Browns don't envision Duke Johnson as starter

DukeJohnsonCanes
Beat writer Nate Ulrich says the Browns would like Johnson "to eventually develop into the (lead-back) role," but he won't open the season as Cleveland's first-team back. (Akron Beacon Journal)

Fantasy Impact: While Johnson may not be a starter this year there will still be plenty of opportunity for him to see the field due to his receiving skills. The team has repeatedly likened Johnson to Giovani Bernard, who had 226 touches as a rookie in 2013. Duke Johnson remains valuable in late rounds of ppr leagues.


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(fantasypros.com)
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Ladarius Gunter continues to impress at Green Bay Packers camp

LadariusGunterCanes
There was a lot of attention on the Green Bay Packers first two draft picks from this past spring. Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall were, and still are, expected to play major roles in the defense but if they’re not careful they could see a portion of their snaps being given to an undrafted free agent. LaDarius Gunter followed up his strong work in the off-season during mini-camps and OTA’s with another strong practice on the first day of an NFL training camp.

Early in the team portion of practice, Gunter mirrored second year wide receiver Jared Abbrederis on a fade route and came down with an interception off of the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers throws interceptions in practice just as often as he does in games (rarely) so it’s fairly notable that the undrafted cornerback out of Miami (FL) was able to make a play at the expense of one of the best players in the league.

It’s just one play on the first day of camp so excitement has to be tempered a bit. In fact, Gunter got a lesson from Rodgers later in practice when he threw a dime past Gunter on a seam route to 3rd year wide receiver Myles White. Head coach Mike McCarthy also noted that it’s only day 1 but likes what he’s seen from Gunter and said “He’s done some good things. I think he’s gone in there and competed well. Like a lot of our young guys, he’s flashed. But we’re in day 1.”

LaDarius Gunter was well thought of for his skills as a corner but many questioned whether or not he would be able to transition to the NFL due to his lack of athleticism. Out of all cornerbacks at the NFL Combine last February, Gunter ran the slowest with a 4.64. He certainly has the size at 6’2″ that a lot of teams are looking for and his ability to play press-man coverage was among the best in last year’s class.

Fellow cornerback and Hurricane alum Sam Shields made the team as an undrafted free agent for Green Bay in 2010. He did so by making plays nearly every day in training camp. It’s very early but the body of work between the off-season and after the first day of training camp are promising for Gunter and he’s going to be hard to keep off the field if he continues his level of play.


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(endzonescore.com)
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Clive Walford Looking Forward To The Opportunity Raiders Training Camp Brings

CliveWalfordCanes
Rookie tight end Clive Walfordicon-article-link spoke to the media Thursday at the team’s Napa Valley Training Complex.

Walford was impressive throughout the Raiders offseason program and spoke about the weight of expectations entering training camp, as well as the leadership ability of second-year quarterback Derek Carricon-article-link.

IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK
Walford and the rest of the Raiders rookies, in addition to select players, were back on the field earlier this week taking part in pre-camp workouts.

The several days of work were important for Walford to prepare for the start of his first NFL training camp.

“It’s good to get out here and get our feet up under us, get the blood flowing and get the feel for it before the veterans get out here. It feels great.”

DEALING WITH EXPECTATIONS
Walford performed impressively during the team’s offseason program, and many are hopeful that he can turn into the dual-threat tight end that the Raiders have been searching for.

However, the rookie tight end isn’t letting outside expectations hinder his personal goals.

“I do have my personal goals and my personal expectations, but I’m just trying to get better. I won’t look too far ahead. That’s what training camp is for, to try to earn a spot on the roster and a starting job, and that’s what I’m aiming for.”

EVERY DAY IS AN OPPORTUNITY
Since he was drafted, Walford has been busy both in the playbook and working on his craft on the field.

He’s also realizing the importance of every snap and repetition that he gets.

“You have to know your plays, and when your number is called you have to make plays and be able to be there and be available.”

THOUGHTS ON DEREK CARR
Walford has only spent a few months with the Raiders quarterback, but during their brief time together, Carr has made an impression on the former Miami Hurricane.

“A great leader. He reaches out to everybody. He tries to make sure everybody is doing the right thing and feeling good about themselves. He’s a great leader to me.”

ENERGY IS HIGH
Although only half the roster was eligible to participate in the team’s pre-camp workouts, Walford insists that the energy of the coaching staff was unwavering.

“I’d say it’s great energy because you know everybody is able to be themselves. The coaches are not so uptight. They’re really happy to be out here and excited. It’s good energy.”


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(raiders.com)
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Sean Spence hopes for more playing time at crowded linebacker spot

SeanSpenceSteelers
LATROBE -- At times, it’s still hard to believe that linebacker Sean Spence could make a career in the NFL after what he went through early in his career. Anyone familiar with Spence remembers the gruesome knee injury he suffered in the final preseason game of 2012, his rookie season, against Carolina.

The injury caused Spence to miss all of 2012 and 2013, and many believed he would never make it back on the field. But the Steelers held out hope that their former third-round pick would play again, and Spence worked tirelessly to make that happen.

Spence would not only return to the field in 2014, he played in all 16 games at inside linebacker and started eight of them, including the last four of the regular season and the playoff game against Baltimore. He finished the season with 52 tackles and a sack.

Now, with his first year of game experience behind him, Spence has an added comfort level heading into 2015. Spence said that getting a chance to have that extended playing time helped the game slow down for him as the season went on.

“I’m just a lot more comfortable,” Spence said. “The game slowed down a lot for me. Having those game experiences under my belt, I feel more comfortable in what I’m doing. I feel better physically and mentally.”

Spence is just one of several inside linebackers competing for playing time opposite Lawrence Timmons. Last year’s first-round pick, Ryan Shazier, is slated to be the starter, with Spence and Vince Williams behind him. Both Spence and Williams have shown that they are capable of starting at that position. Williams has started 13 games in his two-year career, including 11 in his rookie season of 2013.

The first few days of camp, including Wednesday’s first practice in pads, has shown just how much competition there is at that position. Both Shazier and Williams stood out in Wednesday’s backs-on-backers drill,  Williams in particular.

Spence knows that playing time could be hard to come by with all the talent the team has on the inside, but the competition helps make everybody better.

“I feel like we’re all competing to get better each and every day,” Spence said. “We have a great group of inside linebackers and we’re just going to compete and push each other each and every day.”

Though Spence has only played one season with the Steelers, this will be his fourth year in the league. The Steelers ultimately made the decision to keep him around after his injury because they believed in the potential that Spence showed his rookie year, and Spence rewarded them with his solid play in 2014.

Now, Spence knows that he has more to offer coming into the new season. Whether it’s on defense or special teams, Spence will try and make the most of what’s given to him.

“There’s not too much too much to talk about," Spence said. "You just got to make sure you do it on the field."


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(timesonline.com)
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Devin Hester uncertain of his role in the offense

DevinHesterFalcons
FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons returner Devin Hester, unsure of his role in the new offense, reported for training camp on Thursday.

Hester was used as a wide receiver last season and had a role as the fourth wide receiver.

“It’s still up in the air,” Hester said. “I really don’t know as of right now.”

The Falcons released third wide receiver Harry Douglas over the offseason, but they signed two free agent receivers in Leonard Hankerson and Carlton Mitchell. They also drafted Justin Hardy in the fourth round of the draft.

“The new coaches want us to compete right now and may the best man win,” Hester said.

Hester, Miami, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, caught 38 passes for 504 yards and two touchdowns last season.

He’s one of the most prolific return men in NFL history, holds NFL records for punt return touchdowns (14) and combined career return touchdowns (20).

Over his career, he’s totaled 3,481 yards on 282 punt returns. He has also added 6,632 yards and five touchdowns on 267 career kickoff returns.


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(ajc.com)
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Greg Olsen on Deflategate: 'Huge mess over something relatively minor'

GregOlsenPanthers
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The initial reaction of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen about the league’s decision to uphold the four-game suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady for his role in Deflategate wasn’t complimentary to anyone.

“My initial reaction is it seems to be a huge mess over something relatively minor," Olsen said Thursday as Carolina players reported to training camp at Wofford College. “We’re not privy to all the details. I didn’t read the Wells report. I didn’t read yesterday’s ruling. I don’t really care that much.

“It seems no one knows which direction we’re headed. Unfortunately, now the whole thing has to go to court, which is probably the last thing anybody wanted when this thing started."

Olsen added that the whole matter “could have been handled in a lot better fashion, probably, on all sides."

But he wasn’t underplaying the significance of deflating footballs, as the Patriots were accused of in the AFC Championship Game.

"Listen, there is no insignificance to cheating," Olsen said. “Cheating is cheating. Whether or not [Brady] did or not, I still think there is a little gray area. I don’t think it was inconclusive or conclusive. It’s hard to say whether it happened.

"They [NFL] seemed to think it did. They seem to think they have enough evidence to kind of tip the decision in that direction."


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(espn.com)
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Dolphins, Lamar Miller have had 'no in-depth negotiations'

LamarMillerDolphins2
The 2015 season is an important one for Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller. He's entering his fourth year in the league and the final year of his rookie contract, and is looking for a long-term deal following this season. According to reports, however, it doesn't sound like Miller and the Dolphins will come to an agreement before the season kicks off.

As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald noted, the two sides have had negotiations, but none that were "in-depth." This doesn't come as much of a surprise since there haven't been any reports of the two sides being close to an agreement. It's looking like Miller will play out this season and look for a big deal in free agency.
For Miller, an increased workload should help his case for signing a lucrative contract in the offseason. Philbin said earlier this week that Miller could see more carries this season, after failing to carry the ball more than 19 times in 2014.

"I would tell you I've never been in a meeting where I've said to [offensive coordinator] Bill [Lazor] or [running backs coach] Jeff Nixon or the offensive line coaches have said 'Lamar can't carry the ball 20 times a game, he can't do it,'" Philbin said. "I would tell you, if he's cranking and he got it 24 times a game and he's healthy and he's fast and he's explosive, it doesn't bother me one bit."


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(foxsports.com)
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Antrel Rolle likes playing Aaron Rodgers but why?

AntrelRolleGiants2
It’s always good to say the right things for any player or coach coming into a new situation.

For example, when you come to the Bears, it’s good to say things like “love the city,” “hard-nosed football” and show your disdain for the Packers.

That must have been what new safety Antrel Rolle was aiming at when he rolled into training camp and spoke with the media.



When Bears fans saw this, it had to fire them up. Rah, rah! Yeah, let’s get them Packers!! Finally, a Chicago safety who’s not afraid to strap it on against noted Bears slayer Aaron Rodgers.

It got me wondering, though, why does Rolle, a 10-year veteran with the Cardinals and Giants, like playing so much against Rodgers and the Packers. The guy’s had pretty good success in the NFL, you know, not just against the Bears.

Let’s take a look.

Rolle must be thinking of the Giants’ 27-13 victory over the Packers in 2013 where he had one interception. Er, wait, Scott Tolzien started at QB for the Packers that day.

Ah, here it is. In 2012, Rolle had five tackles in a 38-10 win over the Packers. Rodgers was 14-of-25 for a paltry 219 yards, but almost half of that yardage came on deep balls.

In 2011, the Giants came up just short to the Packers, losing 38-35 in a shootout. Rodgers blistered the Giants’ secondary for 369 yards and four touchdowns.
How about that 2010 game against the Pack?

Nope. Rodgers threw for 404 yards—113 to deep middle—and four TDs in a 37-25 victory over the Giants.

Rolle has no other appearances against Aaron Rodgers in his career.

Be careful what you wish for.


