Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, San Diego Chargers, NFL
Path: /nfl/san-diego-chargers-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the San Diego Chargers official Twitter account:

@chargers (Followers: 146,200)

Top Chargers To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, August 10, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Shaun Phillips LB @ShaunPhillips95 434,112
2. Takeo Spikes LB @TakeoSpikes51 390,435
3. Richard Goodman WR @2_Good2BTrue 87,333
4. Eddie Royal WR @EddieRoyalWR 63,657
5. Antonio Gates TE @AntonioGates85 46,281
6. Ryan Mathews RB @mathews24 35,522
7. Le:Ron McClain FB @LeRon_McClain33 34,849
8. Curtis Brinkley RB @boonah920 29,563
9. Jacob Hester FB @JacobHester22 24,588
10. Atari Bigby S @20ataribigby 22,978
11. Melvin Ingram LB @MelvinIngram 21,581
12. Marcus McNeill OT @MarcusMcNeill73 17,505
13. Luis Castillo DT @LuisCastillo93 14,423
14. Roscoe Parrish WR @scoe11 12,744
15. Larry Englsih LB @LarryEnglish52 8,665
16. Nick Hardwick C @hardwina 8,551
17. Jordan Todman RB @JordanTodman 5,739
18. Edwin Baker RB @E_Baker4 5,046
19. Marcus Gilchrist CB @mgilchr 4,989
20. David Molk C @dmolk 4,490
21. Randy McMichael TE @randymac81 4,457
22. Cam Thomas DT @Baby_Zilla76 4,447
23. Corey Liuget DE @CoreyLiuget 3,519
24. Kendall Reyes DL @Kendall_Reyes 3,430
25. Antwan Barnes LB @vikes42 3,360

The Chargers Beat:

Kevin Acee, covers Chargers and columnist for San Diego Union-Tribune: @UTKevinAcee (20,180)

Michael Gehlken, Chargers beat writer for San Diego Union-Tribune: @UTgehlken (4,558)

Scott Bair, covers Chargers for North County Times: @NCTchargers (2,073)

Chargers Blog Roll:

Bolts From The Blue is SB Nation's Chargers blog.

Bolt Hype presents itself as "The San Diego Chargers Blog."

Bolt Beat and Chargers Gab are some others out there.

The ESPN AFC West blog is run by Bill Williamson and you can follow him @espn_afcwest.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Oakland Raiders
No. 22: Washington Redskins
No. 21: Seattle Seahawks
No. 20: Carolina Panthers
No. 19: New York Jets
No. 18: Buffalo Bills
No. 17: Tennessee Titans
No. 16: San Diego Chargers
No. 15: Monday, August 13

Order your 2012 San Diego Chargers Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 San Diego Chargers Season Preview
Related: 2012 San Diego Chargers Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on August 10, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> San Diego Chargers Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Friday, August 10, 2012 - 04:20
All taxonomy terms: crossword, Monthly
Path: /monthly/august-2012-crossword-solution
Body:

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 17:57
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/top-10-london-olympic-momentsso-far
Body:

1.  Phelps Becomes Most Decorated Olympic Athlete in History

Even with all the question marks surrounding Michael Phelps and his purported laziness in training heading into the London Olympics, it was still a foregone conclusion that the swimming great would pass gymnast Larissa Latynina to become the most decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps' 19th medal would come during the 4x200m freestyle relay, which Phelps uncharacteristically anchored.  Ending his Olympic career with 22 medals (18 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze), Phelps will likely go down as the greatest swimmer ever. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Usain Bolt sets Olympic Record in Men’s 100m Final

Questions surfaced about the speed of the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist after his disqualification at the 2011 World Championships and more recently, his loss to countryman Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. However, Bolt once again proved that he is the world’s fastest man, running an Olympic Record 9.63s in the finals that left the rest of field in the dust. He joins the venerable Carl Lewis as only the second person in history to successfully defend their gold medal in the 100m dash. (UPDATE: Bolt has become the first man to win the Olympic 100-200m double twice.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  GYMNASTIC MOMENTS

McKayla Maroney’s Near-Perfect Vault 

McKayla Maroney’s performance on the vault during the team gymnastics competition was pivotal in lifting the United States to its first Olympic gold medal in the event since the 1996 Atlanta Games. The 2011 World Champion in the vault made her two-and-a-half twisting laid-out Yurchenko vault, colloquially known as an Amanor, look easy. She scored a 16.233 that experts agree should have been even higher as the judges inexplicably deducted 0.267 points from Maroney. Of all the highlights from Team USA’s gold medal performance, none will be remembered more than this amazing vault. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabby Douglas Becomes the First

Equally as memorable is the amazing achievement of Gabby Douglas, the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. Her winning smile and athletic achievement has made her a household name.

