Jimmy Graham shows off ‘work suit’ for the first time

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Michael Irvin says he’s worried about Warren Sapp

Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who has had his own run-ins with the law, says he is worried about his friend Warren Sapp.

"Absolutely I am," Irvin said on the Dan LeBatard Show on Miami radio. "I worry about him, man. There's no doubt. I worry about him a lot and I tell him that."

Sapp was has been charged with three counts of domestic violence after allegedly biting and stomping his longtime girlfriend's head. His solicitation charge, stemming from an arrest during Super Bowl weekend, was dismissed last month.

"I'm texting him all the time and a guy alway goes, 'man, I'm good man, I'm good, it ain't nothing" Irvin said. "You always say that, but you worry."

Sapp, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle, is due in court on July 23.

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Vince Wilfork ‘Sings’ Karaoke With Wife Bianca, Who Actually Can Rap

Vince Wilfork definitely should stick to his day job. The now-Houston Texans nose tackle and his wife, Bianca, took on the song “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” by Method Man and Mary J. Blige during a karaoke performance this weekend, but there was a little creative twist. Big Vince elected to take on Blige’s part, while Bianca rapped.

Bianca Wilfork crushed her verses, but the former New England Patriot, on the other hand, might need a lesson or two.

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Pete Carroll singles out Jimmy Graham

Coach Pete Carroll singled out Jimmy Graham as a player who stood out during OTAs.

Graham has taken to his new surroundings well. "He’s fit in with the players," Carroll said. "There was some talk about stuff in other seasons and all, that’s become part of the fun. He’s a great addition." Graham doesn't have the same ceiling he once did thanks to Seattle's run-based attack, but he'll be Russell Wilson's top target and a good bet for double-digit touchdowns again.

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Devin Hester has a shot at another ESPY

Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl return specialist Devin Hester will have a chance to earn another ESPY.

Hester was nominated in this year's category of Best Record-Breaking Performance for his 20th career return touchdown last season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a score in the Falcons' 56-14 dismantling of the Bucs.

Hester, who won an ESPY in 2007 as the Best Breakthrough Athlete of the Year while with the Chicago Bears, made his record-setting moment more magical when he high stepped to the end zone in the same fashion as his mentor, Deion Sanders. Hester broke Sanders' mark that night, and Sanders was in the Georgia Dome as an NFL Network analyst to witness it.

Hester's competition for this year's award for record-breaking performance includes Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's 509th touchdown pass, Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson's record-setting 37-point third quarter, and Oklahoma softball player Lauren Chamberlain's 91st home run.

The ESPYs are July 15.

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Where will Jimmy Graham line up most for the Seahawks?

"A lot was made about where Jimmy Graham lines up during arbitration with the Saints. Where will 88 line up most for the Hawks?"

A: It’s too early to know exactly how the Seahawks will use Graham this season, but given the nature of Seattle’s offense, it’s safe to assume he’ll do more blocking than he did in New Orleans, where he was basically an oversized receiver. Given Seattle’s history with its tight ends, expect to see Graham move around plenty, lining up at times next to a tackle, but also in the slot and even split out wide as a receiver.

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Yasmani Grandal hits home run in Monday's loss

Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal connected off Allen Webster in the fourth inning for his 11th home run of the season during Monday's 10-6 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Grandal finished the game 2 for 3 with one RBI and two walks. Prior to Monday's performance, Grandal was hitting .167 with two home runs and three RBI in his last 10 games.

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Ryan Braun goes 3 for 5 in Monday's win

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun went 3 for 5 at the plate during Monday's 7-4 win over the Phillies.

Braun drove in his only run of the game when he hit a double in the fifth inning which scored Gerardo Parra.

Prior to his three-hit game Monday, Braun was hitting .244 with two home runs and eight RBI in his last 12 games.

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Riquana Williams hits game-winning jumper

TULSA, Okla. -- Riquna Williams' step-back jumper put Tulsa up by two with 10.9 seconds left, and the Shock held off the Seattle Storm 93-89 on Sunday to tie the franchise record with their eighth straight victory.

The Shock also had an eight-game winning streak while based in Detroit in 2003.

Karima Christmas' 3-pointer with 44.9 seconds gave Tulsa (8-1) its first lead in nearly 5 minutes at 89-87. Skylar Diggins, who finished with 31 points, banged her knee on the play and had to leave the game.

Ramu Tokashiki tied it for the Storm (2-7), and Williams hit the go-ahead jumper with her foot on the 3-point line.

Seattle's Renee Montgomery missed a long-distance attempt with time running out. Christmas grabbed the rebound and added two free throws with less than a second remaining.

Williams and Plenette Pierson each added 19 points for Tulsa. Pierson surpassed 3,500 career points.

Tokashiki and Jewell Loyd each had 21 points for the Storm. It was a career high for Loyd.

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WATCH: Greg Olsen blasts trick golf shots with Bryan Bros.

It's the NFL offseason which means hundreds of NFL players are wisely spending their time near the local golf course, grinding away at avoiding Dustin Johnson-like three putts. But the best of the best, like Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, are out there creating trick-shot videos.

Olsen teamed up with the infamous Bryan Bros. to create a trick shot video. They're playing some sort of match play and also sitting down to do Greg Olsen-themed trivia with Greg (who very mistakenly thought his career long catch was 87 yards).

Easily the highlight was watching Olsen -- who looks like a pretty good golfer and someone who can absolutely BOMB the ball -- trying to hit a ball in the air with his driver. Fun stuff here.

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Warren Sapp charged after he ‘bit, stomped’ on girlfriend

Removed from his perch at NFL Network and from the public spotlight, Warren Sapp still can’t avoid troubles that drag his name through the muck.

The Hall of Fame defensive tackle reportedly has been charged with three counts of domestic violence stemming from an April incident in Las Vegas during which he allegedly bit his longtime girlfriend and stomped on her head.

According to TMZ, Sapp — last seen being arrested on charges of solicitation and assault while covering the Super Bowl in Phoenix — was involved in a lengthy fight with Chalyce Moore at the M Resort on April 28.

The police report states Sapp threw a margarita in her face at the resort before the two drove to Moore’s condo.

Moore allegedly told Sapp to exit the car, at which time he bit her middle finger. The violence only escalated when they arrived at her home.

According to documents obtained by TMZ, Moore, after throwing a belt at Sapp, ended up on the floor. The 42-year-old Sapp then stomped on her face with his sandal-clad feet. The checkerboard pattern on the sole, according to Moore’s friend’s statement to police, was imprinted on Moore’s temple.

Moore’s litany of injuries, according to her friend’s statement: a lower-lip bruise, shoulder and leg bruises and a stiff neck. Moore also vomited after the fight, leading the friend to believe Moore suffered a concussion.

After his 13-year NFL career, Sapp had latched on to a cushy NFL Network gig as an analyst, but was canned after his Super Bowl arrest. The former superstar, who racked up 96.5 sacks in his storied career, is due in court July 23.

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Drew Brees misses Jimmy Graham

The Saints had a pretty lousy 2014 season. Picked by many idiots (ahem, sigh, etc) as a Super Bowl contender before last year, New Orleans didn't even make the playoffs despite looking "unstoppable" in the preseason. The Saints struggled most weeks to look competent on either offense or defense.

Offseason changes were aplenty, with Jimmy Graham out the door in a trade with the Seahawks and a future quarterback in Garrett Graham drafted in the third round. None of that is snuffing out Drew Brees optimism, with him telling ESPN (via Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune) he's "very convinced" he'll win another Super Bowl before he retires.

Brees previously talked about the Graham trade, noting that it "shocked us all," but reiterated to Ed Werder that he was "heartbroken" about losing his top target.

"I was heartbroken, because Jimmy's become a very close friend. We had five great years together, and I think just the the unexpectedness of it. We had big plans for the next few years and more so than anything else it's just not being able to see that guy every day. He's a joy to be around. He was great to play football with, but more importantly a great guy in the locker room," Brees said. "We had a ton of fun together. He's like a little brother. Obviously we just signed him to a big deal last year and you just have this long-term mindset with him. And then all of a sudden he's gone, the trade's made and listen I have full trust in this organization, Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton, and the direction that we're going.

"And you trust that but man, you're certainly going to miss a guy like that."

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Jimmy Graham enough to give Seahawks strong offseason grade

With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps a few weeks away, we assess the Seattle Seahawks' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.

Best move: Without question, it was the trade for New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, even though it cost the Seahawks their first-round draft pick this year and starting center Max Unger. Graham will be a true difference-maker for Seattle's offense as one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league, especially in the red zone. Defenses are going to have to account for him over the middle, which will open things up for the wide receivers and make running back Marshawn Lynch even more effective and more dangerous. Quarterback Russell Wilson now has a true go-to guy in the clutch.

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Risky Move For Colts To Draft Phillip Dorsett?

