Is Miami’s addition of RB Knowshon Moreno a bad thing for Lamar Miller?

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Following in Jimmy Graham’s footsteps, two Miami hoop players turn to football

It’s becoming something of a Miami tradition for basketball players to suddenly take up football with hopes of becoming a star tight end.

Jimmy Graham did it and has gone on to become one of the best players in the NFL at his position as a member of the New Orleans Saints.

Now two more Hurricanes are looking to follow in Graham’s footsteps.

Erik Swoope, an athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound forward who averaged 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game last season, has decided to enter his name into the upcoming NFL draft – even though he’s never played organized football at either the high school or college levels.

“I’m excited to enter my name in the NFL Draft and pursue a professional football career,” he Tweeted on Tuesday.

At least one team appears to be taking Swoope’s bid seriously. The Denver Broncos gave him a private workout last week.

Like Swoope, Hurricanes teammate Raphael Akpejiori is also exploring the possibility of playing football. The 6-foot-9, 241-pound forward has announced his intention to play tight end for Miami’s football team as a graduate student next fall.

Akpejiori, a native of Nigeria, averaged 0.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in his final season of college basketball.

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Broncos schedule workout with QB Stephen Morris

Even if the Broncos can’t draft every prospect they like, it can’t hurt to check out as many as possible while they’re unattached.

The Broncos have Ole Miss receiver Donte Moncrief and Miami quarterback Stephen Morris on their workout schedule.

Morris probably wouldn’t become a candidate for the Broncos’ roster unless he fell to the seventh round or undrafted pool. The Broncos already have two young backup quarterbacks in Brock Osweiler, a second-round draft pick in 2012, and Zac Dysert, a seventh-round selection in last year’s draft.

The 6-foot-2, 213-pound Morris is an intriguing prospect because he has superior arm strength and ran the 40 in 4.63 seconds.

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Cowboys Will Work Out LaRon Byrd

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IRVING, Texas -- With the NFL draft at the forefront of their minds, the Dallas Cowboys are not ignoring free agency.

Two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph visited with the club earlier in the week, and wide receiver LaRon Byrd will work out for the team on Thursday, according to sources.

Byrd, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, spent last year on injured reserve with the Arizona Cardinals because of a concussion. He was released earlier in the month and worked out recently for the New York Giants.

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Aubrey Huff Unloading Beautiful San Diego Pad – $3.995 Million

I’m having a hard time believing Aubrey Huff only made $57,825,001 during his MLB career. This guy hammered out 242 dongs and the most he ever made in a season was $10,000,000.

Anyway, Huff is selling his San Diego pad for just shy of $4 million.

According to his realtor:

Resort living in this single-level estate on one of the prettiest corner lots and locations in the prestigious guard gated community of Rancho Pacifica. Beautifully constructed with the finest attention to detail and design, and wonderful integration on the elevated south- and west-oriented lot for maximum enjoyment of the open vistas, sunlight and ocean breezes.

Real Highlights Of Aubrey’s San Diego Resort
• 5 beds, 5 full baths and a half
• Basketball court
• Pool that is perfect for a bikini photoshoot
• 15 miles from Whole Foods
• 14 miles from Goldfingers strip club

Mortgage: $15,477/mo. before you start talking about taxes and gardeners

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Yonder Alonso fields grounders at third base just in case

SAN DIEGO -- With Chase Headley nursing a mild strain of his right biceps, and with the Padres short on options at third base, first baseman Yonder Alonso crossed the diamond during batting practice prior to the game Wednesday against the Rockies.

Alonso took ground balls three hours before the game under the watchful eye of manager Bud Black and others.

Consider it insurance in case the team gets in a bind and needs someone to man the hot corner in a pinch.

"We've got a third baseman who is day to day with a biceps strain, and if something happens tonight, we might need someone to go over there," Black said. "[Alonso] has got good hands and a good arm. We're going to look at it a little."

Alonso has appeared in two games at third base during his Major League career -- with the Reds in 2011 and once with the Padres last season.

Alonso isn't a complete stranger to the position. He played it a lot as a youth and moved over to first base at the University of Miami because Ryan Braun played third base.

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Ryan Braun still bothered by thumb

Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun (thumb) is still being bothered by his ailing right thumb, which is why he was held out Wednesday, April 16. He's hitting .269 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, but his homers and seven of his RBIs came in one day on April 8.

Fantasy Tip: This is something you'll need to keep an eye on. Braun started slow, minus the breakout game against the Phillies. He may need to continue to be rested in the near future to avoid making his thumb worse.

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New York Giants Meet with Wide Receiver LaRon Byrd

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The Giants brought in free agent wide receiver LaRon Byrd, who previously spent two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

Byrd, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Cardinals in 2012, opened eyes in his first camp and preseason, even drawing comparisons to teammate Larry Fitzgerald. However, in his first NFL season, the 6'4'' wideout managed only a single reception for eight yards and often struggled with drops. Then, in his second camp with the team, found himself on the wrong end of a Bruce Arians criticism.

"Not really, to be honest," Arians said last season. "He had a couple nice catches that were unbelievable throws. He's too inconsistent right now. He has talent and a good future, but he's got to get more consistent."

Ultimately, Byrd suffered a concussion and was waived. Upon clearing waivers, he was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve (IR). The Cardinals then released him earlier this month.

In addition to Byrd, the Giants are also reportedly interested in wide receiver Sidney Rice (Seattle Seahawks), although it remains unclear if he'll also be meeting with the team on Tuesday.

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Is Erik Swoope the next Jimmy Graham?

Miami’s Erik Swoope is following in the footsteps of a former Hurricane, Jimmy Graham. Swoope officially declared for May’s NFL draft Tuesday.

Erik Swoope @eswoope21 “I’m excited to enter my name in the NFL Draft and pursue a professional football career.”

The four most productive NFL tight ends in 2013 each have basketball backgrounds. The list doesn’t even include the Denver Broncos’ Julius Thomas, who played basketball at Portland State before turning to the gridiron his final year on campus.

As a forward for the Hurricanes, Swoope averaged 2.6 points during his career. Swoope’s time in Miami is defined by his athleticism, leadership and rim-rattling dunks.

At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Swoope is an impressive specimen, but he’ll need to add weight to play tight end in the NFL. Swoope lost 20 pounds prior to his senior season, according to Miami’s official website. If Swoope can play at 240 to 250 pounds, he’ll be more effective.

Swoope will inevitably be compared to Graham, because they came from the same school. However, the better comparison is to Antonio Gates. Swoope, like Gates, didn’t play football at the collegiate level. Swoope never even played football at the high school level. Whereas Graham, Thomas and the Cleveland Browns’ Jordan Cameron all played at least one season of college football before making the leap to the NFL.

But that doesn’t mean teams aren’t interested in Swoope. NFL teams now scout basketball programs for the types of talent that could possibly translate.

The Denver Broncos, for example, already struck gold with Thomas, and they may attempt to do so a second time who worked out Swoope last week.

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Mike James gained muscle, recovering well

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed off some excellent depth at the running back position last season, as they were able to recover from two season-ending injuries to their top two backs. Doug Martin was the every-down, workhorse back and face of the offense to start the season after his excellent rookie year, but he tore his labrum relatively early in the season and was replaced by rookie Mike James.

The Miami product always looked solid, but now he looks like a guy who could blossom after impressively racking up 295 yards on 60 carries (4.9 YPC) before breaking his ankle in mid-November. Bobby Rainey showed some flashes replacing him and Brian Leonard wasn’t an awful fourth guy on the depth chart overall, so the Buccaneers can definitely feel confident about their RB situation going forward, especially with Martin leading the way and James behind him.

620 WDAE’s Bucs beat writer Tom Krasniqi tweeted that he recently spoke with James, and he added that James “looks bigger” after adding some more muscle. The running back told Krasniqi that “he’s coming along well” from surgery to repair his broken ankle, so it sounds like he’s ready to threaten for some significant snaps behind Martin in a new-look Buccaneers offense that will feature a revamped line, Josh McCown at quarterback, and possibly Mike Evans replacing Mike Williams as the WR opposite of Vincent Jackson.

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Brandon Linder Awaits His Fate As NFL Draft Nears

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hometown boy, Brandon Linder, is looking to make it to the NFL.

Brandon, a former University of Miami offensive lineman, loves the outdoors as much as he loves the football field.

With the NFL draft less than a month away, Brandon is getting ready for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Brandon at the annual draft will hear his name called—where he ends up is anybody’s guess and, to be honest, Brandon just wants to play football.

“This something that–ever since I was a pee wee in football–this has been a dream of mine. Ever since high school and college, it started ‘hey I can do something with this, I can make this my career and this is something that I want to do,” said Linder.

Linder, who is expected to go anywhere from the third to the fifth round, spends hours a day preparing for his next big step. But despite his dedication to football, Brandon always finds time for his other passions; bow hunting, diving and fishing whenever he gets the chance to use his custom UM rod and reel.

“You know I work out five days a week, it’s like seven in the morning to like noon, so like in the afternoon I can sneak out and get a little trip and even if I’m driving around here fishing the lakes, fishing for a peacock bass, that’s something that satisfies me,” Bradon said.