 

4.  Murray Defeats Federer in Men’s Singles Final

Playing on home turf, Murray avenged his loss to Federer in the Wimbledon Championship to bring home a gold medal for Great Britain. Murray won emphatically, defeating No. 1 Federer in straight sets. His victory marked the first time Great Britain has taken gold in tennis since the sports’ reintroduction to the Olympics in 1988. No sport means more to the host nation Great Britain than tennis, whose roots lie in Birmingham, England, making Murray’s victory especially sweet.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Missy Franklin Sweeps Backstroke Events in Olympic Debut

No athlete making their Olympic debut has ever been subjected to as much pressure as 17-year-old Missy Franklin was coming into the London Games. She lived up to the hype, however, earning four gold medals and one bronze, and setting two world record times. Franklin emerges out of these games as one of the most prominent female athletes in the world and figures to an even greater threat four years from now in Rio. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.  South African Double-Amputee Reaches 400m Semi-Finals

Oscar Pistorius didn’t even have to make an Olympic final to make history.  Named one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Pistorius made history as the first double-amputee runner to compete at the Olympic games.  Overcoming his disability to run with some of the world’s fastest men, the South African native reached the semi-final of the men’s 400m. His participation should mark a watershed moment in parathlete history, since it proved to the world that a disabled athlete can and should be taken seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  China’s 16-Year-Old Phenom Ye Shiwen Shocks the World

You may not have heard of Ye Shiwen before the London Olympics, but the entire world is familiar with the swimmer following her extraordinary performance in the 400m IM. Her world-record time of 4:28.43 was nearly 3 seconds faster than the silver medalist and even more shocking, the last 50m of her race was faster than Ryan Lochte’s split in the same event. The performance was so extraordinary that it immediately drew suspicion from pundits who claimed that such dramatic improvement in personal best times could only be the result of doping. However, the much more likely scenario is that the athlete’s still-growing body accounted for the dramatic reduction in her personal best time since competing in the 2010 Asian Championships. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Kayla Harrison Wins Gold Medal in Judo

Kayla Harrison’s career-defining performance in the Women’s 78kg Judo Final completed the athlete’s story of individual perseverance as well as lifted the hopes of USA Judo as Harrison’s 2-0 victory over Britain’s Gemma Gibbons finally gave the United States the gold medal that had eluded them for so long. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.  Women’s Soccer Semifinal (USA vs. Canada)

We couldn’t pick just one moment from this epic match between these North American powerhouses in what was arguably the best team match of these Olympics so far. Christine Sinclair’s determined performance kept the underdog Canadian team in the game scoring all three goals for her squad. The United States’ Megan Rapinoe went toe-to-toe with Sinclair, scoring two goals of her own in the match and setting up the indirect penalty kick in the 79th minute that ultimately sent the game into extra time. 

The most iconic moment would come in the third and final minute of injury time that had been added on to extra time, as U.S. striker Alex Morgan converted a 6-yard header on a long cross from Heather O’Reilly to give the U.S. a 4-3 win and a trip to the finals against Japan. With this victory, the U.S. will meet Japan in a highly-anticipated rematch of the 2011 World Cup Final. (UPDATE: The U.S. beat Japan in the Olympic women's soccer final Thursday 2-1, avenging their 2011 World Cup loss and bringing home the gold for the third straight time.)    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  Kimberly Rhode Becomes First Athlete to Win Medals for an Individual Event in Five Consecutive Olympics

This is the top moment from the London Games that you’ve probably never heard of. Kimberly Rhode equaled a world record, shooting 99 out of 100 clays en route to a gold medal in skeet shooting. Her victory marks the first time that any athlete has ever won individual medals in five separate Olympics. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-by Eric Chalifour