Riskiest move: There’s no questioning receiver Phillip Dorsett's speed. He had it on display on a regular basis during offseason workouts. But the Colts used their first-round pick (No. 29) on a position that wasn’t a major priority. They had more pressing needs on the offensive and defensive line. The Colts used 11 different starting lineups on the offensive line last season and owner Jim Irsay can tell you in less than a second how many yards the New England Patriots have rushed against them in the past three meetings (657 yards). The Colts believe they have enough depth on the offensive line to offset any injuries that may occur and they feel comfortable with Josh Chapman, Montori Hughes and rookie David Parry anchoring the middle of the defensive line.

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Frank Gore, Andre Johnson give Colts passing offseason grade

With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Indianapolis Colts' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.

Best move: The Colts were a better team within hours of the start of free agency when they signed veterans Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Trent Cole and Kendall Langford on March 10. Johnson replaces Reggie Wayne as the Colts’ primary possession receiver and Gore is the running back quarterback Andrew Luck has yet to have in the NFL. Gore is a significant upgrade over the disappointing Trent Richardson. Gore has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in eight of his 10 seasons and his addition means defenses will have to make a choice on who they’ll focus on -- Luck and his skill players on the outside or Gore. Luck should have his best supporting cast on offense in his young NFL career. Cole gives Indianapolis an additional pass rusher at linebacker to go with Robert Mathis, Bjoern Werner, Jonathan Newsome and Erik Walden. Core will start if Mathis (Achilles) is not ready by Week 1.

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Antrel Rolle's 'primary goal' is to be a 'playmaker' for Bears defense

Chicago Bears safety Antrel Rolle wants to make an impact with his new team. Recently, Rolle told Jeremy Stoltz of Bears Report about his intense approach to the game.

"You always want to be a playmaker. That’s always my primary goal," Rolle told Bears Report. "It’s what you do between the white lines that really matters. So just being a veteran leader and being a guy that the younger guys can look up to. And I just want to be an all-around force. That’s how I like to play the game."

Rolle is 32 years old and a three-time Pro Bowler. He was the eighth-overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and is still playing quality football after 10 seasons in the league. He won a Super Bowl with the Giants and appeared in another with the Arizona Cardinals.

From a leadership standpoint, the rest of the Bears can turn to Rolle with confidence.

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Don't overlook Clive Walford among Raiders' rookies

Oakland's best fit: TE Clive Walford, Miami, No. 68 overall

It isn't surprising that all of the buzz on rookies following the Oakland Raiders' OTAs and minicamps was dedicated to No. 4 overall pick and reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Amari Cooper. After all, among all of the players at his position available in the 2015 NFL draft, he offered the greatest combination of size, speed and polish after starring in a pro-style offense for a powerhouse against elite competition.

Fortunately for the Raiders (and too often overlooked by media and fans) is that Walford, the Raiders' third round pick, checks off all of these boxes, as well.
Cooper (more on him later) was drafted to start immediately. Barring injury, he's a virtual lock to lead Oakland in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015. Walford offers more athleticism and grit as a blocker than incumbent starting tight end Mychal Rivera, who finished second to since jettisoned wideout James Jones among all Raiders' pass-catchers last season.

Like Cooper, Walford is a naturally gifted athlete with prototype size (6-foot-4, 251), agility and soft hands. Also like Cooper, Walford showed an impressive work ethic in college to take full advantage of his traits, steadily improving in his conditioning, blocking at the point of attack, route-running and in cleanly catching the ball. He left Miami as the school's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards among tight ends, which is quite the accomplishment given that standouts Jimmy Graham, Greg Olson, Kellen Winslow, Jr. and Jeremy Shockey preceded him over the past 20 years.

It isn't just the production and traits that cause Walford to stand out, however. He is a particularly intriguing in Oakland's new up-tempo offense because of his versatility and upside. He lined up as a traditional in-line tight end at Miami, as well as playing on the move or even out wide. That's the kind of flexibility new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was used to seeing while operating as the quarterback coach for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Further, given that Walford only played one year of high school football, it is a testament to his football I.Q. and work ethic.

"We saw Clive as a complete tight end," general manager Reggie McKenzie said after the Raiders selected him. "He's not only a receiver or a blocker-type guy only. He's a guy that's big and strong enough to pound it versus the D-linemen, and he can flex out and run the routes and be that pass receiver."

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Chris Perez Suspended 50 Games

Free agent righty Chris Perez has been hit with a 50-game suspension, the league announced (h/t to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy). The penalty was assessed for use of a drug of abuse, with the length based on the fact that this is Perez’s second such offense.

Perez, 29, was the long-time closer for the Indians before signing as a free agent last year with the Dodgers. He opened the 2015 season at Triple-A for the Brewers after inking a minor league deal, but opted out of his deal earlier in the season.

Though he’s had some very good years along the way, Perez has struggled to deliver consistent results while dealing with command issues at times. He still has a big arm, having averaged over 94 mph on his four-seamer last year, and seemed likely to get another shot at the big leagues in the relatively near term.

All told, Perez owns a 3.51 ERA over 379 1/3 MLB frames, with 8.6 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9. He allowed eight earned runs on 14 hits and four walks in his 7 2/3 minor league frames earlier this year, striking out just three batters in the process.

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Phillip Dorsett wants to be 'playmaker' for Colts

BEREA, Ohio -- Indianapolis Colts receiver Phillip Dorsett garnered rave reviews during OTAs and minicamp.

After completing offseason work, the rookie told Around The NFL on Tuesday that he doesn't know what role he will play this season alongside T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson, but plans to make plays whenever the opportunity arises.

"I consider myself a playmaker," Dorsett said from the NFL Rookie Symposium. "I want to be able to earn their trust and be a guy that they can look to to make a big play and make a play anytime. I just want to earn their trust and that's it right now."

Dorsett added that he's learned all the positions and will be ready to go from the jump of next month's training camp.

"I feel really great about the playbook. I learned most of it," he said. "Everything that they installed at OTAs and minicamp I've learned. All the positions: X, F, Y, Z. I learned them all. I love football and studying football, so it hasn't been really that hard for me."

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Phillip Buchanon coaches money skills via his hard lessons

Former first-round NFL draft pick Phillip Buchanon, who learned his financial lessons the hard way, is at the NFL Rookie Symposium this week in Aurora, Ohio, hoping to pass along his hard-won knowledge.

Buchanon, writing on his personal blog, says, "When I got to the NFL, I was all dollars and no sense. I am here at the NFL Rookie Symposium to make sure that these NFL rookies don’t make the same mistakes that I did. I wish I had better mentors and I wish I had the right people around me. That would have impacted my career early on, no doubt."

That career lasted from 2002, when the defensive back from Miami (Fla.) was the Raiders' No. 1 pick, through 2011, when he retired from the Redskins. According to one estimate, he had more than $20 million in earnings in his 10-season career. Yet he didn't maximize the potential of that huge sum.

"If I had the right team around me back when I started playing in the league, mentors who could have helped put me on the right path and pointed me in the right direction, I would have saved a lot more money," he writes. "And the reason why I focus on the financial piece is because I know that if I had that part better figured out, I would have played better on the field too. I had to deal with major family-related financial situations when I should have been focusing on football."

Buchanon also has written a book titled "New Money: Staying Rich" about his learning curve, which included his mom demanding $1 million as payback for raising him, he said. But it goes beyond that, he writes, into the decision-making process when dealing with newfound wealth.

"When I talk about this, people sometimes ask what kind of bad financial decisions I made. I’d say blowing $1.5 million in one business deal was pretty bad. I would say giving a lot of money away — $50,000 here, $20,000 there — was not a smart move. When you are a young player with new money, you feel obligated to just give your money away because of the pressure that you feel, especially from your own family."

By appearing at the Rookie Symposium, Buchanon hopes to share his story with young players who, in turn, will make better decisions from the start of their professional careers: "When they come into getting a lot of money, I want them to make sure it’s permanent money. I don’t want them to blow it all, and next thing you know, it’s gone."

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Getting To Know: Sean Spence

Sean Spence
5-11, 231
4th Year

Who is your football mentor or inspiration?
Larry Foote. When I first came into the league he really took me under his wing. When I was hurt he came to see me in the hospital. He taught me the game even when I was hurt. I sat next to him in all of our meetings. I respect the person he is as a man, and as a father. I think that is what all men should strive to be, like Larry.

What motivates you?
My family, my daughter. Knowing I have to provide a future for her and it can be better than mine, her upbringing can be better than mine.

What is your football mindset?
To be aggressive and destroy everything. Channel my emotion, stay even keeled, but at the same time be ultra-aggressive.

Why do you play football?
Because I love the game. The good Lord blessed me with the passion for the game and the talent. What I do in this game is what I give back to the Lord.

What is your proudest football moment or memory?
My first NFL sack versus the Bengals. It was pretty cool. We were playing for the division and to contribute in a huge way was pretty cool.

When you hear Steelers football, what do you think?
Physicality. The Steel Curtain defense. The 2008 defense, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior, Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith, James Harrisonicon-article-link, and LaMarr Woodley. That’s the first thing that pops into my head, Steelers defense.