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(suntimes.com)
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proCane Training Camp 2015 NFL Rosters

 photo NFL U Rosters 15 -7.29.15_zpssoorvqur.jpg


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Travis Benjamin may be odd man out for Browns

TravisBenjaminBrowns
The Chronicle-Telegram's Scott Petrak considers Travis Benjamin the early odd man out in the Browns receiving corps.

Benjamin is a seldom-used deep threat who must show he can return kicks to make the team. Last season, Benjamin disappointed as a return man, averaging just 21 yards on kick returns and 2.4 yards per punt return while grading out as PFF's worst returner. Benjamin is pint-sized at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Lamar Miller may have bigger role in Dolphins' offense

LamarMillerDolphins2
Lamar Miller played the best football of his life in 2014, setting career highs in rushing yards, yards per carry and touchdowns. The biggest question that came out of this breakout performance was why he didn't see the ball more.

Miller never had more than 19 carries in a game last season. He had nine games where he had 14 carries or less. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he's comfortable with giving Miller more a workhorse role in 2015.

"I would tell you I've never been in a meeting where I've said to (offensive coordinator) Bill (Lazor) or (running backs coach) Jeff Nixon or the offensive line coaches have said 'Lamar can't carry the ball 20 times a game. He can't do it,'" Philbin told ESPN.com. "I've never heard that. That's never come out of my mouth."

"I would tell you, if he's cranking and he got it 24 times a game and he's healthy and he's fast and he's explosive, it doesn't bother me one bit," Philbin said. "But I think sometimes it's not taken into account what our run game is all about.

Philbin explained that a lot of Miami's play calls are options. There are called running plays for Miller, but it's not the typical nature of the offense.
"I think that cuts into the carries a little bit," the coach said.

Miller is entering the final year of his contract and a bigger role could set him up well in free agency. He spent the offseason building his body for a bigger workload -- putting on 15 pounds of muscle. He's a player to watch on a compelling Miami team.


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(nfl.com)
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Ed Reed says Ray Lewis is best Raven ever

EdReed3
Lewis or Reed, Reed or Lewis? Picking the best Raven of all time isn't an easy task, but former safety Ed Reed says Ray Lewis has his vote, and the voting public agrees.

The folks over at CSN Baltimore have been hosting a bracket tournament to let fans determine the best Ravens player in franchise history. With Lewis and Reed as the last two players standing, Reed offered up his opinion on who should win, although he didn't partake in the voting.

"If I did I would vote for [Lewis]," Reed said. "I would vote for my big brother. He was there before me."

The fans apparently concurred with Reed, as Lewis ended up the victor with 69 percent of the vote.

There's no doubt that when people think of the Ravens franchise, Ray Lewis is the first player that comes to mind. He was the backbone of one of the best defenses ever in 2000 and a two-time Super Bowl champion. Lewis already had six years under his belt in Baltimore when Reed was drafted in 2002.

Both players came from the University of Miami, and both players finished their time in Baltimore after Super Bowl XLVII. 




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(foxsports.com)
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Could Bengals be interested in Reggie Wayne?

ReggieWayneCanes
ESPN Bengals reporter Coley Harvey thinks free agent Reggie Wayne "might make for a nice addition" in Cincinnati.

Following the loss of WR James Wright (knee) to injured reserve on Tuesday, the Bengals are in the market for some depth at the position. Wayne could bring a veteran presence to a receiving corps whose oldest player is Brandon Tate at 27. Wayne could then slide in as the No. 3/4 receiver and play for a contender.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Andrew Luck's arm gives Frank Gore a chance for rushing success

FrankGore2
INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the reasons running back Frank Gore decided to sign with the Indianapolis Colts -- outside of being on title-contending team -- is because of quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck's arm -- and the playmakers he has to throw to -- will force defenses to be honest and not load the box to try to stop Gore.

I went back and looked at Gore's rushing numbers from last season and it turns out that 69 percent of his rushing attempts were made against a defense that had seven or fewer players in the box.

Gore rushed for 833 yards and three touchdowns on 179 attempts when there were seven men in the box. When it came to facing at least eight men in the box, Gore rushed 76 times for 273 yards and a touchdown last season. Gore's 833 yards against seven or fewer defenders in the box would have been enough to lead the Colts in total rushing in each of the past seven seasons.

As far as the Colts go, Trent Richardson was their leading rusher when facing seven or fewer defenders in the box. He had 134 attempts for 445 yards and a touchdown last season.

The Colts didn't have much success rushing the ball when teams loaded the box against them. Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andrew Luck, Zurlon Tipton and Daniel “Boom” Herron combined to rush for 153 yards on 59 attempts, which is more than 100 yards less than what Gore rushed for.

The numbers don't lie.

Gore should have plenty of success running the ball this season if the offensive line does its job because the Colts have too many weapons on offense for defenses to load the box to try to slow Gore down.


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(espn.com)
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Duane Starks Hired As Scouting Interns

DuaneStarks
Jarret Johnson retired a Raven in May. It’s now late-July and he’s already come out of retirement – kinda.

The former outside linebacker will be a Ravens scouting intern for two weeks during training camp.

Johnson is joined by former Ravens cornerback Duane Starks and former Ravens wide receiver Patrick Williams as part of the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, which was created by the NFL in January 2015 to educate former players interested in a career in professional scouting.

Starks is a former first-round pick who played in Baltimore from 1998 to 2001 and was a key member of the team’s Super Bowl XXXV-winning defense. He scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXV. Williams spent some time on the Ravens’ practice squad in 2011.

The three new interns will be doing a bit of everything. That includes watching practice on the sideline, studying practice tape, giving their evaluations on Ravens and other players around the league, looking at college prospects and all the day-to-day duties of a scouting intern such as meal checks and player weigh-ins.

“We want to immerse these guys because it’s about teaching them the business of scouting to see if this is something they want to pursue, career-wise, moving forward,” DeCosta said.

“We’re proud of these guys. It’s great to give them an opportunity to see what we do and see if this is something they want to do the rest of their lives. They have the experience as a player and they know our organization. … They’ve earned it.”

Starks has also been around the game since retiring. In May 2014, he participated in the NFL sports journalism boot camp. That summer, he was a part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program with the Cincinnati Bengals, working for his former defensive coordinator, Marvin Lewis.  

Starks has been looking for a way back to Baltimore. This was his third year applying for a scouting position with the Ravens.

“I’ve always wanted to be a scout,” Starks said. “I think Ozzie’s been testing me to see if I’m serious or not.”

Starks said he’s had teams call him to get his evaluation on different players over the years. He feels he has a knack for spotting talent.

“Me being a smaller player, I’ve always had to study guys and understand their weaknesses and strengths,” Starks said. “Despite my disadvantages, I was able to have success against guys because I was able to know what they do.”

Williams is also an offensive graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Colorado. He first worked for them as the assistant director of recruiting before moving into coaching in his second year.


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(baltimoreravens.com)
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Clinton Portis offers possible solution for Redskins name issue

clintonportis
Clinton Portis joined Ric Bucher and Nicole Zaloumis on SiriusXM’s Bleacher Report Radio channel Tuesday and was asked for his thoughts on the Redskins name controversy.

[Clinton Portis will work as a Redskins analyst for ESPN 980]

“I think for myself, I’m biased, because all you know as a player when you’re giving your heart, when you’re giving your soul to an organization, it’s ‘Redskin Nation,'” Portis said. “I grew to love ‘Redskin Nation,’ and I think ‘Redskin Nation’ grew to love me. But on the flip side, you have to understand the people who don’t appreciate the name and who the name is offensive to. So, you have to look at it from both sides. Fortunately for me, I had some opportunities to go out and visit some reservations and see people, and talk to people firsthand. A lot of people it really didn’t offend, but a lot of people it [does] offend. Those are the voices that you hear, the people that it does offend.”

Portis said he was recently on vacation and saw a school with the Redskins’ logo and colors.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, this school is still in existence,'” Portis said. “Because the Redskins is such a prominent team and all of the attention made on that organization, and being in D.C. where it’s the hottest topic next to politics every day, you really get the negative attention. And of course, when there’s nothing to talk about, that’s going to dominate the headlines, and it does.”

On Monday, the school board in Goshen, Ind. voted to retire the nearly 90-year-old Redskins nickname for the athletic teams at Goshen High. Portis was asked how he would feel if his former team’s name  changed.

“I think for myself I would have to take the emotions out and see both sides,” Portis said of the name controversy. “… Knowing how huge ‘Redskins Nation’ is and knowing how much Mr. Snyder loves that team, and really acquiring that team, it was acquired for the name, the tradition, the history, the excellence of that organization. And all of a sudden to not have that, and you go from the Redskins to another name, whatever that would be, I think it would take a lot away from the history of that organization.

“But that’s not a call I’m suited to make. For myself and for the lovers of ‘Redskins Nation,’ we will always remember that. It’s like losing a key part of history, which, we see that throughout TV. When you look at the flags being removed, when you look at what society is arguing about and going through, it comes to a time, a decision has to be made, and we have to be able to live with it. So, for myself, I was a part of ‘Redskins Nation,’ it was great. If it lasts, you love it. If it don’t, you understand. … I would hate to see it change, but again, you have to understand everyone else’s point of view, and the people it’s negative and derogative to, you have to understand that.”

Portis was then asked what he would rename the team if it had to change.

“I’m not sure if they could just go to the Skins,” he said. “I’m not sure if that would be as offensive, just dropping the ‘red’ part. The Washington Skins. I think that would kind of preserve the history and the name, but again, my expertise is not on that subject. I understand both sides of it. I understand both arguments.”

On the subject of the Redskins’ quarterback situation, something Portis will be covering in his new role as an analyst for ESPN 980, the former running back suggested the pressure will be on Robert Griffin III to lock down the No. 1 job in training camp.

[Colt McCoy is confident he’s a starting NFL QB]

“I’m going to be looking forward to seeing this in training camp just as you are,” Portis said. “I think we all know RGIII is kind of on the hot seat. Kirk Cousins has his opportunity to come in and play, and he just has to capitalize. … You have a two-headed monster in Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, the kid out of Florida who I think will be great. You’ve got the receivers in [Pierre] Garcon, they go out and get Jamison Crowder. Just having those guys to be able to stretch the field and get open, there’s no excuses. The o-line is intact. The tight end position might be the question mark, whether Jordan Reed and Niles Paul can perform at a high level, but I think they have the pieces on offense that every Redskins fan has wished for, forever and ever, is getting an o-line. … You have everything in place. Now it’s just a competition. You have Colt McCoy, he’s trying to battle. You have three quarterbacks trying to battle for this position, so I think it’s going to be really competitive throughout the preseason.”


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(washingtonpost.com)
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James Jones Gives Back At Summer Camp

JamesJonesHeat
Former Miami Heat player James Jones is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that’s just where he works.

For Jones, Miami will always be home.

On Tuesday morning he kicked off his annual Crew 22 Summer Camp, now in its fifth year. The camp is organized through the James Jones Legacy Foundation and it’s a family affair.

Jones’ parents were on hand to help coach students in kickball and basketball skirmishes.

And Jones himself actively participated with the kids teaching them how to hold  a basketball and schooling them on the court in impromptu pickup games where he showed no mercy.

The four-day camp draws 75 students from across  Miami-Dade and Broward counties from mostly underserved communities.

Jones, who grew up in Carol City, said he wants to be a role model for young people who aspire to dream big. Whether it’s making it into the NBA or becoming a doctor some day.

“It’s a chance to expose the kids because a lot of these kids have never really thought of how far they can go if they focus on their dreams,” Jones said.

Campers play basketball, kickball and tennis, but Jones said that’s just a way to get in, an icebreaker to teach bigger lessons.

Gianna Sotomayor, one of the campers, said having an NBA celebrity like Jones give back to his community showed her that she too can be philanthropic.