Teaser:
<p> The most amazing moments of the 2012 Summer Games</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 12:18
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, New York Jets, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-york-jets-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the New York Jets official Twitter account:

@NYJets (Followers: 425,845)

Top Jets To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, August 7, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Tim Tebow QB @TimTebow 1,781,345
2. Mark Sanchez QB @Mark_Sanchez 739,857
3. Darrelle Revis CB @Revis24 297,575
4. Santonio Holmes WR @santonio10 159,864
5. Nick Mangold C @nickmangold 116,793
6. Dustin Keller TE @DUSTINKELLER81 78,018
7. Greg McElroy QB @GVMcElroy 72,600
8. LaRon Landry S @MrLandry30 44,173
9. Bart Scott LB @Madbacker57 43,460
10. D'Brickashaw Ferguson OT @Dbrickashaw 37,393
11. Kyle Wilson CB @KWilson20 29,870
12. Aaron Maybin LB @AaronMaybin51 29,178
13. Calvin Pace LB @jetsPACE97 28,438
14. John Conner FB @JCONNER38 25,060
15. Mike DeVito DE @MikeDeVito70 23,357
16. Sione Pouha DT @Pouha91 18,304
17. Muhhamad Wilkerson DL @mowilkerson 15,812
18. Marcus Dixon DT @MarcusDixon94 15,513
19. Joe McKnight RB @OfficialJoeJet 12,499
20. Eric Smith S @Esmitty33 10,533
21. Ricky Sapp LB @Sapp55 10,178
22. Jeremy Kerley WR @Jkerley_11 8,634
23. Nick Folk K @nickfolk2 8,543
24. Kenrick Ellis DT @KenrickEllis 8,509
25. Stephen Hill WR @_StephenHill_ 7,578

It's a good thing that the Jets' starting quarterback decision isn't decided by Twitter followers, otherwise Mark Sanchez wouldn't have a chance. Even though Sanchez has more than 700,000 followers, his backup, Tim Tebow, has more than twice as many at nearly 1.8 million.

Even third-stringer Greg McElroy gets into the act as his more than 72,000 followers places him seventh on this list. For what it's worth, McElory has considerably more followers than Hall of Fame quarterback and Mr. Jet himself, Joe Namath (@RealJoeNamath).

Quarterbacks aside, what's a little surprising is the absence of two prominent Jets on this list. Neither head coach Rex Ryan nor cornerback and self-proclaimed No. 2 wide receiver Antonio Cromartie made the cut. Cromartie deactivated his Twitter account in May (but hasn't let that decision prevent him from speaking his mind), while Ryan has yet to embrace the world of Twitter. Then again, it's not like his lack of Twittering has any affect whatsoever on his media exposure, right?

Last, but certainly not least, a special mention to Jets legend and one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Curtis Martin (@CurtisMartin28).

The Jets Beat:

Manish Mehta, Jets beat writer for the New York Daily News: @MMehtaNYDN (31,021)

Rich Cimini, covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com: @RichCimini (29,385)

Jenny Vrentas, Jets beat writer for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.: @JennyVrentas (13,915)

Jane McManus, covers Jets for ESPNNewYork.com and ESPNW: @janesports (12,143)

Ben Shpigel, Jets beat writer for The New York Times: @benshpigel (7,699)

Ian Begley, covers Jets as a writer for ESPNewYork.com: @IanBegley (6,008)

Brian Costello, Jets beat writer for the New York Post: @BrianCoz (5,457)

Kristian Dyer, covers the Jets for Metro - New York: @KristianRDyer (3,238)

Kimberley A. Martin, Jets beat writer for Newsday: @KMart_LI (2,731)

Dennis Waszak Jr., AP sports writer who's covered the Jets since 2006: @DWAZ73 (2,346)

Jets Blog Roll:

Jets Blog is the New York Post's home for all things J-E-T-S related.

The Jets Stream is the New York Daily News' Jets blog.

Gang Green Nation is SB Nation's Jets blog.

The Jets Blog is part of the SNY (SportsNet New York) Blog Network and was founded by @Brian_Bassett with additional coverage provided by Jake Steinberg (@Steiny31), among others.

New York Jets Confidential and Dan Leberfled (@jetswhispers) have been covering the team for 16 years.

