedule the rest of the way? Yeah, it’s clear he’s had enough of it.

“I don’t worry about our schedule,” the Giants safety said. “I think our schedule needs to worry about us.”

Over the past two seasons, Rolle has elicited plenty of eye rolls with his comments on the radio and in the locker room. He’s an outspoken player and that often gets him into trouble.

But he also brings the attitude — or as he likes to call it, “swag” — to the Giants’ defense. And while he and Tom Coughlin don’t always agree, Rolle definitely embodies the second half of Coughlin’s “Respect all, fear none” mantra in approaching opponents.

Rolle certainly isn’t fearing the Pats, whom the Giants face on Sunday. Not even close. And his attitude is apparently contagious because his fellow defensive backs were echoing his sentiments today.

“I mean, we’re not really worried about what the outside people feel about us,” safety Kenny Phillips said. “We definitely feel like we’re a good team and we play for each other, we play for our coaches. Whatever’s being said, we really don’t care.

“But if we win this, which I feel we will, the outside world will say the Giants are now a great team.”

The Patriots come into this weekend’s game with the second-ranked passing attack in the league, as they’re averaging 327.4 yards per game. Welker is on pace for 130 receptions and Tom Brady’s 67.6 percent completion rate is second to only the 68.9 percent he posted in 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, have the 13th-ranked defense, are still trying to get over the loss of cornerback Terrell Thomas and have given up 25 passes of 20 or more yards.

All of the above is a big reason many see a mismatch here. And why the Patriots are favored by 8½ points against a team with an identical 5-2 record.

Just don’t expect Rolle to share such sentiments, particularly about Welker, whom he believes won’t be the problem for the Giants he’s been for other defenses.

“I don’t know. You have to ask those guys he’s given trouble to,” Rolle said when asked why Welker is tough to cover. “I don’t plan on having to answer those questions.”

Color Deon Grant unimpressed as well. Of shutting down Welker, he said, “It ain’t tough. It got done (Sunday), so it ain’t tough.”

The Steelers are the ones who got it done. They held Welker to 39 yards on six catches, thanks to a not-so-intricate plan.

“They played ball, man. They didn’t do anything spectacular,” Rolle said. “They weren’t double-teaming, they weren’t doing anything. They just lined up and they kicked their (butt). Bottom line.”

More brackets.

Speaking of which, the Giants defensive backs don’t believe they’ll need “bracket” coverage (i.e. double teams) on Welker or any of the Patriots’ targets. In fact, Phillips likes the matchups of Rolle or Ross or “whoever” against Welker. Notice he didn’t mention Corey Webster, who is more adept at handling bigger receivers. Webster might have his hands full with tight end Aaron Hernandez, whom the Giants said should be treated like a wide receiver.

“We’re not too shabby,” Phillips said of the Giants secondary in relation to Brady’s bunch of targets. “I think we’re pretty good also.”
Rolle put it flatly: “I can handle anything. And I’m up for all challenges.”

He’s not alone.

“We know what type of guys we have, especially in our secondary,” Phillips said. “It’s going to be a challenge. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but I think we’re up to it.”

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s or Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Greg Olsen: Bears were 'unprofessional'

Greg Olsen is happy to be one of Cam Newton's favorite targets with the Carolina Panthers, but the tight end believes the Chicago Bears were "unprofessional" in their dealings with him that led to a trade before the season.

Olsen, known more as a pass-catching tight end than a blocker, was an odd fit in a Mike Martz offense that utilizes the position more for blocking. The Bears traded Olsen to the Panthers in July, a year after the New England Patriots were in trade talks for him. Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said during training camp that Olsen pushed for a trade then, a claim Olsen denies.

"I just felt that the way they approached it was, in my opinion, a little unprofessional," Olsen said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "The night before the trade when they contacted me and I spoke to Jerry, we had a good healthy conversation and he laid out what they were thinking, that they were not going to invest that money in the position because of the offense and all those things that we all know.

"[He said] they were going to entertain trades. I said that's fine. I get that. I said you know me I'm not one that goes out and speaks to the media. I'm not really a throw-guys-under-the-bus [kind of guy]. I respect that. I was nothing but professional. Then the day after the trade goes down he was the one saying that I was demanding [a trade in 2010]. I just thought that was a little uncalled for when all along I did nothing but play the good guy."

Olsen, a first-round draft pick in 2007 who caught 41 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns in his fourth and final season with the Bears in 2010, said he felt the organization let him down after word got out that a trade with the Patriots fell through.

"Last year when they tried to trade me to New England and it all falls through I'm the guy out there biting the bullet keeping the straight face saying 'I'm happy to be here' in an offense that I knew wasn't going to use me," Olsen said. "I still went out there and played one of my best all-around seasons that I have had in the league, blocking and doing all the things they asked me to do being the team guy.