Sotomayor, a sixth-grader, said next summer she’s going to miss camp because she wants to go to her father’s native Nicaragua to volunteer working with kids.
“I can give back like he [Jones] did,” she said.

Amari McDuffy,12, said he’s learning about building character and good sportsman-like conduct from Jones.

“He teaches us morals and respect,” he said. “I think it’s cool to learn from an NBA player.”

Jones said he loves Miami and will always find a way to give back, even when he’s playing in Cleveland.

“I’m Miami through and through,” he said.

And in a nod to Jones' love for the 305, all the teams at Crew 22 Summer Camp are named after Miami sports franchises. Among them are Team Panthers, Team Dolphins and Team Heat. 


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(wlrn.org)
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Jemile Weeks making most of his chance with Boston Red Sox

JemileWeeksAthletics
Back in 2011, Jemile Weeks was one of the most promising young players in baseball.

As a 24-year old second baseman for the Oakland Athletics, Weeks played in 96 games in 2011, hitting for a .303 batting average (.340 on-base percentage), with 26 doubles, eight triples, and two home runs, while stealing 22 bases.

However, 2012 was a different story for Weeks.

Following his amazing rookie season, Weeks hit just .221 (.305 OBP), with 15 doubles and 16 steals in 118 games.

Flash forward to 2015, Weeks has played just 25 games in the Majors since 2012, and is hitting a meager .207 for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.

On July 26, the Boston Red Sox 40-man roster included Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, Sean Coyle, and Travis Shaw.

To put it simply, Weeks’ chances of getting back to the Majors looked bleak.

However, an injury to Pedroia landed him on the disabled list and Red Sox manager, John Farrell, elected to recall a struggling Weeks from Triple-A.

Despite being called-up, there was no reason for fans to expect to see much of Weeks in Boston. The Pedroia injury meant that super-utility man, Holt, would assume the second base role until Pedroia came back.

However, during Sunday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers, Holt injured his left knee after a first-inning single. Holt ended up leaving the game in the sixth.
The same day that Weeks was called-up, he was called into action. Weeks took advantage, putting together two solid at-bats and collecting a single, going 1-for-2 in the Red Sox 11-1 dismantling of the Tigers.

As a precautionary measure, Holt was kept out of the Red Sox lineup against the Chicago White Sox on Monday night as well.

Weeks was getting his first Major League start of 2015.

Despite the Red Sox 10-8 defeat, the blame cannot be put on Weeks.

Weeks went 2-for-4 and drove in a run at the plate while playing spectacular defense at second base, even making a sparkling play to steal a base hit away from Melky Cabrera in the top of the eighth inning.

Will Weeks hit .500 all year long?

No.

Will Weeks see a majority of the second base duties for Boston for the remainder of 2015?

Most likely not.

However, Weeks should get some playing time with Pedroia on the DL and Holt nursing a sore left knee.

Look at this as Weeks’ audition. Not only for the Red Sox, but for the entire MLB.

Weeks is still only 28-years old, and the speed that made him such a threat to steal bases in 2011 hasn’t left him.

A solid showing during his stint in the Majors, however long it may be, could help turn Weeks’ career around.


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(outsidepitchmlb.com)
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Could Seahawks sign Reggie Wayne?

ReggieWayneCanes
Despite no contract extension for Russell Wilson - or Bobby Wagner - yet, Seattle could be in pursuit of two veteran free agents, according to ESPN's Jim Trotter.

Those potential options include Dwight Freeney and Reggie Wayne. Should the Seahawks fail to strike a deal with Wilson by Friday, that would allow them to use the money that was set aside to pursue others and fill out the roster. 

The Seahawks already upgraded their offense with Jimmy Graham in the offseason, but adding Wayne could bolster their young wide receiving corps. Wayne had spent his entire 14-year career with the Colts before becoming a free agent this year, but posted just 779 receiving yards and two scores in 2014. 


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(foxsports.com)
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Jon Beason: I feel the best I have in four years

JonBeasonGiants
The 2014 season was a lost year for New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason. After helping to turn a potentially league-worst defensive unit in to a respectable group in 2013, Beason entered 2014 with high expectations.

An early offseason toe injury lingered and Beason was only able to grind his way through four incomplete games before being placed on injured reserve. After an extensive rehab, Beason feels like he's in better health now than he has been in a long time.

"I feel great. I can tell you I feel the best I’ve felt in four years," Beason said to Steve Serby of the New York Post. "I feel young. I feel like a kid again — but then I have to eat those words (chuckle) if something happens."

After coming over from the Panthers in 2013, Beason was a revelation for the Giants' defense. He immediately took over the leadership and play-calling duties at the MIKE linebacker spot.

The Giants' defense will benefit from getting a leader back, and Beason will likely have a similar role in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's scheme. Beason described what it will be like to play in the middle of Spagnuolo's defense:

"Spags (Spagnuolo) is not afraid to put more onus on the players. Everyone has the opportunity to step up and say something and orchestrate the defense, and personally, I’m not used to that. I’m used to it all be on me, but at the same time, I like the freedom of it. It’s a lot of pressure on guys who have not been a Mike linebacker per se in this league, but that’s the beauty of it. If we can get it down, look out, because we could be really scary."

If Beason can get back to his 2013 form, the Giants could boast their best linebacker corps since the last time Spagnuolo was coordinating the Giants' defense. Second year linebacker Devon Kennard is expected to breakout and the Giants really like what they've seen from free agent acquisition J.T. Thomas. Beason will be the leader of the group, and potentially of the entire defense now that Antrel Rolle has moved on from the team.


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(foxsports.com)
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Frank Gore set up for smashing success with Colts

FrankGore2
Cardinals Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell recently asserted on NFL Total Access that Frank Gore was the biggest loss among the mass exodus of 49ers stars this past offseason.

"He was the heart and soul of that offense -- and really that team," Campbell explained. "... Playing against him, he is the guy. He's really the one we had to stop."
Now that Gore is 32 years old and playing outside the comfortable confines of San Francisco for the first time in his 11-year career, can the Colts expect their new backfield savior to keep stiff-arming Father Time?

The answer is a resounding yes, for several reasons.

Still the 'Inconvenient Truth'?
Will Gore's NFL swan song play out like Corey Dillon in New England (1,635 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) and Stephen Davis in Carolina (1,444 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns) or more closely resemble the late-career flops of Steven Jackson in Atlanta (543 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns) and Emmitt Smith in Arizona (256 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns)?

If his 2014 season had ended in Week 15, we might assume the latter.

Gore was coming off the least effective stretch of his career, failing to top the 100-yard mark in nine consecutive games while averaging a scant 3.46 yards per carry over that span. The five-time Pro Bowler was being phased out of game plans with the offensive line severely backsliding from its 2012-2013 dominance.

Once rookie Carlos Hyde came down with a late-season ankle sprain, though, the 49ers saddled up their workhorse for the final two games of the season.

What followed was one of the most impressive two-game stretches of Gore's career. He responded with 302 yards on 61 carries, marking the first time he had rushed for at least 140 yards in back-to-back games since November of 2006.

Although Gore may be the NFL's slowest starting running back at this stage of his career -- he finished near the bottom in Pro Football Focus' Elusive Rating and Breakaway Percentage metrics -- he remains effective via uncanny patience, vision and toughness.

Gore has actually averaged more rushing yards per season (1,165) since age 28 than he did in his first six years (1,069) in the league.

His 158-yard performance versus the Chargers in a 38-35 Week 16 loss was one of the most impressive all-around games by any tailback in 2014.

What does he offer the Colts after two years of watching Trent Richardson run up the back of his offensive linemen?

"Sustainability. He's a chain mover," NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell recently explained. "I don't think there's been a back in the last five, six, seven years who has been able to get through small cracks at the point of attack better than Frank Gore. Frank Gore is your classic four-, five-, six-yard runner.

"He's probably past the point where he's going to break a 40-yarder. That wasn't really his game anyway. ... He would get so skinny going through the point of attack and come out the other end, I'd have to watch the play four or five times on film and try to figure out how did he get through there. And that's what he gives this offense. He gives them a sustaining element, so they'll be in more favorable down-and-distance situations."

Pep Hamilton's scheme
Gore didn't land in Indianapolis simply because of his University of Miami connections to coach Chuck Pagano, associate head coach Rob Chudzinski and star wideout Andre Johnson.

The big draw, Gore told NFL Media analyst LaDainian Tomlinson, was the presence of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who learned under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Ever since the ill-fated Richardson move in September of 2013, Hamilton has been crafting a power-running scheme featuring inside runs designed to soften the interior of opposing defenses.

It's the same scheme under which Gore thrived for the past half-decade in one of the NFL's most consistently successful power attacks.

Entering his twilight years, Gore wouldn't succeed in just any offense. Fortunately, Hamilton's is the one best suited to emphasize his unparalleled patience and vision.

Lighter boxes
"If you want to try and stop him and slow him down," Pagano said in early June, "I'd recommend you being in an eight-man spacing."

Pagano was referring to loading eight defenders in the box -- a tactic defensive coaches habitually used versus the 49ers.

According to Football Outsiders, Gore faced eight- or nine-man fronts on a league-high 30 percent of his carries last season, compared to the league average of 14.4 percent. In fact, Gore has had the highest percentage of carries against eight- or nine-man fronts for three consecutive seasons.

He can rest assured that won't be a problem with Andrew Luck's coach-like powers of perception and unique arm talent directing the Colts' offense.

Going back to college, as NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks explained in an informative 2013 feature, Luck pummeled opponents with a power running game that featured "check with me" calls based on defensive alignment.

If the presence of Gore leads to more loaded boxes, Luck will pick secondaries apart with high-percentage opportunities on the outside in early downs.

Worried about the Colts' much-beleaguered offensive line? Don't be.

As is often the case, a poor pass-protection unit is perfectly adequate in paving lanes for the ground game.

Indianapolis running backs not named "Richardson" have averaged 4.7 yards on 350 carries over the past two years.




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(nfl.com)
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Ed Reed on Ray Rice getting a second chance: 'I think he deserves it'

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Ed Reed may have just left the Ravens when Ray Rice's domestic violence scandal broke out, but the two were teammates from 2008-2012, and it's evident that Reed feels a certain bond with Rice. So when Reed was asked whether Rice deserves a second chance in the NFL, he answered it from a different perspective than most who've given their opinion on the matter.

"Oh, man," Reed said at his foundation's golf tournament. "I'm not just an analyst looking at it, I'm his brother, too. And it's a tough situation on either side."

With that being said, Reed does in fact think Rice should get another shot in the league.

"I think he deserves it. I know teams that need him. But, at the same time, how we are as a society, how things are -- I'm not going to say 'blown up' because it is a very sensitive thing that's going on in our country and around the world -- but we're a compassionate, forgiving people. And people make mistakes."

Reed, who recently retired from the NFL after 12 illustrious seasons, says that Rice is another example of an NFL player being scrutinized more because of the sport he plays.

"We gotta really look at -- and I'll say the NFL gotta look at -- how they punish the players versus other folks," he said. "We make an example out of the football players, and specifically we make an example out of NFL football players, more than any other sport or any thing. It's like we're the example. Why is that? Why do NFL players have to be the example?"

The Rice debate is one that's been heating up in recent weeks, but it remains to be seen whether a franchise actually signs the 28-year-old running back. If no one does give Rice a call, however, Reed believes Rice would still be content.

"Like I told Ray, 'Keep working man. You deserve it.' But at the end of the day you gotta be all right with yourself. And I know he is. And if he never played another down, I know at the end of the day his family is more important, and he'll be okay."




