Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eagles' Peters out with mild hamstring strain

PHILADELPHIA - Eagles left tackle Jason Peters left practice early on Wednesday with a mild right hamstring strain.

Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly said the injury was not serious and Peters, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury, will be listed as day-to-day.

"He said he was okay," Kelly said after practice.  "I wasn't overly concerned."

Eagles WR Riley Cooper apologizes for racist statement

A video surfaced Wednesday of Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper using a racial slur at a recent Kenny Chesney concert.

Cooper is clearly heard saying: "I will jump that fence and fight every (n-word) in here."

Cooper quickly issued a statement apologizing for the behavior.

"I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself," Cooper said. "I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to Howie Roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences."

Lurie wasn't satisfied with just an apology, however, and fined Cooper what has been described as a substantial amount.

“We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words," The Eagles owner said. "This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident."

In today's polarized society it's unlikely Cooper will be able to put this issue behind him quickly. Already Marcus Vick, the outspoken younger brother of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, took to Twitter to lambast Cooper for his behavior.

"Riley Cooper your a fucking Bitch Boy!!!" Marcus Vick Tweeted. "Racist peace of shit."

Vick then put a bounty on Cooper:

"Hey I'm putting a bounty on Riley's head," Vick's Tweet read. "1k to the first Free Safety or Strong safety that light his ass up! Wake him up please..."

Cooper has been elevated to first-team reps since the season-ending injury to Jeremy Maclin over the weekend but it's more than conceivable he doesn't survive this scandal as a member of the Eagles.

The video of Cooper is below:

The Pro Bowl just got worse

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Let's face it, All-Star games, no matter the sport, are tedious, often mind-numbing exhibitions.

Even when bumbling Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig comes along and tries to make the actual athletic contest mean something, it rarely has much of an affect. Unless, of course, your favorite baseball team finishes 10 games ahead of its competition and loses home-field advantage in the World Series because a reliever from a last place club didn't get the memo that said "Now it counts."

Roger Goodell isn't quite as obtuse as Mr. Selig but he gave it the old college try on Wednesday, teaming with the NFLPA to gut what was already a loser of an idea.

Let's face it, the Pro Bowl is probably the worst of the major All-Star games simply because the game of football doesn't lend itself to a free-wheeling, laissez-faire atmosphere. The game is what it is, and many of us have politicked for its removal from the calendar.

As bad as it has become, though, the Pro Bowl is still a viable television vehicle and more often than not is the highest-rated All-Star contest.

Instead of building on that or just keeping the status quo, the National Football League decided to make sweeping changes to the Pro Bowl in hopes of increasing its popularity and, of course, creating more programming for the NFL Network.

No longer will the contest feature a matchup between the AFC and NFC. Instead, players will be assigned to teams through a draft. The two leading vote- getters will join two fantasy football champions in building the squads. Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will assist in the draft process.

"We were very receptive to the ideas that (NFLPA president) Domonique (Foxworth) and the players put forth," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement Wednesday. "From there, our office worked closely with him in developing the concept. The players made it clear that they wanted to continue the Pro Bowl and were committed to making it better than ever. We think these changes will enhance the game for both fans and players."


Is anyone excited by this?

Full disclosure rules force me to admit a deep hatred for fantasy football, an activity that's lone contribution to society is FX's brilliant sitcom "The League."

But even if you're a real life Rodney Ruxin or Dr. Andre Nowzick do you have any interest in watching two fantasy football geeks live out their wet dream while Rich Eisen pretends it's relevant?

The madness doesn't stop there, however. In addition to the new team format, there are several other bastardizations to the game itself:

There will be no more kickoffs and the coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will then be placed on the 25-yard line after scoring plays. Possession will also  change hands after each quarter and the clock will stop if the offense does not gain at least one yard following the two-minute mark of every quarter.

People always questioned whether the Pro Bowl was really football. We now know unequivocally, it's not.

In fact, all we need now is a carnival barker in between plays.

"Step right up and watch Adrian Peterson conquer the Bottle Ring Game."

"At the 20-yard line it's Aaron Rodgers and the Milk Can Toss."

Or how about watching J.J. Watt swing the mallet and ring the bell?

All of that sounds far more entertaining that what the NFL just did.

So, what's the answer?

Simple. Keep the honor, kill the game.

Union drops friendly to Stoke City

Chester, Pa.  – The Philadelphia Union fell to Stoke City FC, 2-0 in a friendly Tuesday night at PPL Park.

First-half goals from the Potters’ Michael Kightly and American midfielder Brek Shea – the hero in the U.S. national team capturing the Gold Cup just two days prior – fueled a win over a young Union side. While the final score line clearly wasn’t to his liking, manager John Hackworth said it was good to see the young players who don’t receive regular minutes get a full taste of how to prepare for matches against big time competition.

“This was a good opportunity for us to give guys a run out and make sure that they have the sensations and rhythm of starting in a game,” said Hackworth, postgame. “Everything from listening to the National Anthem, shaking hands [with the opposition] all those kinds of things are really important for players just so that they know how to prepare themselves.”

What the Union could not prepare for was a big, strong imposing Stoke City side. Few players on that squad stood less than six feet which proved a difficult task to keep under wraps.

“To be honest, I was quite shocked when I first saw their team,” said Aaron Wheeler, who started Tuesday’s match at center back alongside veteran Chris Albright. “I don’t think they had a player in the first half that stood less than six foot. They were just big physical specimens.”

Despite the two first-half goals from the English side, the Union fielded 11 new players for the second half and held Stoke City to just three shots while creating several offensive opportunities, including a Sebastien Le Toux goal that was called back for being offside.

What a match like this does is allow the Union to regroup and focus for Saturday in a return to league play against the Chicago Fire at PPL Park. A match that no one within the Union locker room is taking lightly, considering it’s a chance to keep a six-match unbeaten streak at home in MLS play intact. The Union has kept true to their mantra of making PPL Park a fortress, taking at least a point in every home match since a loss to Los Angeles in May.

“I think for the season we have been working hard and sticking together as a group,” said Union midfielder Keon Daniel. “And I think once we continue to do that and play as a team we will get the results.”


Stoke City FC 2, Philadelphia Union 0

Tuesday, July 30; 7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, Pa.


SCFC: Knightly (Muniesa) 4’

SCFC: Shea (Knightly) 19’


SCFC: Shawcross (caution) 26’

PHI: Kassel (caution) 27’


Nikolov (Konopka 45’), Fabinho (Gaddis 45’), Wheeler (Parke 45’), Albright (Okugo 45’), Kassel (Williams 45’), Lahoud (Carroll 45’), Kleberson (Farfan 45’), Torres (Daniel 45’), Fernandes (Le Toux 45’), Anding (Cruz 45’), Hoppenot (Casey 45’).


Sorensen (Butland 45’), Huth, Muniesa (Etherington 68’), Shawcross (Cameron 68’), Shotton (Walters 68’), Whelan (Adams 45’), Shea (Pieters 33’), N’Zonzi (Palacios 43’), Knightly (Crouch 45’), Wilson (Culever 89’), Jerome (Jones 45’).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MO Radio Show on Sports W/ NFL Insider John McMullen

Listen to internet radio with Mo Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio

Soul to host 'Playoff Pep Rally'

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Soul will be hosting a "Playoff Pep Rally" in preparation for their first-round playoff game against former Soul head coach Doug Plank and the Orlando Predators. 
The event will take place on at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31 at the Holiday Inn - Stadium located at 900 Packer Ave in Philadelphia.
At the rally, the Soul football team, front office, Soulmates and Soul Man will join the fans in getting everyone excited for another run at the ArenaBowl and bringing a championship back to Philadelphia. All attendees of the pep rally will receive pre-game field passes to watch the pre-game show from the field. After 8 p.m., parking will be free for attendees.

The Soul will face off against Doug Plank and the Orlando Predators on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 7:05 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. At the game, fans are encouraged to wear their Soul colors and the team will give the first 2,500 fans the 2013 Philadelphia Soul team photo.

Tickets are now on sale by calling 888-789-SOUL or visit

Eagles place Maclin on season-ending IR

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have placed wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday just three days after the fifth-year receiver suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice.

To replace Maclin on the 90-man roster Philadelphia re-signed WR Nick Miller.

In 15 games last season, the 25-year-old Maclin caught 69 passes for 857 yards and seven touchdowns.
He is entering the final season of the five-year contract he signed in 2009, when Philadelphia took the former Missouri standout with the 19th overall pick of the NFL Draft.

Riley Cooper has been taking first-team reps in Maclin's absence.

Looking at injuries in the NFL

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Sometimes life on the NFL beat feels a bit macabre. You show up at training camp, grab a roster and start checking off names to see who is and who isn't practicing that day.

Injuries are always the headline of any camp and too often the job becomes a
waiting game, almost a biding of time until the next hamstring or calf is

Those are the good days. The bad ones involve torn ACLs or ruptured Achilles
tendons and reporters around the league haven't been kept waiting long in

The first big casualty this year came in Oxnard, Calif. on July 21 when
Cowboys second-year defensive end Tyrone Crawford succumbed to a season-ending
Achilles injury.

"Crushing," Dallas VP and director of player personnel Stephen Jones said
after seeing Crawford go down. "Absolutely crushing."

Crawford would hardly be the last impactful injury during the first 10 days
of camp around the league, however.

Fate turned on Eagles coach Chip Kelly just two days into his first training
camp as an NFL mentor when arguably his best receiver, fifth-year veteran
Jeremy Maclin, went down with a torn ACL in his right knee on Saturday.

Maclin was carted off after suffering a non-contact injury during 7-on-7
drills. The University of Missouri product laid on the ground in pain for
several minutes as concerned teammates made their way over to check on him.

Kelly and another assistant helped Maclin to his feet but it was clear that
the receiver was favoring his right leg quite a bit. As the cart drove Maclin
off the field, the fans assembled cheered but Maclin seemed terribly dejected
and draped a towel over his face.

"I saw it out of the corner of my eye," quarterback Michael Vick said
following the practice. "I saw him fall. And usually when a guy falls
like that, it's something to be worried about. But hopefully everything will
work out."

It didn't -- the Eagles confirmed Maclin tore the ACL in his right knee hours
later and Maclin himself addressed the issue on his Twitter account.

"Appreciate all the love and support twitter fam....sad day but I have
setbacks my entire life. Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!" Maclin Tweeted.

That same day about 110 miles south in Owings Mills, MD, Ravens tight end
Dennis Pitta suffered a season-ending dislocated hip injury after colliding
with safety James Ihedigbo during a jump ball situation.

"Asking for prayers for a speedy recovery and heal time as I go through this
ordeal," Pitta wrote on Facebook.

The next day it was the Denver Broncos turn to handle adversity as veteran
center Dan Koppen was carted off with a torn anterior cruciate ligament of his

"I always cringe," Broncos coach John Fox said when asked about seeing players
get hurt. "You never like to see players get injured, particularly severely
injured. But you understand when you do this long enough, whether you're a
player or a coach, that this happens."

On Monday the Chicago Bears watched defensive lineman Turk McBride succumb to
a ruptured Achilles hours before the Eagles were slammed yet again when
linebacker Jason Phillips, a special teams stalwart, suffered the same injury
as Maclin two days earlier, a torn ACL in his right knee.

Overcoming misfortune is essential for any NFL team and the league-wide motto
might as well be "next man up," the most popular refrain when league
executives talk about injury.

"It's sadness," Kelly said when asked about injuries. "When you get back, the
reality of it is you got to get ready with the guys that are able to play and
healthy to play.  It's kind of like someone dropped their shield in battle and
the other guy has to pick it up, pick up the slack for him."

The mind-numbing series of early season-enders brings to the forefront the new
practice rules since the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining
Agreement before the 2011 regular season.

There is much less contact in today's NFL practice landscape and teams are
under stringent offseason restrictions regarding seemingly simple things like
press coverage.

Kelly, for one, allows no tackling to the ground at any of his practices.