"Then for them to just throw me under the bus when I never did demand a trade, I just thought that was unprofessional on their part. But at the end of the day it is what it is, and I really can honestly say I'm happy here and I'm really happy that they made that decision for my career. Obviously they are having a good season too so it's worked out for everybody."

Olsen already has 30 catches and four touchdowns this season playing with rookie star Newton, who is second in the NFL with 2,393 yards.

Olsen still keeps in touch with his former Bears teammates, including running back Matt Forte, who has been in talks with the Bears about a contract extension. The Bears reportedly will use the franchise tag on Forte if they don't get a long-term deal done by February.

The breakdown in the contract negotiations don't make sense to Olsen.

"I think it's a little crazy that they won't reward their best player," Olsen said. "Let's be honest, especially offensively he's been pretty much the whole offense. He singlehandedly beat us. He's a great kid. He works extremely hard as we all know in working out with him in the offseason. It's not a mystery why he's having such a good season. And it's not just one season. He's been like this since he was a rookie. He's come in and carried a heavy load under two different offensive coordinators and his play has just continued to get better.

"Those are the guys you want to see rewarded, the guys that do it the right way, the guys that aren't real flashy and don't really care about all the extra curricular stuff but just go out and play every week really hard. You've got to hope that they do the right thing but as we all know sometimes they make decisions that are a little crazy."

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

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Ryan Braun takes home Silver Slugger

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers teammates Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder went together like beer and bratwurst for the past five seasons, and they were linked again Wednesday, perhaps for one last time. Both players were named Silver Sluggers in the National League.

The award, presented annually by the Louisville Slugger bat company, goes to the top hitters in each league at each position. Both Braun and Fielder have won before. Braun has been a Silver Slugger for four straight seasons, and Fielder, a free agent as of this week, also won in 2007.

"The biggest challenge as a baseball player is consistency and longevity," Braun said Wednesday night. "The only way to win this award four years in a row is to be pretty consistent. That's the biggest thing that we all strive for, so it's definitely pretty special."

It's the second straight season and the fourth time since the Silver Slugger Award debuted in 1980 that the Brewers have multiple winners. First baseman Cecil Cooper, shortstop Robin Yount and outfielder Ben Oglivie won in the award's inaugural season; Cooper and Yount won again in '82; and Braun and pitcher Yovani Gallardo won in 2010.

Now it's Braun and Fielder, two homegrown sluggers who should also rank high in the NL MVP balloting when results are announced on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Braun led the NL with a .994 OPS and .597 slugging percentage, and finished second with a .332 batting average, 336 total bases and 109 runs scored. He ranked fourth with 111 RBIs and tied for sixth with 33 home runs. He's the first NL outfielder to win the award four years running since Barry Bonds took five in a row from 2000-04, five of Bonds' 12 career Silver Slugger Awards.

The other Silver Slugger outfielders were Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Justin Upton of the D-backs. Both are considered leading contenders with Braun for the NL MVP honor. Kemp has already won the Hank Aaron Award as the NL's most outstanding offensive player.

To win his second career Silver Slugger Award, Fielder had to unseat the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, who had won at first base in each of the past three seasons. Fielder had the edge over Pujols in home runs (38 to 37), RBIs (120 to 99), OPS (.981 to .906) and total bases (322 to 313).
Fielder finished second in the NL in homers, RBIs, walks (107) and on-base percentage (.415). He also was the only player in the Majors to start all 162 games.

"If you look at his numbers, you can make the argument that he could have won a Silver Slugger every year if not for the fact that [NL first base] is probably the most stacked position to win it in either league," Braun said. "His competition is pretty crazy when you look at Albert, [Joey] Votto. They got that vote right."

Now the big question is which uniform Fielder will wear to accept the award next season. He is the Brewers' biggest free agent, and while club officials have vowed to join the sweepstakes, Fielder figures to draw serious interest around the game.

The other NL Silver Sluggers were Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Braves catcher Brian McCann and D-backs pitcher Daniel Hudson.

In the American League, the winners were Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Tigers catcher Alex Avila and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.

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According To Jeremy Shockey These Are The Two Loves Of His Life

Shockey tweeted: “The 2 loves of my life @danicortazar12 and jack daniels”


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Frank Gore nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore has been nominated for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award. To vote for Gore, visit this link. He goes up against Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams and LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gore had 31 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' 20-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Gore has rushed for 125 yards in four straight games and has scored a touchdown in each of those games. Both are career firsts for Gore.

On Sunday, Gore passed Roger Craig for second in rushing on the all-time franchise ranks. Gore has grown close to Craig in the past couple years. 

"He (Craig) called me last night," Gore said on Monday. "He's happy for me. Me and Roger have gotten really close the last two years. When I got injured, he called me a lot during the offseason, telling me what I had to do and that I'd be fine.