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(csnbaltimore.com)
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Antrel Rolle on Chicago Bears defense: 'We're going to click'

AntrelRolleGiants2
Veteran safety Antrel Rolle hasn't been with the Chicago Bears very long, but he's already confident that his new defensive unit will come together.

"I think it's going to work great," Rolle told John Mullin of CSN Chicago. "We've got the young guys pushing us and the veteran leadership there, too. We're all flying around. The veterans just have to lead by example. We want to be a force.

"We're going to grow, but this is a good group to grow with.

"The chemistry of this group is excellent. It's going to take some time, but I feel like we're going to click."

The Bears do have an enviable mix of youth and experience on the defensive side of the ball. Up-and-coming draft picks, such as cornerback Kyle Fuller and nose tackle Eddie Goldman, are complemented nicely by seasoned veterans like Rolle, Jared Allen and Jay Ratliff.

Rolle, who appeared in a Super Bowl with the Cardinals and later won one with the Giants, has 10 seasons of NFL experience under his belt. At 32 years of age, he's still playing some of his best football, too, with nine of his 26 career interceptions coming the past two seasons.


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(foxsports.com)
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Shane Larkin gives diplomatic response to Phil Jackson’s criticism that he ‘hasn’t grown since the start of the season’

ShaneLarkinCanes
Shane Larkin took the high road in response to criticism by Phil Jackson that he failed to grow last season with the Knicks.

And the Zen Master wasn't talking about Larkin's 5-11 stature.

In a story written by good buddy Charley Rosen as part of his ESPN.com series on Monday, Jackson continued to dish on his former players, saying of Larkin back in February: "Unfortunately, Shane hasn't grown since the start of the season."

Larkin made no secret he wasn't a good fit for the triangle, saying as much in a tweet in response to Jackson's comments on Monday.

"Couldn't grow in an offense I wasn't comfortable in," Larkin tweeted. "All good. No shade. Glad I'm across the river now. Wish them luck."

The Nets were apparently higher on Larkin than Jackson, contacting Larkin as soon as he became a free agent on July 1 and quickly scooping him up, hoping he can return to the form he showed that enabled him to be a first-round pick with a more faced paced, pick-and-roll style of play.

Jackson was a bit more complementary with Andrea Bargnani, another Nets acquisition in free agency while also observing his history of injuries. He also noted that Bargnani had interest in remaining in New York for next season, which proved prophetic.

"Bargnani will be an unrestricted free agent and would be a great fit in the triangle," Jackson told Rosen. "He's 7-foot-1 with long arms, high shoulders, loads of talent and is an intriguing player. One thing working against him is his history of injuries. Because of a variety of injuries, at this time he's still in a training-camp mode -- and he hasn't really played full-time in over a year. Another concern is whether he wants to continue his NBA career or go back home and play in Italy. I had a sitdown with him last December and got the impression that he'd rather stay here. I know that he likes living in New York, and I've heard through the grapevine that he'd be happy returning to the Knicks. He's a very intelligent guy who's made some very profitable business investments in Italy, so money might not be a big issue. Anyway, if we can agree on a payday that meets both of our needs, this is something that will be worth investigating."


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(nydailynews.com)
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Meet Raiders Rookie Jon Feliciano




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Clive Walford expected to start

CliveWalfordCanes
ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson expects rookie Clive Walford to win the starting tight end job.

Walford reportedly outplayed Mychal Rivera in OTAs. He has a chance for heavy snaps as a rookie, but will be mostly asked to block as the inline starter. Walford isn't on the re-draft fantasy radar.



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(rotoworld.com)
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Jon Beason is Nearing Full Health: “I Feel Like a Kid Again”

JonBeasonGiants
It's been a long, long time since linebacker Jon Beason last considered himself fully healthy. In fact, the New York Giants defensive captain has played in only 22 out of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons, and only once over that span did he play in more than four games in a season (2013).

Needless to say, that reality has bothered him just as much as it's bothered the team and their fans.

"I don’t think fans realize how much of an impact having your dream, or something you thought you were born to do, taken from you has on you as a person. Nothing would make me happier personally than to go out and play ball at a high, consistent level, 1, for myself, for my family … but also for the fans," Beason told the New York Post. "(It's) like, “When is enough enough?” You find that there’s some benefit to having something that’s very valuable to you taken away from you because you realize how much it means to you."

Over the last four years, Beason has dealt with a multitude of injury issues, ranging anywhere from his knee to his back to his toe. His toe, of course, being the most recent and most concerning issue, twice landing him on sidelines a season ago — the first was considered more precautionary, while the second was of the season-ending variety.

Earlier this week, Beason admitted the toe would require "constant maintenance" for the remainder of his NFL career.

"I'm sure the Giants will force me into being smart about reps and the workload, I'll do what I can to listen them, but at the same time, do what I have to do to prepare and get ready for the season," Beason said.

Despite the long-term requirements of dealing with his toe and the likelihood that the Giants will proceed with caution at the start of training camp, Beason insists that he's almost fully healthy and feeling as good as he has in many years.

"I feel great. I can tell you I feel the best I’ve felt in four years. I feel young. I feel like a kid again — but then I have to eat those words if something happens," Beason said.

And as it relates to the 2015 season and the expectations within the Giants organization. Well… Beason summed them up nicely.

"From top to bottom, it’s a sense of urgency, the house is burning, the time is now. It’s unacceptable, and that’s been echoed extremely loud — from ownership, management, coaching and obviously all the way down to the players. It’s just unacceptable," Beason said. "I expect to win the whole thing. If you’re not in it to win championships, what are you in it for? I expect to make the playoffs, yes."


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(sportsmedia101.com)
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Ereck Flowers could be the key to Giants' offensive line

EreckFlowersCanes
With five days left until the New York Giants report to training camp, our position-by-position breakdown looks at the offensive line, where much has changed from 2014.

Projected starters: LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG Geoff Schwartz, RT Marshall Newhouse
Likely to make roster: G John Jerry, G/C Dallas Reynolds, G/T Brandon Mosley, T Bobby Hart
Injured (likely to start season on PUP): LT Will Beatty
On the bubble: C Brett Jones, G Adam Gettis, G Eric Herman, T Michael Bamiro, T Emmett Cleary, T Sean Donnelly

This is all in flux: The projected starters here are based on where they lined up in OTAs and minicamp. There's no guarantee this will be the alignment in Week 1. There's no guarantee this will be the alignment next weekend, after a month of thinking and evaluating what the coaching staff saw in spring. They could decide Flowers isn't ready for left tackle but is ready for right tackle, in which case they could swap him and Newhouse or move Pugh from guard back to one of the tackle spots. Schwartz is likely to be limited at the start of camp, which could mean right guard reps for Jerry and a chance for more playing time if he shows well. Mosley intrigues them and was getting right tackle snaps in minicamp. Tom Coughlin will undoubtedly tell us the Giants are tinkering with different combinations to try and figure out the best five starters, and he'll be telling the truth.

Tackle is where the questions lie: The projected guards and centers are as originally planned. The Giants decided before the draft that they wanted to move Pugh from right tackle, where he started the first two years of his career, to left guard. They moved Richburg to center, his true position, and released 2014 starter J.D. Walton. And they want Schwartz back from last year's toe and ankle problems to start at right guard, where he's comfortable. The Giants believe the interior of their line will be strong. But when Beatty tore a pectoral muscle lifting weights in May and had surgery that will keep him out until at least November, the plan at tackle had to change. Flowers' ability to handle left tackle will determine how well the Giants can stick to their original plan.


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(espn.com)
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Is Sam Shields an elite corner? Packers want Pro Bowl DB to evolve

SamShieldsWallpaper
Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract last offseason, made his first Pro Bowl in 2014. (He was chosen as an alternate to replace the Super Bowl bound Darrelle Revis). To hear cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt tell it, Shields was indeed one of the NFL's top corners, but not quite elite.

“Last year, I thought the top four corners in the league were, not in any order, (Richard) Sherman, (Darrelle) Revis, Brent Grimes and Vontae (Davis). I think, if he does the things that we were working on, he (Shields) can be in that conversation," Whitt said, per PackersNews.com.

“Those four were clearly better and then there was a group of around 12 — he's in that group of 12 to 14, in my opinion. How do you get in that top four with Brent Grimes, Revis and Sherman and Vontae Davis? How do you do that? That's the question.”

The answer to that question, apparently, is having Shields occasionally shadow No. 1 receivers all over the field rather than strictly sticking to the right side, which the Packers plan on experimenting with next season. “I'm going to give him an opportunity over there. I just know he's made most of his impact from the right. He's going to have to match, so he's going to have to play left and right this year, anyway," Whitt said. "We're going to put him where he need him … and where I feel he's going to be most productive.”

With Shields as the primary defender there, the Packers led the NFL in defensive DVOA on passes to the right side of the field last season, according to Football Outsiders. Given that they were 23rd on passes to the left side and 29th on passes to the middle of the field, it does make some degree of sense to give Shields a chance at shadowing.

The Packers lost Tramon Williams and Davon House from last year's team and Casey Hayward is coming off an injury, so Shields is the only healthy cornerback on the roster with much experience. Green Bay took Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the draft and hopes are obviously high for the pair, but it's not often that rookie corners make a huge, immediate impact. Shields, then, is going to have a whole lot of responsibility in Dom Capers' defense. We'll see if he's up for it.


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(cbsports.com)
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Shane Larkin hopes Brooklyn suits him better than triangle

ShaneLarkinCanes
Shane Larkin was hoping for a fresh start and a chance to show what he can do in New York. But the speedy point guard and the Knicks’ triangle offense fit about as well as Phil Jackson trying to cram himself into a smart car.

So when Larkin became a free agent at midnight on July 1, the Nets came calling with a pitch the point guard was thrilled to hear.

“We just said we want to get back to how you played in Miami,” Nets general manager Billy King said recently about the former Hurricane. “Allowing you to be a leader on the floor, run the pick-and-roll, get up and down the court. That was the pitch to him.”

Brooklyn is hoping that the 5-foot-11 Larkin can show why he was the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Miami.

Larkin’s rookie season got off to a bad start when he broke his ankle during a summer league practice. He would end up playing in just 48 games, averaging 10.2 minutes and 2.8 points.

Dallas sent Larkin to the Knicks in a package deal centered around Tyson Chandler last summer. On a woeful, stripped down team that lost 65 games, Larkin averaged 6.2 points in 24.5 minutes while starting 22 games. In April, he averaged 8.4 points, 4.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 31.8 minutes a game.

The Nets saw enough to believe that he can still realize his first-round potential in the right system.

“I talked to Billy and Lionel (Hollins) as soon as free agency started, and they told me they wanted me to come in and just play my game,” Larkin said at a recent Nets press conference to introduce the team’s free agent signings. “I’m more of a pick-and-roll guy, up and down. “And that’s the thing they told me they wanted me to come in and do. For them to tell me they wanted me to come in push the tempo, bring some energy to the team, that was everything I wanted to hear.”

At the moment, the Nets’ point guard position has much to prove. Brooklyn bought out Deron Williams and traded Steve Blake away. Jarrett Jack, as of now, is set to be the starter going into camp with Larkin poised to be his backup.

Brooklyn also may see what Ryan Boatright can do. The former UConn point guard averaged 14.1 points during summer league action. Larkin is looking forward to playing in a similar fashion as he did while at Miami, where he averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 assists and won ACC Player of the Year honors before leaving as a sophomore.

“I mean the triangle is a good offense if you have the type of players that fit within that offense,” Larkin said. “And I don’t feel like it was the best offense for me. I’m more of a pick-and-roll guy, and there’s not as many pick and rolls in that offense. I’m not talking bad about it. It’s a great offense. I wish them nothing but the best.”