What the South Florida native can’t escape from is the wait, the wait to see what the next chapter in his life holds.

Whether it’s in Green Bay, Seattle, Kansas City, or maybe right here in Miami in his hometown with the Dolphins.

“I’ve been born and raised here, you know it would be something cool to be being a hometown kid, going to high school and college here, I think that would be awesome. But again, it’s really not up to me and I’m grateful for any opportunity that I do get”

Whether it’s dodging alligators in the everglades or avoiding sharks off the Bahamas, Brandon knows that those adventures will pale in comparison to the challenges he is about to face in the NFL.

“Now that I’ve transitioned about learningicon1 about the NFL and all that stuff, I feel like it’s a big gap , that I can’t wait to start learning all this new stuff that I would have to be learning”

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Clinton Portis, former NFL star, sells Miami condo to avoid foreclosure

Clinton Portis, former running back who played in nine NFL seasons, has avoided a foreclosure on his condominium in Bristol Tower in Miami by selling it for $900,000, reports the South Florida Business Journal.

Purchased for $665,000 in 2004, the 2,070-square-foot condo sold for enough to allow Portis to repay his full loan as well as earn a 35 percent profit.

According to the report, the property was slated for foreclosure by JPMorgan and Chase, which filed a lawsuit against Portis and his mother regarding the original $512,000 mortgage Dec. 12. The mortgage was granted in 2004, the year in which Portis joined the Washington Redskins after his first two seasons at the Denver Broncos for an eight-year contract for $50.5 million.

An earlier report on the website says that as the property is not listed as his homestead residence, it may be an investment property or housing for a relative.
Portis began his career at the University of Miami. When he was still relatively unknown, Lee Corso singled out Portis' performance during a defeat by Florida State, saying "that kid can play for me any time." Portis' sophomore season was not as successful as he lost his job to Michael Rainha. However, in 2001, Portis bounced back as the Hurricanes won the National Championship.

Portis last suited up in 2010, playing only five games due to injury. He officially retired from the game in 2012 and was one of several dozens of former players in a lawsuit against the NFL over concussions they suffered. However, the lawsuit was resolved when the NFL agreed to compensate the players and provide for their medical care.

Last April, Portis was inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame.

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Ray Lewis sells Highland Beach home for $4.77 million

Ray Lewis, the former Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens linebacker who retired as a Super Bowl champion last year, has sold his oceanfront mansion in Highland Beach for $4.77 million, Palm Beach County property records show.

Lewis bought the 6,788-square-foot home at 3573 S. Ocean Blvd. for $5.22 million in 2004. He listed it for sale at nearly $5 million.

The buyers were Dragos Alexe and Susanne Kramer. The home, built in 2001, has seven bedrooms, eight and a half bathrooms, a five-car garage and 58 feet of water frontage, according to the listing. 

Listing agent Emily K. Roberts, of Tauriello & Co. in Delray Beach, declined to answer questions, saying Lewis is “pretty private.”

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Gaby Sanchez makes most of starts at first base

CINCINNATI -- Gaby Sanchez's two home runs Monday night proved crucial in what ended up as a win after rain suspended the game. For him, they also were important because they came against right-handed pitchers.

"We don't face too many lefties or anything like that," Sanchez said. "Being able to come in and help the team out any which way is definitely a positive. That's what I'm here for."

Through their first 13 games, the Pirates have faced one left-handed starting pitcher, the Chicago Cubs' Travis Wood. As a result, the left-handed Travis Ishikawa started 10 of those games at first base, leaving the right-handed Sanchez with only three.

Manager Clint Hurdle said in spring training that he would not use a strict platoon between Ishikawa and Sanchez. The slew of right-handers out of the gates, combined with the fact the Pirates are scheduled to face five right-handers the rest of the week, means Hurdle must start Sanchez against right-handers if he wants to start him at all.

"It's not all hard numbers," Hurdle said of how he decides when to start Sanchez. "We're kind of old-school here. We'll look at what our eyes tell us and what our gut tells us and sometime the numbers scream at you. Sometimes, you can look at a batting average and it can read .200 and if you dig deeper it's four hard-hit balls and he only got two hits in 10 at-bats."

In 18 plate appearances through eight games, Sanchez had an .333 on-base percentage and .688 slugging percentage. In the weekend series in Milwaukee, Hurdle said, Sanchez worked on nothing but hitting the ball the opposite way.

"[Monday] felt good," Sanchez said. "Things that I'm putting in play in the cage and on the field during [batting practice] paid off. The thing is just to continue it, continue that feeling, continue getting the pitch that I need."

Sanchez's two home runs represented a third of the Pirates' long-ball output Monday night. The teams combined for 10 home runs in six innings before rain stopped the game.

"Definitely crazy," Sanchez said. "I'd never been in a game where that many home runs are hit by both teams, let alone one. It's one of those things that happens. Both teams were swinging the bat well."

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Peter O'Brien Named FSL Player of the Week

Tampa, Fla. - The first Player and Pitcher of the Week for the 2014 FSL Season was named today by the Florida State League. This was for games played April 3-13, 2014.  

The Player of the Week was Tampa Yankees Catcher Peter O'Brien. He played in 10 games, batting .333, with thirteen (13) hits in 39 plate appearances. His hits included four (4) homeruns and two (2) doubles. He had six (6) RBI's and scored (6) six times. His slugging average was .692 and his OBP was .366. This is Peter's third year in professional baseball and he resides in Miami Gardens, FL.

The Pitcher of the Week was Dunedin Blue Jays Lefthander Matt Boyd. Matt started two (2) games and had two (2) wins. His ERA was 0.00. In (12) innings pitched he allowed eight (8) hits, issued one walk, and struck out nine (9) batters. This is Matt's second year of professional baseball and he was born in Mercer Island, WA.

The Tampa Yankees are the Single-A Advanced Affiliate of the New York Yankees. For more information about the Tampa Yankees call (813) 673-3055 or visit

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VIDEO: Lamar Thomas - UM Hall of Fame acceptance speech

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VIDEO: Clinton Portis - UM Hall of Fame acceptance speech

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VIDEO: James Jones - UM Hall of Fame acceptance speech

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Broncos work out University of Miami basketball player Erik Swoope

The Broncos were rewarded for taking a chance on a former college basketball player when Julius Thomas blossomed into one of the most productive tight ends in the league last season and it seems they’re trying to see if lightning will strike twice. was the first to report that Erik Swoope went through a workout with the Broncos on Thursday and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald snapped a photo of the session while it was going on. He averaged five points and 2.7 rebounds for the Hurricanes as a senior forward and never played football for Miami coach Al Golden’s squad.

Swoope is listed at 6-5 and 220 pounds, which would make tight end or wide receiver seem like the spots he might be able to fill on a football field.

Should Swoope make it to the NFL, he wouldn’t be the first former Hurricane hoopster to transition to the gridiron. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham made the same switch, although Graham played a year of football at the U before heading to the NFL. Expecting the same would be foolish, but NFL teams have been intrigued by athletic basketball players since Antonio Gates hit the league and strong workouts could position Swoope to be the next to benefit from that interest.

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Andre Johnson's University Of Miami Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speech

"Well I didn't prepare a speech... a lot of people know I don't talk much. But I'm truly humbled to be here tonight. To be inducted into the UM Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor. I had a childhood dream of being a Hurricane and playing for the University of Miami.

"I'm looking at guys in this room like Michael Irvin, Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland... you know these guys have laid the foundation and when I came into UM in 1999 with Clinton, we had a goal, and our goal was getting the University of Miami back to where it was. And the guys before us had laid the foundation, and we accomplished that goal in 2001 and beat Nebraska in the National Championship.

"I'd like to thank my mom, my uncle and my brother who've been pretty much my support system since I've been playing the game of football. I don't think they've missed a game that I've played since little league, to high school to professional, so I'd like to thank them for being there for me.

"I'd like to thank all my coaches: Coach Kehoe, Coach Soldinger, Coach Mark. And I'd be wrong if I didn't thank Curtis Johnson. He was a hell of a receivers coach. He's the head coach over at Tulane now. He saw things in me that I didn't see in myself. Coming into UM, he wanted me to play in a way that I wasn't used to playing. He wanted me to play very physical and I wasn't used to that, so he started calling me "soft." I think as a player you don't like to be called soft; I don't care who you is. Like I said he saw things in myself that I didn't see in myself and he was hard on me. At first I didn't understand it, but as time went along, I figured it out. Me and him became real close friends and we still talk now today, so I'd like to thank Curtis Johnson because he's had a heck of an impact on my career.

"To sum it all up, this is where I wanted to be. I wanted to be a Hurricane, living my childhood dream, but I never thought I'd be in the UM Hall of Fame. I guess all the hard work has paid off and I thank everyone who supported me through it all... everyone who's been there for me and kept me positive and kept me on track, so thank you."

- Andre Johnson April 10, 2014

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Terrell Davis Expects Longevity from RB Frank Gore

Jim Harbaugh said last month that he expects 30-year-old running back Frank Gore to have “three more good years” in the NFL.

Terrell Davis agrees.

"What we've seen for 10 years has been a rock,” Davis, now an NFL Network analyst, told over the weekend. “How long can he continue to be solid for the Niners? Hopefully for a few more years.”