What do you like about Pittsburgh?
The loyalty and unity in the organization. Everyone is familiar with each other. Mr. (Dan) Rooney is always walking through here just like one of the guys. The family atmosphere we have here.

Steelers fans ….
Are the best. I think when I really knew Steelers Nation was big is when we played against the Falcons and we ran out of the tunnel and it was like a home game and there were so many towels and the fans were going wild.

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Where Does Santana Moss Rank All-Time As A Redskins WR?

I know how the stats stack up, and Moss does rank third on Washington’s all-time list in receptions, fourth in yards, seventh in touchdown receptions, and it’s Art Monk and Charley Taylor topping the list in many of those categories. But, I only saw Monk play, and have to rely on newspaper archives, books and the stories from my dad and granddaddy on exactly how good Charley Taylor was. I wouldn’t say that Moss was right up there on the same level as Monk and Taylor.

But, I decided to pick the brain of the great Thomas Boswell for his take on this. He ranks Bobby Mitchell above both Monk and Taylor, and says he’s terribly underrated and overlooked. Boz pointed out that from 1959 to ’67, Mitchell averaged 81 yards a game from scrimmage (receiving and running). That would translate into 1,296 yards in a 16-game season. During that span, Mitchell, who boasted world-class speed, also scored eight touchdowns on returns (kickoff returns of 98, 90, 91, 92 and 92 yards, and punt returns of 68, 78 and 64 yards). So, you can understand Boz’s case for Mitchell as No. 1. And then, you’d have to put his fellow Hall of Fame wide receivers Monk and Taylor on the list right after him.

Then, you have Moss and Gary Clark there among the franchise’s statistical leaders. Clark ranks third on the receiving-yards list, just one spot ahead of Moss. Both led their team in receiving yards in six seasons. Moss was probably more talented than Clark, and he racked up his yardage without the benefit of having a Hall of Fame talent lined up opposite him, like Clark did. Moss wasn’t on many winning teams. Clark, meanwhile, was part of the franchise’s golden years, helped Washington win two Super Bowls and also reached the Pro Bowl four times and earned all-pro honors three times. What would have happened if you swapped out Clark and put Moss in his situation, and Clark in Moss’s place? I don’t know. But, I think we can agree that those two belong high up on the list, just behind the three Hall of Famers.

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Brewers' Ryan Braun 13th in All-Star voting

If Ryan Braun is going to start for the National League All-Star team, he's going to need a lot of help from the Brewers fans.

Bryce Harper, Matt Holliday and Giancarlo Stanton are currently the top three vote-getters in the NL outfield – although Holliday is on the disabled list and wouldn't be able to start – while Braun comes in at 13th.

Fans can vote for the starters until Thursday, July 2, at 10:59 p.m. CT. While fans choose the starters, the National League coaching staff, led by Giants manger Bruce Bochy, will select the rest of the players.

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Andre Johnson: NFL team full of Miami Hurricanes could win Super Bowl

Colts receiver Andre Johnson appeared on the Marc Hochman Show with Zach Krantz Monday and delved into an interesting topic.

The radio hosts pointed out how the Colts have quite a few former Hurricanes on the roster, including Johnson, Frank Gore, Phillip Dorsett, and Erik Swoope. He was then asked if a roster made up of only Miami Hurricanes could win a Super Bowl.

“Yeah I really think you can,” Johnson said. “If you put a team together and all of the guys are in their prime, yes, I think you could get it done.”

He was then asked, even if the players weren't in their prime. What if the team was made up of players currently playing, or recently removed like Willis McGahee, Ray Lewis or Ed Reed. Would it be possible to field a team that could win a championship then?

"I think you could put something together that could get you there," Johnson said. "There's so many guys. It's a lot of young guys, also. So, I think you can put a team together that could probably get it done."

Johnson's comments are worth exploring. Let's see if we can put together a team made up of current NFL Hurricanes, recently removed NFL Hurricanes and players currently on the Hurricanes' roster.

QB — Ken Dorsey. Sure he's seven years removed from playing in the NFL, but he's still 34 years old. He also may not have fared well in the big leagues, either, but he's really the best we've got. The 'Cane's current quarterback is Brad Kaaya, who looked promising last season.

RB — Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore. This position would be stacked if the running backs were in their prime. Quarterback may be an issue, so it's probably best to run the ball a lot with this team. McGahee and Portis aren't playing anymore, so we can add Lamar Miller on the roster for some youth.

WR — Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Devin Hester, Phillip Dorsett (rookie). Who needs a stellar quarterback when you have options like this? Johnson and Wayne are solid options on the outside with Hester, Moss and Dorsett able to run short patterns and take them the distance. 

TE —  Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham. Other players such as Kellen Winslow Jr. and Jeremy Shockey could have made the list, but Olsen and Graham are probably enough.

Offensive line — Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Orlando Franklin, Ereck Flowers (rookie), Brandon Linder. All of these guys are currently in the NFL and are either Pro Bowlers, or were drafted in the third round or higher. 

Defensive line — Vince Wilfork, Calais Campbell, Olivier Vernon. This is a pretty solid defensive line. Wilfork and Campbell are both Pro Bowl players and Vernon can hold his own.  

Linebackers — Ray Lewis, Jonathan Vilma, Jon Beason, D.J. Williams, Denzel Perryman (rookie). The defensive line may not be the best, but these linebackers can make up for it. What an amazing group. Perryman, a second-round pick this year, can come in and help as depth.

Defensive backs — Sam Shields, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Brandon Meriweather, Kenny Phillips, Brandon Harris, Brandon McGee. Another solid group of players.

Most of these guys are safeties, but we'll find a way to make it work.

K — Michael Badgley. The Hurricanes recently lost Matt Goudis and Badgley is expected to be the starter. The 'Canes don't have a great history with kickers, but who cares with the rest of the talent on the team.

P — Matt Bosher. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2011 and has been great for the Falcons ever since. He'll do just fine.

KR/PR — Devin Hester. Arguably the best returner the NFL has ever seen. 

So there you have it. A roster full of current or recently removed 'Canes. After looking at the roster, I don't think Johnson's assertion is too crazy. This team could definitely make some noise, especially if the players are in their prime.

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'The Rock' says Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp almost wrestled in Wrestlemania

Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp nearly joined their former Miiami Hurricanes teammate Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in the ring at Wrestlemania several years back.

Johnson, who is reliving his football days in the new HBO show 'Ballers,' told Dan Patrick on his radio show last week that both Lewis and Sapp came close to partaking in a tag-team match, perhaps along with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. 

"We'd gotten very close with having a big match, bringing in Ray Lewis," Johnson said. "And we were gonna have a big tag-team match with myself, Ray Lewis as tag-team partners against whoever the top heels were at the time."

Johnson added that scheduling hurdles couldn't be overcome with the two future Hall of Famers, but noted that both would have been naturals in the ring. 

"Both those guys would've done great in the ring," Johnson said. "And just really, really exceptional athletes."

You can catch the full spot here via The Dan Patrick Show. 

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Andre Johnson: "The Past Two Seasons Were Pretty Miserable"

Breakups. Divorce. These things are never easy, and the longer the relationship lasted, the more difficult the severing of ties can be, for both sides. The best that you can probably hope for is that you reach a stage of respectful acceptance. However, before you get there, you'll likely go through a Kubler-Ross-ian set of stages — denial, anger…. you know the model.

Well, if Friday's appearance on Dan LeBetard's radio show in Miami is any indicator, Andre Johnson appears to still be stuck in some sort of passive-aggressive version of slight bitterness over how his last couple years as a Houston Texan played out. 

As we all know, Johnson was released by the Texans back in early March after reportedly sitting down with management to discuss what appeared to be a diminished role going forward with the team. It likely would have included an accompanying pay cut if it ever made it that far, but it didn't make it that far. Johnson immediately suggested the team go ahead and release him, the Texans obliged, and days later Andre Johnson clubbed the entire city of Houston over the head with a chair when he signed a three year deal with the Indianapolis Colts. 

Now, at least in the "fresh" stages after the breakup between Johnson and his employer of over a decade, the future Hall of Fame wide receiver has become more and more forthcoming with his true feelings about his time as a Texan, or at least the latter stages of it, which were marked by disappointment, frustration over unfulfilled Super Bowl dreams, and a sea of pick sixes the size of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Below are excerpts from the interview with LeBetard:

How does your career play out differently if you'd had a great QB your entire career?
"I think my numbers would be better than what they are now. You know, I just try to make the best of what I've had, and you know, I never complained about it. I just went out there and gave it my all. I stand by what I've been able to accomplish, and I'm excited by this new opportunity."

What was the most frustrating time in Houston?
"Probably the past two seasons. The year we went 2-14, Coach Kubiak being fired. Going through the whole process again of having a new coach, learning a new system. My past two seasons there were pretty miserable. I could tell you it was hard for me to even go to work. Just excited about this new opportunity now, can't wait to get it all going."