Jets Insider is "The Most Heavily Trafficked NY Jets Fansite on the Planet," in case you were interested.

Turn On The Jets is home to "Ground and Pound Writing."

You can make your own conclusions after checking it out, but if anything JetsTwit has an intriguing sales pitch, if you will - "THE New York Jets Blog covering the players from the social media perspective." It was founded by Erik Manassy (@e_man) and also appears to be tailor-made for Twitter (@JetsTwit).

JetNation, The Jet Press, and Jets Gab are just a few of the other ones out there.

The ESPN AFC East blog is run by James Walker and you can follow him @espn_afceast.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Oakland Raiders
No. 22: Washington Redskins
No. 21: Seattle Seahawks
No. 20: Carolina Panthers
No. 19: New York Jets
No. 18: Wednesday, Aug. 8

Order your 2012 New York Jets Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 New York Jets Season Preview
Related: 2012 New York Jets Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on August 7, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> New York Jets Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 04:59
All taxonomy terms: Carolina Panthers, NFC, NFC South, NFL
Path: /nfl/carolina-panthers-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the Carolina Panthers official Twitter account:

@Panthers (Followers: 99,115)

Top Panthers To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, August 6, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Jonathan Stewart RB @Jonathanstewart1 64,348
2. Greg Olsen TE @gregolsen82 63,747
3. Cam Newton QB @CameronNewton 54,377
4. Jon Beason LB @jonbeason 52,588
5. Jimmy Clausen QB @JimmyClausen 39,970
6. Louis Murphy WR @murph918 27,375
7. Darius Butler CB @DariusButler27 26,241
8. Ryan Kalil OL @RyanKalil 19,651
9. Joe Adams WR @JoeAdams_3 18,040
10. Brandon LaFell WR @Blafell1 13,942
11. Lee Ziemba OT @Ziemba73 13,297
12. Thomas Davis LB @TD58SDTM 11,911
13. Armanti Edwards WR @ArmantiEdwards 11,799
14. Captain Munnerlyn CB @captain_41 10,388
15. Reggie Smith S @superreg30 10,039
16. Eric Norwood DE @ENorwood40 9,962
17. Frank Alexander DE @frankalex90 8,881
18. Tauren Poole RB @WhoisTPoole 8,844
19. Ryan Van Bergen DE @VanBergen53 8,358
20. Jason Williams LB @Jwill_54 7,267
21. James Anderson LB @50janderson 5,566
22. Charles Johnson DE @randywattson 5,355
23. Sherrod Martin S @SherrodMartin23 4,525
24. Wll Blackwell OL @WillyB60 4,238
25. Kealoha Pilares WR @kealohapilares 4,017

Several of the Panthers' offensive playmakers — wide receiver Steve Smith and running backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert — didn't make this list because they either have yet to join the Twittersphere or their account has been inactive for quite a while.

That's not the case for first-round pick Luke Kuechly, however. The linebacker who Carolina took with the ninth overall pick is on Twitter (@Luke_Kuechly), or at least it appears he is. The only problem is he has yet to Tweet, even though he has more than 2,500 followers.

Perhaps Kuechly, not to mention Smith, Williams and Tolbert and the rest of the Panthers should ask for Twitter advice from Sir Purr. That's right, the Panthers' official mascot not only has a Twitter account (@PanthersSirPurr), but he has nearly 5,000 followers. That's defintiely something he can be purr-oud about.

The Panthers Beat:

Joe Person, Panthers beat writer for The Charlotte Observer: @josephperson (8,255)

Darrin Gantt, covers Panthers for Profootballtalk.com: @darringantt (7,558)

Steve Reed, covers the Panthers for the Associated Press: @SteveReed_AP (7,160)

Tom Sorensen, columnist for The Charlotte Observer: @tomsorensen (3,767)

Scott Fowler, columnist for The Charlotte Observer: @scott_fowler (3,728)

Ron Green Jr., helps cover the Panthers for The Charlotte Observer: @RonGreenJr (1,605)

Panthers Blog Roll:

Inside the Panthers is The Charlotte Observer's blog covering the team.

Cat Scratch Reader is SB Nation's Panthers blog.

Carolina Huddle, Cat Crave and Panthers Gab are some others out there.