Gore, the San Francisco 49ers all-time leading rusher, rushed for 1,128 yards in his ninth season for the team last year. He enters 2014 with one year remaining on his contract and turns 31 in one month.

Davis, the Denver Broncos all-time rushing king, knows a thing or two about playing the contact-heavy position of running back. He played seven seasons in the league but was limited to 17 games over his final three.

Gore, meanwhile, has never played in fewer than 11 games in any one campaign.

“I expect him to continue to do what he's been doing, being a guy that once the opportunities are there and he's presented with the ball, he's going to make good on it,” the three-time All-Pro said of Gore, who entered the NFL in 2005, four years following Davis’ retirement at the age of 29. “I don't see anything changing for him this year unless the injuries crop up for him."

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Pressure is on Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen last season became the first Panthers tight end to lead the team in receiving since 1997 – and that was before the team held a fire sale at the wide receiver position.

Coming off the two most prolific receiving seasons by a Panthers tight end, Olsen has as much to gain as anyone following general manager Dave Gettleman’s tear-down and rebuild of the wide receiver corps.

And while Olsen said last week he’s always thrived when given more opportunities to catch the ball, he’s not ready to sound the alarm the way many Panthers fans – and at least one of his teammates – have.

“I know everyone at one point was kind of panicking. Would it have been nice to have those (receivers) back? Of course,” Olsen said at a screening of the movie “Draft Day.”

“But I think we’ve signed a lot of guys that can fill a lot of those roles,” Olsen added. “We’re putting it together. It’s hard to judge a team in March. When the season gets closer, that will be a better example of what our team is.”

Running back DeAngelo Williams said he was “still in shock” after the series of events that saw the Panthers release franchise receiving leader Steve Smith and lose wideouts Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon via free agency during a three-day stretch in March.

“I joked with people that my fantasy value went up after we got rid of our four receivers, but it’s the truth,” Williams said last week during an appearance on the NFL Network’s “NFL AM” show. “I went from probably being drafted in the fifth and sixth round to being in the first round – me and Jonathan (Stewart) alike because we have no receivers.”

The Panthers have begun to replenish the wideout position, but the tight ends and running backs figure to be featured prominently in 2014 – as they were in Mike Shula’s first season as offensive coordinator.

Shula is said to want to use more “12” personnel this year – one back, two tight ends and two receivers.

Fourth-year quarterback Cam Newton seems most comfortable running two-tight end sets. During his rookie season, when he passed for 4,051 yards to break Peyton Manning’s rookie record (since broken by Andrew Luck), Newton had the luxury of throwing to two pass-catching tight ends in Olsen and Jeremy Shockey.

The past two seasons Olsen hasn’t had a wing man.

But the Panthers added a potential No. 2 tight end last week when they signed Ed Dickson, who caught 54 passes three seasons ago in Baltimore. They previously re-signed fullback/tight end Richie Brockel and acquired blocking tight end Mike McNeill.

And then there’s the tight end/basketball forward/bodybuilder whom Newton calls ‘Swole Bones’ – Brandon Williams, the former Oregon tight end and small-college basketball player who remains something of a project.

But all that tight end inventory and well-paid running back depth won’t matter much if the Panthers don’t have wideouts consistently catching passes and stretching the field vertically – as Williams noted on his NFL Network appearance.

Williams’ concern isn’t necessarily the quality of the new receivers, but the fact they won’t get any work with Newton until training camp, when Newton is scheduled to return from ankle surgery.

“I just don’t want to see eight, nine guys in the box week in and week out because we’re working on our timing,” he said.

Olsen said it was tough to watch Smith go – as both a teammate and friend (the two remain neighbors). But he’s eager to see what Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood bring to the offense as well as the locker room.

Williams, the franchise’s all-time rushing leader, was asked whether the receiver shakeup puts more pressure on him.

“No, it puts more pressure on the front office because you make these moves and getting rid of our four receivers and then you have to bring in guys,” Williams told NFL Network. “Not saying that they’re no-name guys, but our guys made their name all on themselves.”

But Olsen said Gettleman made a name for himself last year by taking other teams’ castoffs and turning them into starters and contributors on a 12-win, playoff team.

“There is a plan. We have to trust in that,” Olsen said. “Mr. Gettleman’s done an awesome job since he’s gotten here in a short time putting pieces in place to fill holes. And doing so with guys other people maybe overlooked. Last year a lot of the guys that came in were in that type of situation and were huge parts of our team.”

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D-Jax signing hurts Santana Moss' roster chances?

ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim believes Santana Moss' road to making the roster became more difficult when the team signed DeSean Jackson.

Jackson's signing shifts Andre Roberts into the third-receiver, slot role formerly manned by Moss. Turning 35 in June, Moss was a shell of his former self last season, struggling to a 42-452-2 campaign. Moss will likely have to beat out one of Aldrick Robinson or Leonard Hankerson in training camp to keep his job.

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Clinton Portis evades foreclosure on Miami condo

Similar to how he skirted linebackers in the NFL, former Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis evaded foreclosure on his Miami condo by selling it for enough to repay his loan.

JPMorgan Chase Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit in December against Portis and his mother over the 2,070-square-foot unit in Bristol Tower at 2127 Brickell Ave. It concerned a mortgage granted for $512,000 in 2004.

Portis recently sold the unit for $900,000 to 2127 Brickell Property, which is managed by Paulo Javier Taborga Diaz.

Not only did that fully repay the loan, the sale was a 35 percent premium over the $665,000 that Portis paid for the condo in 2004, as the former University of Miami star benefitted big time from the real estate rebound.

Portis played for the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins and last saw game action in 2010.

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Dwane Casey has his players’ ears, and John Salmons would know: ‘He gave us something to shoot for’

TORONTO — Here is the list: Larry Brown, Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, Jim O’Brien, Maurice Cheeks, Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, Vinny Del Negro, Scott Skiles, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Mike Malone, Dwane Casey.

John Salmons is in his 12th year in the NBA, and he has played for 14 head coaches. Because of the volume, that means some have been good coaches and some have been bad. Some have had the respect of their players, and some have not.

“It’s a tough spot for a head coach,” Salmons said in a conversation with three reporters earlier this week. “The majority of the players get paid more than the coaches. A lot of times players have more power than coaches. If it’s a good organization from the top, the coach pretty much follows. If the organization gives the coach some leeway, some power from the top, then he [has respect].”

The Raptors have yearned for that type of stability for years now. June 2004 was the last time a general manager and coach ascended to their positions at roughly the same time for the Raptors, when Rob Babcock and Sam Mitchell landed those jobs, respectively. Last year, it was clear that general manager Bryan Colangelo and Casey, the Raptors’ coach, disagreed on some rather essential points.

This year, it seemed like a lock for that pattern to continue. Colangelo was removed as general manager, replaced by Masai Ujiri, who was emboldened with a five-year contract. Ujiri retained Casey, but did not extend his contract, which ends after this season. The situation still looked like a petri dish capable of growing more organizational dysfunction.

Yet, there was Casey on Wednesday, punctuating a four-game winning streak by harping on the Raptors’ diminished defence. He has continued to coach to his beliefs, and the players have not sensed any interference from above.

“A lot of organizations don’t allow coaches to do certain things,” Salmons said. When asked if that included setting a team’s rotation, Salmons nodded. “In this organization, they give [Casey] a lot of leeway to coach. Players see that and know that he’s got the back of the organization and they have to fall in line.

“All year he’s been trying to build for this moment. He was always looking at the bigger picture. Even when we were in the middle of making our run, he always had the bigger picture in mind … He gave us something to shoot for.”

They have not yet hit their target. The Raptors are 12-6 since March 9, an excellent record. However, the raw win-loss numbers lie a little bit: The Raptors have allowed 105.7 points per 100 possessions, just 17th in the league. In the three months prior, they had ranked fourth in the same category.

For Casey, who has preached defence for his entire tenure, that is worrisome. Part of the slippage has been injury-related, with Patrick Patterson, Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry all missing some time and playing hurt in other games. Casey also pointed to calendar-related distractions — the playoffs are close, so it is hard not to let your mind wander.

However, for a team with so little playoff experience, it is critical that a coach has his players’ attention at this time of the year.

“You can tell if a coach is saying one thing and don’t really mean it or saying one thing and doing something different,” Salmons said. “That’s when players tend to lose respect for coaches. With [Casey], what you see is what you get. Straightforward, tell you how it is.

“Players want honesty. Just tell me what you want or what I’m not doing. You know what I’m saying? Just let me know. Don’t just hang me in the wind not knowing. I think they do a good job of that here. That’s a big deal.”

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Loomis: No deadline for Graham deal

BATON ROUGE, La. -- New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis shot down the notion Wednesday that the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham will aim to strike a new deal by the middle of this month.

A report by Pro Football Talk last month cited a source as saying the two sides would try to reach a long-term contract agreement before the April 22 deadline for Graham to file a grievance over his franchise-tag designation. Graham was officially designated as a tight end, though it’s expected that Graham and agent Jimmy Sexton will file the grievance to argue that he should be considered a wide receiver based on where he lined up most often last season.

“Look, I’m always optimistic. But there’s no deadline here,” Loomis said when asked if that April 22 date was being used as a target.