"It's big. Especially with a guy who did great things in this league and this organization, I respect him a whole lot."

Gore won the award two weeks ago for his performance against the Lions. He had 141 rushing yards and a touchdown.

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

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Jonathan Vilma has some steaks he'd like to serve you

Morton's the Steakhouse has teamed up with Jonathan Vilma and his Foundation for the Morton's second annual celebrity server event. For $400, guest will have the pleasure of a VIP reception, a four-course meal served by the New Orleans Saints linebacker and some teammates, all followed by an auction.

Proceeds from the event will go help the Jonathan Vilma Foundation's efforts to build a charter school in Haiti, which was devastated by a massive earthquake last year. Last year, the Morton's celebrity server event raised $190,000 with over 200 guests attending.

Now, we could lay down some snark here about Vilma and the Saints serving steaks so soon after they got their, um, rumps served to them in St. Louis, but this is a great event for a great cause and, really, how often do you get an NFL player to serve you dinner?

Anyone looking to buy a ticket to the event can visit the Morton's New Orleans website or contact Kim Trouard at (504) 566-0221.

Click here to order Jon Vilma’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee drops in on Aurora students

Broncos Von Miller and Willis McGahee dropped in on Paris Elementary School in Aurora this week as part of the National Football League’s “Play 60″ program that encourages children to be active physically in sports and other fun activities.

Here’s how it went down:

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Leonard Hankerson Makes First Catch A Week After Miscommunication Issues

A week after a communication breakdown led to an interception on receiver Leonard Hankerson’s first NFL snap, the rookie from Miami made his first reception when he hauled in a pass from quarterback John Beck in the Washington Redskins’ 23-0 loss to Buffalo in Toronto.

Hankerson’s catch, a 23-yard gain, came over the middle late in the first quarter. He converted on third-and-8 with the reception, and in the excitement of the moment, stood up and spun the ball on the Rogers Centre turf.

“I mean, at the moment, it was what, the first quarter?” Hankerson said after the game. “It felt good, because it was a big catch, a third-down catch.”
Beck again went to Hankerson two plays later but overthrew him deep on another fly route. He targeted him twice more, including a potential touchdown grab in the end zone that was broken up by Buffalo cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said a week ago that Hankerson got his first opportunity because he had been making “some unbelievable plays in practice.” He was active again after missing the first five games with receiver Santana Moss out because of a broken left hand.

“It’s not exactly what I wanted, but hey, I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do,” Hankerson said. “Whenever my number’s called, I’ve got to make a play, keep studying the playbook, stuff like that. Keep working hard in practice, getting better each and every day. A performance like that makes it better.”

Click here to order Leonard Hankerson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee eyes return against Raiders after surgery

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee has a broken right hand, the same hand he uses to carry a football, which would seem to make the task slightly more difficult.

Still, a week after undergoing surgery to insert a plate and five pins to repair his hand, McGahee said he expects to play in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders, according to The Denver Post.

McGahee told the team's official website  he hadn't held a football since the injury and categorized himself as "day to day."

There wasn't a lot of luck involved on the play that caused the injury, in which McGahee found his hand stuck in an opponent's facemask. He broke the hand, was penalized for a facemask and then fined $7,500 by the league office.

That right there is the definition of adding insult to injury.

"Look, I paid the price for it," he said. "I got an injury on my hand. I had to have surgery. I'm taking it to appeals court now, but it looked like I was really holding onto his facemask all the way down, which I really wasn't."

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Rookie Nominee: Jemile Weeks

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No Gold Glove for Ryan Braun

The Milwaukee Brewers' Gold Glove-less streak continues.

Leftfielder Ryan Braun had a shot at becoming the first Brewers player since Robin Yount in 1982 to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove Award on Tuesday night, but he was beaten by Gerardo Parra of Arizona.

For the first time, Gold Gloves were awarded to outfielders in left, center and right rather than to the top three outfielders overall regardless of position. Previously, centerfielders often would claim all three Gold Gloves.

This season, Braun committed just one error in 150 games (1,250 innings) in left to lead the NL in fielding percentage at the position. His eight assists ranked second behind Parra's 12.

Parra committed two errors in 125 games (1,018 innings).

Nine Brewers have won Gold Gloves previously.

Braun is next in line for his fourth consecutive Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award, which would be a franchise record. The winners will be announced at 5 p.m. Wednesday on MLB Network.

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Gaby Sanchez Gold Glove finalist

As further evidence of the Marlins’ improved defense in 2011, two of their infielders are finalists for a Rawlings Gold Glove award.

Neither first baseman Gaby Sanchez not second baseman Omar Infante is a favorite, but being included among the top three at their position in their circuit is a worthy accomplishment nonetheless. A vote of league managers and coaches determine the awards, which will be revealed Tuesday at 10 p.m. during a one-hour telecast on MLB Network.