"No, we have four preseason games for that." the former University of Oregon
coach said Monday when a reporter asked if the Eagles would be tackling at all
during practice sessions. "They're hitting pretty good when they get an
opportunity. The big thing with tackling, you want to be on your feet anyway.
We don't want people diving. We want to be good form tackle so they get an
opportunity. In the first team period we do every day, we're going to be doing

The thought process behind Kelly's no tackling-manta is limiting injuries,
something which obviously takes a hit considering he has already lost two
players to ACL tears without any violent collisions.

"When you get guys on the ground, it is not really the two guys that get
tackled, it's what's chasing it," Kelly explained.  "We're trying to keep
everybody in every situation up. You have a lot of big bodies moving. There's
a fine line what we have to get done from a work standpoint. We also know we
have to get our guys to the game, too."

"I know Chip Kelly is probably going to get killed but I'm not sure the same
thing doesn't happen if Andy Reid was still the coach (in Philadelphia)," Dr.
David Geier, one of the top orthopedic surgeons in sports who once assisted in
the care of the St. Louis Rams, said. "Most of these (injuries around the
league) have been non-contact so there is not much you can do."

That said, more than one coach has privately questioned whether things like
the lack of contact or the scaled-down offseason programs are having an affect
on things.

Players arrive at camp these days after a six- or seven-week respite for two
mandatory practices with no pads before finally being asked to ramp things up.
Some think that could be like jumping into an ice cold shower, a shock to the
system in what remains a terribly physical game built upon violent contact.

"Time away can play a role," Geier explained. "It's a possibility it could be
a cause but I think for different reasons than a coach might think. It's not
like these guys are sitting around on couches for weeks but the one thing you
can't replicate is the repetition during team activities. The ability to run,
cut and plant your foot with a defender there."

"All those repetitions are functional movements and they are hard to replicate
without the spontaneity of movement," he continued. "It's a muscle memory
thing and that's why you usually see a spike of these types of injuries in the
first seven to 10 days (of camp)."

Others argue certain players work out far too much and their tendons, joints
and muscles are ticking time bombs when they finally hit the field.

"We think there is something to that," Geier said when asked about overdoing
it, "but it's hard to say there is a direct cause and effect. Jerry Rice was
famous for his work ethic and he stayed healthy for the vast majority of his

So is there a way to prevent these kinds of injuries or at the very least
scale them back?

"Yes and no," Geier said. "It's hard to say any rule change is going to make a
difference but the  U.S. Women's Soccer team implemented a program which
teaches landing mechanics when turning and pivoting in the air. That type of
thing could be very helpful."

Young likely gone with Asche recalled; potential Lee deal includes hefty ransom

The Michael Young experiment appears to be over less than one season in.

On Tuesday, just ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported that the Phillies are planning to recall third baseman Cody Asche from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Owners of an eight-game losing streak, the Phils return home to kick off a nine-game homestand against the San Francisco Giants.

The losing jag is the club's longest since September of 2011, when Philly immediately dropped eight in a row after clinching their last of five straight NL East titles.

In other news, the ubiquitous Cliff Lee trade rumors kicked into gear again.

The Boston Red Sox are rumored to have interest, but according to the Boston Globe, any deal involving the gritty veteran left-hander would require the Sox to give up infield prospect Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts, the 20-year-old native of Aruba, is hitting .279 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 41 games at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Birds LB Phillips suffered torn ACL

It just keeps getting worser and worser for the Philadelphia Eagles early in Chip Kelly's first training camp.

To wit:

The Texas Christian product posted 23 tackles while participating in all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers last season, but his first as an Eagle is over before it begins.

John McMullen talking NFL news with The Sports Fix

Sixers make a move in front office

PHILADELPHIA - The Sixers keep making moves on the business side of things, likely because their general manager isn't in charge of that.

As Sam Hinkie continues to drag his feet in his punch line of a coaching search, the team hired a new bean counter today, naming Villanova grad Chris Heck Chief Revenue Officer.

Heck is being brought in to implement strategies and oversee all initiatives related to revenue growth for the Sixers, including corporate partnerships, ticketing and premium sales, something which would probably be much easier if the team had a coach but we digress.

“I am thrilled to have Chris join us at the Sixers as we continue to build and grow this organization,” said Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil. “Chris brings a wealth of experience and tremendous relationships to the team, and has worked in-market with the Philadelphia Eagles and Comcast-Spectacor – a background that is invaluable in his new role. Having Chris here instantly raises the ceiling for our business potential in the coming years.”

Most recently, Heck served as the President of Business Operations for the New York Red Bulls (MLS), where he oversaw the business and commercial facets of the team and Red Bull Arena.

Prior to the Red Bulls, Heck spent seven years with the National Basketball Association as senior vice president in the teams best practices group, team marketing and business operations. During his tenure with the league, he advised NBA teams on ticket sales and service, sponsorship development and marketing; managed the NBA’s Canadian business; and oversaw marketing for USA Basketball’s Senior Men’s and Women’s National Teams.

Video: Donovan McNabb retires as an Eagle

McNabb retires as Eagle, will have number retired vs. Reid and Chiefs

PHILADELPHIA - Moments after Donovan McNabb retired as an Eagle, team owner Jeffrey Lurie announced he will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame and have his No. 5 retired by the team on Sept.  19 against Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

"The number '5' has become synonymous with one of the greatest eras of Eagles football," said Lurie, "And ensuring that no one else will ever wear Donovan's number, we honor one of the greatest playmakers to ever wear an Eagles uniform."

"As a person, Donovan is also an all-time great," said Eagles President Don Smolenski. "He treated everyone in the organization with care and respect. We all shared so many great moments with him over the years and it is an honor to be able to recognize him with our fans on Sept. 19."

Perhaps the most accomplished passer in franchise history, McNabb is at the top of nearly every passing category in the Eagles all-time annals. The Syracuse product is the club's all-time leader in pass attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards (32,873) and touchdowns (216), and he became one of just four players in NFL history to amass 30,000 passing yards, 200 TD passes, 3,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns in his career, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers John Elway, Fran Tarkenton and Steve Young.

Despite throwing the ball more than any other signal caller in team history, McNabb ranks fourth in NFL history in interception percentage, throwing a pick on only 2.25 percent of all passes.

A six-time Pro Bowler, McNabb, 37, served as the field general during one of the most successful eras of Eagles football, leading the team to five NFC East division championships, five NFC Championship games, including four consecutive conference championship appearances from 2002-05, and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX.

The winningest quarterback in team history, he was a constant presence under center in Philadelphia, appearing in more games (148) in an Eagles uniform than any other quarterback in team history. As a result of his play, he was selected as the starting quarterback on the Eagles 75th anniversary team in a vote by the fans.

"Donovan McNabb was a franchise-changing quarterback for the Eagles and helped raise the bar of success for this franchise during his 11-year tenure with the team," said Lurie. "On the field, the numbers that Donovan posted during his time in an Eagles uniform speak for themselves.

"He is the franchise leader in nearly every major passing category and is the all-time winningest quarterback in Eagles history. His unique ability to make plays through the air and with his legs made him one of the most dynamic players this city has ever seen. Donovan was the face and the focal point of so many of our great Eagles teams and he helped make this franchise a contender each and every year that he was here."

The second overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, McNabb took the reins of the franchise late in his rookie season, starting six of the final seven contests in 1999, while becoming the first Eagles rookie draft pick to start at quarterback since John Reeves in 1972.

In 2000, McNabb accounted for 74.6 percent of the team's total net yards (third in the NFL) and quickly staked his claim as one of the brightest young stars in the league, earning the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl berths while finishing second in NFL MVP voting.

With McNabb under center, the Eagles would win four consecutive division titles from 2001-04, culminating in an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX where he threw for 357 yards on 30-of-58 passing.

In 2008, McNabb further cemented his place in Eagles history as he established single-season franchise records in passing yardage (3,916), completions (345) and attempts (571) while surpassing Ron Jaworski as the team's all-time leader in touchdown passes, passing yards and attempts. The following season, McNabb would be selected to his sixth Pro Bowl in what was his final season with the Eagles.

Entering the 2013 NFL season, McNabb ranks among the NFL's top-25 quarterbacks all-time in wins (12th), career passing yardage (17th), career passing touchdowns (22nd), attempts (14th), completions (14th), passer rating (24th) and interception percentage (4th). McNabb also set an NFL record in 2004 with 24 consecutive completions. In addition, he is one of only three players in NFL history with over 35,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards, along with Hall of Famers John Elway and Fran Tarkenton.

"As a general manager, you are always on the lookout for a player like Donovan," said Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman. "He was a guy who poured everything he had into becoming the best player that he could possibly be. You could count on Donovan to bring it, day-in and day-out, no matter what the circumstances were.

"The game against Arizona in 2002, when he led us to a win despite playing with a broken ankle, is something I will never forget. He represented this franchise and this city with class."

Union's McInerney named All-Star

KANSAS CITY – MLS All-Star Head Coach Peter Vermes has selected Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney as a replacement for injured New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill for Wednesday’s 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game against AS Roma.

In his fourth MLS season, McInerney has emerged as one of the most lethal attackers in the league, and his 10 goals in 19 games so far this season rank him fourth in the Budweiser Golden Boot race behind fellow All-Stars Camilo Sanvezzo (13), Mike Magee (13) and Marco Di Vaio (11).

This is McInerney’s first MLS All-Star selection. The 20-year-old from Alpharetta, Ga., already has 22 career MLS goals, all with Philadelphia, who selected him No. 7 overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Howie Roseman talks to the media

Eagles' Roseman says team will look within to replace Maclin

PHILADELPHIA - Saturday was like a long night at the bar for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Birds woke up on Sunday morning with a nasty hangover in the form of Jeremy Maclin's potential season-ending ACL tear and there was no time to lay around and convalesce.

A previous engagement with 65,000 invitees was already on the schedule in the form of the team's first full-contact practice at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman addressed Maclin's injury minutes before the Eagles hit the field.

"We have a lot of faith in our skill position players as a whole and that’s how we look at it," Roseman said when asked how he could replace the productive fifth-year receiver.. "We're not only looking at just our wide receiver group, we're looking at the running backs, we look at the tight ends, and those are the guys we have high expectations for, That’s what camps for --the competition -- and that’s why we brought in people to compete."

Roseman singled out the Birds' two new tight ends first -- rookie, second-round pick Zach Ertz and free agent pickup James Casey -- before talking up running backs Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, indicating Chip Kelly's perceived ability to morph his system around his talent in Plan A.

It was also somewhat of an indictment to the receivers the Eagles currently have on hand who could replace Maclin, players like Jason Avant, Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson.

The street, meanwhile, isn't exactly filled with impressive options either with former Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd likely the top alternative. One NFL source called Lloyd "a bad teammate and a bad guy," however.

"We're always going to explore options and see if there are ways to improve our roster, but right now we're excited about some of the young guys we have at those positions we just talked about," Roseman said when asked if he would look outside the Eagles locker room for help.

ESPN recounts how Phillies helped kill the DH in the National League

The National League could have had the designated hitter implemented in time for the start of the 1982 season. It appeared to have all the votes in place, before the venture fell apart at the last minute.

Here's a Sunday feature from ESPN, recounting the role Phillies management had in keeping the Senior Circuit free from the extra batter:

Union hand Vancouver first home loss of season

Vancouver, BC – The Philadelphia Union (9-6-7) defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 1-0 at BC Place on Saturday night behind an 85th-minute goal from Antoine Hoppenot. The victory marks the first time Vancouver has lost at home this year in MLS play.

“That was a really, really big win for us against a very good team,” Team Manager John Hackworth said. “They were really good even when they went down a man. For us to hang in there for a little while and pull one out is great.”

Hoppenot provided the game winner, but the game took a change early when Vancouver went down a man in the 8th minute, as Jun Marques Davidson was sent off for a head butt on Keon Daniel. Daniel went in for a challenge on the Vancouver midfielder, but after being whistled for a foul, Davidson slammed his head into the back of Daniel and was shown a straight red.

Despite the man advantage, both teams went scoreless into the break for halftime.

“I was impressed with Vancouver; they didn’t change their formation, they kept attacking and they put a lot of energy in that,” Hackworth said. “So we knew that if we were patient and possessed the ball and created some opportunities, we were hoping one would eventually come and it did.”