Loomis, who spoke to the media while attending LSU’s pro day, declined to give any specific updates on how talks are developing with Graham. But he seemed to indicate that the pace hasn’t picked up much since the Saints first placed the franchise tag on Graham more than a month ago.

When asked for the most rational way for fans to look at the situation, Loomis cracked, “Well, when does training camp begin?”

“I don’t have an answer for that,” Loomis continued. “That’s a two-way street. You know, you guys [in the media] have been through this lots of times. I think all of us would rather have things done sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t always happen that way. So we’ll keep going, well keep at it in the process. Obviously we want to have Jimmy Graham on our team when training camp begins, and I am sure he wants to be with us.

“So we’ll just keep plugging away at the process. He’s got a great agent. And all his people, they know what they’re doing, and so do we. Hopefully we’ll come to a conclusion at some point.”

Saints owner Tom Benson gave a similar response during the NFL meetings last month when asked about the timetable for a new Graham deal, suggesting that he wouldn’t be surprised to see talks drag out like they did with franchised quarterback Drew Brees until July two years ago.

However, the potential grievance could throw a wrinkle into things.

If Graham does file a grievance, then his case would eventually be heard by a third-party arbitrator, who would be agreed upon by the NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association. If that arbitrator agrees that Graham should be considered a wide receiver, his franchise-tag salary would soar from $7.05 million to $12.3 million.

That decision would give one side tremendous leverage in its long-term contract negotiations. So it remains possible that both the Saints and Graham’s camp would ultimately prefer to work out a deal on their own terms before it reaches the point of an arbitrator’s decision.

One way or another, Graham will almost certainly become the highest-paid tight end in NFL history, surpassing Rob Gronkowski’s $9 million average with the New England Patriots. The biggest question is whether Graham’s deal will be closer to $10 million per year or $12 million.

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Jon Jay hits three-run homer in win

Jon Jay got the start in center on Monday and hit a three-run homer off the Brewers' Matt Garza.

Jay has started five of the Cardinals' 13 games so far, with four of those coming in center. That's probably a bit more than he should play over Peter Bourjos, but the Cardinals do want to keep Bourjos healthy. Obviously, it worked out nicely tonight, with Jay making his first big contribution of the year.

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proCanes Clinton Portis, James Jones, Andre Johnson set to join UM Sports Hall of Fame

James Jones has two NBA championships with the Miami Heat.

Andre Johnson ranks second all-time in NFL receiving-yards-per-game with the Houston Texans.

But the honor that ignites their already fierce pride in a way that can’t quite be compared to anything else, stems from their hometown dreams as children growing up yearning to be Miami Hurricanes.

Jones and Johnson will join a prolific class when they are inducted Thursday night into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.

“To do anything here at home, in my backyard, is something that I’ll be close to forever,” said Jones, 33, a 6-8, 215-pound small forward who graduated from Miami American High, starred at UM from 1999 to 2003 and has been with the Heat since 2008. “Every time I go to a Hurricanes game or watch the Canes play or watch a Hurricanes football game or think about college sports and the U, I’ll know I have a place in history there.

“It’s a legacy. I’ll be the first in my family to do something like that. Hopefully I can set the mark for my family, my kids and especially kids from the city who dream of those types of things, but never really get the opportunity.’’

Johnson, 32, graduated from Miami Senior High and helped bring UM’s football program back to prominence from 2000 to 2002, earning a national title with the Hurricanes in 2001 while being named the Rose Bowl’s Co-MVP (along with fellow UM Sports Hall of Famer Ken Dorsey) with seven receptions for 199 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska.

“A tremendous honor,” Johnson said this week as he prepared to work out on campus. “Growing up as a child I always wanted to be a Hurricane. It was a dream of mine. Then, to be able to come here and win a national championship and help get the school back to where it had been before, that was the greatest feeling for me.

“Those were the best days of my life and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. You were a kid and came together with a bunch of guys from different places and built something real special. You look at guys from other colleges and you can tell they don’t have the brotherhood we have here.’’

Johnson will be joined in being honored by fellow football inductees Lamar Thomas, a Hurricanes receiver from 1988 to 92, and running back Clinton Portis, who shared in the 2001 national title and went on to star with the NFL’s Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins.

Thomas, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993, finished his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins (1996 to 2000) and returned to UM to earn his bachelor’s degree in 2008. He was recently hired as the wide receivers coach at Louisville, and will meet his Hurricanes on the other side of the field in the season opener at Louisville.

Portis now serves as a football analyst for the ACC Digital Network.

The other former Hurricanes being inducted include hometown athletes Wyllesheia Myrick, a two-time All-American in track who left UM with several school records from 1998 to 2002; and infielder and pitching star Javy Rodriguez (1999 to 2002), who led UM to its last two national championships in ’99 and ’01. He returned to complete his UM degree in 2011 and now coaches at alma mater Gulliver Prep.

Rounding out the honorees are Cuban native and current FIU diving coach Rio Ramirez, who earned four individual national titles with UM from 1997 to 99; and pitcher Jeff Morrison, who starred at Delray Beach Atlantic High and led the Canes to the College World Series three consecutive seasons (1979 to 81).
Morrison went on to receive his law degree from Georgetown and spent the next 30 years as an attorney in Atlanta. He is now working on his PhD at Georgia State, and will begin a second career this fall as a history professor.

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Frank Gore's value worth cap number

In February, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said he didn’t think the team would necessarily have to ask running back Frank Gore to take a pay cut.

Fast forward a month-and-a-half, with the heavy financial lifting of the offseason completed, the 49ers have not adjusted Gore’s pay. His 2014 salary cap number is $6.45 million. Barring an unforeseen development, the 49ers likely will not approach Gore to take a cap hit this year.

Gore has the highest salary-cap number among running backs in the NFL. Gore turns 31 in May. That is an ancient age for an NFL running back. Check out this Kevin Seifert piece on how running backs decline quickly.

But that’s the point about Gore -- he’s still productive. Gore had 1,128 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per rush in 2013. Four of the running backs with a higher salary-cap renumber in 2014 had more yards than Gore last season. They were Adrian Peterson, whose cap number is the highest for a running back at $14.4 million, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch.

Gore is older than all of the running backs with a higher salary cap number in 2014. But with his production in the same range, it doesn’t appear to be a stretch that Gore remains among the highest paid players at this position despite his advanced age.

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Devin Hester's heart still in Chicago

Return man Devin Hester departed for the Atlanta Falcons via free agency, but it’s clear he’d like to still be with the Chicago Bears.

Hester made that apparent Wednesday with a couple of posts on his Twitter account.

@D_Hest23: “To all my Bears fans I never wanted to leave the Bears, the organization decided to go another route with me. The things I did in Chicago”

@D_Hest23 : ”probably would never happen again and I always wanted to retire as a Bears

Hester’s correct that there’s a good chance his exploits in Chicago won’t ever be duplicated, but he shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of eventually retiring as a Bear. From the looks of everything, the sides parted on good terms. When the Bears announced they wouldn’t be re-signing Hester, general manager Phil Emery put out a complimentary statement, thanking the return man for his contributions over the years.

One team source even said that “Devin holds a very special place for me. He is loved and well-respected by everybody. This is one of the harsh realities of the business aspect of the NFL.”

“For the past eight seasons we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization,” Emery said in a statement. “While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers. Not only is Devin a special player, he is also an exceptional person. He is a great teammate, husband and father. Devin represented the organization off the field as well as he did on it. When his career is over, he will always be a welcome member of the Bears family. We thank him for his dedication and wish his family the best.”

Hester finished the 2013 season averaging 27.6 yards per kickoff return and 14.2 yards on punt returns, and is the NFL’s all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return TDs (18). In all, Hester has produced 20 return TDs, which is an NFL record.

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Ryan Clark plans to wear Sean Taylor’s No. 21 in practice

SeanTaylor copy
Last Wednesday, newly signed Redskins safety Ryan Clark posed a question on Twitter.

@Realrclark25: “Redskins fans I've worn #21 to practice for 6 years now. Would it be disrespectful to wear it in Washington?”

The reaction from fans was mixed, while former teammate Clinton Portis seemed to indicate that he’d prefer the late Sean Taylor’s number remain off limits, even in practice.

Clinton Portis, @TheRealC_Portis: “ @Lizzs_Lockeroom @Realrclark25 one of my favorite players & has a lot of respect for ST21 but no need to give a glimpse of hope let 21RIP

During an appearance on 106.7 The Fan’s LaVar and Dukes show later that day, Clark explained his close relationship with Taylor, with whom he played for two seasons in Washington.

“The day that Sean passed, I had just got out of the hospital, battling for my life,” Clark said, referring to the emergency operation he underwent after the combination of his carrying the sickle-cell trait and playing in the high altitude of Denver deprived his major organs of oxygen. “The day I got the opportunity to fly down for the funeral, I had just gotten the tubes taken out of my side in order for me to get on the plane. So that’s what he means to me.”

Clark, who signed with the Steelers as a free agent in 2006, began wearing No. 21 in practice to honor Taylor in 2008 after the NFL denied his request to change his number from 25.