“Last year was definitely a roller coaster ride,” Larkin added of the Knicks. “… We had great aspirations last year to make the playoffs and prove everybody wrong and then just a lot of stuff happened. People were hurt, we never were healthy, we were trying to learn a new system… I think Fish (Derek Fisher) did a really good job of keeping everybody together. Nobody really lost themselves last year, but it was definitely a difficult time, and I wish them luck.”

Now Larkin is looking for another new start in another area of New York. The Nets hope Larkin discovers his first-round talent on the other side of the river.

“He’s still young,” King said of Larkin, 22. “He came out (of school) early. I said the same thing to (free agent addition) Thomas Robinson -– we want to get you back to being what got you drafted, to where you were.” “We’re going to let you be who you are.”


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(espn.com)
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Red Sox Recall Infielder Jemile Weeks

JemileWeeksOrioles
BOSTON — The Red Sox bolstered their infield depth Sunday, recalling second baseman Jemile Weeks from Triple-A Pawtucket. Weeks, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles last August, played in 14 games for the Red Sox last season.

The 28-year-old has spent the bulk of this season with the PawSox, posting a .207/.307/.310 slash line with one home run and five RBIs in 51 games at Triple-A. To make room for Weeks on the 25-man roster, reliever Noe Ramirez was optioned to Pawtucket. “(Weeks can play) all over the infield, as well as, he’s played a couple of games in the outfield,” manager John Farrell said before Sunday’s matchup with the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. “Kind of a super-utility that gives us some flexibility all around the diamond.”

That flexibility will be necessary for the Red Sox, who on Saturday learned they’d be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia for at least the next two weeks. Pedroia was placed on the 15-day disabled list after reaggravating his injured hamstring.


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(nesn.com)
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Q&A: Yonder Alonso

YonderAlonsoPadres
Yonder Alonso held his Celebrity Basebowl Tournament on Wednesday as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.

Question: As someone who was raised in the Boys & Girls Club, what does it mean to give back in a big way with your tournament?
Answer: Giving back to the Boys & Girls Club is such a huge deal. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to raise awareness for the club and the inner-city kids. I’m a huge believer in always giving back to the next upcoming (generation) and the future. It’s always an excellent tribute to them and obviously to us. It was just an opportunity to have something (for the kids).

Q: Playing for the Padres, it’s probably really exciting for the kids to see you out there putting on the event. Did professional athletes help out at events you attended as a kid?
A: Growing up in the Boys & Girls Club, you had guys like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter helping out. So many guys would come and give back to the Boys & Girls Club that I was a part of and it was a learning experience and I dream of mine to be able to reach their level and do the same for the kids today. Once they see guys like us helping out, maybe some of today’s kids will want to go that route and reach that big league potential. Those are just little things I try to help the kids out with.

Q: You talked about Jeter and Rodriguez helping out at some of the events you attended when you were younger. Is there a specific story of meeting or interacting with them that stands out to you?
A: One of the first times I met Jeter and Rodriguez, they had a Boys & Girls Club event to raise money during Christmas time. We were able to hang out with them all day and raise a lot of money for us. That was the first time where I saw those guys giving back and it was something that I wanted to be part of as well. It was a day I’ll always remember and I was only about 10 or 11 years old. I feel like if I can do that for even just one or two kids, it would make my day.

Q: When did you truly get serious about hosting a fundraiser for the kids of the Boys & Girls Club?
A: The minute I was a professional. That’s just what I wanted to do — I wanted to give back and do something like that.


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(sandiegouniontribune.com)
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Could the Chargers pursue proCane WR Reggie Wayne?

ReggieWayneCanes
Reggie Wayne has a friend in a very high place in San Diego's front office.

And it just so happens general manager Tom Telesco could still use an upgrade or two out wide.

A marriage between Wayne and the Chargers just makes sense. After all, as Chargers' blog "Bolts From The Blue" points out, Telesco is a fan of Wayne from back in his days as a Colts scout.

ESPN reporter Ed Werder connected the dots between Wayne and the Bolts, too.

"The Chargers are interesting because Tom Telesco the GM there was with the Colts," Werder said. "He's known to consider Wayne a Hall of Fame caliber player and of course Antonio Gates is going to miss the first 4 games of the season, Wayne might be able to help them early."

Wayne's greatest value could come in the form of mentorship. Keenan Allen is still a young, impressionable player who could use a voice like Wayne's around.
That alone might make No. 87 worth a try. And anything Wayne still has left in the tank would be the cherry on top.


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(foxsports.com)
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Tim Brown says Michael Irvin didn’t want him as a Cowboys’ teammate

MichaelIrvin
Michael Irvin kept Tim Brown from trying to return home to play for the Cowboys when Brown was a free agent in 1994.

Brown, who played at Dallas Woodrow Wilson High School, proposed to Irvin the idea of playing together with the Cowboys when the two were at the Pro Bowl. Brown said Irvin “boisterously declined.”

“I think it was the first year I made the Pro Bowl as a receiver, and I was a free agent going into that offseason, the offseason of ’94, and I ended up signing with the Broncos,” Brown said in a Pro Football Hall of Fame conference call Thursday. “I sort of happily walked up to Michael thinking it was going to be a great concept, and I said to him, ‘Hey, man, look, man, I’m thinking about coming home to Dallas. I would love to come there and be No. 2 to you.’ He got so upset. ‘Tim Brown, don’t you ever think about coming….’ I was like, ‘Mike, man, what’s going on?’ He was like, ‘No. I’m glad you told me first. I’m calling Jerry right now and telling him don’t do it.’ So that was pretty much the end of that conversation, and I was a little upset, because I did want to come home, and I wanted to play for the Cowboys. I’m glad that worked out the way it did for many reasons at this particular point. But yeah, that is a true story.”

Brown signed a four-year, $11 million deal with the Broncos in March 1994 that the Raiders matched. Brown ended up playing 16 of his 17 seasons with the Raiders, making 1,094 catches for 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns in his career.

Irvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 after making 750 catches for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns in his 12-year career in Dallas.

Alvin Harper was the Cowboys’ second-leading wideout in 1994, the year Dallas lost to San Francisco in the NFC Championship game. Harper made 33 catches for 821 yards and eight touchdowns that season before leaving for Tampa Bay in free agency. Brown had 89 receptions for 1,309 yards and 77 touchdowns in ’94.


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(star-telegram.com)
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Lamar Miller will need strong 2015 campaign to earn big pay day

LamarMillerDolphins2
Lamar Miller of the Miami Dolphins is entering a contract year this season in which he'll look to prove his worth -- whether it's to the Dolphins or another running back-needy franchise. In 2014, Miller began to show just how talented he is, racking up 1,099 yards on just 216 carries, which gave him a 5.1 yard-per-carry average for the season.

Shockingly, Miller never topped 20 carries in a game last season, tallying 19 in the final two games of the season. In his career, he's only done it once. That doesn't mean he can't handle the workload. If anything, it shows the Dolphins' lack of desire to make him the bell cow at running back. That might not bode well for Miller come time to negotiate a contract.



Miller can't control how often he gets handed the ball this season, but he can make the most of his opportunities when they arise. With rookie Jay Ajayi likely Miller's primary backup, Miller could get even fewer carries than he did in 2014. Ajayi has long-term health concerns with his knee, but in the short term, he's good to go.

"This kind of talent — to be there where he was — is a perfect fit in terms of what we want to add and in terms of adding an element of additional power to our running game," Dolphins assistant general manager Eric Stokes said of Ajayi following the draft. "It really was an easy move to turn that card in, and we’re very happy to have him."

By the way Stokes was talking, they seem excited to have Ajayi on the team, yet another reason to pass on extending Miller long term. The way the NFL works nowadays, a running back by committee is gaining popularity, as teams shy away from handing out big contracts to running backs.

So what will it take for Miller to get a big time pay day? Well, if he has a breakout season and rushes for 2,000 yards, he may just become too expensive for Miami to keep. That's not to say another team won't pay him what he deserves, but it may not be the Dolphins with Ajayi on the roster and plenty of backs in the 2016 NFL Draft.

If he eclipses his mark of 1,099 yards from last season with say, 1,500 yards, it will show his consistency and reliability -- and he may be inexpensive enough to stay in Miami. 

In the end, however, it comes down to Miller making the most of his opportunities. He won't get 300 carries like he probably wants, but if he can average 5-plus yards per carry once again, he'll prove his worth. Needless to say, 2015 is the biggest year of Miller's young career.


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(foxsports.com)
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2015 Most Important Packers No. 7: Sam Shields, CB

SamShields2
GREEN BAY – Even after earning himself a four-year, $39 million extension, even becoming one of the Green Bay Packers’ rags-to-riches success stories as he went from undrafted free agent to top-level cornerback, Sam Shields has never been the kind of cornerback that everyone talks about.

Perhaps it’s his quiet demeanor, his relative disinterest in media interviews, or the fact that one of the team’s more popular and high-profile players, Tramon Williams, was always in the Packers’ secondary with him. But now, with Williams having departed as a free agent this spring, Shields’ time has come: It’s up to him to play like a No. 1 corner.

“I expect a lot from him,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said this offseason. “Last year, I thought the top four corners in the league were, not in any order, [Richard] Sherman, [Darrelle] Revis, Brent Grimes and Vontae [Davis]. I think, if he does the things that we were working on, he can be in that conversation.

“Those four were clearly better and then there was a group of around 12 — [Shields] is in that group of 12 to 14, in my opinion. How do you get in that top four with Brent Grimes, Revis and Sherman and Vontae Davis? How do you do that? That’s the question.”

Why he’s important:  The cornerback room is vastly different these days, as not only did Williams depart in free agency but Davon House also left (signing with Jacksonville) and longtime veteran voice and special teamer Jarrett Bush was not re-signed. The Packers did draft a pair of cornerbacks with their first two picks this spring – Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins – but how quickly they will come along remains to be seen. On top of that, would-be starter Casey Hayward hasn’t played a ton outside and hasn’t played a whole lot over the past two years – due to a hamstring injury in 2013 and a limited role last year – and has to earn the job opposite Shields. Given the situation, the Packers need Shields to be the shutdown corner the coaches believe he’s capable of becoming.

If he delivers:  If Shields has a breakthrough season like Williams did in 2010 – unlike Whitt’s assessment of Shields being in the 12-14 range last year, Williams became a top-5 cornerback during the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV run – then the Packers will have a player who can more or less take away half the field from their opponents. The Packers offense has seen firsthand the impact that can have on an offense when facing Seattle’s Sherman, and Shields playing at that level would also allow defensive coordinator Dom Capers to scheme in a way that he could give help to whoever lines up on the other side, whether that’s Hayward or one of the rookies.

If he disappoints:  The Packers are hoping they can move Shields around and match up him up on the opposing team’s top target, and as Williams can attest, such an assignment means you will get beat on occasion – after all, you’re covering a top-level wideout, and that guy gets paid, too. That said, if Shields isn’t up to the task, then the Packers secondary could have problems given the unproven nature of their other cover men. Hayward, for example, could stay healthy and recapture the ball-magnet form he showed as a rookie in 2012. But if he doesn’t, and Shields backslides, the Packers’ pass defense could become a major liability.

Quote, unquote:  “[Some] corners throughout their career – Al [Harris] was predominantly on the right, Nnamdi [Asomugha] played on the right – some guys feel more comfortable one way or the other. Sam says he feels comfortable on both sides. I just know he’s made most of his impact from the right [until now]. He’s going to have to match so he’s going to have to play left and right this year, anyway. We’re going to put him where we need him and where I feel he’s going to be most productive.” – Whitt, on how he plans to use Shields this season.