Have you ever been miserable enough to enjoy not going to work?
"Nah, that's probably the first time that's ever happened."

Was it the losing or the QB having difficulty getting you the ball or both?
"When you've been somewhere for a while, just a number of things that went on from the time I've been there. When you're a young player, you really don't understand everything that goes on, the business side of football. You're just kind of excited to be in the NFL, and just want to play. Over time, you just watch things play out, watch moves that are made within the organization, some things you just don't understand. It just kind of became frustrating, some of the things that were going on there. I guess they don't like when players voice their opinions, and I voiced my opinion about some things and they didn't agree with it. It is what it is. I'm a Colt now, and that's what I'm looking forward to."

"Sometimes, you just keep your mouth closed, and try to control the things that you can control. But after a while, when you're out there putting your body on the line, you've been very loyal to the organization, sometimes thing just need to be said. I just got to the point where I felt like I needed to voice my opinion about some things. That didn't go over the right way with them, so it is what it is."

What parts of the business with the Texans were disillusioning to you?
"Probably the biggest thing was the QB situation. People who actually think how you feel about certain things, but then when you give your opinion, they tell you something and do the opposite. That was the biggest thing, talking to you about certain stuff, and even doing contract stuff to help the team and nothing was coming of it."

What were your choices?
"The Colts were the team that I wanted to go to. The best team with a chance to win a Super Bowl, and play with a great quarterback."

Andre Johnson has always been one of the more underrated interviews in the NFL. Sometimes people misconstrue his monotone demeanor for boring answers, but I couldn't disagree more. Johnson has always, in my opinion, been brutally honest in his assessment of most things. The one thing, though, that in retrospect, he was clearly covering up his true feelings for (at least until he stormed off the field before the conclusion of the Oakland game in 2013) was Matt Schaub. In every interview, every press conference, even during the darkest moments of the Schaub Era, Johnson always had his quarterback's back, even when it was completely unjustifiable. 

It's clear now that was just Johnson's being a good teammate; now that he is no longer Schaub's teammate, Johnson can at least acknowledge the "quarterback issue" with the Texans since the franchise was born, even if he doesn't refer to Schaub by name. In many respects, Johnson is merely expressing the sentiments of many Texans fans in the interview with LeBetard. The quarterback situation did suck when Johnson was here. HOWEVER….

Johnson did sign a contract extension with the Texans (actually, held out for more money for like three days in OTA's) in 2010, right smack dab in the middle of the Matt Schaub Era. Granted, 2010 was the height of whatever meager powers Schaub may have possessed, but still, if you want the flexibility to find a home with an elite quarterback, don't sign a long-term extension with the team. It's really that simple.

Somehow, Andre Johnson managed to come across in this interview as simultaneously sympathetic and a slight crybaby. That's Hall of Fame interview material right there! Either way, I think we can all agree that Johnson's continued passive aggressive piñata style thwacking of Matt Schaub is entertaining, if nothing else. 

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Jon Jay hopes to reboot in his hometown

Miami native Jon Jay spent the Cardinals’ off-day Monday relaxing at home for the first time since spring training. He probably didn’t spend much time thinking about baseball. p:BC body copy 1st graph

“I’m going to take a day to refresh,” he said.

But he could be pardoned for wondering if familiar surroundings might help jump-start him this week.

As the Cardinals prepare to start a three-game series Tuesday night in Miami against the Marlins, the Cards center fielder is hitting .230. Perhaps more significant is that he is batting just .191 since coming off the disabled list in late May after being sidelined because of left thumb and left wrist discomfort.

He had surgery on the wrist in the offseason.

Jay is nine for 47 since returning, with one double, one triple and one home run. He finds himself playing fairly regularly, with left fielder Matt Holliday still disabled — but not as regularly as he used to play.

An integral member of four straight National League championship series clubs and two World Series teams, Jay has been shunted to the background before — and always has rallied.

“I’m here,” he said Sunday in Philadelphia. “I’m able to play and I’m competing. I’ll be all right. We’ve still got a long way to go and I feel pretty confident that everything will work out.

“I’m not worried about that — like I am (not) every year.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said his vibe is that Jay still is dealing with strength issues in the wrist.

“He’s working hard,” said Matheny, “but it just doesn’t look the same. You thought that after he got surgery, he might have it in the past. But it looks like it’s lingering.”

When Holliday returns, presumably in early July if not before, a deep Cardinals outfield will become even more crowded.

Five players then will have to be crammed into three spots, with Holliday and Jason Heyward likely to get everyday work and powerful rookie Randal Grichuk in the lineup on most days. That leaves Jay — a .295 lifetime hitter entering the season — and Peter Bourjos, who shared center field last year, doing so again at least temporarily.

“Every year is different, but I always stay ready,” said Jay, 30. “I think everyone would like to play more, but it’s just one of those things. But I’ll be ready when my name is called, just like I have throughout my whole career.

“If I’m not playing that day, I’m ready to come in and make an impact on defense or pinch running or a pinch-hit off the bench, whatever the case may be.”
The Cardinals basically have three center fielders, all accomplished defensively, and Gold Glover Heyward has played center, too, in his career. He is in right field now.

“I think you’ve seen that whenever any of these four are out there together, wherever they’re called to play, it’s always good,” Jay said. “The big thing is we all take have pride in our defense. All of us want to make the plays and we’re consistently talking out there. It’s been a fun, good group to play with. Definitely.”

Matheny has applauded Jay’s quarterback abilities and says, “He’s a winning player, too. I’d like to have that (outfield situation) be a very difficult decision,” he said.

The manager compared Jay in a sense to former Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso, Jay’s close friend, who signed with Colorado this year after being a valuable Redbirds reserve.

“Descalso was always trying to find a spot and he always ended up being there in the end,” Matheny said. “For Jay, it’s always been that he’s been pushed aside for a little while and then he takes off and (the job) is his. I like to see that when it happens but I also like to watch Randal.”

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Danny Valencia replaces Josh Donaldson at third for Blue Jays

Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is not in the starting lineup for Monday's game. Donaldson had started four straight and 11 of the last 12.

Danny Valencia will start Monday, for the sixth time this season. He's the only player other than Donaldson to start at third base for the Blue Jays this year.

Manager John Gibbons said it was a day off for Donaldson, per Sportsnet.

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Edgerrin James Football Camp

The Edgerrin James "Speed& Agility" Youth Football Camp will be held again this year in Ave Maria Monday, July 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The camp, run by former NFL running back Edgerrin James – an Immokalee native – is designed to accommodate football enthusiasts of all levels. It is a free program providing a full day of football skills enhancement for beginners, to seasoned athletes.

Instructors include some of the best athletes from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Football League (NFL), and elite members of the NFL's coaching staff. Youth participants, between the ages of 6-18, are provided an opportunity and experience that will last a lifetime.

Advance registration is required, and can be done online at http://bit.do/EJFCYouthFootball.

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Clive Walford has a chance to beat out Rivera?

ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson said rookie Clive Walford has a chance to beat out Mychal Rivera for the starting tight end job.

Williamson wrote that Walford "appears to be more dynamic than Rivera" and "looks like he can make an immediate impact." Rookie tight ends almost never make an immediate offensive impact, so take this praise with a large grain of salt. Still, Walford's presence should prevent Rivera from matching the 99 targets he saw last season. Neither player is an enticing redraft option.

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Frank Gore faced 8+ in box more than anyone

Frank Gore ran against eight or more defenders in the box a league-high 76 times last season.

Defenses understandably had zero respect for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers' pass game. Gore's move to Andrew Luck means he'll be operating against six- and seven-man boxes a majority of the time, and he also projects to be used as a receiver far more. No back in the league (outside of perhaps C.J. Spiller) will benefit more than Gore from a change in scenery.

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Travis Benjamin Roster Spot In Jeopardy?

Travis Benjamin’s roster spot is in jeopardy. If the Browns keep only five wide receivers, Benjamin might not be one of them if the Browns opt to use Taylor Gabriel to return punts. Doing so would be one way to get the feisty, fast, fearless Gabriel more touches.

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Ladarius Gunter is biggest surprise of Green Bay Packers' young CB trio

The Green Bay Packers are looking for a cornerback to start opposite 2014 Pro Bowler Sam Shields. There are three young corners in the mix for the job, and Ryan Wood of Press-Gazette Media describes undrafted rookie Ladarius Gunter as the competition's "biggest surprise."

With Casey Hayward sidelined by a foot injury, Gunter is splitting first-team reps on the outside with 2015 first- and second-round selections Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, Press-Gazette Media reports. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. outlined what each rookie does best.

"D (Randall) is probably the most talented of those three, but Q (Rollins) has great instincts. He's probably the most instinctual, and Gunt probably has the most technique right now, but they all have a long ways to go," Whitt told Press-Gazette Media.

Whitt went into more detail on Gunter's play, detailing the typical characteristics of a shutdown corner.