“Every time somebody asks me why I wear a different number to practice, I get to tell Sean’s story,” Clark continued. “I get to tell people about the guy I love. I get to tell people about the guy who was possibly on his way to being the greatest safety to ever play the game. And that got cut short. He never got to realize his full potential. But it gives me the opportunity to remind people of him. And maybe people in Washington don’t need that. Maybe that’s the thing.”

Clark, who will wear No. 25 in games, said he would have tried to switch to No. 21 if he signed with any team but the Redskins. A few days later, he tweeted that he received the go-ahead to wear No. 21 in practice from Jackie Garcia Haley, the mother of Taylor’s daughter.

@Realrclark25:” Spoke to Jackie whom was engaged to Sean before he passed and she gave her blessing to wear #21 to practice. All I needed!!”

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Ryan Braun channels the booing to his advantage

Philadelphia – Ryan Braun knows he’s going to be booed at every stop on the road this season for the Milwaukee Brewers, some places louder than others.
But, according to manager Ron Roenicke, boo the Brewers’ embattled star at your own risk.

“At times, it certainly drives him,” Roenicke said Tuesday night after Braun whacked three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 10-4 romp over Philadelphia.

“There’s no question about that. He’s a special hitter. Those guys, when they turn it up, they turn it up.

“I was with the Angels (as a coach) a few years back and we let Jose Guillen go. And there were some kind of negative things along with that. And every time he came back in town, our fans would boo him. And every time they’d boo him, he got a huge hit. And I was just like, ‘Leave him alone.’

“Really, it makes a difference. Those guys who can turn it up, you don’t want to be messing with him. Here, definitely, it is rough. He’s going to deal with this issue. There’s no better way to quiet people up than doing what he’s doing.”

During the Phillies' home opener, Braun definitely heard his share of boos – and then some. But it wasn’t the first time that happened, and it won’t be the last, so Braun said he just tries to channel that energy to his advantage.

“I dealt with it the last two years,” said Braun, who became a primary target of boo-birds by finally admitting to PED use during his 2011 MVP season and accepting a season-ending 65-game suspension in 2013.

“It’s nothing new to me. I dealt with it in 2012 season. It’s not anything that’s really new to me or anything I haven’t experienced before.

“I try to use it to my advantage. As a competitor, the more hostile the environment, the more enjoyable it can be. I just focus on things I can control. I focus every day on trying to be successful.

“It’s great when we’re coming into places like this and winning games. I think here and Boston are probably two of the most challenging places to come in and win games. Just do what I can to help our team win.”

If the booing actually fuels Braun, he was asked if he’d like it to continue.

“I wouldn’t say that I want it, if it’s my choice,” he said with a smile. “But I don’t know that I have much of a say in the way fans are going to react. So, I might as well make the best of it and use it to my advantage and use as motivation.”

No matter how motivated he was in Boston, Braun struggled at the plate because a chronic right thumb issue flared up. But, with a change in the padding in his batting glove and an adjustment in his stride at the plate, he produced the second three-homer game of his career against Philly.

“I’ve dealt with it for a while,” said Braun, who had no homers or RBI before his big game against the Phillies. “There’s some ebb and flow, good and bad. I’m optimistic and hopeful that eventually we’ll figure something out that makes a difference but I’ve dealt with it for a while.

“The longer you deal with any injury, the easier it becomes to find a way to compensate. So, hopefully I’ll find a swing that I’m comfortable with.”

That’s the hope of everyone with the Brewers, because a productive Braun makes a deep lineup considerably more dangerous.

“Everybody knows he’s been struggling with this,” said Roenicke. “When that power shows up again, it’s a relief for all of us because this guy is important for us in our lineup. He doesn’t necessarily have to drive balls all the time but it’s important, in that third spot, to be good hitter.

“We need him to be that kind of guy. Not always launching balls out of the park, but to just be a good hitter.”

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Ryan Jackson Placed On DL

Triple-A El Paso Places Ryan Jackson On The Disabled List & Calls Up Jake Lemmerman From Double-A San Antonio.

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Jemile Weeks Get Called Up, But Sent Back Down

Baltimore Orioles OF David Lough (head) passed concussion tests and was cleared, so he will not be going on the disabled list. 2B Jemile Weeks, who was with the team, will be sent back to Triple-A Norfolk.

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Jon Jay gets rare start in right for Cards

Jon Jay will make his first start in right field for the Cardinals since 2011 in today's series finale against the Reds. First pitch is at 12:45 p.m. (FSM)

Jay has made appearances in right field since then -- he's been there twice already this season -- but has started only in center field since the Cardinals traded Colby Rasmus in 2011.

With the acquisition of Peter Bourjos, that might be a more commonplace event this season. Bourjos will start again in center field today.

Starting Jay in right field means a day off for Allen Craig (3 for 31, .097) and moves Matt Adams up to the cleanup spot against Reds righthander Mike Leake.
"I just wanted to get Jay going and I definitely wanted to get Allen Craig going," manager Mike Matheny said. "Sometimes a couple days -- I'm not saying we won't see Allen late in the game -- some time to get in here and get some extra swings, get out of the routine that isn't working for him right now. He's real close. He really is. I know he feels it. We're seeing some things that look like it. It's kind of breaking it up and giving him a couple days to get some things changed."

Craig has just one hit in his past 20 at-bats.

"It's amazing how it's magnified when it's at the beginning of the season," Matheny said. "This happens in June, July, people just say it's a little rut. Everyone wants to have a good start, no question. He'll be fine. You just have to go through it, figure it out, he'll be right where he's always been. ... It's confidence, rhythm. There a number of different things that go into it and none of them feel right for him right now. You're going to have those. I don't care how much success you've had or how long you've played. It's inevitable. It's just a matter of how quick you can get through it."

Jay, meanwhile, has had just eight at-bats in the first eight games. He's hitting .250 with two runs batted in.

Otherwise, the lineup is pretty similar to what Matheny used on Tuesday night. With an off day on Thursday, Yadier Molina will start behind the plate for the day game after the night game.

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Reggie Wayne says he is “way ahead of schedule” on return from torn ACL

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne says he expects to be cleared for football activities on April 25th after tearing his ACL last October, according to Chris Wesseling of

Wayne told Indianapolis’ 1260 WNDE that he “felt great” and that his recovery was “way ahead of schedule.” The longtime Colts receiver also said he was looking forward to playing with the team’s newest offensive weapon, Hakeem Nicks.

“I’m a fan of (Nicks). We can combine all the winning he’s done and we’ve done and come out with a nice mixture,” Wayne said. “He’s a big target, great skills, big hands … I really don’t think there are a lot of guys that can cover him.”

The Colts will look to have one of the nation’s most potent passing attacks next season with Nicks and a healthy Wayne joining T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener, who combined for 134 catches and 9 touchdowns in 2013.

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Bombers add Leon Williams

Kyle Walters continues to add veteran pieces to his training camp roster including a pair of NFL experienced defenders on Tuesday.

The Bombers GM has signed import linebacker Leon Williams and import defensive back Brandon Hogan.

Williams (6-3, 248, Miami, July 30, 1983, in Brooklyn, NY) was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by Cleveland.

Williams played three seasons with the Browns and in 46 games totalled 120 tackles, five sacks, five passes defended, and one fumble recovery. Williams has also played games with the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs in 2012.

Hogan (5-10, 190, West Virginia, April 1, 1988, in Manassas, Virginia) was a fourth round pick of the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He played in three games that season with the Panthers and recorded four tackles. Hogan was also with Carolina for part of the 2012 season.

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Rob Ninkovich talks Vince Wilfork

FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich talked about the additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner on Tuesday morning, but also addressed a handful of other topics, including the return of Vince Wilfork, the loss of coach Pepper Johnson and some of the other offseason moves made to this point by the Patriots:

On the return of Vince Wilfork: I’€™m happy I’€™ll be able to look inside and see him next to me. I’€™m happy that he’€™s still my teammate, and we’€™ll be able to go out there and win some football games.

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Michael Irvin won’t win an Oscar, but he can act

My love for movies goes back to those childhood days when I spent practically every Saturday afternoon at the Ritz theater in downtown Fort Worth.

I saw some of the greatest films of all times — and some of the worst — in that segregated picture show, which usually got the “first-run” movies two to three weeks after they had opened in the white theaters downtown.

But that didn’t matter, because it was at the Ritz that I saw pictures like The Defiant Ones with Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis, The Ten Commandments, Imitation of Life and the terrifying Psycho, all instant classics.

It’s because of my appreciation of true classic movies that I never want them to be remade — and when they are, I make every attempt to avoid seeing the new production.

I’ve never seen in full the remake of The Defiant Ones, for example, or the television production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. There’s no way they could have matched the original, so why bother?

There’s another film that I swore I would never watch, no matter what. Then the other day, while flipping through cable movie channels, I caught a glimpse of a former Dallas Cowboys player.

I’d already gone about two channels past the film when I realized, “That was Michael Irvin!”

I went back to the Irvin movie, and it took only a few seconds for me to realize that the former wide receiver, nicknamed “The Playmaker,” could act.

He was cast in the remake of The Longest Yard, a movie first released in 1974 about a quarterback (Burt Reynolds) sent to prison and then forced to lead a team of inmates in a football game against the prison guards.

“OK,” I thought, “This can’t be any good, so let me move on.”