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(espnwisconsin.com)
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Cavs re-sign James Jones to one-year deal

JamesJonesHeat
The Cavs still have deals to make with Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith, but in the meantime, they’re quietly making moves to keep their depth at the end of the bench. On Thursday, they agreed to a deal to re-sign veteran forward James Jones.

From Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Small forward James Jones has reached an agreement on a one-year deal to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.

The contract, according to one source, is for the veteran’s minimum. The paperwork was faxed Thursday to Jones, who is in Florida with family. The contract is expected to be signed and finalized as early as Friday.

Jones isn’t a huge part of the Cavs’ rotation at this point, but he’s a beloved teammate and he’s still capable of coming in, playing spot minutes and knocking down three-pointers. For the veteran’s minimum, there’s nothing not to like about this signing.


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(probasketballtalk.com)
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Ryan Braun slugs three-run home run in loss

RyanBraun
Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun provided the only serious offense his team would mount in the 8-3 loss to the Diamondbacks on Thursday. Braun launched a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to put the Brewers on the board. It was too little, too late however, as the Brewers fell 8-3 to Arizona.

The home run was Braun's 17th of the season and just his second this month. It was his only hit of the game, as struck out in all three of his other at-bats on Thursday.


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(cbssports.com)
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Allen Hurns looking to build off breakout rookie season

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AllenHurnsJags
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Football season is just around the corner.

The Jacksonville Jaguars open their 2015 training camp Friday, July 31, with players reporting to camp the day before.

One of the major story lines heading into camp will be the development of the the group of second-year receivers in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee.
Robinson and Lee represent a pair of 2014-second-round draft picks. So there were some relatively high expectations for their rookie seasons. Hurns on the otherhand, went undrafted in 2014 out of the University of Miami.

Hurns had a relationship with, who at the time was the Jaguars offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch, leading the to the team bringing him in as an undrafted free agent. The move turned out to pay off in a big way for the Jaguars as Hurns was the surprise rookie for the team in 2014.

Hurns was among the league leaders in receiving for all rookies in 2014, appearing in all 16 games for the Jaguars, starting eight, grabbing 51 passes for 677 yards and six touchdowns. He was ninth among all rookies in receptions, eighth in yards, and tied for sixth with Buffalo's Sammy Watkins in touchdowns.

Hurns has been working privately during the offseason with fellow second-year Jaguars, Robinson and quarterback Blake Bortles. They are working to build off the chemistry the three of them, along with Lee, established in 2014.

The addition of a dynamic pass catching tight end, Julius Thomas, and the most prolific receiver in Florida State history in rookie Rashad Greene, paired with Hurns and the rest of the second-year receivers, means Bortles should have plenty of weapons to work with in the fall.

Hurns will be a vital part to improving the Jaguars offensive attack in 2015.


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(firstcoastnews.com)
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Clinton Portis will work as a Redskins analyst for ESPN 980

clintonportis
Red Zebra Broadcasting on Wednesday announced that former Redskins running back Clinton Portis will serve as a Redskins analyst on ESPN 980 during the upcoming season.

Portis, a fan favorite during his seven years in D.C. for both his alter-egos and his play, will call in to “The Drive With Cooley and Czabe” on Mondays. He will also co-host a one-hour show about the Redskins on one Friday every month throughout the season.

“I am so excited to finally be on the air covering the team I love,” Portis said in a press release. “Chris Cooley was a great teammate and close friend and we promise to make it as memorable as we did during our playing career.”

Portis, who played with Cooley from 2004-10, officially retired in 2012. Portis has appeared as a guest on “The Drive” before, including last November, when he offered Robert Griffin III some advice for dealing with the media. His own experience as a member of the media includes work as an analyst for the ACC Digital Network.


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(washingtonpost.com)
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Bernie Kosar themed slot machines come to Northfield Rocksino

BernieKosarBrowns
Bernie Kosar gets his place among slot machines in Summit County: Little Mermaid, Treasure Island and Wheel of Fortune can get out of the way, Bernie Kosar has made his entrance into the realm of video slot machines. 

Joining the genre of Kosar-themed stuff around Northeast Ohio, including Bernie Beer, are a set of Bernie Kosar slot machines at Northfield's Hard Rock Rocksino, Northeast Ohio Media Group's Karen Farkas reported. The minimum bet is $1, the jackpot $50,000

Kosar joins Drew Carey, Ellen DeGeneres, Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley in the casino's lineup of celebrity slot machines.


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(cleveland.com)
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All eyes on Sam Shields

SamShields2
The game changed the moment Sam Shields put pen to paper on a new four-year, $39 million contract last year.

The Green Bay Packers cornerback no longer was an unsung and undrafted gem. Now among the highest paid at his position, more was expected of Shields. He was a marquee player and a pivotal piece to the direction Dom Capers’ defense was heading.

Shields took steps last season toward being the shutdown No. 1 cornerback the organization feels he can be, but there’s still room for growth in the 27-year-old. The Packers are counting on it. He’s the only proven boundary cornerback on the roster after Tramon Williams and Davon House left in free agency.

“I expect a lot from him,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “Last year, I thought the top four corners in the league were, not in any order, (Richard) Sherman, (Darrelle) Revis, Brent Grimes and Vontae (Davis). I think, if he does the things that we were working on, he can be in that conversation.

“Those four were clearly better and then there was a group of around 12 — he’s in that group of 12 to 14, in my opinion. How do you get in that top four with Brent Grimes, Revis and Sherman and Vontae Davis? How do you do that? That’s the question.”

Shields started 14 regular-season games for the Packers last season opposite Williams, registering 40 tackles and two interceptions. He played in his first Pro Bowl as an alternate for the Super Bowl-bound Revis.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound cornerback will be the first to tell you he’s an unfinished product. He still has undisciplined moments and occasionally gets caught looking in the backfield, but his speed is what separates him and allows him to stand in against the league’s top receivers.

Shields played predominantly on the right side last season, but Whitt lined him up at the left perimeter spot throughout the offseason program to test his comfort. Shields had too many missed tackles last season — 11 according to Pro Football Focus — but didn’t give up many explosive plays.

Whenever the Packers have asked him to match a top-flight receiver, Shields has answered the bell.

“I don’t necessarily know if he’s going to play on the left,” Whitt said. “I’m going to give him an opportunity over there. I just know he’s made most of his impact from the right. He’s going to have to match, so he’s going to have to play left and right this year, anyway. We’re going to put him where he need him … and where I feel he’s going to be most productive.”

Shields’ place in the starting lineup is the only certainty entering training camp. Fourth-year cornerback Casey Hayward likely will get the first shot opposite Shields, but quickly will have to make up for lost time. He injured his foot in the spring and missed the offseason program.

Hayward saw only about 39 percent of defensive snaps last season, but that he played in all 18 games (including playoffs) was a positive step after he missed most of the 2013 season with a recurring hamstring issue. Rotating in the nickel and dime subpackages, Hayward had 42 tackles, seven deflections and three interceptions.

“He makes plays on the ball,” Capers said. “Some guys just seem to be around the football. So he’s done that with the reps that he’s had. Only time will tell on that, but we like what we’ve seen out of Casey and we know he can go out on the field and make plays for you.”

The only benefit to Hayward’s absence this summer is it allowed the Packers to get extended looks at their top two draft picks, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, who were taken to help fill the void left by Williams and House.

The Packers also opted against re-signing nine-year veteran Jarrett Bush, who a league source confirmed has been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Randall missed the start of the offseason program with an ankle injury before returning midway through organized team activities. A starting safety for two seasons at Arizona State, many teams were split on where Randall would play at the next level.

Not the Packers. The moment Randall was taken with the 30th overall pick, general manager Ted Thompson said he’d compete for a role at cornerback rather than being thrown into a jam-packed safety room. He has the versatility to play inside or outside.

The Packers face another high-ceiling project in Rollins, who played basketball for four years at Miami (Ohio) before making a late switch to football. He shot up draft boards after amazing scouts with what he could do based on pure instincts and athleticism.

Those attributes were on display this summer and could be enough to give third-year veteran Micah Hyde a run for the nickel cornerback spot. Undrafted rookie LaDarius Gunter also earned reps with the first-team defense, overcoming a slow time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

When the rookies arrived, Whitt quizzed them on the best receiver they’d matched up against in college. Needless to say none of their responses were anywhere near the level of Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson.

“There’s two guys that’s in that cornerback room, not counting Micah who have played any snaps in the NFL,” Whitt said. “I think that’s being lost in a lot of this. There’s only two guys. I played just as many snaps as everybody else in the NFL. We have to teach them how to play.”

The Packers are stable at safety, a testament to how quickly they’ve rebuilt the position after a disastrous 2013 season. The addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Hyde’s transition to safety hastened that turnaround and spurred veteran Morgan Burnett’s comeback.

Burnett registered a career-high 130 tackles last season to lead the defense. He also ended a two-year drought without an interception against Atlanta on Dec. 8 and snagged another in the NFC title game, though his decision to slide with the Packers leading 19-7 with 5 minutes remaining has been widely debated.

Clinton-Dix arguably had his best game of the season in the playoff encounter with the Seahawks. His two interceptions erased sour memories from the Packers’ opener in Seattle when he badly missed an open-field tackle on Ricardo Lockette’s 33-yard touchdown.

“He came a long way,” said safeties coach Darren Perry of Clinton-Dix, who had 92 tackles and an interception in 16 games with 10 starts. “I can tell you the first time we played them out there, he had a lot going through his mind. He was probably thinking a lot and not just reacting. I think that second time we played them out there, he had seen some things. He experienced some good, some bad and I think that helped him grow as a player.”

Behind Burnett and Clinton-Dix, the Packers return Hyde, fourth-year veteran Sean Richardson, undersized Chris Banjo and practice-squad holdover Jean Fanor. Richardson, who missed a year following neck surgery in January 2013, played in all 18 games and led the Packers in special teams tackles.

Questions linger about Richardson’s quickness and ability to change direction, but the Packers thought enough of his upside to match the one-year, $2.55 million contract he was offered by the Oakland Raiders as a restricted free agent.

“He’s hungry. He wants to get on the field,” Perry said. “I think last year we developed a role for him and we’ll continue to try to work ways to get him on the field because Sean can help us. He’s a big-bodied guy who’s plenty physical and smart. He can make some plays. It’s just a matter of getting the combination and finding the package to get him some reps out there for us.”


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(packersnews.com)
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Jon Beason might have training camp reps limited

JonBeasonGiants
Few Giants defensive players have expressed more excitement than Jon Beason about playing in a new scheme under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

But in order for Beason to fill the "Mike" role that Antonio Pierce did for Spagnuolo, he has to stay on the field, and it sounds as if the Giants are going to handle the veteran linebacker with caution in order to make that happen. 

Beason, speaking with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon on Sirius XM NFL Radio, said that while he's "chomping at the bit" to hit the field again after missing all but two games in 2014 with a toe injury, the Giants will probably limit his reps initially. 

"I'm sure the Giants will force me into being smart about reps and the workload, I'll do what I can to listen them, but at the same time, do what I have to do to prepare and get ready for the season," Beason said. 

While Beason is months removed from surgery, and participated in most offseason practices, he indicated that the toe will require continuous maintenance to get through a full season — from regular taping to orthotics, to special-made cleats.

Beason believes that the toe injury is a result of wear and tear brought in by the proliferation of field turf in the NFL as opposed to grass. 

"A big part of it is the turf, it's not great for our bodies and it changes based on position," Beason said. "They'll come to learn that it's unforgiving and learning how to plant and cut on it is key. If you're an older guy, like I never played on turf in high school, I was well into college before this turf thing became big. I always played on grass, where you learn how to cut and plant and you know the limitations of grass, how it gives. I think the younger kids have a better understanding of turf because they play on it at a younger age." 