Sanchez is up against Joey Votto and James Loney. Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez, who moved to the American League, and ex-Marlin Derrek Lee combined to win seven of the last eight NL awards at first base. Lee opened the season with the Orioles before a trade sent him to the Pirates.

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Jason Michaels not expected to return

Free Agent Houston Astros OF Jason Michaels and SS Clint Barmes are not expected to return to the Astros.

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Watch & Vote For the proCane Play of Week 8

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Andre Johnson still stiff, tight in hamstring

Texans coach Gary Kubiak acknowledged Monday that Andre Johnson has continued to battle through "some tightness, some stiffness" in his recovery from hamstring surgery.
Kubiak did say the team is "very encouraged by the progress that (Johnson) has made," but he's clearly not yet 100 percent. "We will put Andre back out there when he’s totally ready to go, and hopefully that’s this week," added Kubiak. We don't expect to know Johnson's Week 9 status until Friday at the soonest.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee willing to play against Oakland Raiders with broken hand

There is puffiness on top of the right hand, but surgery to insert a plate and five pins will do that.

It's the same hand

Willis McGahee uses to carry the football. Today marks one week since McGahee underwent the operation to repair a broken fourth metacarpal, and yet he's planning to play Sunday against the Raiders in Oakland.

"It's day by day, basically," he said.

McGahee is the Broncos' leading rusher and among the best backs in the NFL this year. He had three 100-yard games in a four-game span and was about to make it four out of five when he got his hand caught in the face mask of a Miami Dolphins tackler in the third quarter of the Oct. 23 game.

McGahee wound up getting a triple whammy — penalized for grabbing the face mask, suffered a broken hand and fined $7,500 by the league. He's in the process of begging mercy upon Roger Goodell's court.

"Look, I paid the price for it," McGahee said. "I got an injury on my hand.

I had to have surgery. I'm taking it to appeals court. It looked like I was really holding onto his face mask all the way down, which I really wasn't."
In their 45-10 loss to a Detroit team that likes to take physicality to the level of intimidation, the Broncos missed McGahee, who is a bruising, between-the-tackles runner.

"I missed them," he said. "We had a rough time. Hopefully we can turn things around going against Oakland.”

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore Is Savoring 49ers' New Winning Way

Like any elite running back, Frank Gore is happy to carry the load.

Since being drafted in 2005, Gore has been the 49ers workhorse, taking more than 1,500 handoffs and rushing for 7,089 yards.

On Sunday, in a 20-10 victory over the Bengals, he ran past Roger Craig into second place on the franchise’s all-time rushing yardage list, grinding out yards in typical Gore fashion, carrying 31 times for 134 yards and a TD.

It marked the fourth straight game Gore has rushed for more than 125 yards in a game, and the 49ers have ridden his slashing, cutting style to a 6-1 record and a big lead in the NFC West.

Though Gore is happy to get his carries and his yards, it’s nothing new. In years past, he’s had great seasons and been to the Pro Bowl. But this year is different.

For the first time, Gore has a chance to be on a winning team and go to the playoffs.

“I just want to keep it going,” he told reporters after Sunday’s win.

According to ESPN, Gore joins Larry Johnson, O.J. Simpson and Terrell Davis as the only running backs since 1970 to have at least 125 yards rushing and a rushing TD in four consecutive games. Johnson and Simpson are the only backs to do it in five consecutive games, which Gore could tie with another big effort this coming Sunday in Washington against the Redskins.

Meanwhile, the 49ers already have matched their six victories of 2010, and have matched the best record for an NFL team (through seven games) that had lost 10 games the previous season.

Gore, of course, has been at the heart of the 49ers turnaround under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff. The 49ers’ formula has been great special teams, a strong run defense and run offense and few turnovers.

In Sunday’s victory over Cleveland, even Browns defenders were talking about how good Gore is, and how effective he is in using his blockers.

“He’s just so patient,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told columnist Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News. “He has those big offensive linemen in front of him, and he understands what the offense is trying to get done when they run the ball. And he waits to make his move. Like I say, he’s just so patient.”

Added 49ers fullback Bruce Miller: “He almost makes the block for you. You just get in front of someone, and he makes the cut. He’s such a savvy football player.”

On a day when he acknowledged how happy he was to have a great game and to pass Craig – whom he admires so much – Gore was even more ecstatic to be part of a winning team.

“I’m so happy man,” Gore told the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin. “We’re 6-1. We’re winning. I’m just having fun. (Before) I was young, man. I was thinking about Pro Bowls and all other crazy stuff. Now I’m not thinking about yards, just enjoying the ride.”

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

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Colin McCarthy expected back in Week 9

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak said Monday, Oct. 31, that LB Colin McCarthy (hamstring) is expected back in Week 9.