Vancouver subbed in rookie forward Kekuta Manneh in favor of Kenny Miller early in the second half, with the change almost paying immediate dividends for the home side. Manneh raced in behind the Union defense and fired a shot just past and outstretched MacMath, but his effort clanged the post and bounced back into the Union goalkeeper’s hands. MacMath made several big saves in the second half, finishing the night with five total.

With still scoreless later in the second half, Hackworth subbed in Hoppenot, Aaron Wheeler and Fabinho, with those decisions proving to be a key part in the victory. Wheeler eventually provided the game-winning assist to Hoppenot, who buried a ball past Knighton in the 85th minute to give the team all three points on the road.

“Good players make coaches look good sometimes, and [Hoppenot] certainly did that,” Hackworth said. “I thought Aaron Wheeler came on and did a great job and I thought Fabinho came on and did a great job. We’re a team that way; every time we bring a guy off the bench, they have contributed this year. Once again, that was the case today.”

Wheeler and Hoppenot combined for a great play on the edge of Vancouver’s box, as Wheeler flicked back a pass to an oncoming Hoppenot, who took one touch and then fired a left-footed shot into the net to score his third of the season.

“Wheeler played me a good ball and I was through,” Hoppenot said of the goal. “The ball was bouncing, and all I had to do was put it into the back of the net. Most of the work was done by Wheeler, so you’ve got to thank him for that goal.”

The Union were able to drain the clock for the remainder of the game with sustain bits of possession and walk away with three points on the road.

“For us to be able to get wins against the top teams in MLS, it gives us the confidence to know that we can later on in the year,” Hoppenot said.

The Union look ahead to the a home match at PPL Park against an Eastern Conference foe in Chicago Fire next Saturday (8 p.m., CSN) but first, prepare for an international friendly against English side Stoke City FC on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park.


Philadelphia Union 1, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0

Saturday, July 27; 7:00 p.m. ET

BC Place, Vancouver


PHI: Hoppenot (Wheeler) 85’


VAN: Davidson (red) 8’

PHI: Daniel (caution) 8’

PHI: McInerney (caution) 25’

VAN: Leverson (caution) 59’

PHI: Cruz (caution) 65’

VAN: Koffie (caution) 73’


MacMath, Gaddis, Parke, Okugo, Williams, Carroll, Cruz (Hoppenot 64’), Farfan, Daniel (Fabinho 64’), Le Toux, McInerney (Wheeler 82’).

Substitutions not used: Konopka, Kassel, Kleberson, Fernandes.


Knighton, Lee (Hurtado 88’), Rusin (Mitchell 82’), Leveron, Harvey, Reo-Coker, Davidson, Koffie, Teibert, Sanvezzo, Miller (Manneh 48’).

Substitutions not used: Ousted, Watson, Kobayashi, Hertzog.

D-Mac to officially retire as an Eagle

The news we've all been waiting nearly four years to hear is but one more day away.

From the Eagles' official site: "Donovan McNabb will formally announce his retirement as an Eagle on Monday. He and Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie will hold a press conference at the NovaCare Complex at 10 AM.

"McNabb is the team’s all-time leader in every major passing category, including attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards (32,873), and touchdowns (216). He led the team to 91 regular season and nine playoff wins over his 11-year career in Philadelphia. His 3,469 career rushing yards rank sixth all-time among NFL quarterbacks."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eagles hosting alumni day on Sunday

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles will be hosting their first open practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday and confirmed that 65,000 tickets have been distributed. The session will also serve as Alumni Day at Eagles training camp and the team will recognize nearly 40 former players on the field prior to practice and a few of those honored will be signing autographs for fans in the HeadHouse Plaza beginning at 10:30 AM.

The tentative list of alumni scheduled to attend practice is:

Fred Barnett, Wide receiver, 1990-95

Maxie Baughan, Linebacker, 1960-65

Chuck Bednarik, Center/Linebacker, 1949-1962

Bill Bergey, Linebacker, 1974-1980

James Betterson, Running back, 1977-1978

Barrett Brooks, Offensive tackle, 1995-1998

Harold Carmichael, Wide receiver, 1971-1983

Garry Cobb, Linebacker , 1985-87

Brian Dawkins, Safety, 1996-2008

Hugh Douglas, Defensive end, 1998-2002, 2004

Ken Dunek, Tight end, 1980

Gerry Feehery, Offensive lineman, 1983-1987

A.J. Feeley, Quarterback, 2001-2003, 2006-2008

Irving Fryar, Wide receiver, 1996-98

Riley Gunnels, Tackle, 1960-1964

Ben Hawkins, Wide receiver, 1966-73

Vaughn Hebron, Running back/kick returner, 1993-1995

Ron Jaworski, Quarterback, 1977-86

Jim Kelly, End, 1965-1967

Sean Landeta, Punter, 1999-2002, 2005

Reno Mahe, Running back/kick returner, 2003-2007

Tommy McDonald, Wide receiver, 1957-63

Donovan McNabb, Quarterback, 1999-2009

Joe Pagliei, Back, 1959

Vince Papale, Wide receiver, 1976-1978

Joe Pisarcik, Quarterback, 1980-1984

Mike Quick, Wide receiver, 1982-1990

Ike Reese, Linebacker, 1998-2004

Kevin Reilly, Linebacker, 1973-1974

Pete Retzlaff, End, 1956-1966

Jon Runyan, Offensive tackle, 2000-2008

Jody Schulz, Linebacker, 1983-1987

John Spagnola, Tight end, 1979-1987

Duce Staley, Running back, 1997-2003

Hollis Thomas, Defensive tackle, 1996-2005

Markus Thomas, Running back, 1993

William Thomas, Linebacker, 1991-99

Tra Thomas, Offensive tackle, 1998-2008

Brian Westbrook, Running back/kick returner, 2002-2009

Eagles' Maclin done for season

Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin
PHILADELPHIA - Fate turned on Chip Kelly just two days into his first training camp as an NFL head coach when arguably his best receiver, fifth-year veteran Jeremy Maclin, went down with a significant knee injury on Saturday.

Maclin was carted off after suffering a non-contact injury during 7-on-7 drills. The University of Missouri product laid on the ground in pain for several minutes as concerned teammates made their way over to check on him.

Kelly and another assistant helped Maclin to his feet but it was clear that the receiver was favoring his right leg quite a bit. As the cart drove Maclin off the field, the fans assembled cheered but Maclin seemed terribly dejected and draped a towel over his face.

"I saw it out of the corner of my eye," quarterback Michael Vick said following Saturday's practice. "I saw him fall. And usually when a guy falls like that, it's something to be worried about. But hopefully everything will work out."

An NFL source confirmed that Maclin believed he has torn his ACL while the NFL Network later reported the Eagles believe he has torn both his ACL and MCL.

The Eagles then confirmed Maclin did indeed tear the ACL in his right knee just before 6 pm ET and Maclin himself addressed the issue on his Twitter account.

"Appreciate all the love and support twitter fam....sad day but I have setbacks my entire life. Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!" Maclin Tweeted.  

Originally a first-round draft pick in 2009, Maclin is entering the final year of his rookie deal. He lead the Eagles with 69 receptions for 857 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.

Replacing Maclin's production outside the numbers won't be easy for Philadelphia but it could enable Kelly to at least insert more size into the lineup. The 6-foot Maclin teamed with the even smaller DeSean Jackson outside for the past four years and the Birds have consistently had trouble in the red zone.

Jason Avant is thought of as more of a slot receiver and you have probably already witnessed Riley Cooper's ceiling as a player. The oft-injured Arrelious Benn, a former second-round pick out of Illinois in 2010 who was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay this offseason, has the size the Birds are looking for along with and an interesting skill set but he already sustained a minor left knee injury on Friday and was riding a stationary bike at practice on Saturday.

Other options on the roster are the diminutive Damaris Johnson, former St, Louis Rams fourth-round pick Greg Salas and OTA sensation, the 6-foot-7 Ifeanyi Momah.

Johnson was a big-time playmaker on the collegiate level at Tulsa but is best-suited as a kick returner at this level, while Salas excelled in the WAC but lacks the long speed to pop the top off NFL defenses

The 23-year-old Momah, meanwhile, sat out the entire 2012 football season at Boston College while recovering from a knee injury suffered in the prior campaign, He always turns heads with his frame, which screams mismatch every time he steps on the field. That said, the suddenness and route running ability is still a work in progress for Momah.

Philadelphia could also increase the workload for its tight ends -- projected as one of the deepest  groups on the team -- in Maclin's absence Veteran Brent Celek remains a consistent pass-catcher while some see Pro Bowl potential in rookie Zach Ertz. Also, veteran free agent acquisition James Casey is one of the better h-backs in the league with the versatility to line up at multiple positions depending on the formation.

John McMullen talks NFL on ESPN Hawaii

Friday, July 26, 2013

Slow start for new-look Eagles defense

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - So much of the fanfare surrounding Chip Kelly's inaugural voyage at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles has centered on his quarterback situation.

That's hardly a surprise considering the position may be the most important in
all of sports and Kelly has kicked off his first training camp as mentor of
the Birds without a clear plan at the position along with three possible
options, descending veteran Michael Vick, second-year man Nick Foles and
rookie fourth-round pick Matt Barkley.

It's obviously important for Kelly to establish order at quarterback sooner
rather than later but the intrigue over the spot has masked a far bigger issue
in South Philadelphia, a defense that looks shakier than cafeteria Jell-O.

First-year defensive coordinator Bill Davis is trying to revamp an entire
unit, pivoting away from the old regime's 4-3 mindset and morphing into a
hybrid front, whose default setting will be a 3-4 but is far more concerned
with disguising the fourth pass-rusher on any given snap.

"I think it gives us a lot more versatility, and I think it causes a lot of
problems defensively because you don't know exactly where that fourth rusher
is coming from," Kelly said when discussing the change after his first full
training camp practice on Friday. "I think there is a versatility in the 3-4
defense that you like, but, again, I think when Billy (Davis) said it, we're
going from a wide-9 to a 3-4. When do we get to a 3-4, I don't know. We may
have to stop at being a one-gap over and under defense depending upon still
making an evaluation of what our guys can do."

The probable change is a hat tip to modern day pro football, which has become
a passing-oriented affair with rules heavily-slanted toward the offense. In
fact NFL defensive football has become a game of kill or be killed, especially
when facing off against elite signal-callers like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton
Manning or Tom Brady.

The Eagles' competition in the NFC East -- Washington's Robert Griffin III,
New York's Eli Manning and Dallas' Tony Romo -- isn't too shabby either so the
prime directive for Davis is get to the quarterback or in the case of a Peyton
Manning-type -- a player who simply won't take a sack -- force him to speed up
his delivery and get rid of the football quicker than he would like.

The second option is fooling the opposition and that's where the varied fronts
and zone-blitz concepts that are en vogue around the league come in.

Door No. 3?

Well, there really isn't a door No. 3 anymore. Playing coverage -- more often
than not -- results in death by a 1,000 cuts, so if you fail at the first two
objectives, a defense is likely headed off the field with heads held down as
the offense celebrates six points.

Davis, who came to Philadelphia after spending the previous two seasons as the
linebackers coach in Cleveland, has experience as a coordinator in both
Arizona and San Francisco. He faces a mountain of a task with the Eagles and
few proven commodities to work with.

Up front, Trent Cole has two Pro Bowls on his resume but is coming off a down
year and is now being asked to take on new responsibilities. A prototypical
weakside defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, the 30-year old University of
Cincinnati product now has to prove he can play in space as a 3-4 rush

If Friday's first full-scale workout was any indication, Cole has a long way
to go, looking lost in one-on-one coverage drills with the tight ends.

"We're conscious of that," Kelly explained when queried about asking players
to do things they are unfamiliar with. "We understand. I don't think it's
something that they're going to pick up  if they've never been asked to do it.
It's like anything. For everybody, no matter who it is, offensively,
defensively, it's a whole new offensive system, it's a whole new defensive
system, it's a whole new special teams.  We're aware of that."

Despite his troubles Cole was actually the standout of the "defensive end"
group being asked to do the same thing. Players like Brandon Graham, Phillip
Hunt and Everette Brown looked even worse with Hunt, a former CFL pass-rushing
star particularly overmatched.