The ESPN NFC South blog is run by Pat Yasinskas and you can follow him @espn_nfcsouth.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Oakland Raiders
No. 22: Washington Redskins
No. 21: Seattle Seahawks
No. 20: Carolina Panthers
No. 19: Tuesday, Aug. 7

Order your 2012 Carolina Panthers Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 Carolina Panthers Season Preview
Related: 2012 Carolina Panthers Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on August 6, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Carolina Panthers Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Monday, August 6, 2012 - 06:15
All taxonomy terms: NFC, NFC West, Seattle Seahawks, NFL
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the Seattle Seahawks official Twitter account:

@Seahawks (Followers: 92,797)

Top Seahawks To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, August 3, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Earl Thomas FS @Earl_Thomas 305,701
2. Michael Robinson FB @RealMikeRob 153,965
3. Braylon Edwards WR @OfficialBraylon 146,164
4. Sidney Rice WR @sidneyrice 92,413
5. Marshawn Lynch RB @MoneyLynch 44,819
6. Golden Tate WR @ShowtimeTate 33,847
7. Russell Wilson QB @DangeRussWilson 28,118
8. Bruce Irvin DE @BIrvin_WVU11 23,544
9. Kam Chancellor SS @Kam_Chancellor 18,452
10. Tarvaris Jackson QB @7tjackson 17,428
11. Leon Washington RB @Leon_Washington 15,778
12. Russell Okung OT @BDR76 14,979
13. Doug Baldwin WR @DougBaldwinJr 10,419
14. Richard Sherman CB @RSherman_25 8,793
15. James Carpenter OT @GotToGetIT75 7,658
16. Zach Miller TE @ZachMiller86 7,642
17. Kris Durham WR @KrisDurham16 7,578
18. David Hawthorne LB @D_Hawthorne57 7,374
19. K.J. Wright LB @KJ_WRIGHT34 7,270
20. Winston Guy SS @WinstonGuyJr21 6,793
21. Brandon Mebane DT @Mebane92 5,747
22. Jon Ryan P @JonRyan9 5,722
23. Ricardo Lockette WR @RicardoLockette 5,677
24. Bobby Wagner LB @Bwagz9_TS 5,165
25. Walter Thurmond CB @WaltThurm3 5,084

As impressive as Earl Thomas' 305,000+ Twitter followers may be, it's good for only first place among his teammates. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) blows away Thomas and the rest of his players as his following currently tops more than 618,000. Who says no one listens to what the head coach has to say or, in this case, Tweet?

And if following the head coach isn't enough for you, you can go straight to the top and follow Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) if you want.

The Seahawks Beat:

Danny O'Neil, Seahawks reporter for The Seattle Times: @dannyoneil (12,899)

Seahawks Update is "Your source for news about the Seattle Seahawks": @SeahawksUpdate (5,926)

Liz Mathews, Seahawks reporter on 710 ESPN in Seattle: @Liz_Mathews (4,759)

Eric Williams, covers Seahawks for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.: @eric_d_williams (3,480)

Curtis Crabtree, Seahawks reporter for Sports Radio KJR: @Curtis_Crabtree (2,679)

John Boyle, sports writer/columnist who covers Seahawks for the Everett Herald: @johnboyle (2,503)

Seahawks Blog Roll:

The Seattle Times' Seahawks blog is where you can find the work of the aforementioned Danny O'Neil.

Seahawks Insider is The News Tribune's 'Hawks blog.

Field Gulls is SB Nation's Seahakws blog, featuring the work of managing editor and lead writer Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls).

Hawk Blogger is the self-proclaimed "#1 Seahawks Blog" and has a decent-sized Twitter following (@hawkblogger) to support said claim.

The cleverly named Dave Krieg's Strike Beard has been "Providing Seahawks Propaganda and History Since 2008."

Seahawks Addicts, 12th Man Rising, and Seahawks Gab are some others out there.