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Frank Gore contributing, having fun

SAN FRANCISCO – Frank Gore is too tough on himself. His work ethic is twice the size (at least) of his ego. He never complains about having a bad day. His career has been disrupted by injuries, the Alex Smith circus and the 49ers' coaching carousel, but other than the occasional request for a few more carries, this is usually the guy who is just glad to have a job.

Sunday was different, though. Sunday was more than the average NFL work shift. After the 49ers completed their methodical victory over the visiting Cleveland Browns, Gore was so delighted, he practically begged to be pinched. He also opened up a little bit about his least favorite topic: himself.

"I'm so happy, man," said a smiling Gore, shaking his head. "We're 6-1. We're winning. I'm just having fun. (Before,) I was young, man. I was thinking about the Pro Bowls and all other crazy stuff. I was selfish. Now, I'm not thinking about yards, just enjoying the ride."

That's not exactly all he is doing, of course.

Against a stingy Browns defense, he carried the ball 31 times for 134 yards (4.3 average), scored a touchdown, scored what appeared to be a second touchdown and moved past Roger Craig into second place among the 49ers' all-time rushing leaders.

Gore has contributed at least 125 yards and a touchdown against four consecutive opponents, exploiting the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and Browns.

Additionally – and perhaps most impressively – he has been emblematic of these surprising 49ers – stubborn, resilient, occasionally spectacular.
And this is not a huge man. At 5-foot-9 and 217 pounds, with much of his thickness in his upper body, he relies on a combination of speed and power, little wasted motion and, increasingly, the improved blocking of teammates.

In one of the most impressive possessions of the afternoon – the seven-yard touchdown that was called back early in the second quarter when officials thought Gore's knee hit the ground outside the end zone – the 323-pound Anthony Davis appeared to clear out three Browns, creating a gaping hole over the left side.

"The linemen love (Gore)," said Alex Smith. "Great vision as a back. But, you look at yards after contact, he's such a great runner."

That hasn't changed, though Gore swears he has become a different player in some respects, particularly in his approach to conditioning. Because of his history of ankle and groin injuries, and a hip fracture that ended his 2010 season a month early, he has spent innumerable hours consulting 49ers trainers and coaches. Running backs coach Tom Rathman has been particularly influential, Gore said, urging him to incorporate cardio exercises into his morning routine.

As much as anything, he had to incorporate a who-gives-a-hoot attitude toward his early-season skeptics.

And there were plenty. The 49ers' signing of Gore to a three-year extension, coupled with his perplexing and sluggish three-game start, was debated almost as heatedly as his quarterback's prospects under new head coach Jim Harbaugh.

But when you win? No one remembers. Contracts remain expensive, but talk becomes cheap. Negative water cooler chatter simply evaporates. Gore isn't the type to hold grudges, either.

"That was big," he acknowledged of his individual effort. "The Cleveland Browns had a very disciplined defense. They don't make mistakes. But they did a great job up front.

"Our coordinator did a great job. We just got rolling. Offense can't be one man. And my man Alex (Smith) is making plays."

Of course, then he turned the conversation back to the 49ers and that 6-1 record. There will be no need to wear a mask this year on Halloween.
Asked if he remembers what it feels like to feel this good with November approaching, he just grinned.

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

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Ryan Braun voted Brewers MVP

In what could be a foreshadowing of honors to come on a national scale, leftfielder Ryan Braun was voted the Milwaukee Brewers' most valuable player for 2011 by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Eight ballots were cast for each award, assigning three points for first place, two for second and one for third.

Braun was a unanimous selection on all eight ballots (24 points).

Finishing second was first baseman Prince Fielder (15 points), followed by closer John Axford (six), starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo (1), rightfielder Corey Hart (1) and outfielder Nyjer Morgan (1).

The National League MVP award, voted on by baseball writers, will be announced Nov. 22, with Braun a leading candidate.

In 150 games, Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 runs batted in while leading the National League in slugging percentage at .597 and extra-base hits with 77. His batting average ranked second, as did his 336 total bases and 109 runs scored.

Braun committed just one error and is one of three NL leftfielders nominated for the Gold Glove.

He also stole a career-high 33 bases and finished as one of just three NL players to both score and drive in 100 runs. Los Angeles' Matt Kemp and Cincinnati's Joey Votto were the others.

Braun became the first player in franchise history to post three 100-run, 100-RBI seasons, the second player to produce a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season, joining Tommy Harper (31 HR, 38 SB in 1970) and the third player to drive in 100 runs four times, joining Cecil Cooper (1979, '80, '82-83) and Fielder (2007-'09, '11).

In addition, Braun led all NL players in All-Star Game voting for the first time and led NL outfielders in voting for the fourth consecutive season.
Braun was just as sublime in the postseason, leading Milwaukee with a .405 batting average in 11 playoff games in the NLDS and NLCS while also hitting two homers and driving in a team-best 10 runs.