"Trying to find those outside linebackers is kind of the key," Kelly
continued. "I think Trent did a nice job today. It's a transition for Trent.
It's a transition for Brandon. It's a transition for Phillip. How much they
transition. We've still got to play with the roster we have. How far it goes,
I don't know.  That's really the big question for all of us as we continue to
go through the evaluation period.

"We haven't been drafting for this and converting some of those defensive ends
to see what they can do. But, our job is to do a great job of figuring out
what they do best and then playing to those strengths."

Free agent acquisition Isaac Sopoaga is talked about like a given at nose
tackle in Philly but the big Samoan was the weakest link of a talented San
Francisco defensive front and will hardly remind you of a Haloti Ngata-type
who will command consistent double teams.

"I think we feel better about what we have on the D-line, I think we did a
good job of getting guys like (Sopoaga) in here and getting guys like Benny
(Logan) in here," Kelly said. We feel like we're a little bit stouter inside
than when I first got here in January."

Perhaps, but the back-seven features more question marks.

Remember, the Texans originally gave up on DeMeco Ryans after the 2011 season
because the thought in Houston was that the former Alabama star was more of a
4-3 middle 'backer, something Andy Reid bought into and why Ryans was brought
to the East Coast. Now Reid is enjoying the barbecue in Kansas City and Ryans
is being asked to man the inside of the 3-4 again.

The secondary, meanwhile, could feature four new starters unless the light
finally comes on for fourth-year safety Nate Allen. Gone are big-name
disappointments Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback,
replaced by former Ravens Super Bowl starter Cary Williams, who had to leave
practice Friday after tweaking his hamstring, and oft-injured ex-Ram Bradley

At safety Allen and the pedestrian Kurt Coleman are trying to hold-off free
agent pickups Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips. Chung is already running with
the first-team next to Allen and if Phillips can stay on the field, it's
almost a fait accompli that he will beat out Allen.

Of course, even if things break right for the Eagles at all those positions,
none of the aforementioned options smell like difference-makers. In fact,
Davis' best chance of developing guys who can swing games on Sunday resides in
the 2012 draft class (defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and inside linebacker
Mychal Kendricks), along with the club's marquee defensive free agent pickup
this offseason (former Houston linebacker Connor Barwin).

Cox has the talent to wreak havoc as a five-technique defensive end while
Kendricks, although undersized, has the speed and instincts to fly to the
football. Barwin, meanwhile, is just a year removed from 11 1/2 sacks and even
though pass coverage isn't his forte, he looked like Derrick Brooks compared
to some of his 'mates on Friday.

"I think, if you're a good teacher, you don't get frustrated early," Kelly
said of the unit's early struggles. "It's a hard transition. We believe it's
the best thing for us. The good thing for us is we feel like we've got time.
Four preseason games, and you're more than a month away from your first
regular season game."

Penn Charter's Ryan gets paid by Falcons

Things are looking up for 28-year-old Exton-born and Penn Charter-bred quarterback Matt Ryan. The Atlanta Falcons made sure the two are going to be together for the foreseeable future.

The two sides agreed to a five-year extension on Thursday, and according to, it is worth a total of $103.75 million, with Ryan receiving $59 million guaranteed and scheduled to make $63 million over the first three years of the deal.

The 28-year-old was entering the final year of the rookie contract he signed back in 2008, when the Falcons selected the Boston College product with the third overall pick in that year's draft.

Ryan is coming off his best statistical season, notching career bests in touchdowns (32), passing yards (4,719) and completion percentage (68.6) in 2012 while leading the Falcons to an NFC-best 13-3 record and an appearance in the conference championship game.

During Ryan's five-year career, the Falcons have reached the postseason four times -- including an appearance in each of the last three -- and have accumulated a 56-22 regular-season record with him behind center.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Ryan has missed only two games and has thrown 127 touchdowns against 60 interceptions, while accumulating 18,957 passing yards.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Saint Joseph's Basketball to Tour Italy in August

PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's men's basketball team will embark on a 10-day tour of Italy from August 11 to 21, playing four games and visiting four cities.

It marks the second time that head coach Phil Martelli has taken Saint Joseph's overseas, as the Hawks also traveled to Italy in 1999.

Saint Joseph's will begin the trip in Rome and travel to Florence, Venice and Como. Among the sites the Hawks will visit are The Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Accademia Gallery in Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Grand Canal in Venice, and Lake Como.

"We're excited to make the trip. The basketball opportunity is unique. The overall experience is once in a lifetime," said coach Phil Martelli.

In preparation for the tour, the Hawks are permitted to hold 10 full-squad practices beginning on July 30.

The Hawks return 10 players, including starters Langston Galloway, Ronald Roberts, Jr., and Halil Kanacevic, from last year's squad which went 18-14 and earned a berth in the NIT. Making the trip to Italy with those 10 players will be redshirt freshmen Javon Baumann and Kyle Molock along with incoming freshmen DeAndre´ Bembry and Jai Williams.

The most recent SJU team to take an international trip was the women's basketball team, which toured Ireland and Northern Ireland last summer. The Hawks went on to win the Atlantic 10 Championship and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sixers Live Video Stream | Nerlens Noel Presser


Thorn talks Bynum

Former Sixers president Rod Thorn opened up to David Aldridge of on Andrew Bynum and what went wrong in Philadelphia.

"We went for the stars when we went after Bynum. And it didn’t work out," Thorn told Aldridge. "And we gave up a ton of assets. Not only players, but we lost (Andre) Iguodala, who was a terrific player. We lost (Nic) Vucevic, who was the second-best rebounder in the NBA. We lost (Maurice) Harkless, who has a chance to be a very good player, and we lost a future first, probably.

"We had accumulated assets. We made a major move, and it didn’t work out. Bynum never played a minute for us. And now he signs with Cleveland, and we gave up four major assets. That’s tough to overcome."

Thorn also discussed how Sixers owner Josh Harris  took the debacle and how Thorn, who landed on his feet as the NBA's new president of basketball operations, responded:

"Obviously the ownership was upset about the way the season went for us, and they got other people. It’s (not) a personal thing. They treated me great. I don’t have any problem with them at all. They wanted me to stay in an advisory position.

"But, whether it’s pride or whether it’s ego or whatever, I just don’t like the way it ended. I’ve been in the league 50 years. I’ve done some pretty good things; some other things, not so good. But I’ve done some pretty good things. And I’d like to end it up on the right note. And that’s what it is for me more than anything … knock on wood, I’m relatively healthy, and I think I can help them in some ways. I’m looking forward to it."

Sixers set to kick the tires on former Rutgers star Quincy Douby

Quincy Douby
PHILDELPHIA - SportsNet New York is reporting thet the Sixers have taken a keen interest in former Rutgers star Quincy Douby.

Douby has developed into an overseas star, averaging 31.6 points last season for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association, including a CBA single-game record 75 points back on Jan. 2.

A former first-round pick in the NBA Draft back in 2006, Douby is expected to work out for the Sixers later this month. However, the 29-year-old, 6-foot-3 shooting guard also has visits set up with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

On the surface the Sixers would look like the least desirous option in a three-horse race but they could offer Douby the opportunity to garner the most playing time.

Douby was originally selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 19th overall pick in the 2006 draft and he averaged 4.1 points, 1.1 rebounds over a four-year career with the Kings and Toronto Raptors. He has played overseas since being released by the Raptors on Nov. 12, 2009.

Sixers to introduce Noel

PHILADELPHIA - The 76ers will introduce rookie big man Nerlens Noel at a 1 p.m. press conference Tuesday at the team's practice facility.

The Sixers acquired the rights to Noel, the sixth overall pick in the June 27 NBA draft, in a draft night trade with the New Orleans Pelicans for all-star point guard Jrue Holiday. The deal became official on July 12 after the NBA's business moratorium expired and Holiday finished his honeymoon.

Noel, a slight 6-foot-11, 206-pounder who left Kentucky after one season, was rated by most as the top player available in this year's draft until a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee. He is not expected to play until Christmas at the earliest.

Noel is expected to be a defensive difference-maker at the NBA level if healthy and averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots while shooting 59 percent from the field at Kentucky during his freshman season.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Extra Points: Cowboys suffer significant early loss | Dallas Cowboys (AP) | Latest news and v...

Extra Points: Cowboys suffer significant early loss | Dallas Cowboys (AP) | Latest news and v...

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - One day, one down.

The war of attrition that is the NFL season began Saturday in both Davie, Fla.
and Oxnard, Calif., as the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys got a jump on the
rest of the competition by reporting to training camp a few days earlier than

The decision to explode out of the starting blocks proved untimely for the
'Boys, who lost defensive end Tyrone Crawford to a season-ending Achilles
injury on Sunday.

"Crushing," Dallas VP and director of player personnel Stephen Jones told the
team's official website when discussing Crawford's injury. "Absolutely

To most of you, that might seem like a bit of an embellishment because the 6-
foot-4, 280-pound Crawford was just a guy during his rookie season in 2012,
playing in nearly 29 percent of Dallas' defensive snaps and amassing 20
tackles in 16 games.

But, remember the 'Boys fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in the offseason
and replaced him with the aging Monte Kiffin, who worships at the altar of the
Tampa-2 defensive philosophy.

That means the Cowboys are switching to a 4-3 "under scheme" which requires a
Brian Urlacher-type middle linebacker, smart, zone-savvy defensive backs and a
live, active big-bodied end who can hold the point of attack on the edge.

The latter was supposed to be Crawford, a third-round pick out of Boise State
in 2012.

The Cowboys have plenty of pass rushing talent at defensive end in DeMarcus
Ware and Anthony Spencer but neither of those players is going to stick his
hand in the turf and be the type of anchor at left end Crawford was projected
as being.

Projection turned to panic, however, when Crawford went down while performing
a non-contact slalom drill, immediately yelling: "Achilles. I can't believe
this," according to those in attendance.

"It looked pretty bad. I don't want to lie," defensive tackle Jason Hatcher

Jones, who witnessed the injury, talked about how important Crawford was in
the move to the new 4-3 scheme.

"He's a guy that can play end and tackle," Jones said. "It just makes you sick
because we really had high hopes for him this year."

A potential replacement for Crawford doesn't exactly stand out amongst the
other ends assembled in Oxnard, leading many to believe that the Cowboys will
look outside the organization at veterans on the unemployment line.

Former Falcons star John Abraham would be the splashy kind of addition Jerry
Jones gravitates toward, while Juqua Parker is a player the Cowboys are
intimately familiar with after Parker spent seven years in the NFC East with
the Philadelphia Eagles before landing in Cleveland a season ago.

Stephen Jones balked at that kind of thinking, however.

"The guy that will replace Crawford is already on the roster," the younger
Jones stated "We certainly like the guys on our roster better than anyone that
is out there."


The depth assembled looks more than shaky. Kyle Wilber is an undersized
tweener making the transition from outside linebacker who seems more like a
backup for Ware on the right side. Ben Bass, on the other hand, looks the part
but his movement skills are better-suited inside at defensive tackle.

In Jones' defense, though, while Abraham might excite the faithful, he's a
pass-rusher in the mold of Ware and Spencer and not the type of base end
Dallas wants. Parker, on the other hand, is 35 and undersized with a ton of
mileage on his legs.

Perhaps the real answer is the very thing the Cowboys are already facing --
the attrition we spoke of.

After all, every other team will start facing it soon enough.

"This is part of our game, and it's disappointing," Jones told
"Crawford is probably our top young defensive lineman. That's a shame. Knowing
him, he's such a diligent worker, he'll get right on it and be back."

NHL's realignment is new version of the same old song

Let me give away the answer right off the bat.


The National Hockey League will never get realignment "right." Ever. We'll always have something to complain about. Get used to it.

As long as 30 (and soon to be 32) teams unequally divided due to geography have to be plunked down into four, six or eight divisions within two conferences, things will not be in their rightful place.

Is it the worst thing in the world that Florida and Tampa Bay are in a division with Detroit and Boston? No. Remember, the Lightning played with the Red Wings, North Stars, Blackhawks and Blues upon entering the league in 1992.

The well-defined chaos the league brain trust finds itself in at various intervals is nothing new to students of history.