But I couldn’t. Irvin had trapped me into watching this new version, which was made in 2005 and starred Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. The next day, I made it a point to see it in its entirety.

I know the former football player has been blamed for a lot of things, but this is probably the first time he’s been accused of making someone watch a movie.
Irvin has always been a showman, on the field and off, but it had never occurred to me that he could pull off an acting role and make it believable, even while playing a football player wearing number 88.

Back in the days when he was with the Cowboys, sometimes getting in trouble with the law and the NFL, I was often considered an apologist for him, primarily because in some cases he was falsely accused and other times I felt he had been unfairly targeted by law enforcement.

Regardless, I think Irvin would be the first to say that he’s responsible for having put himself in positions that brought him his legal problems and negative publicity. And it didn’t help his image or bring him sympathy when he showed up at a courthouse in Dallas during his drug trial wearing a full-length mink coat.

Despite some of his antics, he was the darling of the news media because he usually provided great copy and super quotes, a trait that has served him well as a broadcast analyst, a job at which he is a master.

He’s been on Dancing with the Stars, a couple of reality shows and guest-starred in another Sandler movie, Jack & Jill — which I haven’t seen, but I’ll put it on my list.

Make no mistake, The Longest Yard remake is no Oscar winner and does not come close to being better than the original. But it is worth seeing, if for no other reason than to see “The Playmaker” act.

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Jon Beason on Off-Season Training: 'I Know When I Have to Focus'

In his first four NFL seasons, Jon Beason made an astounding 540 tackles. Then the injury bug stung him, derailing his 2011 and 2012 seasons. But after taking a new approach to how he trains and prepares his body, the veteran linebacker again surpassed 100 tackles during the 2013 season. We spoke with Beason at the Arnold Classic RSP Nutrition booth to learn what he did to get back to the top.

STACK: Do you have a specific pre-game routine?
Jon Beason: I would go from being a laid back, chill dude on Friday to really serious before a game in college. I’d have my headphones on and wouldn’t talk to anyone. But I felt like I played stiff.

So one week in college, I went out and I was like, "man, I am going to have fun, be loose and crack jokes." It’s a party out there—you’re making plays and having fun. So I try not to give way to superstition. I am going to show up and have a great time. I know when I have to focus.

STACK: What do you do after a game, and what does it feel like Monday morning?
JB: Usually your adrenaline is still pumping. Whether you played well or you didn’t, you are still kind of on this high. You’re just trying to wind down. You’re sore a little bit the next day, but Tuesday is when atrophy sets in and you are hurting.

On Tuesday you are just trying to make it in. Everyone is off, so you come in on your own merit. The best thing to do is get a workout in. Unfortunately, you want to run because it flushes the body. You may get a massage, hit the ice tubs or take a contrast bath [hot and cold]. If you need treatment, that’s when you get it. You don’t feel so great at practice on Wednesday, but you start feeling better as the week goes on.

STACK: What does your training program look like?
JB: I have a great trainer in Pete Bommarito down in Aventura, Florida. We alternate upper- and lower-body days throughout the week. On Wednesday, we do our same active movements in the pool to take some stress of the joints.

Monday is a linear speed day where everything is straight ahead, but it’s over-speed. And then Thursday is specific to your position. I go and train with the defensive backs because I want that footwork.

Friday is our extended cardio day, where we run 200s, but we call them play drives. We go from a long sustained run to a short 30 or 40 where it’s quick.

At the same time, I like to do my own thing at night. I may double up on a lift or run 110s on the beach. It’s to the point where I’m almost paranoid, because I don’t know what someone like Patrick Willis is doing.

STACK: We heard you spin. Is that true?
JB: Yes, I’m in spin class. In our sport, you always try to get your body back to normal, especially after an injury. So you need to modify your workouts to where you’re not going to stress it, but get some work at the same time. So for me, it’s great to get a secondary workout coming off of a knee surgery.

STACK: What are some of the things you learned about training smarter?
JB: I was always trying to get ahead of the competition, do more and train longer. But that wears on the body because our sport is high impact. A guy like me who’s had some injuries from football should stay away from things like CrossFit. It’s a great workout, because you feel like you accomplished something, but I know I can’t do that. I went three and a half years and didn’t miss a snap. I practiced the same way I played. And all of a sudden, I wake up and my Achilles is bothering me. My knees are bothering me. So learning how to recover is huge.

STACK: What have you learned about recovery? 
JB: In my first game back from my Achilles injury, I went out there and was actually upset because I wasn’t in the best possible shape. Not because I didn’t want to train, but because I was forced to relax and let the injury heal. And I went out there and was winded and said to myself, "man, I always pride myself on being in the best shape so I can play at a high level the longest."

But then I hit my second wind. It was more mental. I believed in myself and in my ability. So, I don’t have to actually go and run miles after I train or do this and do that. I can do what my trainer tells me to do and then spend all of my time recovering in terms of nutrition and rest. Knowing when to stop is the most important thing.

STACK: What do you eat on a regular basis?
JB: It’s funny, the meal plan never changes from team to team. We eat four hours before a game. You’ll have your pasta and broccoli for complex carbs, and breakfast will be out there for the guys who want that. I’ll eat a little chicken, but not too much because I want to actually be hungry when the game starts.

STACK: What’s your favorite food? Do you have a cheat meal?
JB: I am not a big sweet guy. If we go to dinner, you will never hear me ask for dessert. I don’t crave it whatsoever, but I love to eat. I would say my favorite meal is probably surf and turf. But, if I am cheating, I want fried chicken. Anything fried, really. I want macaroni and cheese. I want pizza. All of the fat greasy stuff is right up my alley.

STACK: What have you learned from your seven years in the NFL and four years of college ball that could have helped you back in high school?
JB: I was fortunate that I had people around me like my mom and head coach who taught me about hard work and doing what’s required. My high school coach would always say, "you can do everything right, have great talent, go to class on time, work hard and win every game, but it still just gives you a chance to be a champion at the end of the day." If you don’t do those things, you simply don't have it.

So for me, it’s about setting small goals and being in the moment. A lot of times I was like, "I want to win a Super Bowl." Well, we all want to win a Super Bowl, but how are you going to get there? So, I just take it day by day. I ask myself what I did to make sure that I’m better than the competition every day.

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WATCH: proCane Ryan Braun Hit 3 Homeruns Vs Phillies

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was welcomed to the City of Brotherly Love with a hearty chorus of boos on Tuesday, but the jeers only seemed to inspire him. Braun, who just finished serving a suspension for violating MLB’s substance policy, knocked out two home runs in the game, including the three-run shot shown above. UPDATE: Braun added a third home run.

He also robbed a base hit with this incredible diving catch.

Learn the lesson, fans in other cities: Don’t boo Ryan Braun. It only makes him stronger.

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Kayne Farquharson wants to add another color to the team's green and black

Over the weekend, the annual "Race for Grace" took place in Grand Island. Over 2,000 participants showed up to help raise money for cancer awareness. With that same cause being so close to one players heart, this Saturday the Nebraska Danger are hoping for a similar result.

Danger receiver Kayne Farquharson wants to add another color to the team's green and black. In honor of his aunt he lost to breast cancer, he's hoping the danger will paint the heartland events center pink this weekend.

"You always see breast cancer awareness in professional sports, college football, college basketball. it don't effect you until something happen to you personally so when it effected me personally I did some research and I wanted to start a foundation basically." said Farquharson.

Kayne started the Real Deal Foundation and approached the the Bosselman's to see if the Danger football family would like to help.

"When he came to us asking to do something for his aunt who he lost to breast cancer, we didn't think twice about it. We're just so proud of him." said Laurie Bosselman, the head of Danger merchandise.

This Saturday, The Real Deal Foundation alongside the Grace foundation, the Danger will be putting on their 1st Pink Out.
Where Kayne is hoping to see a crowd full of loyal Danger fans swinging their pink towels in support.

"It's an awesome cause and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Grace Foundation as well as Kane's project so were really excited about our pink Out night and to just get a lot of excitement and awareness going on." said Stephanie King-Witt, the director of communications for the Danger.

Currently the all-time leading receiver in Danger franchise history, Kayne Farquharson has reached many goals at the Heartland Events Center and since losing his aunt, his vision making a difference in her memory, will become a reality on that very same field.

"I took a chance and it came together so dreams do come true." Farquharson said.

The Pink Out will be played at the Heartland Event Center this Saturday, April 12 against the Texas Revolution.

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Titans waive DE Adewale Ojomo after arrest

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have waived defensive end Adewale Ojomo more than two weeks after he was arrested in a prostitution sting.

The Titans announced the move Monday afternoon, hours after the team started its offseason program.

Ojomo had joined the Titans’ practice squad in December after stints with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and on the practice squads in Seattle and Buffalo last fall.

He was booked March 21 in Miami on a charge of soliciting a prostitute after police say Ojomo offered the undercover detective $100 for sex. The police report said Ojomo was planning to go to a nearby store for condoms but was arrested before he could drive away.

Ojomo played at the University of Miami.

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Chris Myers on Texans: Everyone needs to be 100 percent committed

The Texans start their offseason workouts on Monday, giving new coach Bill O’Brien his first chance to work with the entire team he took over after Houston’s dismal 2-14 season in 2013.