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Ryan Braun is Brewers' lone Gold Glove finalist

Ryan Braun is one of three leftfielders up for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, which is presented annually to the best defensive player at each position in the National and American Leagues.

This year, Brewers fans will have the opportunity to watch the announcements live on ESPN2 on Tuesday at 9 p.m. Central time.

Braun committed one error in 268 chances in left for a fielding percentage of .996. He also had eight assists and 259 putouts.

The two other finalists in left are the Arizona Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra and the St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday.

Parra committed two errors in 281 chances for a fielding percentage of .993. He also had 12 assists and had 267 putouts.

Holliday committed three errors in 203 chances for a fielding percentage of .985. He also had four assists and 196 putouts.

Braun's .996 fielding percentage led the NL, as did Parra's 12 assists and 267 putouts.

Braun's 1,250 innings were also the most of any leftfielder; Parra played 1,018 and Holliday 990 2/3.

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proCanes Extend TD Streak to 147 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 147 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

- 33 different proCanes have scored a touchdown;
- A total of 656 TDs have been scored;
- Twice Monday Night Football arrived without a proCane TD and twice the streak was extended; Bubba Franks in Week 4, 2003 and Santana Moss in Week 2, 2005.
- All 32 NFL teams have surrendered a touchdown to a proCane

Week 8 2011:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers
Jon Vilma - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints

Week 7 2011:
Kellen Winslow Jr. - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jimmy Graham - 2 TDs - New Orleans Saints

Week 6 2011:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Devin Hester - 2 TDs - Chicago Bears

Week 5 2011:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers

Week 4 2011:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins

Week 3 2011:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Denver Broncos
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers

Week 2 2011:
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Denver Broncos
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers

Week 1 2011:
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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Sinorice Moss Featured in Athlete's Quarterly Magazine


Click here to order Sinorice Moss’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee fined $7,500 for breaking hand on Smith’s facemask

Broncos running back Willis McGahee may have had the costliest stiff arm in NFL history on Sunday.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that McGahee got a $7,500 fine for grabbing the facemask of Miami’s Sean Smith on Sunday. And that’s not even the worst thing that happened to McGahee on the play.

McGahee also broke the fourth metacarpal in his right hand on the play when it got stuck in Smith’s facemask, requiring surgery that will force him to miss a game or two. And the 15-yard facemasking penalty McGahee got on the play wiped out an 11-yard run.

At least McGahee wasn’t the most heavily fined player in that game: Dolphins defensive back Yeremiah Bell got a $15,000 fine for a hit on Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Greg Olsen totals 73 yards, TD in Week 8

Greg Olsen caught four passes for 73 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings in Week 8.

Olsen put a great move on Husain Abdullah at the line of scrimmage to break free for a 39-yard touchdown in the second quarter. His seven targets tied for the second-most on the team. Olsen is on pace for 60 receptions, 718 yards, and eight touchdowns heading into the Week 9 bye.

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

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Darryl Sharpton Lost For Season

On the first series of the second quarter, backup inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton suffered what coach Gary Kubiak described as a "torn quad tendon," and he will miss the rest of the season.

Sharpton, who had been getting playing time in each game behind DeMeco Ryans, was injured making a tackle on a 4-yard run by Maurice Jones-Drew He'll undergo surgery and be placed on injured reserve.

Sharpton follows Mario Williams (torn pectoral muscle) as linebackers placed on injured reserve.

"He'd been playing very well," Kubiak said about Sharpton. "I feel terrible for him. He's another player lost that we'll have to replace."

Click here to order Darryl Sharpton’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Leonard Hankerson records his first catch

A week after his first pass route in an official NFL game ended in an interception, thanks to a miscommunication between him and quarterback John Beck, Redskins rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson did better, recording the first catch of his career.

Beck connected with Hankerson on a 23-yard pass on a third-and-8 play late in the first quarter.

Hankerson caught the ball in the flat at the Redskins’ 48-yard line, turned up field and gained four yards before he was tackled.

Hankerson, who spent the first five games of the season on the inactive list, wasn’t able to come away from the game with much of a sense of accomplishment, however, given the Redskins’ blowout loss.

“I mean, it was actually a big play on a third down, but right now, it doesn’t mean anything,” Hankerson said. “We didn’t win the game, we didn’t score on the drive. We need to make more big plays and win games.”

Two plays later, Beck had Hankerson running down the center of the field with a step on his man. But the quarterback overthrew the 6-foot-2 Hankerson by about 10 yards. In all, Beck threw Hankerson’s way four times, but the rookie did not record another catch as a member of an underperforming offense.

“It’s very frustrating, because we’ve got to do things – offense and defense -- to make plays,” Hankerson said. “The defense is getting stops , but we on offense need to make plays, convert on offense and we had zero points today, so that’s what hurts us.”