Before the Original Six became venerated, there were 10 NHL teams in the early 1930s, split into two groups: American and Canadian. Since there were more of the former than the latter, the New York Americans drew the short straw and went rogue with their Northern neighbors.

In 1967, it first sought to place all six expansion teams -- ranging from Philadelphia in the East to Los Angeles in the West -- into the "West" Division while the Original Six played in the "East." Then, once Buffalo and Vancouver entered the league three years later, Chicago was bumped to the "West" to maintain "competitive balance," but it didn't solve the problem of a team located near the Pacific playing in the East.

Once the venture grew to 18 clubs with the admissions of Washington and Kansas City in 1974, all normalcy was dumped. The original Norris Division contained Montreal and Los Angeles. The Adams Division looked OK with Boston, Buffalo and Toronto, but had to sneak California in there. The only division that remotely looked decent with respect to geography was the Patrick, containing both New York teams, the Flyers and Atlanta.

Admission of the four former WHA teams in 1979 did little to quell the riot. Hartford was lumped in with the Norris, Quebec along with Minnesota in the Adams. One year later, when the Flames relocated to Calgary, they remained in the Patrick with the Flyers, Islanders, Rangers and Capitals. 

The closest the league came to perfecting their task was in 1981, when a proper geographic alignment was proposed along the four divisions and legendary names that everyone seems to want back.

Patrick: New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

Adams: Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Hartford, Quebec

Norris: Chicago, Minnesota, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Toronto, Detroit

Smythe: Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado, Los Angeles, Vancouver

That was a rare trip into common sense for the NHL, which spent more than a decade flailing at common sense as it grew unchecked before arriving on something akin to sanity. Blind squirrel, nut, and so forth.

For the next 12 seasons, the league existed in a relative state of harmony with an imbalanced schedule that wasn't too far out of whack. You played your division foes seven or eight times, everybody else three times with home and road flipped each season. The lone blip on the radar in the first decade was the Jets' move to the Smythe once the Rockies fled Denver for New Jersey in 1982. And that was solved by playing back-to-back sets in all five Smythe cities to cut down on travel.

Even then, one thing was amiss: the playoff structure. While encouraging and fostering rivalries since the first two rounds were inter-divisional, the 1-4, 2-3 formats, it was hypothetical that a fifth place club in one division would miss out while a fourth-place team in another was relatively weak but rewarded for finishing one slot higher.

That hypothetical came to fruition in 1988, when the Penguins and Rangers missed out on the playoffs in a stacked six-team Patrick Division, while the Maple Leafs -- the league's second-worst team -- made it to the postseason for being fourth in a weak Norris Division.

Forgetting the riot which ensued when the founders' division names were replaced by geographic ones in 1993 once Gary Bettman took the reins, the inter-conference 1-through-8 playoff structure was the right move at the right time. 

Once the NHL moved into the six-division format five years later, there have been complaints that a division winner in a weak group could finish third over the fourth, fifth and sometimes sixth-seeded teams with better records. Washington was shoehorned into the Southeast -- almost 400 miles from its closest rival and more than 1,000 from its furthest -- and so was Winnipeg for the last two seasons. Dallas was picked to head a weak Pacific Division out of desire for competitive balance next to Detroit and Colorado.

So now, we get what we get and we all have to deal. It wouldn't be a plan if something wasn't crooked.

Until the next bright idea comes along with expansion, relocation, or the three-year playoff experiment runs its course.

Then, we'll crank up our inner George Carlin and rail at the inequity of it all, conveniently forgetting everything that came before.

Wells Fargo Center hosting 'blow-out' sale

PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, Wings and Phillies fans can take advantage of major savings on all their favorite fan apparel as Comcast-Spectacor and Aramark host a “blow-out” sale on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, July 27 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

In addition to savings of up to 90 percent off, fans can also enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 water, as well as free parking.

Summer blow-out sale shoppers will have the opportunity to purchase jerseys of recently signed Philadelphia Flyers players Forward Vincent Lecavalier, Defenseman Mark Streit and Goaltender Ray Emery.  Those who purchase a new player jersey at regular price will receive a $20 voucher to be used at the sale for Flyers and Sixers merchandise only.

Flyers, Sixers, Wings and Phillies Season Ticket holders are invited to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, July 27 for an exclusive early-entry to the blow-out sale beginning at 9 a.m.

All summer blow-out sale shoppers will also receive 20 percent off their food purchases at XFINITY Live! Philadelphia throughout the day on Saturday by presenting their receipt from the blow-out sale.

Eagles rookies set to report

PHILADELPHIA - Chip Kelly's first training camp at the helm of the Eagles kicks off today at the NovaCare Complex when the team's rookies and a few veterans, including quarterbacks Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon, are scheduled to report.

Here’s a list of the players expected to take part in practice early this week.

Quarterback (5): Matt Barkley, Dennis Dixon, Nick Foles, G.J. Kinne, Michael Vick

Running Back (1): Matthew Tucker

Wide Receiver (4): B.J. Cunningham, Ifeanyi Momah, Will Murphy, Russell Shepard

Tight End (4): Derek Carrier, James Casey, Zach Ertz, Will Shaw

Offensive Line (4): Michael Bamiro, Lane Johnson, Nic Purcell, Matthew Tobin

Defensive Line (6): David King, Joe Kruger, Bennie Logan, Isaas Remington, Damion Square, Daryell Walker

Linebacker (2): Jake Knott, Chris McCoy

Cornerback (2): Jordan Poyer, Eddie Whitley

Safety (1): Earl Wolff

Special Teams (1): Brad Wing

Veterans are scheduled to report on Thursday, July 25.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Soul stays hot, rout SaberCats

SAN JOSE  – The Philadelphia Soul (12-5), jumped out to a 27-0 lead thanks to four straight defensive stops to start the game and pulled away from the San Jose SaberCats (12-5) with a 65-43 victory in front of 9,163 fans on Saturday night. 

The victory keeps the Soul as the top seed in the American Conference heading into the final week of the regular season.

“You are always happy anytime you come to San Jose and leave with a victory,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “We started strong and finished strong, but there were definitely elements that we will need to work on as we get ready for the playoffs.  We are happy to be playing well during this part of the season.”

Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game Dan Raudabaugh finished his night by connecting on 20-of-33 passes for 181 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

Andrae Thurman led Soul receivers with nine receptions for 94 yards and one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown, while Tiger Jones had seven catches for 60 yards and three touchdowns.  Larry Brackins added three receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown and Emery Sammons added two catches for 13 yards.

Derrick Ross recorded 21 rushing yards on 11 carries and two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, Riddell Defensive Player of the Game Calvin Fance tallied 2.5 total tackles and two sacks, J Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game LaRico Stevenson recorded 5.0 total tackles, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a fumble return for a touchdown.  Rayshaun Kizer added 3.0 total tackles and an interception.

San Jose was led by QB Russ Michna, who finished 15-of-37 for 206 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.  James Roe led the SaberCat receivers with six receptions for 70 yards and three touchdowns.

The Soul started the scoring after the first of four straight defensive stops on downs when Raudabaugh found Thurman on an 8-yard touchdown strike to cap a five-play, 32-yard drive to give the Soul a 7-0 lead.  Ross added a 1-yard touchdown and Tiger Jones added a 2-yard receiving touchdown to finish the first quarter with the Soul leading 21-0.

Raudabaugh found Jones again to begin the second quarter on a 7-yard strike that capped a four-play, 16-yard drive and gave the Soul a 27-0 advantage.  The SaberCats woke up when Michna found Roe on an 8-yard touchdown to narrow the score to 27-7 with 6:28 remaining in the first half.  The San Jose defense got a stop and recovered an onsides kick, while Roe collected two more scores to bring the score to 27-21.  The Soul’s Carlos Martinez nailed a 48-yard field goal with no time remaining to give Philadelphia a 30-21 halftime lead.

Raudabaugh led the Soul on an 8-play, 46-yard first drive that was capped with a Brackins touchdown that pushed the lead to 37-21 with 8:09 left in the third quarter.  Kizer stopped the SaberCats’ next drive with an interception that led to a Thurman touchdown to make the score 44-21 at the end of the third quarter.

Highlighted by Stevenson’s fumble return for a touchdown, Philadelphia held off San Jose in the fourth quarter to take the 65-43 victory.  The Soul will finish the regular season next weekend when they travel to play the San Antonio Talons on Saturday, July 27 at 9 p.m. ET and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Philadelphia’s Dan Raudabaugh

Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia’s Calvin Fance

J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker:  Philadelphia’s LaRico Stevenson

Cutter’s Catch of the Game: San Jose’s James Roe third touchdown in the second quarter.

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia’s LaRico Stevenson’s fumble recovery returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Union and Timbers fight through weather, battle to 0-0 draw

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union (8-6-7) and Portland Timbers played to a 0-0 draw before a sold out crowd of 18, 740 at PPL Park.

Despite a delay to second-half play due to inclement weather in the area, goalkeeper Zac MacMath recorded four saves to earn a shutout on the night.

“Would we have liked to come away with 3 points? Sure,” said Coach Rob Vartughian, who was filling in as team manager for a suspended John Hackworth. “But at the end of the day, a guy makes a world-class save on Conor’s ball, that’s just how it goes. In terms of where we are from a confidence standpoint, I think everybody feels pretty good about what we’re doing.”

It took 53 minutes for the second half to reconvene as a weather system that featured heavy rains and fierce lightning strikes. But once it did, a Union corps emerged that seemed more threatening and pushed the match to Portland, creating numerous chances and forcing Portland (8-2-10, 34 points) keeper Donovan Ricketts to make big stops to keep the Timbers level. The Union’s best chance came in the 71st minute, as a volley from Union forward Conor Casey was denied by Ricketts to keep the score level.

But it wasn’t what was said during intermission that brought about the renewed vigor, but what just about everyone in the locker room did while they waited for the heavy rains to subside.

“Guys were laying down sleeping with their legs up on [the chair in their stall],” said defender Brian Carroll. “We all had our feet up on the chair watching some other games around the league; you know, just kicking back and relaxing. It was all about staying focused but I think we all realized that we needed to chill out a little bit.”

One player that looked comfortable was MacMath, who earned his sixth shutout of the season. MacMath was solid in the back making four big saves, perhaps his biggest a point blank stop on Timbers forward Diego Valeri from just inside six-yard-box in the 66th minute.

“This was one of his best matches of the year,” Carroll said emphatically about his goalkeeper’s performance. “He was really strong back there, he was communicative, decisive and he came up with a lot of really huge plays for us. Hard fought game from everyone, but personally I thought this was one of Zac’s best.”

For MacMath his calm demeanor postgame conveyed that it was all in a night’s work.

“I had the same mentality I do every game,” said MacMath. “You go out there and try to get your team a shutout and keep them in it and thankfully I was able to do that tonight. It was a good tie for us against a good team; Portland has been playing really well this year and they are a tough team and they proved it tonight. But I thought we took the game to them in the second half and unfortunately we weren’t able to put one away tonight.”

The Union will next travel west to face the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday (7 p.m. ET, The Comcast Network).

BOX SCORE                                                                      

Philadelphia Union 0, Portland Timbers 0

July20, 7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, Pa.


PHI – Casey 43’ (caution)

PHI – Fernandes 76’ (caution)


MacMath, Gaddis, Parke, Okugo, Williams, Carroll, Farfan (Fernandes 68’), Cruz (Fabinho 79’), Le Toux, McInerney (Hoppenot 82’), Casey.

Unused substitutions: Konopka, Wheeler, Kassel, Kleberson.


Ricketts, Jean-Baptiste, Jewsbury, Kah, Harrington, Johnson, Nagbe (Alhassan 90’+3), Chara (Zemanski 45’), Valeri, Piquionne, Johnson (Valencia 79’).

Unused substitutions: Miller, Zizzo, Kocic, Danso.

Eagles sign first-round pick Johnson

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Once the Miami Dolphins locked up Dion Jordan, it was only a matter of time before the Eagles signed their first-round pick Lane Johnson.

Hours after Jordan, the No. 3 overall selection,  settled in South Beach, Philadelphia inked Johnson, the fourth pick, to a four-year contract.