But with his injury issues hopefully behind him, Beason now is tasked with helping the Giants improve their 29th-ranked defense. He told Gannon and Murray that he likes the fact that the defense will dictate to the offense, not vice versa, and revealed that Spagnuolo has one recipe for improving the Giants' ranking: Eliminating yards after contact. 

"There's a number that [Spagnuolo] mentioned the first day that we started our offseason program, it's 1,507, that's the amount of yards we gave up after contact," Beason said. "Not so much scheme, but getting guys down at the first opportunity. We can go from 29 to the early teens, close to a top=10 defense, just based on getting guys on the ground. 1,507 we want to eliminate that number, that's something that we worked on really hard this offseason, proper leverage, technique, and tackling."

Of course, eliminating that extra yardage would be made easier with a certain defensive end in the lineup. The uncertainty surrounding Jason Pierre-Paul's availability for this season after getting his index finger amputated in a fireworks accident creates another challenge for Beason and the Giants' defense to overcome. 

Beason intimated that he reached out to Pierre-Paul about the "freakish" injury, but did not hear back. He could only say what many of his other teammates and ex-teammates have expressed about their star defensive end: Get better, and we'll welcome you with open arms when you return. 

"First thing you hope is that he's healthy and then how is he feeling as a person?" Beason said. "I'll tell you what, when you make a big mistake like this and it costs you and the people around you, the media's not so friendly. You read the reports, and you turn on the TV, and you feel for the guy because you know him, you know his intent, you know what type of guy he is, he's all in, he's a good-hearted person, and probably one of the most giving people believe it or not, that you will meet.

"You just hope that him as a person that he can come to terms with it, and hopefully there's some way to continue to play football because he had tremendous upside, very rare talent, and Giants nation still loves him and we wish him well."


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(nj.com)
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Orlando Franklin at home in San Diego

OrlandoFranklin
Orlando Franklin joined the Chargers at a time their future in San Diego was anything but certain.

That hasn't kept him from making himself at home.

The left guard enters training camp as the main addition to what projects to be a more physical offensive line in 2015. He also is a new homeowner, having moved into the Poway neighborhood of San Diego this spring.

Franklin, a Denver Bronco the past four years, spent his early childhood living in Canada.

He and his wife wanted to own property somewhere cold and warm. When he signed with the Chargers in March, they already had 10 acres in Toronto. On a Wednesday in May, a Poway home hit the market, and by the following Monday, Franklin said, he had closed on it.

Any housewarming conversation begs the question what he'll do should the Chargers relocate to Los Angeles, a possibility as early as next year. He has a plan.

"(Broncos left tackle) Ryan Clady is one of my best friends, and he owns two places in LA," Franklin said. "I already told him that if I move to LA, I'm only paying his mortgage during the season. This is where I want to be. My girl and I always planned to be home owners in California or Florida because we like being snowbirds in Canada six months a year. ... It just so happened (we were) able to find a perfect house, I feel like, and got it for a good deal. I was like, why not?"

Franklin is at home on the field, too.

The Chargers offense is not unlike the one he had in Denver where coach Mike McCoy was the Broncos' offensive coordinator for Franklin's first two years in the NFL. He worked this spring mostly between left tackle King Dunlap and center Trevor Robinson; starting center Chris Watt was eased back from ankle surgery. Watt was a full participant during the June minicamp and is expected to be again in training camp.

Dunlap, Franklin and Watt are entrenched on the starting line.

The right side features less certainty. Johnnie Troutman is the incumbent at right guard, but May free-agency signing Joe Barksdale is expected to push him with Jeremiah Sirles among the others in the mix. D.J. Fluker is expected to remain the starting tackle, although he has seen occasional practice reps inside.

Not every Chargers lineman is at home just yet.


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(sandiegotribune.com)
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Yasmani Grandal remains sidelined on Tuesday

YasmaniGrandalDodgers
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal is once again out of the lineup on Tuesday against the Braves. Grandal miss Monday's game after taking a foul ball off the mask on Sunday. The injury is not considered serious, but given Grandal's recent experience with concussion symptoms, the Dodgers are giving him at least one more day of rest.

Rookie Austin Barnes will be behind the plate for Tuesday's contest, while Grandal continues to recover.


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(cbssports.com)
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proCane rookies got their Madden ratings, and they're mad



2. Tevin Coleman, Falcons RB: 90. Solid paper tear.
3. Duke Johnson, Browns RB: 87. Paper crumple < paper tear.
4. Marcus Mariota, Titans QB: 84. Isn't he supposed to be non-emotional?
PhillipDorsettCanes
5. Philip Dorsett, Colts CB: 82. Incredulous laughter is always good.
6. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars RB: 81: "Lord have mercy."
7. Devin Smith, Jets WR: 79. Very befuddled.
8. Jameis Winston, Bucs QB: 74. His initial body language would've put him higher, had he stayed the course. Too much eventual acceptance, though.
9. Amari Cooper, Raiders WR: 72. Businesslike.
10. Melvin Gordon, Chargers RB: 67. This is where the quality starts drops. "I feel it," is barely mad at all.
11. Todd Gurley, Rams RB: 55. Gurley takes an even bigger step down. He thinks his rating is pretty good!
12. Devin Funchess, Panthers WR: 47. The first legitimately happy dude on the list.
13. Kevin White, Bears WR: 46. The dance/double "check it out" combo puts him in the basement.


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(sportingnews.com)
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Seantrel Henderson's spring slide lands him on Bills' bubble

SeantrelHendersonBills
Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the Buffalo Bills' roster bubble and where they potentially fit in 2015:

Name: Seantrel Henderson
Position: Offensive tackle
Age: 23
2014 stats: 16 games (16 starts)
Chance of making 53-man roster: 75 percent

Why he should make it: Along with veteran guard Chris Williams, Henderson saw his stock drop the most of any Bills player this spring. He went from a 16-game starter at right tackle under coach Doug Marrone to rotating second-team reps with undrafted rookie Tyson Chandler during June's minicamp, the most recent time players were on the practice field. Still, his slide most likely won't be enough to keep him off the 53-man roster. The Bills don't have tremendous depth along their offensive line and have a long-term need at offensive tackle because Cordy Glenn is set to become a free agent next spring. Even if Henderson doesn't reclaim his starting right tackle job from Cyrus Kouandjio, he's worth keeping around at a position that very much remains in flux for the Bills, especially with last week's arrest of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

Why he shouldn't make it: The red flags through the spring were glaring for Henderson, who missed an OTA practice for non-injury reasons -- he was later spotted outside the locker room -- and also missed the first mandatory minicamp for travel issues. From all appearances, he didn't get off on the right foot with Kromer, although it's unclear if Kromer will even be coaching Henderson again this season. The one scenario that would keep Henderson off the 53-man roster is if coach Rex Ryan feels strongly about keeping 34-year-old veteran Wayne Hunter as his swing tackle. Ryan has a long history with Hunter that he doesn't have with Henderson and as a former seventh-round pick, Henderson is still very much expendable on the 53-man roster. The Bills keeping three offensive tackles -- Glenn, Kouandjio and Hunter -- is a possibility that can't be discounted at this point.

Closest competition: Hunter, Cyril Richardson, Williams


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(espn.com)
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Edgerrin James Delivering Hope At Youth Camp

EdgeColts
In the six years since former Immokalee High and NFL star Edgerrin James began holding free one-day football camps in Collier County, he’s tried to deliver one over-arching message.

Hope.

“I think you're supposed to come back to that area,” James said of giving back to his community. “Everyone has their own reasons why, but I think it's important to show the kids that it's possible to make it. They walk the same streets we walk and they've done things that we've done.”

The former Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks running back started holding free camps in 2009 in Immokalee, then moved the site to Ave Maria in 2012. In that time, James, who also runs the Edgerrin James Foundation & Charities Inc., has welcomed athletes from different parts of the state, including Orlando, Miami and Tampa.

Approximately 608 campers were in attendance Monday, program director Yhonsha Rue said, including almost 30 girls. That was nearly 100 more than in 2014 (525) and 200 more than 2013 (400). Rue said the non-profit Laces of Love also donated 300 pairs of cleats to underprivileged kids.

“All of my roots are from Immokalee,” said James, who lives in Orlando for most of the year with his family, though he has a house in Naples. “So it's very important to come back to Immokalee. What better time than right before football season?

“Anytime I have an opportunity to go back, even check out the games —even Immokalee, Naples, Fort Myers — I always pop in. I enjoy watching the sport. It gives me a chance to be a fan, he said.”

Almost 70 players from Immokalee High were on hand. It would have been more, Indians head coach Dale More said, but due to a scheduling conflict the varsity team members attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp.

More was appreciative of the work James put in and hopes he would consider being a part of the Indians program moving forward.

“I wanted him to be a part of our program,” More said. “He's a (important) figure in our community. I think the kids are excited to see him. When they see him walk around they say, ‘That's where I want to be some day.’

“And that's what I enjoy so much about our practices. Our kids give 110 percent effort every single day, every single practice, because they have someone to look up to like Edgerrin that they want to be someday.”

And someday soon Hall-of-Famer may be added to James’ dossier. The NFL’s No. 11 all-time on the NFL rusher with 12,246 yards was not selected in his first year of eligibility in 2014. On the plus side, nine of the 10 players in front of him are in the Hall of Fame — LaDainian Tomlinson being the outlier.

“My numbers are there,” said James, who also scored 80 touchdowns in his 11-year career. “Everything speaks for itself. Those numbers, you compare it to people who are already in. It's a matter of wins. It's a process they have to go through and once the process plays itself out, you can't deny what I've done and what I've accomplished.”

But before that even happens, it was about moments like Monday in his hometown. In his first camp, he saw players like Immokalee’s D’Ernest Johnson strut their stuff. This past season, Johnson finished his first season at the University of South Florida.

“It feels good,” James said of the success he sees from the camp. “Them being from Immokalee and knowing them from a youth stage. I watched them when they were playing Pop Warner football and watching them grow up and turn into men. And now they call me now and then when they want me to know anything. It was actually fun. It's a good feeling.”


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(news-press.com)
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Reggie Wayne sparks interest in contenders

ReggieWayne
The list of teams interested in Reggie Wayne -- or perhaps the list of teams Reggie Wayne is interested in playing for -- is out.

According to WRTV's Dave Furst, the Patriots, Ravens, Texans and Packers have expressed some form of curiosity surrounding the future Hall of Famer. The Broncos have "backed off," per Furst, which denies us a chance to see Wayne catch a pass from Peyton Manning again.



As you'll notice, this is largely a list of contenders with the exception of the Houston Texans. There, Wayne would get a chance to reunite with old pal Vince Wilfork and ride off into the sun together.

This is why the list may be part fantasy and part reality. For example, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun has already mentioned that the Ravens are out and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle has reported that the Texans are not interested in the veteran's services.

In the NFL, "interest" often gets confused with a team merely checking up on a player's medical progress while asking purposely vague questions about where said player would like to suit up next season. Maybe that's the case here, maybe the Ravens are trying to fly under the radar until after camp, when they don't have to pay Wayne's entire salary for the season.

Either way, a team on the verge would be wise to take a flier on one of the best receivers of the last decade. If nothing else, he'll bring an unquestioned level of leadership and experience to the table.


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(nfl.com)
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Ravens, Texans not expected to pursue Reggie Wayne

ReggieWayne
A report about interest in wide receiver Reggie Wayne included the Ravens on the list of teams that were in the mix, but it doesn’t look like the former Colts wideout will be heading to the place where the Colts franchise played its first games.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and Jamison Hensley of ESPN both report that the Ravens are not expected to pursue adding Wayne to their mix at receiver. Hensley adds that the team also isn’t expected to make a play for Ace Sanders, who was waived by the Jaguars last week after two seasons in Jacksonville.