During the preseason, Hankerson found himself coming off the bench, which he says affected his focus. But since getting the nod in each of the last two games, Hankerson has worked to remain loose on the sideline while doing a better job of remaining in touch with what’s going on in the game.
When he wasn’t playing, Hankerson occasionally sprinted up and down the sideline and stretched while discussing plays and assignments with receivers coach Keenan McCardell and teammates.

“Everything, it’s all good,” Hankerson said. “I’m out there, ready to play, do what I have to do. And I’m working with my coaches and it’s all good. I just need make sure I stay warmed up on the sideline because you never know when they’ll need me.”

Click here to order Leonard Hankerson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Orlando Franklin leaves with injury

Broncos RT Orlando Franklin was forced from Sunday's game against the Lions with a left knee injury.

Tim Tebow has been sacked six times, in large part due to his inability to read defenses and Franklin's poor pass protection. Chris Clark, who plays as the extra blocker in jumbo packages, has come on as Franklin's replacement.

Click here to order Orlando Franklin’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore becomes No. 2 on San Francisco 49ers all-time rushing list

Frank Gore moved into second place on the 49ers' all-time rushing list Sunday, surpassing Roger Craig on a 2-yard run in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Candlestick Park.

Gore came out of the game to get his right ankle taped after the play. He had 19 carries for 103 yards in the first half as the 49ers took a 17-3 lead into halftime.

The seventh-year running back out of Miami entered was looking to eclipse the 100-yard mark for a fourth straight game, something he'd never done in his career.

Gore entered Sunday's game with 6,955 yards rushing, 109 shy of Craig's total. The late Joe Perry owns the 49ers record with 7,344 yards.

Gore moved into a tie with Craig with a 6-yard run on the 49ers' first series after halftime. He took sole possession of the No. 2 spot on the following series, gaining two yards on a run to the left side.

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

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Dwayne Hendricks is a serious hitter now that he's not substitute teaching

Every day at practice, Dwayne Hendricks gets to club offensive linemen and throw a shoulder into ball carriers. He’s very thankful for such opportunities because a few months ago, for the first time in his life, he couldn’t be as physical on the job front.

With the NFL in a lockout as owners and players squabbled over a new collective bargaining agreement, the Giants’ defensive tackle served as a substitute teacher and day care worker in his hometown of Millville.

It was “Kindergarten Cop,” NFL style.

“It was crazy. I didn’t know what to do,” the 6-3, 305-pound Hendricks said the other day. “Kids are running around, and you don’t know how to handle it. I couldn’t put my hand on them because I didn’t want to hurt ’em. You have to be real careful because those little kids are fragile.”

With the labor issues well behind him, Hendricks is back to his normal line of work. And two weeks ago, when Jimmy Kennedy was suspended four games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Hendricks became the newest addition to the active roster when he was signed off the practice squad.

An undrafted free agent from Miami in 2009, Hendricks was inactive 13 days ago against the Bills, might not dress tomorrow against the Dolphins or over the next two weeks and could head back to the practice squad when Kennedy returns.

But it all beats the alternative, even if his temporary job taught him some valuable lessons.

“It’s like a switch, you have to learn to turn the aggressiveness off. And I had to turn it off a lot,” said Hendricks, who taught everything from physical education to English on the high school and elementary levels. “You can’t say stuff you normally say in the locker room to little kids, even high school kids. You have to watch what you say. So it helped me grow as a person.

“It was hard, but it was a good experience.”

As is being on the Giants’ practice squad.

Hendricks said a lot of the South Jersey teams he faced in high school ran the old “Wing-T” offense, a run-heavy scheme that features misdirection plays. And after tearing his ACL in college, he played primarily on first and second downs, meaning he didn’t have to diagnose run/pass reads as much as is required of an NFL defensive lineman.

But even in practice, he has improved in such areas.

“He’s developed a lot since he first got here,” veteran defensive tackle Rocky Bernard said. “He was a little undersized, so he got in the weight room and bulked himself up. He’s just one of those guys who just keeps quiet every day and works hard at it.”

And after being in a classroom for much of the late winter and spring, Hendricks is motivated to work even harder on the field. Plus, he appreciates looking at his pay stubs: installments of a $375,000 base salary while he’s on the active roster and a weekly rate equivalent to a $96,900 salary while he was on the practice squad.

“You go from seeing one check to a much smaller one,” Hendricks said of the drop in pay he took while teaching.

“People say you’re on practice squad, you don’t make that much, but it’s a lot more than the average person.

“I just take it every day like it’s a blessing to be here. Just to be on a practice squad is a testament to itself.”

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This Date in Hurricanes History...October 30, 1981...

This Date In Hurricanes History...October 30, 1981
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!