“We’re very excited to have all of our draft picks ready to go for the start of training camp,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. “I give Lane and his agent, Ken Sarnoff, a lot of credit for their work in getting this deal complete. Both had stated to us how important it was to get this deal signed before the rookies report on Monday and they kept their word. We’re all looking forward to watch Lane get his NFL career started.”

The 23-year-old Johnson began his college career at quarterback, tight end and the defensive line before transitioning to the offensive line at Oklahoma as a junior in 2011. After transferring from Kilgore College in 2009, Johnson went on to appear in 32 career games with the Sooners, starting 25 total contests (13 at left tackle, 12 at right tackle). He garnered second-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior after anchoring a Sooner offense that ranked 12th in the nation with 497.9 yards per game.

A native of Groveton, TX, Johnson earned all-district, all-region and all-state honors as a quarterback at Groveton High School. He also lettered in track and field, placing fourth in the shot put at the state’s track championship.

Johnson will start his Eagles career at right tackle.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Couturier off the table with new two-year extension

One of the hottest names on the trade rumor circuit appears to be wiped off the board. On Saturday afternoon, the Flyers announced a two-year contract extension for Sean Couturier.

Couturier is due $925,000 for the upcoming season, after which he’d have become a restricted free agent. But with this new pact, he’ll earn $3.5 million, with an average annual value of $1.75M per season. According to several sources, it's $1.5M in 2014-15 and $2M in 2015-16.

The 20-year-old, like most of the roster, stumbled this past season, collecting just four goals and 15 points and a minus-8 rating in 46 games. A defensive-minded center, Couturier won only 43.9 percent of his faceoffs in 2013.

He also appeared in 31 regular-season games with the Adirondack Phantoms, prior to the start of the
Flyers season in January. He posted 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points under a restrictive system set up by Terry Murray.

This new deal makes it five forwards whose contracts have been extended within the last calendar year.

Brayden Schenn and Tye McGinn are the lone remaining 2014 RFAs whose contracts have yet to be extended. Matt Read is a 2014 UFA.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flyers with that 'Metro' look for next season

The new-look Philadelphia Flyers will open up their 2013-14 season at home on Wednesday, October 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That's straight from the National Hockey League, which officially released its master schedule along with the new divisional alignments on Friday.

The Orange and Black will participate in the "Metropolitan Division," the only grouping which was renamed among the four existing divisions and two conferences. It's the fourth such grouping in which the club will compete in their 46th NHL campaign, after West (1967-74), Patrick (1974-93) and Atlantic (1993-2013).

First-time divisional foes are Carolina and Columbus, while Washington rejoins the fold after being a rival in the old Patrick Division from 1979 to 1993.

Bang the link to check out the full sked.

In their history, the Flyers have only opened up this early on two occasions: a 3-0 home loss to Ottawa on October 2, 1999 and a 2-0 road win against the Hurricanes in Ray Emery's debut in 2009. Only once -- in the NHL's first Olympic year of 1997-98 -- did they start a season earlier, and that was a 3-1 win over Florida at home on 10/1/97.

For the 18th consecutive non-lockout season, all clubs will play 82 regular-season games. The league will officially pause from February 9-25 to allow its players a fifth crack at Olympic glory in Sochi.

One thing you may notice while perusing this new course, is that there has not been a provision made yet over the long-rumored possible outdoor contest at Happy Valley between the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins -- but that can change.

Cavs sign Bynum

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – The Andrew Bynum era in Philadelphia has officially ended without the 7-footer ever playing a game for the Sixers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers officially inked the oft-injured center to a contract on Friday, believed to be for two years and $24 million but only $6 million of that is guaranteed.

“We are very happy to welcome Andrew to Cleveland and the Cavaliers organization,” said Cavs GM Chris Grant.  “His talent, size and experience clearly have the potential to very positively impact our team. He has the ability to strengthen the foundation we are creating and continue to be very excited about. At the same time, we are fully aware of where he is in his journey to get back on the court and will provide every resource possible to support and enhance this process."

Bynum was originally selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft out of St. Joseph H.S. in Metuchen, NJ.  In seven NBA seasons, the 7-foot, 285-pount center has appeared in 392 games with 300 starts, averaging 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.6 blocks in 26.0 minutes per game while shooting .566 from the floor.

The 25-year old, however,  missed the entire the 2012-13 season, what was expected to be his first with the Sixers, due to what has been described as chronic knee problems.

The previous season, 2011-12, Bynum, a two-time NBA Champion, averaged career-highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Lakers and coach Mike Brown, while being voted as a NBA All-Star starter for the Western Conference.

Brown is currently the Cavs coach.

NHL going to Winter Olympics once more

Per an agreement between the National Hockey League and the International Ice Hockey Federation, the premier league on the world stage will once again send its players to the Winter Olympics.

The accord was finally reached on Friday, meaning the Master Schedule for the 2013-14 season will be announced later in the day.

It will be the fifth time Gary Bettman will allow his regular season to be interrupted for more than two weeks in order to permit the "best players in the world" the sole spotlight on the world stage.

Four years ago, it was a double triumph for Canada, as Vancouver hosted the Winter Games and the host nation claimed a 3-2 overtime triumph against the rival Americans in the Gold Medal game.

At Torino in 2006, Sweden outdueled rival Finland.

Salt Lake City in 2002 saw Team Canada outlast the host Americans

The first time around, at Nagano in 1998, the Czech Republic bested Russia in a shootout.

Read the full statement here.

The IIHF has also released a preliminary schedule, which you can find here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sixers set to hire Brown or settle for Curry

PHILADELPHIA - Sam Hinkie's dog and pony show is about to end it's ridiculously long run.

The Sixers, of course, are the only team in the NBA without a head coach right now but, according to Marc Stein of ESPN, that's about to change and Hinkie will fill the position by hiring San Antonio assistant Brett Brown or elevating Doug Collins' lead assistant, Michael Curry.

The first choice is obviously the 52-year-old Brown, who first joined the Spurs in July of 2002 as an assistant coach/director of player development, with Curry serving as the fallback.

Hinkie denied a New York Daily News report on draft night that claimed Brown would be the guy and it's unclear which side got cold feet.

Brown was promoted to one of Gregg Popovich's bench assistants prior to the start of the 2006-07 season and has been a part of three NBA championship teams in San Antonio..

Prior to his time in South Texas, Brown spent 14 seasons - nine as a head coach - in the Australia National Basketball League.

Curry, of course, spent the past three seasons as Collins’ associate head coach, piloted the Sixers' recent Summer League team in Orlando and is under contract for another season. He was also the head coach in Detroit back in 2008-09, compiling a 39-43 record and a playoff berth.

The Sixers also reportedly interviewed Boston Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga earlier this week and were granted  permission to interview Chicago Bulls assistant coaches Ed Pinckney and Adrian Griffin as well as and Atlanta Hawks assistants Quin Snyder and Kenny Atkinson.

A number of other assistants around the league like Miami's David Fizdale, Denver's Melvin Hunt and Houston's Chris Finch and Kelvin Sampson have also been tied to the job opening at times.

NFL training camp primer

Preparation for the 2013 NFL season begins in earnest later this week when both the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins report to training camp on July 20.

A week later, every NFL team will have started cobbling together their on-
field foundations for "Kickoff 2013."

The tradition of off-site/on-campus bonding that was a hallmark of training
camp over the years is now all but dead with 19 of the NFL's 32 clubs (59
percent), choosing to "stay home." Rewind back to 2000 and only five of 31
teams felt that route was the prudent choice.

One of clubs making the switch this time around is the Philadelphia Eagles,
who will not conduct training camp at Lehigh University for the first time in
17 seasons. Instead, new head coach Chip Kelly decided to practice at the
team's training facility, the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia, as well
as Lincoln Financial Field, which is a hop, skip and a jump away.

"I just think we have everything here so the fact that we would pack
everything up and move, that didn't make sense to me," Kelly said when
discussing the change. "All our video stuff is here. Our training facility in
terms of how we want to lift is here. Why would you move everything to go
somewhere else?"

The New York Giants have bought into that thinking as well and are also
looking forward to some home cooking as they return to the Timex Performance
Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants last held training camp there in
2011, a season which resulted in the franchise's eighth NFL championship. Last
year, "Big Blue" trained at the University at Albany, which has hosted the
team for 16 of the past 17 years.

While the statistics say staying close put is the league-wide trend, there are
still plenty of examples of the old school philosophy hanging around.

The Pittsburgh Steelers still believe in the camaraderie and lack of
distraction a college campus can provide, opting to remain at Saint Vincent
College in Latrobe, Pa. for the 48th straight year.

"I love this process, I love going to camp, I love team-building, readying
ourselves to pursue our goals," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "I am
extremely excited."

The NFL training camp longevity king, however, should come as no surprise.
It's the Green Bay Packers, who will return for their 56th consecutive summer
at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.

Like the Steelers, the Packers' NFC North division rival, the Minnesota
Vikings, have called Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn. formerly
Mankato State) home for 48 years.

Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins have reversed course and will conduct their
training camp away from Redskins Park for the first time since 2003, choosing
instead to amass at the Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, Va.

"I think us going to Richmond will be great for the team," said Redskins star
quarterback Robert Griffin III. "I think it is good for team bonding because
we'll be out in a new city. It kind of forces guys to have to hang out with
each other. It will truly feel like a training camp. It will be the first
experience for me because I've always been around wherever we work out,
especially in college, so it'll be fun."

It certainly should.

Here is The Sports Network's 2013 NFL training camp capsules:


REPORT DATES: July 23 (rookies), July 25 (veterans)

SITE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Arizona's first training camp under new head coach Bruce
Arians figures to finally bring some clarity back to the quarterback position
in the desert. The ping-ponging between signal-callers Kevin Kolb, John
Skelton and Ryan Lindley was a major reason why Ken Whisenhunt lost his job.
Veteran Carson Palmer was acquired from Oakland in the offseason and while the
former Southern Cal star may be on the downside on his career, he figures to
be quite the upgrade over the terrible triumvirate of a year ago and the best
QB in Arizona since Kurt Warner. Rashard Mendenhall arrives from Pittsburgh
hoping to resuscitate what has been a moribund running game and the Cards hope
2012 first-round pick Michael Floyd can speed up his development and provide a
solid complement to Larry Fitzgerald outside the numbers. Rebuilding one of
the NFL's worst offensive lines is also of paramount importance with seventh
overall pick Jonathan Cooper figuring to step right in at left guard and
fellow rookie Earl Watford also looking to make some noise. Defensively, a
talented group will have to prepare for the impending suspension of stud
inside linebacker Daryl Washington.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Flowery Branch, GA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL:  One of the NFL's most dynamic offenses is not only back in
tact in Dixie, it has actually been upgraded. Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan
and the best receiving duo in the game, Roddy White and Julio Jones, were
always a given but by convincing future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez
to put off retirement for another year, and replacing the descending Michael
Turner with ex-Rams running back Steven Jackson, Atlanta now looks
poised for another big season in 2013. Offensive tackle could be an issue,
however, because Sam Baker has a history of back problems on the left side and
veteran Tyson Clabo, a solid, if unspectacular player, was released.
Meanwhile, Lamar Holmes, a third-round pick in 2012, is no sure thing.
Defensively, things are much murkier. The aging but always productive John
Abraham is gone, replaced by former New York Giants defensive end Osi
Umenyiora, a talented but far less consistent player. In the draft, the
Falcons tried to rebuild the cornerback position after releasing Dunta
Robinson and losing Brent Grimes in free agency to Miami. Atlanta nabbed
Desmond Trufant in the first round and supplemented that by selecting Robert
Alford in the second.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 24th (veterans)

SITE: Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, MD

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL:  Much has been made about what the Baltimore Ravens have
lost since winning Super Bowl XLVII. Superstar linebacker Ray Lewis and
veteran Pro Bowl center Matt Birk retired after the title game, while wide
receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to San Francisco. Safety Bernard Pollard was
cut and signed with Tennessee, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe went to Miami as a
free agent, linebacker Paul Kruger signed with Cleveland, cornerback Cary
Williams went up I-95 to Philadelphia and veteran safety Ed Reed took his act
to Houston. General manager Ozzie Newsome has done a decent job of
replenishing things especially of defense, however, bringing in ex-Broncos
pass rusher Elvis Dumervil as well as veterans Marcus Spears and Chris Canty.
He also got younger at safety by brining in former Oakland No. 1 pick Michael
Huff and drafting Florida's Matt Elam in the first round. Kansas State rookie
Arthur Brown will have the unenviable task of trying to replace Lewis and or
Ellerbe in the middle.