"He's shown to me that he deserves an opportunity to be in the conversation with those other two guys with how he's played. So he's going to be given that opportunity," Whitt said, per Press-Gazette Media. "… He hasn't been giving up completions. He's just done a nice job. He has a long ways to go, too."

Gunter has decent size at 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, but he put up nondescript numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine and did not actualize his mid-round draft projection. The Miami product is a gamer that could come to life in Green Bay's cornerback competition this summer.

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Allen Hurns headed to Larry Fitzgerald's camp

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Blake Bortles isn't the only Jacksonville Jaguars player putting in some extra work over the next six weeks. A couple of his top targets are too.

Second-year receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are heading to the University of Minnesota to participate in Larry Fitzgerald's annual offseason camp. The two will work with other NFL receivers and quarterbacks on such things as route running, receiver-specific drills, and agility, speed and strength workouts. It's led by Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals' All-Pro receiver.

It will be the first trip to the camp for Robinson and Hurns. Robinson wanted to attend last year, but missed most of OTAs with a hamstring injury and the Jaguars felt it was better he not attend. Former Jaguars players Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown attended in 2014.

Robinson said he's excited to work with Fitzgerald, who has 909 career receptions in 11 seasons with the Cardinals.

"I think that's the main thing, to go out there with an elite group like that just challenging each other and learning a lot from some vets," said Robinson, who caught 48 passes for 548 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie before missing the final six games with a stress fracture in his foot. "That's a pretty elite group of receivers going out there so when you're going out there with the best, take something out of it and learn from the vets and try to improve yourself."

Hurns said he's looking forward to learning how Fitzgerald and some of the league's other receivers take care of their bodies during both the season and the offseason.

"It's always nice to see what others are doing so you can pick things up," said Hurns, who led the Jaguars in receiving yards (677) and receiving touchdowns (six) last season.

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Denzel Perryman could start for San Diego Chargers

NFL Nation reporter Eric D. Williams assesses which rookies on the Chargers could earn a starting berth this season.

Why Denzel Perryman could start: As Chargers head coach Mike McCoy likes to say, the Chargers drafted inside linebacker Perryman in the second round for a reason -- he adds physicality and playmaking ability to the middle of a San Diego defense that struggled to stop the run last season. Donald Butler and Manti Te'o are still projected to start at inside linebacker in San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano’s 3-4 defensive scheme. However, the duo missed a combined eight games in 2014. Perryman provides talented insurance should one of those two suffer an injury again in 2015. He also will see time on special teams. “We needed to get that depth, and to get guys that will make it competitive out there,” Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said about the addition of Perryman. “It not only makes us better on defense, he makes our special teams better. And it pushes the veterans to always play at a higher level. Any position that we’ve had over the years, anytime there’s a lot of depth or guys pushing each other, that’s when you get the most out of each unit.”

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Duke Johnson getting work at WR, KR

The Browns are looking to develop running back Duke Johnson into more than just a running back. Johnson is competing to be the team's kick returner and is learning how to return punts, according to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Along with his special teams work, Johnson has also been getting playing time at wide receiver and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said the plan is to use Johnson as a running back and receiver moving forward, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.

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Final man sentenced for Miami-Dade murder of Redskins star Sean Taylor

SeanTaylor copy
The first man to plead guilty in the 2007 slaying of NFL star Sean Taylor in Palmetto Bay was the last to be officially sentenced on Friday, getting 29 years in prison.

Venjah Hunte, who drove a band of young men to the ill-fated burglary that ended in the football player’s slaying, begged Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy to reduce a sentence he had agreed to long ago.

“I truly believe I should be punished,” Hunte said, his voice cracking. “I’m just asking for a second chance.”

But Murphy said he saw no reason to change the terms of a plea agreement in which Hunte, 27, agreed to cooperate with the state. Friday’s hearing capped years of agonizing for Hunte, who pleaded guilty early on but proved to be a problematic witness for prosecutors and was never called to testify.

Hunte was one of five young men from Fort Myers who drove to Miami in November 2007 to burglarize the home of Taylor. The homegrown football legend starred at the University of Miami, then as a safety for the Washington Redskins.

The burglars did not realize Taylor was home. Prosecutors say 17-year-old Eric Rivera shot and killed Taylor. The others were all charged with felony murder for participating in the burglary that led to Taylor’s demise.

Rivera was convicted of murder in 2013 trial and was sentenced to just over 57 years in prison. Mastermind Jason Mitchell is doing life in prison after his conviction at trial.

Timmy Lee Brown, who was 16 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty and is doing 18 years behind bars. Charles Wardlow accepted a 30-year prison term.

Hunte pleaded guilty just eight months after the crime and was to be sentenced only after everyone else had closed their cases. But Hunte later sought to withdraw his plea, claiming that his defense attorney did not fully explain it to him. He ultimately backed down.

Then in 2010, from jail, Hunte sent a letter to the mother of Wardlow, saying that her son was innocent. Though Hunte later admitted the letter was a lie — it served “to muck up” the remaining cases, prosecutor Reid Rubin told the court.

Prosecutors declined to violate his plea agreement, but they could have asked he be sent to prison for life.

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The Rock tells unforgettable story of Warren Sapp's early Miami trash talk

Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, is a wrestling legend and an entertainment icon in Hollywood, but before all of that, he was a Miami Hurricanes football player.

Johnson was lucky enough to be a part of a great Hurricanes squad in Dennis Erickson's first class. He played with Jessie Armstead, Gino Torretta, Mike Barrow, Darryl Williams, Ray Lewis. Also on the list? Warren Sapp.

Johnson's first run-in with Sapp was a memorable one and The Rock shared the behind-the-scenes backstory with Dan Patrick on Friday.

Sapp, who originally came to Miami as a tight end, made the move to the defensive line in spring practice. During his first defensive line meeting Sapp told Johnson "I'm taking your spot."

"Like true defensive linemen would do, full of ego, especially down at Miami because we all talked trash, I said 'Well, you ain't taking my spot,'" Johnson told Patrick "Then about six months later, he took my spot."

Johnson also discussed which former Hurricanes teammate would've made a great wrestler, as well as his new HBO show "Ballers," which premieres Sunday, June 21 at 10 p.m. ET.

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Giants sign first round pick OL Ereck Flowers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today concluded their offseason program and completed an important transaction when they signed first-round draft choice Ereck Flowers to a multi-year contract.

Flowers did not use an agent and instead negotiated the contract himself.

“It was great,” he said. “(I) talked to them. Got a great deal done. Everything went good. It was smooth.”

Flowers, the ninth overall selection in the NFL Draft, is on track to be the Giants’ starting left tackle on opening day after playing there during the OTAs and the minicamp that concluded today.

“I made a lot of progress,” Flowers said. “I have a better understanding of the plays. I got a lot more comfortable out there. Everything was a success.”

When the Giants selected the 6-6, 329-pound Flowers on April 30, they envisioned him as a potential left tackle, though not immediately. But Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle lifting weights on May 18. Flowers, who had been working at right tackle, moved down the line.

“We like him as a future left tackle of the New York Giants,” offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. “I am very comfortable with him being out there right now. Nothing is ever set in stone. We look forward to getting back here in camp and seeing him jump in there right from the beginning and give a run at it.”

Offensive line is the position group that is perhaps most difficult to evaluate in the spring. The players do not wear pads and there is no hitting in practice. The coaches must wait until training camp to see players engage in full contact with the team’s – and opponents’ -- defensive linemen.

“I use the term that I really feel and still feel that Ereck is going to be a very good player for the New York Giants for a long time,” offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said.  “I thought in a couple years he would be very good. Well, that couple years now is September.”

McAdoo and Flaherty said Flowers performed well in his first series of tests.

“I am excited to have Ereck,” McAdoo said. “I think he has done a nice job so far. He is a young player. He is going to grow, but my concerns are we would like to see him get in here in training camp in great condition and ready to go. Get some good defensive ends over there and get some good one-on-one battles going with some pads on. We are excited for that. We are out there running around in our underwear right now, so it is tough to really put a solid foundation or evaluation on these guys at this point up front. They seem to be working well together, Ereck included.”

“I really have a positive attitude toward him,” Flaherty said, “because he is a guy from the time we went down to visit with him, he really likes the game of football, he has trained very hard in the weight room and he is a competitor. And when you have those types of elements as a person, you have a chance to develop into a player. It is going to take some development. We all know that because of the injury to William that this development has been escalated, so we (have) to go.”

If Flowers is in the lineup in Dallas on Sept. 13, he will be the third Giants rookie lineman to start the opener in as many seasons, joining Justin Pugh (2012) and Weston Richburg (2013). Pugh is playing left guard next to Flowers after moving over from right tackle. Richburg has switched from left guard to center, his natural position.