There were questions about the wide receiver group in Baltimore throughout the offseason and the addition of Breshad Perriman in the first round didn’t put them all to rest. It would appear, however, that the Ravens are content to see what the rookie, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken can do alongside Steve Smith rather than double down on well-seasoned wideouts this season.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans also aren’t making a play for Wayne. DeAndre Hopkins, Cecil Shorts and third-round pick Jaelen Strong are at the top of their depth chart at receiver.

The Packers and Patriots were the other teams mentioned as potential landing spots for Wayne and we noted some of the potential obstacles to Wayne landing with those teams earlier on Monday.


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(espn.com)
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Reggie Wayne excited to see Andre Johnson, Frank Gore with Colts

ReggieAndreProBowl
INDIANAPOLIS -- Three of the Indianapolis Colts' new players have ties to receiver Reggie Wayne, who spent the past 14 seasons with the franchise.

The Colts signed running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson and drafted receiver Phillip Dorsett during the offseason.

All three attended the University of Miami, just like Wayne. And they all work out in Miami, just like Wayne.

That’s why it’s not weird -- anymore at least -- for Wayne to see Gore and Johnson playing for the Colts.

“I would say yes, but when they’re not up here they’re down [in Miami] and I see them working out and stuff,” Wayne said. “It’s funny cause you sit back and laugh, it almost was a University of Miami receiving corp. Andre Johnson always says, ‘I wish you were still there, it would have been exciting.’ Those guys are great friends of mine. I’m excited for them. I’m happy for them. I wish them the best and they’re great guys. You guys know about me doing stuff in the community. Those guys are also community guys. You’ll be seeing them do stuff around the city.”

The Colts decided not to re-sign Wayne, 37, in March. They turned around and signed Johnson as his replacement. Johnson is 34 years old, but he’s still an upgrade over Wayne at that position. Wayne said last week that he plans to play a 15th season.

Johnson and Wayne talked before the former Houston Texan receiver signed with the Colts back in March.

“We understand that as athletes that’s the way it goes and I’m just thankful I was able to do what I was able to do for so long,” Wayne said. “Not everybody is blessed enough to do it. I’m still going to be cheering from afar. Just have to ride the wave as best as you can.”


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(espn.com)
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Edgerrin James provides life lessons, free gear at free youth camp




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10 Things to Know About Shane Larkin

ShaneLarkinCanes
For Shane Larkin, joining the Nets for the 2015-16 season won’t require much of a commute. The 5-foot-11 guard joins Brooklyn after spending last season with the New York Knicks, averaging 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 24.5 minutes per game.

Making his first appearance with the squad at last month’s player-signing press conference alongside Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young and new face Thomas Robinson, Larkin felt right at home.

Someone who Nets General Manager Billy King says will provide “athleticism at the point,” Larkin is already looking forward to that East River rivalry. Get to know one of the latest additions to the Nets roster.

First reactions on coming to Brooklyn: I was really excited. I was in New York last year, so obviously I’m excited to still be playing here in New York City, where basketball is a mecca. Coming across the water is definitely going to be interesting. I’m happy to be on the other side now and it’ll be fun when we play the Knicks.

Favorite movie: Recently, “Jurassic World” was dope and “Ted 2” was mad funny. As for all-time favorites, I’ve got a lot of them, like “The Departed.” There are too many to name.

Musical taste: I really like all types of music. Some of the dudes in the game that I listen to are Meek Mill and Drake. Those are probably the two I’m listening to most right now.

Player who inspires him: When I was younger, my favorite player was Allen Iverson, but he’s more of a scorer though. I’m more of a facilitator. I like getting in the paint and creating for guys.

Familiarity with Brooklyn: Being in New York here, I’ve been over to Brooklyn a few times before. Came over for that Michael Jackson show, it was cool.

Game inspiration: There are a lot of point guards that do it well now. Ty Lawson is a guy I try to resemble myself after. We’re the same height. You try and take different parts of different guys’ games. I mean, Steph [Curry] is probably the best point guard in the league right now. CP3 is always a 10+ assist guy, so I try to model my game after them.

Favorite NYC spots: There is so much in the city to do. I just go to the city and wind up wherever it takes me. You can’t get bored here.

Favorite shot on the court: I just try to get it done in the paint. I like throwing lobs. Hope we can connect on some of those this year.

Role model: My role model is my Dad. He played baseball and he was a professional athlete. I’m just learning from him and learning the ropes. He showed me how to go about the business side of things and showed me how to become better and better. Whenever I’m feeling down or not fully confident in myself, I can just call him and he’ll help me out.

One thing to tell Nets fans: I’m really excited for the season. It’s a great opportunity for me and the team. I’m glad we got Brook back, we got Thad back and brought in T-Rob. I think it can be really exciting and the sky’s the limit. We just have to mesh well together and come together as a group. I think we’ll have a really good season and it’s going to be fun when we play across the water.


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(nba.com)
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Reggie Wayne has spoken to teams, wants to play one more year

ReggieWayneCanes
Reggie Wayne won’t be back with the Colts this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to throw in the towel on his career.

Wayne is in Indianapolis on Friday to receive a key to the city and told reporters at a press conference that he still plans on playing during the 2015 season. Mike Wells of ESPN.com reports that Wayne said he’s spoken to five teams that have shown interest in bringing him on board for what he says will be a last hurrah in the NFL.

“Ideal is playing one more year and hanging it up,” Wayne said, via Eric Cox of RTV6.

Wayne caught 64 passes for 779 yards and two touchdowns with the Colts last season, but didn’t look like the same player he was before tearing his ACL during the 2013 season. He had surgery to repair a torn triceps and a knee scope after the year came to an end and might not be guaranteed anything more than a chance to compete for a roster spot if he does strike a deal to go to training camp with a team later this month.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Edgerrin James' annual free youth football camp in Ave Maria - TODAY




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James Jones said "I'll be back in Cleveland for sure"

JamesJonesHeat
LAS VEGAS – During these at times frenetic and expensive days of free agency for the Cavaliers, the one name seldom mentioned as been James Jones.

Well, he's a free agent, too. And he's coming back.

"I'll be back in Cleveland for sure," Jones told the Northeast Ohio Media Group Sunday in Las Vegas, on the red carpet for the first Players' Awards show.

"I've made it well known last year when I told them I was coming to help change the culture and do something special," Jones said. "It wasn't a situation where I was looking for a platform to move on. I was looking to be a part of something, to build something. And so I'm still in."

Jones, 34, is a free agent after playing out his one-year contract with the Cavs last season.

A 12-year veteran, he would qualify for a veteran's minimum salary of $1.5 million, which would be a $950,000 cap hit for Cleveland. He made the league-minimum $1.45 million last season.

A league source confirmed the Cavs would re-sign Jones. He's been a friend and teammate to LeBron James dating back at least to 2010, during James' first season in Miami.

The 6-8 forward averaged 4.4 points in 11.7 minutes per game during the regular season, and kept his scoring average through increased playing time during the playoffs.

"Last year was big for me in establishing who I am and defining myself," Jones said. "So, I'm excited about the things I've worked on this summer, and they'll see a different James Jones next year for sure."

The Cavaliers are negotiating with restricted free agent Tristan Thompson on a long-term contract, and may bring back J.R. Smith. The team is also considering signing Russian center Sasha Kaun.

"Those are conversations that are always tough to have," Jones said, speaking about Smith and Thompson. "This is the part of the business that requires a lot of thought and requires a lot of work. I'm hopeful we'll get it done. They're a big part of what we've done and we'll continue to do."


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(cleveland.com)
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X-rays of Dodgers' Yasmani Grandal's jaw negative after shot to mask

YasmaniGrandalDodgers
As Yasmani Grandal disappeared into the clubhouse in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 5-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday, Manager Don Mattingly feared for the worst.

"I thought he broke his jaw," Mattingly said.

The mask covering the All-Star catcher's face was struck by a ball fouled by outfielder Michael Taylor.

Mattingly's fears were relieved, at least temporarily, when X-rays on Grandal's jaw were negative. Grandal is scheduled to undergo further testing Monday.

Pitcher Zack Greinke immediately sensed something was wrong with Grandal.

"His face wasn't really moving," Greinke said. "It was like frozen."

Grandal said his teammates and trainers had trouble understanding him because his inability to move his jaw prevented him from speaking properly.

Grandal was replaced by A.J. Ellis, who caught the remaining four innings. By the end of the game, Grandal's condition was significantly improved.

"It's a little better now," Grandal said. "It definitely hurts to swallow, hard to bite down."

Grandal didn't have any concussion-like symptoms. He was on the seven-day concussion disabled list in May after taking a couple of knocks to his head in a game against the San Diego Padres.

In addition to catching a majority of games, Grandal has established himself as a middle-of-the-order hitter. He ranks third on the team with 14 home runs. Only Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson have more.


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(latimes.com)
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Yasmani Grandal likens himself to Varitek, aspires to be like Molina

YasmaniGrandalDodgers
The All-Star Game was a reunion -- in a fitting place too -- for Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal and Rays pitcher Brad Boxberger. Both players were dealt from the Cincinnati Reds in 2011 in exchange for Matt Latos. Now both of them are All-Stars.

Despite his All-Star status, the Orange County Register notes that Grandal still remains under the radar. Grandal responded comparing himself to a former All-Star:

“I look back, I see Jason Varitek…[He] was one of the best catchers, overall, for a period of about 10 years. And he wasn’t recognized like he was the guy, because at any point there was some catcher who was doing a little bit better that year.”

For Grandal, those catchers would be Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. Grandal actually aspires to be like Molina. He said:

“Because how can you be better than Yadi Molina, the career he’s had?...But, yeah, one of my goals is to get to that point.”


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(foxsports.com)
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Michael Irvin on Son Picking UM: ‘I’ve Brainwashed Him For Quite a While’

MichaelIrvinCane
Canes fans had to be reeling upon learning that Michael Irvin Jr. plans to follow in his dad’s footsteps after committing to the University of Miami this summer.

But “The Playmaker” joked this was in the works for quite a while.

“Well I’ve brainwashed him for quite a while on this,” Michael Irvin said on the Joe Rose Show. “I remember telling him at six, if you don’t want to go to Miami, that’s good. That’s your choice. Let me know now so I can stop feeding you. He was six years old at the time so he was all cool with it in his young age. Like all kids, man, when they start getting 14, 15, they think they know everything. He’s like ‘well, dad I get to make the decision’ and I’m like ‘oh my god, who is this fella right here?’




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Today's Kids Will Never Know How Real Sean Taylor Was

Sometimes Twitter throws out a hashtag and sees what happens.



Yesterday, #TodaysKidsWillNeverKnow became a worldwide trending topic, which gave people an excuse to get nostalgic about the past and cynical about the future.

There was also some sad remembrance, like when this was tweeted out, to memorialize Sean Taylor and demonstrate a player nobody will ever be able to witness first hand again.

SeanTaylor copy
“I want the people of D.C. to know that he was really a good kid, a hard worker and he never shied away from performing at his best,” Taylor’s father Pedro said at this year’s Redskins Draft Day Party. “We always talk about treating people right and doing what’s right and this is the honor to show that he was truly treating people right.”

On the football field, Taylor treated players to his physical, hard-hitting tackles. It’s what made him such a special, highlight-reel performer.

It’s why you can just get lost in this six second loop from the 2007 Pro Bowl, watching him pound punter Brian Moorman to the ground over and over and over...and over.

Moorman, who was apparently OK after this hit, jogged over to shake Taylor’s hand. Even he had to respect landing on his back.

Today’s kids will only have this – and his many other grainy videotapes -- to really know. 


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(redskins.com)
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