REPORT DATES: July 22 (rookies), July 27 (veterans)

SITE: St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, NY

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: With Ryan Fitzpatrick now in Tennessee, new Bills coach
Doug Marrone's first order of business is finding a long term answer at
quarterback because newcomer Kevin Kolb isn't the answer. In the end, all the
Ryan Nassib talk prior to the draft was just that but Marrone had a signal-
caller in mind -- Florida State's E.J. Manuel, a very raw prospect, who will
be asked to hit the ground running after being selected No. 16 overall.
Buffalo was able to prop up the weapons around the QB position by drafting
receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin in an effort to find a complement
to Stevie Johnson. Woods, a USC product, was probably the best route-runner
available and a player who has been in a pro-style offense for years. On the
other side of the ball, Mario Williams needs to step it up and become a
dominant player again while rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, a pretty
instinctive guy, will be asked to step in immediately.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Carolina is probably a little better off than most think
after an uneven 2012 season. Obviously getting more consistency from ultra-
talented quarterback Cam Newton would go a long way in curing many of the
Panthers' woes so maximizing his efficiency has to be paramount. One way
Carolina could have helped Newton was clearing up the question marks on the
offensive line but that really wasn't addressed. Newton could also use more
weapons outside. Veteran Steve Smith is still plenty productive but on the
downside and Brandon LaFell is entering a contract year. Domenik Hixon and Ted
Ginn aren't the answers, however. New Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman
instead decided to create a defensive identity inside in the draft by
selecting back-to-back defensive tackles in the first and second rounds. Star
Lotulelei is a run-stuffer in the mold of Haloti Ngata, while Kawann Short is
an athletic wonder, whose motor gets questioned on occasion.



SITE: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, IL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Forget out of the box, the Chicago Bears went north of the
border in an effort to get the most out of their enigmatic but extremely
talented quarterback Jay Cutler. Bears G.M. Phil Emery is just the latest NFL
general manager to subscribe to the theory that most of the innovation in
football, especially offensive football, is taking place outside the league in
places like college, the Arena Football League and Canada, where Marc
Trestman, who replaces Lovie Smith as head coach of the Bears, was a two-time
Grey Cup winner as the pilot of the Montreal Alouettes. It will be Trestman's
job to get the most out of Cutler, who some have already labeled a coach-
killer, pointing to his troubles in Denver with Josh McDaniels and Smith's
departure from the Second City as evidence. Curing Chicago's offensive line
woes will go a long way in helping Cutler and the team brought in high-priced
free agent Jermon Bushrod to secure the all-important left tackle position, as
well as Matt Slauson and first-round pick Kyle Long to bolster the guard
spots. Defensively, all eyes will be on veteran D.J. Williams and rookie Jon
Bostic, who will compete for the right to be compared with future Hall of
Famer Brian Urlacher, who retired in the offseason after contract talks with
the Bears went nowhere.



SITE: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Bengals return to HBO's acclaimed Hard Knocks this
summer so they will be under the microscope. Cincinnati remains a talented
bunch aiming to take the next step and garner some postseason success. Finding
a consistent complement to Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green as well as a more
explosive outside running threat could help quarterback Andy Dalton, who has
some limitations due to his pedestrian arm strength. Mike Brown got the best
tight end in the draft in Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert as well as a back who may
give the running game that needed juice in Giovani Bernard. The defense
welcomes former Defensive Player of the Year and ex-Steeler James Harrison,
who figures to man the strong side linebacker spot, along with Reggie Nelson,
who will be asked to solidify one of the safety spots.


REPORT DATES: July 19 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: Cleveland Browns Training Facility, Berea, OH

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The ongoing FBI investigation into the business owned by
Browns team owner Jimmy Haslam, figures to be an ongoing distraction. On
the field, the Browns have rebooted yet again with a new management crew of
team president Joe Banner, general manager Mike Lombardi and head coach Rob
Chudzinski. Rumors say the new regime wasn't all that enamored with second-
year quarterback Brandon Weeden, one of the team's first-round picks from a
year ago, but have begun to turn around on that process because the only other
options are journeyman Jason Campbell and the well-traveled Brian Hoyer. Norv
Turner was hired to take over Cleveland's offense and figures to build around
running back Trent Richardson. Defensively Ray Horton was brought in and will
move to a 3-4 look with ex-Baltimore linebacker Paul Kruger and No. 6 overall
pick Barkevious Mingo, brought in to be the edge rushers. Also, look for a
breakout year from talented nose tackle Phil Taylor.


REPORT DATE: July 20th

SITE: City of Oxnard Fields, Oxnard, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Quarterback Tony Romo missed the team's offseason training
activities as he recovered from back surgery to remove a cyst in April. The
procedure wasn't considered serious but anytime you undergo back surgery there
will be question marks, especially after Romo signed a monster six-year
contract extension in late March, a deal reported to be worth $108 million
with $55 million guaranteed. If everything goes to plan, the Cowboys figure to
be set at most of the skill positions with Romo throwing to Dez Bryant, Jason
Witten and Miles Austin. The offensive line and running game leave a lot to be
desired, however. Dallas made changes to four of its five offensive line
positions a year ago and most of them didn't work, meaning more changes are on
the horizon. Tyron Smith, a first-round pick in 2011, is the left tackle and
everything else is up for debate although first-round pick Travis Frederick is
expected to take over the pivot. Over on defense, the 'Boys fired coordinator
Rob Ryan and replaced him with the 72-year-old Monte Kiffin, who worships at
the altar of the antiquated Tampa-2 defensive philosophy. That means the
Cowboys will switch to a 4-3 "under" scheme that requires a Brian Urlacher-
type middle linebacker and smart, zone- savvy defensive backs. There is plenty
of talent on that side of the ball but whether they will fit in with Kiffin's
philosophy is something that needs to be watched.



SITE: Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre, Englewood, CO

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Broncos figure to coast to another division crown in
the weak AFC West as long as Peyton Manning is healthy and on the field.
Postseason success is another matter and will depend on whether Denver finds a
consistent running threat and improves the defense on the back end. Willis
McGahee's release could turn the backfield into a committee-type setup with
Ronnie Hillman, rookie Montee Ball and veteran Knowshon Moreno all in the
picture. Talented but underachieving cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
was brought in to help the secondary along with veteran Quentin Jammer, who is
expected to move to safety. Manning's tremendous receiving corps of Demaryius
Thomas and Eric Decker was only bolstered by the addition of slot star Wes
Welker from New England.


REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Detroit Lions Training Facility, Allen Park, MI

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: This is a make or break year for Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
A dismal 4-12 season had Detroit in all too familiar territory this spring,
mulling a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft. The Lions thought they put that kind
of thing behind them after a 2011 playoff appearance but things went off the
rails pretty quickly last year and it's imperative Schwartz turns things
around quickly. Cleaning up the mental mistakes and all the pre-snap penalties
would go a long way in curing the woes of Detroit's talented offense, led by
quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, and All-World
receiver Calvin Johnson, the second selection in the '07 draft. Add in
defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second pick in the 2010 draft, and this
year's No. 5 selection, DE Ezekiel Ansah, from the other side of the ball and
you see Detroit has far too much experience picking in the top 10 along with
way too much talent to be doing so again.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson doesn't believe in
free agency and builds through the draft. That philosophy generally works for
Thompson but this version of the Packers is showing more than a few holes,
ones that are often masked by the best player in football, quarterback Aaron
Rodgers. A pedestrian offensive line has been revamped with Bryan Bulaga
shifting out to the all-important left tackle position and Evan Dietrich-Smith
taking over full-time at center while Green Bay, which seemingly hasn't had a
legitimate running back since John Brockington called Lambeau Field home,
finally addressed the position by bringing in both Eddie Lacy and Johnathan
Franklin. On defense, first-round pick Datone Jones will be asked to help
fortify a shaky front seven while All-Pro rush linebacker Clay Matthews needs
to stay healthy in order to bolster a mediocre group around him.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Methodist Training Center, Houston, TX

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL:  The window hasn't shut in Houston but the Texans certainly
have to tweak things if they hope to match last season's 12-4 record. The
Houston defense should be fine since it possesses the best defender in all of
football, J.J. Watt, and will be getting back its captain, stud linebacker
Brian Cushing, who missed the last 11 games in 2012 with a knee injury. That
said, Houston struggled down the stretch last season and showed a disturbing
inability to handle quick rhythm, spread offenses, meaning more speed and
athleticism is needed in the back seven. Veteran Ed Reed certainly provides
leadership and playmaking ability, but not that. Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger
could, though. Offensively the team hopes it finally has a complement to Andre
Johnson at wide receiver in rookie DeAndre Hopkins.


REPORT DATES: July 23rd (rookies), July 27th (veterans)

SITE: Anderson University, Anderson, IN

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The Colts hope to build on a promising first season with
Andrew Luck at the controls. To move forward even further Indianapolis needs
to protect Luck more consistently and develop a threat in the running game.
Indy did pry right tackle Gosder Cherilus away from Detroit in free agency and
drafted High Thornton, an overachieving, grinder who figures to help at guard.
Meanwhile, the Colts signed ex-Giant Ahmad Bradshaw to carry the load in the
backfield. Improving the pass rush is mission No. 1 on defense and rookie
Bjoern Werner, who was once thought of as a top-10 guy until questions about
his closing speed sent him tumbling, is the kind of high-energy product who
could replace Dwight Freeney and help the aging Robert Mathis on the edge.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields, Jacksonville, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: A new brain trust has taken over in Jacksonville led by
general manager David Caldwell and new head coach Gus Bradley. A lot of the
talk around the Jags has centered on disappointing quarterback Blaine Gabbert
and whether Caldwell is ready to cut bait on the former Mizzou star just three
years into his NFL career. The other options, though, are veteran journeyman
Chad Henne and the nondescript Mike Kafka, who was cut in New England to make
room for Tim Tebow. The 6-4, 233-pound Gabbert remains the only option with a
plus-ceiling as a player and is straight out of central casting when it comes
to quarterbacks, but is running out of chances.


REPORT DATE: July 22 (rookies), July 25 (veterans)

SITE: Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Does Andy Reid still have it? His dying days in
Philadelphia were ugly but Reid still has the reputation of a franchise-
builder and takes over a team in Kansas City far more talented than its 2-14
2012 record would indicate. Reid has handed the keys to the Chiefs' offense
over to former 49ers signal caller Alex Smith and chose the ceiling over the
floor by taking offensive tackle Eric Fisher and not the  presumptive favorite
to go No. 1 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel. Fisher's
advantage in athleticism was enough to convince Reid and his hand-picked
general manager, John Dorsey, that the former CMU star was the best option.
Fisher will start his career at right tackle while Branden Albert handles the
left side for at least one more season. On defense, Kansas City really
upgraded the secondary by bringing in veteran cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta


REPORT DATE: July 20th

SITE: Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University,
Davie, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The perception in South Florida is that the Dolphins have
gone all-in in an attempt to make things tough on the New England Patriots in
the AFC East. The Dolphins certainly made the biggest splash early on in free
agency, signing two of the best players available in speedy wide receiver Mike
Wallace and Super Bowl winning linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. They continued the
spending spree from there, bringing in wide receiver Brandon Gibson and tight
end Dustin Keller of the offensive side of the ball, along with linebacker
Phillip Wheeler and cornerback Brent Grimes to help the defense. Here's the
bad news, though. Miami had to release linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos
Dansby and lost a solid tight end in Anthony Fasano. The Fish also have to
replace their starting left tackle, Jake Long, as well as their best cover
corner, Sean Smith, and a very versatile running back in Reggie Bush. All that
said, if second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill improves like most expect, the
Dolphins should take a significant step forward.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: It's all about Christian Ponder in Minnesota this season.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has built a championship level club
around his third-year signal caller, a player who really hasn't been able to
hold his own water to this point. Ponder's accuracy as a pro has been very
spotty and his decision-making egregious at times. He also seems to lose
confidence very quickly when things go wrong. Ponder recognizes what he
needs to improve and has diagnosed most of his problems well but often
regresses to what's natural to him, and his default settings are just not
conducive to solid quarterback play at the NFL level. Beyond Ponder the
Vikings are loaded with the best running back in the sport (Adrian Peterson),
a terrific offensive line, an emerging tight end in Kyle Rudolph as
well as a much-improved receiving corps thanks to the additions of veteran
Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson. On defense, Minnesota has a
deep line, solidified its linebacking group with the addition of Desmond
Bishop and alleviated the loss of Antoine Winfield by drafting Xavier Rhodes.