“I learned some things from Justin that helped Weston and learned some things from Weston in combination with Justin that have helped Ereck,” Flaherty said. “The biggest thing with these guys is, ‘How much time can you spend with them and just keep giving them the information so they just absorb it and digest it.’ One thing you find out with the younger players is they have to go out and do it and they have to do it and do it, the more reps they get. That is what I did in the past and we did in the past. You don’t want to work a guy until he is crawling off the field, but you want to work him to his brink because the more reps he is getting, the better off and the opportunity to get to teach him on tape and he is experiencing that.”

Both Pugh and Richburg had some rocky moments as rookies, but exhibited far more good than bad and quickly became stalwarts on the line. Flaherty expects his latest high draft choice to be similarly successful.

“Ereck, from day one when he was drafted, before he even took a snap with us, when he was up here, we sat and talked,” Flaherty said.

“As I went through a couple of the other (draft-eligible) guys, one asked me, ‘What are your expectations of me if I get drafted by the Giants?’ Ereck never asked me that. Through the conversation, I guess he realized what I was telling him, you were drafted with the ninth pick by the New York Giants for a reason and that reason is that from day one you are going to compete to be a player. I did tell him at that time nobody knows when that day is. It could be the first day, it could be the 25th day, it could be the 10th day. But my goal as a coach is to always get you ready to be ready that first day. That is kind of what we talked about. I didn’t tell him his rookie season is over. You are going to be a rookie, they are going to treat you like a rookie, but I think he will grow and mature at a rapid pace.”

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Yasmani Grandal belts two solo home runs on Sunday

Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal recorded his fourth-career two-homer game in Sunday's 10-2 win over the Giants. Grandal hit a pair of solo bombs of Yusmeiro Petit in the third and fourth inning, giving him a total of 10 home runs on the year.

Grandal also singled in the game, as he went 3 for 5 with the two home runs. Before Sunday's offensive explosion, Grandal had been rather cold at the plate. The three hits he collected on Sunday match the total from his previous four starts.

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Ryan Braun doubles, triples in loss to Rockies

Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun went 2 for 4in Sunday's loss to the Rockies.

Braun slammed a triple and a double while recording an RBI and a run in the loss.

The multi-hit performance was Braun's best in quite some time. In the eight games prior to Sunday, Braun had just two hits in 30 at-bats.

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Ryan Braun says thumb 'feels pretty good'

Kansas City – Since undergoing another cryotherapy procedure on his troublesome right thumb on June 3, Ryan Braun has cooled considerably at the plate.

In 12 games, Braun is hitting just .233 with one homer, three RBI and an OPS of .678 compared to a month of May in which he hit .272 with 8 homers, 28 RBI and posted an OPS of .932.

Asked how his thumb has been feeling since the latest procedure, Braun was fairly tight-lipped.

“Overall it feels pretty good,” he said. “I’m happy with where it’s at.”

Braun had the first procedure done on his thumb last October, just days after the season ended. Braun entered some uncharted territory by having it done in-season this time, and he sat out two games immediately after as a result.

Braun homered in his first at-bat back in Minnesota, but had just three extra-base hits in the 11 games since entering Thursday.

“The difference obviously was in October we weren’t playing baseball at all,” he said. “When you’re still playing and still dealing with it, it’s a much different set of circumstances than October.

“But overall it feels really good.”

Counsell said Braun’s recent dropoff at the plate looks more to him like a player going through the typical ups and downs than someone struggling to play through injury.

“This is a baseball season thing,” he said. “You have good stretches and you have bad stretches. I think he’s going through a little rough patch. I’m fully expecting a big game any day, really. Every hitter’s going to go through these. We went through this thing with Adam Lind and then all of a sudden he had a great week or whatever.

“So it’s similar to that for me.”

Braun, too, maintained he’s just fighting through a tough stretch.

“Just the way the season goes,” he said. “It’s a tough game. It’s been a really challenging season for us. A daily fight to try to stay positive, to stay optimistic because it’s been a pretty miserable experience for us to this point.

“It’s really been pretty terrible overall.”

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Vince Wilfork's 'world's greatest farter' shirt gets big laughs

If you had any doubts about Houston Texans tackle Vince Wilfork’s ability to parent or fart, he has an epic T-shirt to clear up that confusion.

During a press conference from Texans camp, Wilfork was sporting a T-shirt that reads: “World’s greatest farter…I mean father.” According to ESPN’s Tania Ganguli, the shirt was a Father’s Day gift a few years ago.

In summation, Vince Wilfork is awesome

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Ladarius Gunter Getting First Team Reps

LaDarius Gunter, cornerback, Green Bay Packers.

That’s who LaDarius Gunter is.

Gunter was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Miami, this year. And with the Packers having drafted cornerbacks with their first and second-round picks, Gunter clearly has no shot of making the roster.


Not according to cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt.

With Casey Hayward sidelined and Micah Hyde, for some reason, playing only safety, the Packers have been giving plenty of work to their young cornerbacks through OTAs and minicamp. Whitt says three of them have stood out — the two guys you’d expect to stand out and Gunter.

“That group in particular,” Whitt said, “has sort of separated themselves from the group of eight young guys. Now, one of those three got to separate themselves from those three guys, which who that’ll be, I don’t know. They all have talent.

“(Damarious Randall) is probably the most talented of those three, but (Quinten Rollins) has great instincts. He’s probably the most instinctual, and (Gunter) probably has the most technique right now, but they all have a long ways to go.”

Gunter played two pretty nondescript seasons at Miami, where his career totals were 55 tackles and three interceptions. While he has the size (6-2, 202) that no other cornerback on the Packers roster has, Gunter was hurt by a dreadfully slow (for a cornerback) 4.69 40 time at the combine.

That appears to be the primary reason he wasn’t drafted. Some talent evaluators had him pegged as a possible fourth-round pick.

Now, we don’t legitimately think Gunter could be a starting corner for the Packers this season, but he’s already making a case for a roster spot.

“He’s shown to me that he deserves an opportunity to be in the conversation with those other two guys with how he’s played. So he’s going to be given that opportunity,” Whitt said. “… He hasn’t been giving up completions. He’s just done a nice job. He has a long ways to go, too.”

Who knows.

Maybe we’re looking at the next Sam Shields here.

On the flip side, this is not good news for Demetri Goodson.

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Seantrel Henderson lines up with third team in return to minicamp

Seantrel Henderson's travel issues were cleared up and he was on the field for minicamp Wednesday.

However, the Buffalo Bills' right tackle found himself lining up with the third team in his return to practice.

"You're not here for a day, you miss a day, so you're a day behind. It's that simple," said offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who largely brushed off any questions about Henderson. "I just think that's what we did today based on where we're at."

The team did not make Henderson available to the media following the practice.

Henderson is thought to be in the mix for one of the two starting tackle spots this season along with Cordy Glenn and Cyrus Kouandjio, so being bumped down to the third team could be punishment for missing Tuesday's practice, or an indicator of the coaching staff's evaluation of his performance.

While Henderson was back at practice, the following players did not participate Wednesday: safeties Aaron Williams and Wes Miller, cornerback Cam Thomas, linebacker Tony Steward and guards Chris Williams and Alex Kupper.

Steward and Miller were seen at practice on the sideline, while coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday that Chris Williams was at the team facility. It's not known whether Aaron Williams is attending the mandatory minicamp as he has yet to be seen. Kupper, meanwhile, practiced Tuesday.

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Leonard Hankerson off to strong start

Leonard Hankerson, who will compete with Hardy for playing time, has made a number of impressive catches during Minicamp and, as someone who played for Kyle Shanahan in Washington, feels comfortable in the new offense.

“What we really like about Hank’s game is that big catching radius,” said Quinn. “He’s got long arms and can go catch it whether it’s low or high, all the deep overs that he’s a factor on. So that’s one of the things that really jumped out.”


Jimmy Graham Unveiled On NFL Network's Top 100 Players Of 2015

He's yet to play an official down in blue and green, but tight end Jimmy Graham - acquired by Seattle in a March trade with the New Orleans Saints - is the fourth Seahawks player to appear on NFL Network's countdown of the Top 100 Players of 2015.

On Wednesday night, Graham was unveiled at No. 31 on the network's list, which is determined solely by NFL players. He joins strong safety Kam Chancellor (No. 41), linebacker Bobby Wagner (No. 69), and defensive end Michael Bennett (No. 90).

It's a slide in the player-driven pecking order for Graham, who was voted the 10th-best player in the League last year, a slot that made him the only tight end ever to appear in the Top 10 of the network's ranks.

At the time of his No. 10 vote, Graham was coming off a 2013 season that saw him haul in 86 balls for 1,215 yards and a career-high 16 touchdowns, the second-most scores in the NFL that year to Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (19). But this past year Graham was hampered by a shoulder injury and his production dipped as a result, one of the likely factors in his year-over-year Top-100 fall to No. 31. He still managed to make a team-high 85 grabs for 889 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns in 2014, numbers that made the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Graham an attractive option for the Seahawks this offseason, even if it came at the expense of the team's starting center (Max Unger) and 2014 first-round pick (No. 31 overall).