A new coach means new schemes and new ways of doing things, something that isn’t always easy for veterans used to the way of life under former coach Gary Kubiak. Center Chris Myers isn’t one of those veterans, though. He called it an “exciting” time for the team and said that he’ll be on the lookout for any players who aren’t willing to buy in to the new approach in Houston.

“Everyone’s committed 100 percent. We expect that. If not, there’ll be some talking to do to some guys,” Myers said, via the Houston Chronicle. “When you’re in the NFL, if you have a close-minded personality – not open to having this new regime come in and implement its scheme – it’s not your spot. You’ve got to be able to have all the openness to be able to learn and treat it like it’s brand new. … I’m treating it like it’s my rookie year all over again.”

There’s a lot of work to be done to turn things around for the Texans, but it will have to start with the team’s leaders in the locker room embracing what O’Brien is selling. If they share Myers’ view, that should be taken care of fairly quickly.

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Ryan Bruan to Play Through Thumb Injury

(NEW YORK) -- Even though he's dealing with a thumb injury that could effect his performance at the plate, Milwaukee Brewers  outfielder Ryan Braun will play.

Braun's thumb has bothered him in the past, but he elected to not undergo surgery. Despite the setback, he still has no plans to undergo a procedure to help him recover.

"It's frustrating," he said. "I've dealt with it a long time. Like I said, I'm optimistic we'll figure something out and make it better. But when it gets to a point I can't come close to taking a normal swing, it's counterproductive to the team and to me to continue to play."

It's still very early, but Braun has struggled this season for the Brewers. In five games, he's batting .150 and has no extra base hits.

Braun returned this season after serving a 65-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

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Yasmani Grandal could see time as DH this series

CLEVELAND -- In previous seasons, when the Padres have traveled to an American League city, manager Bud Black has often used the designated hitter spot to get a position player off his feet defensively for a few days during an Interleague series.

A year ago, Carlos Quentin got 25 at-bats as a designated hitter in six Interleague games. He got 21 at-bats in five Interleague games the previous season.
But this season is different, as the Padres, just six games into the regular season, find themselves in an AL ballpark for three games this week against the Indians.

"I think this is the earliest Interleague series we've ever played," Black said.

The Padres decided to give Yasmani Grandal the start at designated hitter Monday, though that game was postponed by rain.

The club has three catchers on the 25-man roster and Grandal has already started three times with Rene Rivera getting two starts. Monday's game would have been the second start behind the plate for Nick Hundley.

Grandal, coming back from major surgery on his right knee last August, isn't to the point where he can catch nine innings in consecutive days. This allows the team to keep his bat in the lineup, as he has five walks and three hits in nine at-bats.

How will Black proceed with the designated hitter Tuesday and in Wednesday's doubleheader?

"I guess you'll know when we post the lineup," he said, smiling.

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Jon Jay is Making a Case to Start for St. Louis Cardinals

St Louis Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay used to be the starting center fielder. He lost that job in Spring Training to Peter Bourjos, whom the Cardinals acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for David Freese. Although he had a terrible spring, Jay is making the most of his opportunities so far in this young season.

Jay does not have the speed or range of Bourjos. What he does have are reliability and durability. Jay holds the NL record for errorless games by a center fielder at 245. He has only one stint on the DL, when he injured his shoulder in 2012 running into the wall at Busch Stadium. He’s a somewhat streaky hitter, but he often gets clutch hits. In his two starts so far this year, he has two RBIs and they were key. Both times the Cardinals were behind and Jay’s hits tied the game.

Bourjos is getting off to a very slow start for his new team. Pitchers Adam Wainwright and Joe Kelly have more hits than he does. He has one error, although it was on a ball that Jay might not have gotten to. His speed on the bases will be exciting to see if he ever gets on. As the old saying is that you can’t steal first base.

It’s clear so far in this young season that Jay is not going to ride the bench without a fight. That’s a good attitude for him to have, because even more competition may be coming his way soon.

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Cardinals release wide receiver LaRon Byrd

LaronByrd 2
The Arizona Cardinals released wide receiver LaRon Byrd and linebacker Dan Giordano Friday.

Byrd, a 6-foot-4 220-pounder, spent the entire 2013 season on injured reserve. He played in four games and caught one pass as a rookie in 2012

Like Byrd, Giordano did not play a down last season after spending the whole year on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker signed with the Cardinals after not being drafted in 2013.

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Seantrel Henderson to take visit with the Dolphins

The Dolphins will host Miami T Seantrel Henderson for a visit this week.
Miami desperately needs offensive tackle reinforcement in this draft, and the local product Henderson figures to be one of their contingency plans if circumstances dictate that they wait until the third-round. Henderson has taken a beating in the media over the past year, including reports that he "quit" his pro day. It should be noted that he was actually forced to withdraw due to dehydration.

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Antrel Rolle not worried about contract

Giants safety Antrel Rolle is set to enter the final year of his contract. And right now, that's the farthest thing from his mind. 

That's what Rolle said during a phone interview on the NBC Sports Network's ProFootball Talk Show on Friday afternoon. 

"I've never been a guy to worry about those kinds of things," Rolle said. "I just go out there and try to have fun and try to win while doing so."

Rolle seems set to have more fun this season than he had during the Giants' nightmare 2013. He talked excitedly about the Giants' free agent spending spree, calling the offseason "very explosive." 

"I think we've added some key guys to our program who can definitely help us win," Rolle said.

Rolle was particularly ecstatic about the move to re-sign middle linebacker Jon Beason and the move to sign corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Rolle knows both players personally; he and Beason both attended the University of Miami, and he spent several years with Rodgers-Cromartie during his days with the Arizona Cardinals.  

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Homecoming trip special for proCanes Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal

The Opening Weekend series between the Miami Marlins and the San Diego Padres was a homecoming for the Padres' Miami duo Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal.

The two shares plenty of similarities. They were born in Cuba, raised in Miami and were teammates at the University of Miami during the year the Hurricanes won their first ever ACC Tournament Championship in 2008.

Then they got drafted by the same team. The Cincinnati Reds selected Alonso in the 2008 MLB Draft and Grandal in 2010. They were part of the same trade package that was used to bring ace pitcher Matt Latos to Cincinnati.

At least once every year, the Cuban duo returns home to Miami to see their families and play the Marlins who they grew up watching.

"It means a lot," Alonso said. "You really get a sense of having your family and friends here. So it's very special to me."

There is an inner fraternity that comes with playing baseball in Miami. Not just for the Hurricanes, but even in high school. Alonso said that he keeps in touch with fellow Canes like Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay, Dodgers reliever Chris Perez and even local high school stars like Nick Castellano who won the state championship with two different South Florida schools.

"All the guys in South Florida have a special bond," Alonso said.

There are two types of Cuban big leaguers: those who defect and immediately start their baseball career and those who make it to the States in their childhood and go through the assimilation processes through high school and college. This is where people see the difference between Yasiel Puig and Yonder Alonso.

The love of the game is still the same," he said. "They way they play, the fire of the game is still the same because in South Florida, they play just like how they do in Cuba. If anything they show their emotions a little bit more and as players, we're taught to never show your opponents emotions."

The handling of a newfound fortune is also a major difference between the two Cubans.

"I've talked to people in their mid-twenties and teams give them 3-4 million dollars and all they can think of is how to spend it all," Yasmani Grandal said. "The guys who have lived here take that money and think about how invest in it and make more money."

Unfortunately for them, they lost the series to the Marlins and now have to go from one extreme (Miami) to the other (Cleveland). That being said, they can only hope that they can reach the playoffs and the Marlins meet them there.

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Ryan Braun has two hits in return to field Sunday

Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and run scored in Sunday's win over the Red Sox.

Braun played designated hitter in Friday's game and sat out Saturday due to a nerve issue in his right thumb, but he was back in right field for Sunday's contest. The hits were his first since Opening Day, and it was his first multi-hit game of the year. The nerve issue is still a concern, but Sunday alleviates at least a tiny bit of concern about his ability to hit while managing the issue.

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Hot, cold: Grandal continues to push knee

MIAMI — Yasmani Grandal’s surgically-repaired right knee continues to pass test after test. The next – the varying climates of an April schedule – might prove the most telling of all as he leaves behind breezy San Diego for South Florida’s humidity and ultimately the Midwest, where rain and sub-40-degree temperatures are expected to greet the Padres upon their arrival in Cleveland on Monday.

Consider Grandal prepared.

“As soon as you change climates, I’ve heard a lot of people say you’re going to feel it,” Grandal said. “But I’ve rehabbed in San Diego and Miami and Arizona and I’ve had that change going back and forth already. It will be fun, but that’s going to be a challenge.”

To date, Grandal has felt virtually nothing in the knee despite an accelerated return from ACL surgery just eight months ago. He made good on his promise to ready for opening day, stole his first career base in that game for good measure and caught nine innings Tuesday afternoon.

Now, Grandal’s bat is starting to come around.

The University of Miami product singled twice and walked twice in four plate appearances, upping his career average to .438 (7-for-16) against the Marlins. That success, not to mention the number of friends and family who flock to Marlins Park to support him – enough to let his agent handle ticket requests – was among the many reasons Grandal targeted an early return to the season.