From The Ibis yearbook...

It was a climax to a great Homecoming as the Miami Hurricanes upset the #1 ranked team in the nation, the Penn State Nittany Lions, 17-14.  A Jim Kelly to Larry Brodsky 80 yard touchdown strike sparked the win for Miami.

The game, which was seen by over fifteen million people on ABC national television, featured quarterback Jim Kelly at his best.  Ironically, the junior from East Brady, Pennsylvania, was recruited by Penn State coach Joe Paterno to play linebacker; however, Kelly felt he was a quarterback by trade and turned down Paterno's offer.

The defense, which has been spectacular all season, had one of its finest games, holding the Nittany Lions scoreless three times when they were inside the Miami ten yard line.

"This victory is a major step forward for our team." commented Coach Schnellenberger; he continued "we came out, we played physical; we did what we had to do early in the game.  I told our guys that this would be the win of a lifetime, something they would remember always."

Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge had 358 yards passing, but was intercepted twice by defensive back Fred Marion, and the Miami defense thwarted 2 late drives by recovering fumbles on the rain-soaked Orange Bowl turf, in front of the Homecoming Game crowd of only 32,117, securing the Canes first ever victory over a #1 ranked team !

The Hurricanes would finish the season with a 9-2 record, with victories over Florida, Florida State (State Champs), and Notre Dame; their only losses at #4 Texas (14-7) and #16 Mississippi State (14-10).  Due to NCAA probation, the team did not play in a bowl game, but with this victory over the #1 ranked team in the nation, laid the foundation for the future and the 1983 National Championship !


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Michael Irvin’s Mom Hit With Giant Tax Bill — For Living With Him!

Broward County officials have slapped a lien on the home of WQAM-560 AM host and retired Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin’s momma!

The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office claims Stella Irvin owes $49,852.79 in unpaid taxes and penalties for unjustly claiming homestead exemption since 2001.

Mama Irvin, who raised Michael and 16 other kids, is believed to be living at Michael’s $300,000 house in Plantation.

Yet, she’s been claiming exemption on another house valued at $82,000, and she can’t legally do that if she doesn’t live there!

Neither former University of Miami star Irvin nor his mom or the staff at the Property Appraiser commented.

Click here to order Michael Irvin’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jemile Weeks earns GIBBY Rookie nomination

OAKLAND -- Jemile Weeks' June arrival, some say, has affected the level of consideration he's received for American League Rookie of the Year Award honors.

But with the help of fans, Weeks has the chance to land atop the ranks for another recognition, the annual Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for top rookie.

Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of baseball's awards season -- based on votes by the fans at, media, front-office personnel and MLB alumni.

The 2011 GIBBYs feature nominees in 19 categories. Individual honors will go to the top everyday player, starting pitcher, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout player, comeback player, defensive player, wow factor, manager, executive and postseason performer.

GIBBY trophies also will be awarded for the year's best play, moment, performance, oddity, walk-off, fan moment and postseason moment from's Must C highlight reels.

Fan voting ends Dec. 4, and you can vote up to 25 times per category. Winners will be announced Dec. 16 from 6-8 p.m. PT on MLB Network and

The 24-year-old Weeks, the younger brother of the Brewers' Rickie Weeks, paced the A's in triples (eight), multihit games (35) and games of three hits or more (14). His team-leading .303 average ranked best among AL rookies with at least 400 plate appearances and would have ranked second best among all rookies in Oakland history next to Mitchell Page (.307).

Among AL rookies, Weeks led the pack in triples, tied for second in stolen bases with 22 and ranked third in hits (123) and doubles (26) in 97 games -- numbers that helped A's fans forgive general manager Billy Beane for trading longtime mainstay Mark Ellis to Colorado.

"We've always had high hopes for him," Beane said at the end of the season. "I didn't think he'd be here until next year. You can see what he did, arriving a half-year before anyone thought he would be ready. He's a dynamic player. He was a bright spot for us."

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Jason Michaels among 148 to file for free agency

Astros shortstop Clint Barmes and outfielder Jason Michaels were among the 148 players to file for free agency Sunday morning.

The MLBPA released the names of the players.

Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson, Carlos Beltran, David Ortiz, Jimmy Rollins, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Jonathan Broxton, Johnny Damon, Ryan Madson, Jonathan Papelbon, Magglio Ordonez, Roy Oswalt, Jorge Posada and Francisco Rodriguez represent some of the biggest names to file.

The labor agreement permits exclusive negotiating rights to a player's former team until this Thursday, Nov. 3 at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Free agents can then negotiate and sign with any team. 

The start of free agency was delayed for 24 hours after the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced the delay last Friday.

Teams have until Nov. 23 to offer salary arbitration to those who filed for free agency in order to receive draft picks as compensation -- if their player decides to sign a contract elsewhere.

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