Graham was able to get his feet wet with his new squad during a week of Russell Wilson-led workouts in the Hawaiian Islands this past April. Roughly one month later, after dealing with a loss in his family, Graham joined the club in an official capacity during OTAs (Organized Team Activities).

“It honestly feels like I’m back in college, that’s how close each and every person is on this team,” Graham said. “The way this team is and the way that this team is run is how it should be for the NFL. It’s such a sense of family here and brotherhood. It’s been incredible, it really has."

NFL Network's countdown of the Top 100 Players of 2015 continues next Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT with players ranked Nos. 30-21. Four Seahawks that made the list last year - cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 7), running back Marshawn Lynch (No. 14), free safety Earl Thomas (No. 17), and quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 20) - have yet to be unveiled on this year's ballot.


Duke Johnson has a contract

There was no announcement of a contract agreement between the Browns and running back Duke Johnson before the start of the team’s minicamp on Tuesday, but Johnson was taking part in practice which seemed to indicate that such an announcement wasn’t far off.

And it wasn’t. The Browns announced a four-year deal with Johnson on Tuesday evening, which means that the team has signed all 12 of their draft picks.

Johnson became the all-time leading rusher in the history of the University of Miami before the Browns made him a third-round pick in May. He joins Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West in the Cleveland backfield and could wind up on the top of the depth chart if he makes good on comparisons that running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery threw out for the rookie.

“The best way I can describe Duke is what Thurman Thomas was for Buffalo,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to be all over the field. It’s a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ He gives you another dimension. He creates one-on-one problems. We hope he can be a little bit like the kid, [Giovani] Bernard, in Cincinnati. If he can do that for us, that gives us a different perspective on how we approach the field and gives us a chance to move people around and taking advantage of a mismatch.”

Johnson and the Browns wrap up minicamp over the next two days and then will reconvene for training camp next month.

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Clive Walford Excited to Sign Pro Contract

With the signing of 3rd round Draft pick TE Clive Walfordicon-article-link, the Raiders are now one Draft pick away from having their entire 2015 Draft class under contract.

“Feels great, a little bit of an accomplishment. This is only the beginning,” Walford said. “I’m trying to do what I did at Miami; I’m trying to leave a legacy. When I’m done playing this sport I just want people to remember my name.”

Walford has been turning heads in Mini-Camps and Organized Team Activities and has lived up to the billing that he’s faster than he times.

“I’d say I have game speed, playing speed. It didn’t really show up at the Combine, but when the ball is snapped, I just change my speed and play with a burst,” said Walford during a recent press conference.

DE Mario Edwards, Jr., is the Raiders only unsigned selection from the 2015 NFL Draft.

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Ereck Flowers, negotiating his own contract, doesn't see a holdout in his Giants future

EAST RUTHERFORD ‐ First-round pick Ereck Flowers says he's getting close with the Giants on his rookie contract. He should know. Flowers is serving as his own agent.

There is no real rush (and really very little room to negotiate), but the No. 9 overall selection is the highest-drafted player still without a rookie deal. Last week he told NJ Advance Media negotiations were "going good." This week he added that he doesn't believe a training camp holdout is in his future.

"I don't really see it getting to that point," Flowers said on Wednesday after practicing on Day 2 of minicamp.

Rookies without contracts can participate in the spring because they signed waivers that guarantee teams will negotiate in good faith in case of injury. It held up in the case of Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler, the No. 3 overall pick who tore his ACL earlier this spring.

These past few months have been important for Flowers and the Giants. They are trying to get him up to speed to be their left tackle after Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in the weight room last month.

Flowers has even been double-shifting with the first and second-team offenses. He believes the extra reps are paying off.

"I'm leaving here better and trying to come back even better than when I left," Flowers said. "I think I've gotten a lot better since I'm here."

Organized team activities and minicamp can only show so much about a linemen (offensive and defensive). As defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo explained Tuesday, you really evaluate the players' ability to learn in the spring.

Coach Tom Coughlin knows the real evaluation will come this summer during training camp.

"It is not easy," Coughlin said last week about evaluating linemen without pads. "You look at every tape and try to be as technical as you can, but there are obvious restrictions for both defense and offense without the pads."

Flowers believes he's making the most of the situation. He was considered raw coming out of the University of Miami, but blessed with tremendous physical skills.
"What I've really learned is technique," he said. "You have to use more technique without pads."

The power and nastiness that comes with the aircraft carrier has been temporarily tempered by the rules.

"You can't finish right now," Flowers said. "You'll get someone hurt."

Eventually, though, Flowers will be under contract and able to show what he can really do.

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J.J. Watt is taking lessons in leadership from Vince Wilfork

When Vince Wilfork first joined the Houston Texans, he said that all he wanted to do was free J.J. Watt up to be himself. "I don't want to change his game one bit," Wilfork said. "I'm not coming in here to say, 'You need to do this differently.' No. You continue to do what you do. We're going to learn off of you. We're going to play off of you. My goal is to let J.J. be J.J. I'm pretty sure the coaching staff is going to feel the same way."

Now that the two players are in camp together, though, it seems Wilfork couldn't help but dispense some valuable leadership advice. "He said, 'Listen, just keep doing what you're doing,'" Watt said, per ESPN.com. "I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing. Keep working hard. Lead by example. Be vocal when I feel like I need to be vocal. For the most part, I don't think there's ever any better leadership style than going out there and working as hard as you possibly can and setting an example for us to follow.

"He's seen championship teams, he's been around great players, great leaders. Obviously myself being a leader I'm always trying to be the best leader I can be, so I go to him and [ask], 'What made your championship teams great? How did you guys get to where you were?' Then I just let him speak and listen to what he has to say. Let him talk about my leadership style, what he thinks I can do better."

For his part, Wilfork seems very impressed with Watt as both a player and a leader already, independent of anything the younger player (and current best defensive player on the planet) might pick up from one of the best defensive linemen of his time. "Just to be with him every day to see exactly what he puts in, because a lot of guys don't put a lot of work in the game," Wilfork said. "They just get to a certain level and they get complacent. They're just happy with where they're at. To see him work every day, he's going to be a great player for a long time and it all starts with the way he works. He makes me work harder."

These two already seem like a match made in heaven.

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Eagles sign offensive lineman Jared Wheeler

The Eagles released guard Evan Mathis last week, leaving themselves with both an empty roster spot and an empty place in their offensive line group.

They filled those spots on Monday. The Eagles announced that they have signed offensive lineman Jared Wheeler to a one-year contract after working him out earlier in the day.

Wheeler was signed as undrafted free agent out of Miami last year by the Seahawks and bounced from Seattle to Carolina and Buffalo during his first NFL season. Wheeler never saw any regular season action in any of the stops, however, and he’s an unlikely candidate to wind up in the lineup or replace the production Mathis provided for the Eagles over the years.

The Eagles may still be in the market for a player who could offer more of a chance to do those things, although such players are probably only arriving at this point in the offseason via a trade or after they’re released by their current club.

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Could Duke Johnson become the top dawg in Cleveland?

If Browns running back coach Wilbert Montgomery's analysis is correct, it might not be long before Duke Johnson is seeing significant action in Cleveland.

Montgomery mentioned Johnson in the same breath as Hall of Fame Bills running back Thurman Thomas and Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard when discussing Johnson's potential.

Montgomery isn't penciling Johnson into the starting lineup just yet, but he sees Cleveland's third-round pick becoming a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

"The best way I can describe Duke is what Thurman Thomas was for Buffalo," Montgomery said last week via the Akron-Beacon Journal. "It's going to be all over the field. It's a 'Where's Waldo?' He gives you another dimension. He creates one-on-one problems. We hope he can be a little bit like the kid, Bernard, in Cincinnati. If he can do that for us, that gives us a different perspective on how we approach the field and gives us a chance to move people around and taking advantage of a mismatch."

Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell might have something to say about Johnson's playing time. Last year's Baby Backs battled with Ben Tate for playing time, leading to Tate's premature exit from Cleveland after eight games. 

Johnson will also have to prove that he can handle a heavy workload. His draft stock declined some amid concerns over his 5-foot-9, 207-pound frame and his 242 carries for Miami last season marked the first time he rushed the ball more than 150 times. Nevertheless, he still became the Hurricanes' all-time leading rusher with 1,652 yards his final season -- ahead of Frank Gore, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, and Willis McGahee.

"It’s hard to have an every-down back in this league," Montgomery added. "There’s too much punishment going on out there on the field. We’ve got to carve out a role for Duke. It wouldn’t be fair [when] we have never put the pads on yet to say, ‘He’s our starter.’ We don’t know how he’s going to recover from practice to practice yet. It’s totally different from college to here. He wasn't utilized that way at Miami a lot."

Head coach Mike Pettine and left tackle Joe Thomas raved about Johnson during the second week of OTAs. Adam Caplan of ESPN also walked away impressed and thinks West and Crowell have something to worry about in terms of playing time. 