“Obviously, it was a benchmark here to come here and play here,” Grandal said. “But it’s a process with the knee and we’re going to keep on working.”

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Full Pro Day Results

Eighteen UM seniors auditioned, plus former Canes players Aldarius Johnson, Davon Johnson, Vaughn Telemaque and Dyron Dye (who was tossed off the UM team last season because of his connection to the NCAA investigation, landed at Bethune Cookman and then received permission to work out Thursday).
Ray-Ray Armstrong, now with the St. Louis Rams, attended Thursday to offer emotional support for Dye, his former teammate at UM and Sanford Seminole High.

Richard Gordon, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Micanor Regis were among other former Canes observing.  

ProDay 2014 Results

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Asante Cleveland Looks Good At Pro Day

Tight end Asante Cleveland looked good, according to an NFL official in attendance. Cleveland met with Eagles officials Tuesday and has a visit scheduled with Arizona.

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Allen Hurns Feels Good After Pro Day

Allen Hurns, trying to improve his 40-yard dash time, ran a 4.55 Thursday — the same he time he turned in at the combine. “A lot of people want to characterize you on your 40-yard dash and things like that, but I want to show teams I can do it all,” Hurns said.

Hurns said he felt like he dominated private workouts for the Texans and Bengals. He said he has been training with Pete Bommarito along with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Browns receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon and gained six pounds from the end of the season (he weighs 198 now) while trimming his body fat down from 5.3 to 4.2 percent.

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Stephen Morris Looks Impressive At Pro Day

Quarterback Stephen Morris was impressive today, according to officials from two NFL teams in attendance. Though the plays were not being defended, Morris and Eduardo Clements said Morris completed nearly all of his 67 throws. The only ones that weren't caught were dropped. "I got a lot of positive feedback [from NFL teams]," Morris said.

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who previously held that position at UM, said Morris "looked really good today."

Morris will visit the Denver Broncos (who have Brock Osweiler as Peyton Manning's backup), Cleveland (which could draft two quarterbacks) and Carolina (where former Canes great Ken Dorsey is the quarterback coach).

Morris said his mechanics are much better because he has recovered from his troublesome Achilles' injury.

"When I was dealing with my Achilles', I wasn't even throwing off my right foot" last year, Morris said.

He has been working in Los Angeles with Tom House, the former MLB pitching coach who has become a guru on quarterback menchanics. During his work with House, he bonded with NFL quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Terrelle Pryor and Matt Barkley. 

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Seantrel Henderson felt dehydrated, cut workout short

Miami (Fla.) offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson is one of the more confounding prospects in this year's draft: He has a ton of natural ability and athleticism but not much of a track record. Thursday's pro day was just as confounding.

Miami's pro-day workout was not open to the media, but there were reports that Henderson quit late in the workouts. However, his agent, David Levine, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that Henderson "went there intent to do the bench and position drills, but his competitive spirit took over and he did a full combine. At the end of the workout he got dehydrated, started getting a super bad headache, felt like he was going to throw up and didn't do the last two O-line drills."

Levine also told the Sun-Sentinel that Henderson improved his vertical jump (28.5 inches, from 24 inches) and broad jump (8-foot-6, from 7-9) from February's NFL Scouting Combine.

And the Sun-Sentinel quoted an NFC executive saying, "He did everything we needed to see. He just looked pretty winded at the end, but they put them through it."

Henderson was a consensus top-three player nationally out of high school in Minneapolis in 2010, but he started just 24 games in his UM career (nine of those came in his freshman season) and coaches knocked him for his lack of consistency and focus. In addition, while he is considered a prototype left tackle, he played mostly on the right side for Miami.

Henderson started six games in 2013 at right tackle and missed one game because of a suspension; it was the third time in as many seasons that Henderson missed at least a game because of a suspension. He said in January that marijuana use led to some suspensions.

At February's combine, Henderson measured in at 6-foot-7 and 331 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.01 seconds, including a 10-yard split of 1.71 seconds. At the time, NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock said Henderson has "first-round talent," but he also said Henderson has "a lack of consistency both on and off the field" and could go anywhere from the second to the seventh round.

The Sun-Sentinel says Henderson met with New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese after the workout and that he has visits set up with the Dolphins, 49ers and Steelers for next week.

Henderson might be at the very top of the "buyer beware" list in this draft. He has the potential to be a dominant lineman, but he also could be a wasted draft pick. Given his baggage, a team is taking an unnecessary risk if it selects him before the third day (Rounds 4-7) of the draft.

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VIDEO: Pat Burrell homers in batting practice … wearing khakis

The Giants were taking batting practice prior to their 2-0 victory over the Diamondbacks when a familiar face stepped up to the plate. Pat Burrell, who retired in 2011 after 12 seasons in the major leagues, was visiting his former teammates and decided to take a hack ... while wearing an outfit comprised entirely of street clothes -- khakis, a polo, Vans sneakers and a watch.

Despite the wishes of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who can be seen waving his arms behind the cage, Burrell took his stance. The result was a familiar one for the two-time World Series champ, who pounded a home run on his only swing to the delight of the Giants broadcasting team.

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Yasmani Grandal's dedicated rehab work pays off for Padres

SAN DIEGO -- There may have been reasons to doubt if Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal would be ready for Opening Day, especially with the March 30 opener less than eight months removed from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

But as it's obvious to everyone now, there was no reason to doubt whether Grandal would get himself in a position to be ready for the opener, as he attacked his rehabilitation with something more than a sense of urgency and fervent determination.

"I actually believed that Opening Day was a possibility … because Yazzy believed it," said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. "I don't think there was a day throughout the whole rehab process where Yazzy didn't think he wouldn't be ready."

This meant that Grandal had to commit himself entirely to the rehabilitation process, a program that spanned three states -- California, Florida and Arizona -- and even included a physical therapy session on the day of his wedding (Oct. 19) and an unusual workout routine on his honeymoon in Bora Bora.

Fat chance you'll find too many rehab protocols calling for water sprints in the South Pacific Ocean.

"I asked my trainer before going on my honeymoon what I could do while there," Grandal said. "He said that since I'll be around the water, that was perfect. So each day, while my wife would be sitting on the beach outside a bungalow and reading a book, I would be running sprints in the water."

That memory makes Grandal smile. It's a smile filled with gratification and satisfaction from the fact he was able to put himself in position to play on Opening Day, where he actually stole the first base of his professional career, a critical moment in the Padres' 3-1 victory over the Dodgers.

If less than eight months seems like a fast to return from such a devastating injury -- one that occurred last July when Anthony Rendon of the Nationals slid into Grandal's knee on a force play at the plate -- you're not the only one who thinks as much.

The recovery window from an ACL surgery for an athlete is generally between nine and 12 months.

"Modern medicine, each and every year with these guys, gets better and better," said Padres manager Bud Black. "And I think we're to a point now with a lot of injuries where the rehab protocol is outstanding.

"But when you think ACL, you think it takes a little longer … right?"

Grandal did have some things going for him, Byrnes said.

"In talking with our doctors, because there wasn't meniscus damage or additional issues with the knee, it seemed possible," Byrnes said. "Fortunately, his rehab went according to schedule."

Just as Grandal predicted it would last September, when, a month removed from surgery on Aug. 6, he stood in front of his locker and insisted to anyone who would listen that he would be ready to play on Opening Day.

"I'm only surprised in the sense that I didn't think I could be so far ahead of schedule," Grandal said.

That's because Grandal pushed himself hard during his rehabilitation program, one that started the day after surgery in San Diego. From there, he worked out in Florida and then in Arizona in December to get ready for Spring Training in February.

"I think the great thing about my rehab was there were three different parts to it," Grandal said. "The first part was here [San Diego], doing full range of motion and getting some of the strength back. Then, the second step was getting all the strength back. The third part was running and agility, going full-out.

"It never felt like a drill for me."

That's because Grandal was motivated to be on the field, in whatever capacity, on March 30. If there was ever a day when he considered giving himself a break or simply didn't feel like working out, all he ever had to do was look at a pocket schedule to see that day: March 30, the Dodgers at Petco Park.

"Every day, I got up and my first thought was, 'What can I do today to get my knee better?'" Grandal said.

Truth be told, though, it wasn't just Opening Day that Grandal was preparing himself for. He was getting himself ready for this weekend, as the Padres open a three-game series starting Friday in Miami against the Marlins. Grandal expects to have between 150-180 friends and family in the ballpark.

"During all of this, I've been looking forward to Opening Day, but the series in Miami … that was the one I really wanted to be ready for," Grandal said. "I wanted to show myself to my family. They saw what I was going through [rehabilitation] when I was back there.

"I'm not going to lie; getting back on the field in Miami, that's one of the things that got me to go after this even more."

Grandal caught all nine innings in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, but he isn't to the point yet where the team has let him catch consecutive games. With three catchers currently on the 25-man roster, there is no need to do so now.

That will happen, Grandal is convinced. For the time being, though, he's happy and content with where he's at and with what he's accomplished to get back on the field. The experience has humbled him.

"I feel I've come back from the very bottom to being ready for Opening Day. That's something I'm very proud of," Grandal said. "I'm also proud of everyone who worked with me and very thankful for them."

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