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The engine of the high-powered Patriots offense, the
magnificent tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, is no
more while veteran slot receiver Wes Welker is gone. Gronkowski is hurt and
has undergone multiple surgeries on his forearm and back while Hernandez is in
jail, disgraced and awaiting a murder trial. Welker, meanwhile, chose Denver
as his new home. Both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are great at what they do
but can any team replace the production the Pats have lost? Gronk is expected
back at some point but a wide receiver group which will feature the oft-
injured Danny Amendola and nondescript veterans like Michael Jenkins and
Donald Jones leaves a lot to be desired. As for replacing Hernandez, Daniel
Fells probably has the clubhouse lead entering camp.


REPORT DATES: July 18th (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: Saints Training Facility, Metairie, LA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: With Bountygate safely in the rear-view mirror and Sean
Payton back, expect the New Orleans offense to be back to its high-powered
self with a few tweaks. The Saints really needed to improve the edges
entrusted to protect Drew Brees, however. Right tackle Zach Strief wasn't all
that impressive in 2012 and needs to improve while Jermon Bushrod left in free
agency to Chicago, leaving left tackle to Charles Brown or perhaps talented
but raw rookie Terron Armstead. Payton has said that the team's left tackle
spot keeps him up at night. New Orleans also failed to add reliable depth at
receiver behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore. The Saints defense was a mess
in '12, finishing at the bottom of the league in a number of defensive
categories so Payton fired coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and hired Rob Ryan to
make the switch to 3-4 scheme, meaning the team must find fits for that
philosophy whether it means a true nose tackle, a five-technique end or edge
pass rushers. The transition wasn't made any easier when promising free agent
linebacker Victor Butler tore his ACL during organized team activities.


REPORT DATE: July 26th

SITE: Timex Performance Center, East Rutherford, NJ

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: What a difference a year makes. The Giants finished the
2011 season 9-7, got hot at the right time and won the Super Bowl. In 2012
that same 9-7 mark wasn't even good enough to get them to the postseason dance
and a lot of people now look at New York as a descending club. The offense
certainly needs some tweaks and the signing of former Oakland tight end
Brandon Myers could really help Eli Manning. The offensive line, however,
remains pedestrian even after reaching for Syracuse guard/tackle Justin Pugh
with the 19th overall pick in the draft. On defense, the line is a concern.
New York struggled mightily against the run and saw its once vaunted pass rush
evaporate into a non-entity a year ago. When the Giants were winning Super
Bowls, it was usually because of Manning along with the pass rush. Osi
Umenyiora is now in Atlanta, Justin Tuck has seen his better days and Jason
Pierre-Paul was closer to ordinary than J.J. Watt a season ago.


REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Those back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game in
Mark Sanchez's first two NFL seasons are now just distant memories for the New
York Jets, a team which will enter the 2013 season as one of the least
talented in football. The embattled Sanchez will likely get one final chance
to prove he can be the answer at quarterback for the Jets but with former West
Virginia QB Geno Smith now on hand, his leash figures to be short. Other areas
to look at include cornerback where rookie Dee Milliner will be asked to fill
some very big shoes (Darrelle Revis),  right tackle, a position where Austin
Howard allowed 13 1/2 sacks last season, and outside linebacker where the
pedestrian Antwan Barnes and second-year man Quinton Coples are currently
penciled in.


REPORT DATE: July 25th

SITE: Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: It seems like the Oakland Raiders start a "new era" every
year or two and 2013 will be no exception as former Green Bay and Seattle
backup quarterback Matt Flynn should finally get his chance as a starting
signal-caller. Reggie McKenzie came over from Green Bay before last season and
is still trying to wash the Davis craziness out of the Raiders but hasn't done
a good job to this point. Oakland really needed help on the defensive line
after the departures of tackles Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant and Tommy
Kelly, as well as end Matt Shaughnessy. Underwhelming types like nose tackle
Pat Sims and under tackle Vance Walker were brought in as McKenzie focused on
reaching for Houston corner D.J. Hayden in the draft. The Raiders loved Hayden
so much they almost wasted the No. 3 overall pick to get him before wisely
trading down and getting him at 12. They could have dropped another 10 spots
at least. It's almost like Davis is still haunting the organization.


REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 25th (veterans)

SITE: NovaCare Complex, Philadelphia, PA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The regime change in South Philly made the spring OTAs and
minicamp a little more meaningful this time around as reporters assembled to
catch a glimpse of Chip Kelly in hopes of seeing what college football's mad
scientist was going to unleash on the NFL. After attending a number of those
scaled-down offseason sessions, about the only thing known about Kelly is that
he has an eclectic playlist on his iPod and likes things up-tempo at all
times. Kelly would obviously like to have Robert Griffin III or Colin
Kaepernick piloting his offense. Or perhaps Cam Newton or Russell Wilson, but
none of those tailor-made fits is an option for Philadelphia. Chip's choices
are Michael Vick, the 33-year-old turnover machine who still has the
athleticism to whet Kelly's appetite but not the decision-making skills, along
with two pure pocket passers, second-year man Nick Foles and rookie Matt
Barkley, a pair of players who could develop into sharp decision makers who
get rid of the football with alacrity but offer no threat in the read-option
Kelly is enamored with. For now, Vick remains the slight favorite to enter the
season as the team's starter but Foles or even Barkley could easily wrest away
Vick's tenuous hold on the job.


REPORT DATE: July 26th

SITE: Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: There is plenty of work to be done in Pittsburgh as age has
slowly crept up on the Steelers. In fact, this could be the most important
training camp for the Steelers in years as they have to move forward at
multiple positions. Pittsburgh has moved on from former Defensive Player of
the Year James Harrison, veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton and really can't
count on oft-injured safety Troy Polamalu. Meanwhile, two of the team's
younger playmakers, wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis
jetted in free agency to Miami and New Orleans, respectively. Former Georgia
star Jarvis Jones said he would never get past the Steelers in the draft and
sure enough he didn't. It's almost like the whole league conspires to give
Pittsburgh impact 3-4 players. Poor 40 times sent Jones crashing out of the
top 10, but the Steelers may have gotten a Terrell Suggs-like steal in the
first round. Pittsburgh also may have found their successor to the declining
Polamalu in fourth-round choice Shamarko Thomas, an undersized, high-energy
thumper on the back end. Offensively, second-rounder Le'Veon Bell is supposed
to install some of that Jerome Bettis-like toughness back into the Steel
City's running game but he is a big back who doesn't run like one most of the
time and hasn't shown the nastiness as runner the Steelers expect from their



SITE: Chargers Park, San Diego, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: New Chargers coach Mike McCoy arrives in America's most
Beautiful City as the architect of the reclamation product called Philip
Rivers. Rivers is obviously talented but fell on hard times during the final
season of the Norv Turner era, quite possibly due to his porous offensive
line. Losing the team's best lineman, guard Louis Vasquez, to AFC West-rival
Denver didn't help and mission No. 1 in San Diego will be rebuilding things
up front. D.J. Fluker was the best O-Line prospect left on the board when San
Diego picked at No. 11 overall in the 2013 draft and general manger Tom
Telesco bit. Fluker will join veteran tackles Max Starks and King Dunlap as
well as guard Chad Rinehart as new options on the line. Defensively, the
spotlight figures to follow former Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o, a
great college player who fell in the draft because of his strange "catfishing"


REPORT DATES: July 21st (rookies), July 24th (veterans)

SITE: Rams Park Training Center, Earth City, MO

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL:  The Rams needed to add more playmakers for quarterback Sam
Bradford, but they also needed to sure up the offensive line in front of him
and were able to accomplish both goals, at least on paper. St. Louis made some
strides in protecting Bradford in 2012, allowing 20 fewer sacks in 2012 than
they did in '11 but there is still plenty of room for improvement,
particularly on the left side. The club made a significant commitment to ex-
Dolphins tackle Jake Long, signing the former No. 1 overall pick to a four-
year, $36 million dollar deal, in hopes of fixing that problem. Rookie Barrett
Jones also has a real chance to help inside early. The Rams also got Bradford
a new toy by inking former Tennessee tight end Jared Cook to a five-year
contract worth a million less than what Long got and then supplemented that
with perhaps the most explosive player in the 2013 draft, West Virginia slot
star Tavon Austin. Defensively, the Rams really needed help in the back seven
and were able to snare troubled but talented Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree
late in the first round of the draft as well as a potential starting safety in
T.J. McDonald.


REPORT DATES: July 19 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: Marie P. DeBartolo Sports Centre, Santa Clara, CA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The NFC champions will be aiming to get the most out of
what may be the most gifted roster in football from top to bottom. Finding a
replacement for the injured Michael Crabtree (torn Achilles), perhaps the
Niners' best receiver since Terrell Owens, is paramount. Anquan Boldin goes
from Super Bowl antagonist with Baltimore to Colin Kaepernick's top outside
threat right now but Boldin is more of a move the chains-type possession guy
at this stage. A.J. Jenkins, the team's first-round pick out of Illinois in
2012, has worked hard to add strength in the offseason and needs to step up.
On defense, all eyes will be on the secondary where 2013 first-round pick Eric
Reid will be asked to replace Pro-Bowler Dashon Goldson, who left for Tampa
Bay in free agency. Veteran corner Nnamdi Asomugha also hopes for a resurgence
as he returns to Cali in an effort to garner some depth outside the numbers.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, WA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: If there truly is an arms race going on between San
Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West, it's currently at the height of Cold
War levels because both the 49ers and Seahawks have amassed enough power to
obliterate just about everyone else. After trading for star slot receiver
Percy Harvin, signing a pair of pass rushers in Cliff Avril and Michael
Bennett, and inking perhaps the game's best nickel corner in Antoine Winfield,
the Seahawks appear to be entering camp with few weaknesses.


REPORT DATES: July 17 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Even before  Ronde Barber called it a career, cornerback
was an obvious need in Tampa. General manager Mark Domenik pulled the trigger
on the Darrelle Revis trade before the draft, giving up his first-round
selection to the New York Jets for the best corner in football when healthy.
The Bucs then supplemented that in the second round by getting a very lengthy
corner in Mississippi State's Jonthan Banks, a player who would have had a
first-round grade if he had a little more speed. On offense all eyes will be
on quarterback Josh Freeman, who will be given one final chance to prove he is
the answer moving forward. Head coach Greg Schiano hedged his bets on Freeman
by drafting a solid developmental signal caller in North Carolina State's Mike
Glennon, a strong-armed accurate passer in the mold of Joe Flacco.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Baptist Sports Park, Nashville, TN

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: Talk about turning a weakness into a strength. The
interior of the Titans' offensive line was a mess last season so Tennessee
signed Andy Levitre away from Buffalo and drafted Chance Warmack, perhaps the
best pure football player in the 2013 draft. The Titans also solved some other
glaring holes in free agency by inking strong safety Bernard Pollard from the
Super Bowl champion Ravens, and getting running back Chris Johnson and young
quarterback Jake Locker backups by convincing Shonn Greene and Ryan
Fitzpatrick to leave the AFC East behind. Whether that's enough to push for a
playoff spot will rest on the development of Locker, who has been a
disappointment thus far.


REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Bon Secours Training Center, Richmond, VA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: The health of Robert Griffin III is the main storyline
inside the Beltway these days with the current scuttlebutt saying that the
second-year star should be at 70 or 80 percent by the start of training camp
and 90 percent by the beginning of the regular season. Defensively, Washington
is thrilled to have sackmaster Brian Orakpo back from injury and hopes rookies
Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo can make things interesting at safety.