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Bryant McKinnie on Canes: ‘They Need Those Personalities We Had’

Coming off a six-win season thronged with calamity, the Miami Hurricanes lost five players to the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. The future is uncertain but Vegas isn’t optimistic, pegging their over/under next year at 5.5 wins early in the offseason.

Clearly expectations have plummeted radically since the Canes of the early 2000s when the annual expectation was National Championship or bust.
Bryant McKinnie, a key cog at left tackle for those teams who went on to play 12 years in the NFL, thinks although “maybe they’re not being coached properly,” the mentality of the team is lacking compared to the old days.

“See they need those personalities that we had back then,” McKinnie said on the Kup and Crowder Show . “It was a lot of big personalities. We had a lot of people who wanted to take each other’s position. When you came in, you had James Jackson. Clinton Portis was like ‘oh I’m coming to take your position.’ I was coming to take the left tackle’s position. Everybody was coming to take somebody’s position and didn’t care and would battle each week in practice because they wanted their name called. That was the mentality and I feel like now they kind of sit back and say ‘Oh, I’m just happy to be here and go to UM.'”

“It was like alright we go to UM, but we want to play, we want to start so we were battling each other like we didn’t know each other because we wanted to take somebody’s position.”

If Bryant could change one thing with the current football program what would it be?

“I would let it go back to what it was, where you allow people to show their personality,” he said. “Let their personality shine and stop trying to make people become what you want them to be. Let them be who they are and go out there and play how they want to play. That’s how we always were. They never tried to make us conform and be like these good guys.”

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Jimmy Graham can block anyone

Jimmy Graham is one of the most-feared pass catchers in the NFL, but according to the All-Pro tight end, he can be an equally dominant blocker.

"Listen, man, I'm 270 pounds. I can block anybody I want to," he said, via 710 ESPN Seattle. "It's all about want-to. We'll see come this first Sunday."

Well, the Seahawks hope Graham is serious as he transitions into Seattle’s run-heavy system from the pass-happy Saints offense.

"For me, that's really the main focus of this offseason is really to get my mind wrapped around this run game because it is a little different," Graham told 710 ESPN recently. "I've never been in a read-option type of system, but they also do just straight-up run the ball. So for me it's some different concepts, and their footwork is a lot different than the way I've done it. But it's exciting, something new and I think just the evolution of kinda my game and growing as a player."

The entire Seahawks coaching staff has talked to Graham about the importance of blocking in their system, and according to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, “it’s something that he's totally willing to do.”

“He's excited about it,” Bevell said. “I think he kinda has a little chip; he wants to prove it as well. We're looking forward to that."

But let’s be honest for a moment. As long as Graham keeps hauling in touchdown passes — he has 51 in five season in the league — the Seattle media and coaching staff won’t harp on him too hard about his work at the line of scrimmage. 

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Devin Hester unsure about his role in Falcons’ offense

In his first year in Atlanta last season, Devin Hester found a role in the Falcons’ offense, and Atlanta made use of his unique skills in a way that the Bears, for whom he played in his first eight NFL seasons, struggled to do.

But after catching 38 passes for 504 yards last season, Hester is unsure whether he’ll have the same kind of role in Atlanta’s offense this season, with new coordinator Kyle Shanahan running the show.

“It’s still up in the air right now,” Hester told ESPN. “We’re just figuring out the offense, figuring out who fits best in what positions and what routes we’re running. We’re all fresh right now in the new offense, so we’re trying to figure out who can run the best routes. Toward mid-training camp, you’ll be able to tell.”

Hester is the best return man in NFL history and will remain the Falcons’ return specialist. Anything he can give the Falcons on offense is gravy.

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Early results have been positive for Colts rookie Phillip Dorsett

INDIANAPOLIS -- To no surprise, Indianapolis Colts rookie Phillip Dorsett has not been a disappointment so far. The Colts wouldn't have taken him in the first round considering their need for help on defense and the offensive line if they didn't feel Dorsett was worth taking at No. 29.

What's been even more impressive about Dorsett is his ability to line up at different spots on offense. The speedster will get first crack at returning kicks and punts for the Colts.

"We wouldn't be moving him around if he wasn't able to handle that," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “His aptitude has impressed me. Obviously, speed is his calling card. But it's not just that. He's a fast guy who can play football. He has receiver's hands and he has elusiveness and change of direction that sometimes true speed freaks don't have. A lot of time they're straight-liners or can't catch, or they're little guys that lack toughness or true hands. He has that skill set."

Dorsett is competing to be the Colts' No. 3 receiver with Donte Moncrief and Duron Carter. Dorsett's signature moment (so far) came during one of the early portions of organized team activities when he blew by Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis and hauled in a long pass from quarterback Andrew Luck.

As far as the other rookies go, safety Clayton Geathers has made an early impression that will make it tough to keep him off the field. He'll be used in a hybrid safety/linebacker role. Defensive end Henry Anderson could back up Kendall Langford, cornerback D'Joun Smith is the frontrunner to be the Colts' fourth cornerback behind Davis, Greg Toler and Darius Butler. David Parry will try to get in the rotation at defensive tackle. And Josh Robinson is competing with Daniel Herron, Vick Ballard (if healthy) and Zurlon Tipton to be Frank Gore's backup at running back.

"We want them to be pros, not rookies," Grigson said. "We want them to contribute this year. And to do those things, you can't just sit back and say, 'Hey, I'm a rookie.' Same as in 2012. You've gotta roll."

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Vince Wilfork returns to New England for his Super Bowl ring

Houston Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has moved on after 11 seasons with the Patriots, but he returned to New England over the weekend to tie up one important loose end. On Sunday, Wilfork attended a party at owner Robert Kraft's house where members of the 2014 Patriots received their Super Bowl rings.
While another former Patriot, Darrelle Revis, was unable to attend because of a "prior commitment," Wilfork was there and seemed happy to mingle with his former coaches and teammates as he picked up his new hardware.

Wilfork won two Super Bowls during his time in New England. The 33-year-old signed with the Texans in March after the Patriots elected not to pick up his option for the 2015 season.

The five-time Pro Bowler will have a chance to catch up with his old friends again when the Texans host the Patriots Dec. 13.

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Ereck Flowers negotiating his own contract

There were 32 players selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and New York Giants first-rounder Ereck Flowers is the only one of them who didn't hire an agent. Flowers has opted to negotiate his rookie contract by himself with limited help from his father and his lawyer. Although he hasn't come to an agreement yet, Flowers noted that negotiations are going well. When Flowers does finally sign the dotted line, he will be about $432,000 richer for not having hired an agent.

When Flowers is unsure of something discussed during the negotiations, he feels comfortable with the team he has in place.

"I have people I talk to," Flowers said, per True Jersey.

Flowers hopes to get a deal done "soon", but he's not going to rush through the process.

"I'd rather get it done soon," Flowers said. "But as long as it takes. Whatever it takes."

The Giants are certainly hoping that a deal gets done soon. They are counting on big things from their rookie offensive tackle in 2015. Throughout OTA practices, Flowers has lined up exclusively as the starting left tackle. 

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Jimmy Graham explains why basketball players are good tight ends

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham was a college basketball player who became a Pro Bowl player in the NFL. That’s nothing new for his position.

The same was true for former Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez and San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

Graham only played one season of college football at the University of Miami, but four seasons of basketball. Gonzalez played football and basketball at California, helping the Bears make the Sweet 16 his junior year.

Gates was a high school basketball star in Detroit, averaging 27 points and 12 rebounds his senior season, before signing with Michigan State. But Nick Saban, who was the football coach at Michigan State at the time, wanted Gates to only play football.

Gates ended up at Kent State his final two years of college, averaging 21 points and 8 rebounds his senior season, when Kent State advanced to the Elite Eight.
So what is it about these guys that enabled them to become successful NFL tight ends after playing college basketball?

“We have really good body control and foot work,” Graham said on John Clayton’s 710 ESPN Seattle radio show. “When the ball’s in the air, it doesn’t matter where it is, we can adjust to it. And now when you come down, you don’t have to worry about a hardwood floor. You have some nice grass to land on.”

Or turf, but it's still softer than hardwood. Graham (6-foot-7, 270 pounds) is huge for an NFL tight end, but not so much for a forward in college basketball.

“A lot of the guys who transitioned from basketball to football were undersized big men, for the most part,’’ Graham said. “You get used to going against guys who are 6-11 or taller. You either have to be real strong or real tough or both.”

Graham said he learned a lot from Gonzalez, a former division rival in the NFC South when Graham played for the New Orleans Saints and Gonzalez was with the Falcons. Gonzalez was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection who retired after the 2013 season. He’s a lock for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“My first Pro Bowl [2011] I was there with Tony and really picked his brain,” Graham said. “He looked to teach me a lot of things. Even though we were in the same division, he was so generous with giving me information. He would talk about how he preps in the offseason and all the little details.”

Graham said those tips have made a big difference in his career. Graham has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four years, including the last two seasons. He has 51 career TD receptions, 40 of which came on plays that started in the red zone.

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