The ESPN NFC West blog is run by Mike Sando and you can follow him @espn_nfcwest.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Oakland Raiders
No. 22: Washington Redskins
No. 21: Seattle Seahawks
No. 20: Mon., Aug. 6

Order your 2012 Seattle Seahawks Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 Seattle Seahawks Season Preview
Related: 2012 Seattle Seahawks Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on August 3, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Seattle Seahawks Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Friday, August 3, 2012 - 05:09
All taxonomy terms: NFC, NFC East, Washington Redskins, NFL
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the Washington Redskins official Twitter account:

@Redskins (Followers: 113,165)

Top Redskins To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, August 2, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Robert Griffin III QB @RGIII 277,348
2. Joshua Morgan WR @FeetzMorgan202 103,944
3. Pierre Garcon WR @PierreGarcon 89,476
4. DeAngelo Hall CB @Dhall23 88,869
5. Brian Orakpo LB @rak98 48,412
6. London Fletcher LB @LFletcher59 39,880
7. Ryan Kerrigan LB @RyanKerrigan91 37,840
8. Santana Moss WR @EIGHTTODANINE 28,774
9. Niles Paul WR @Niles_Paul84 23,088
10. Evan Royster RB @Evan_Royster 22,156
11. Kirk Cousins QB @KirkCousins8 21,340
12. Brandon Banks WR @speedybanks16 19,744
13. Terrence Austin WR @Terrence_Austin 19,306
14. Anthony Armstrong WR @MrArmstrong13 18,113
15. Leonard Hankerson WR @HankTime85 16,554
16. Tim Hightower RB @Tim_Hightower 16,178
17. Adam Carriker DE @AdamCarriker94 14,232
18. Jarvis Jenkins DE @Jarvis99jenkins 13,270
19. Reed Doughty S @doughty37 8,426
20. Stephen Bowen DE @stevebo72 7,958
21. Chris Neild NT @TruckNeild 5,801
22. Graham Gano K @GrahamGano 5,043
23. Chris Baker NT @cbaker92redskin 2,600
24. Richard Crawford Jr. CB @Rich_Crawford6 1,538

It's probably no surprise that even though he's yet to take a snap in the NFL, Robert Griffin III is the runaway leader in terms of Twitter followers on the Redskins' roster. What may be a little more surprising, however, is that the team's current No. 2 and 3 on the list are also newcomers — wide receivers Joshua Morgan and Pierre Garcon, both of whom who signed as free agents this offsesason.

In fact, a total of eight wideouts currently on the Skins' roster, along with running backs Evan Royster and Tim Hightower (Roy Helu where are you?) fall among the team's Top 16 Twitterers. No doubt Redskins fans are hoping the offense will be just as explosive this season as their playmakers' Twitter feeds appear to be.

If you wish to relive some of the Redskins' glory years of the past, you can follow Joe Gibbs (@CoachJoeGibbs), Joe Theismann (@Theismann7), Darrell Green (@darrellgreen28), John Riggins (@riggo44) and Brian Mitchell (@BmitchliveCSN). Alas, Albert Haynesworth doesn't appear to have an active Twitter account right now.

The Redskins Beat:

Mark Maske, NFL reporter for The Washington Post, contributor to The Insider blog: @MarkMaske (11,167)

Chris Russell, Redskins Insider for ESPN Radio 980, also can be heard on the Redskins Radio Network: @Russellmania980 (9,009)

Rich Campbell, beat writer for The Washington Times: @Rich_Campbell (7,638)

Mike Jones, beat writer for The Washington Post: @MikeJonesWaPo (6,460)

John Keim, beat writer for the Washington Examiner: @john_keim (6,369)

Barry Svrluga, helps cover Redskins for The Washington Post: @barrysvrluga (4,487)

Redskins Blog Roll:

The Insider (@Insider) is The Washington Post's Redskins blog, featuring the work of beat writers Mike Jones, Mark Maske and Barry Svrluga.

Redskins Watch is The Washington Times' online destination for all you need or want to know about the team.

Redskins Confidential is the Washington Examiner's 'Skins-dedicated online home.

Chris Russell's blog is just one part of ESPN Radio 980's Redskins Portal.

Hogs Haven is SB Nation's Redskins blog.

Real Redskins is "The Original Redskins Blog Since 2004" run by @Rich_Tandler.

The Burgundy Warpath, Riggo's Rag, Redskins Hog Heaven, and Redskins Gab out in cyberspace for your perusal.

The ESPN NFC East blog is run by Dan Graziano and you can follow him @espn_nfceast.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Oakland Raiders
No. 22: Washington Redskins
No. 21: Fri., Aug. 3

Order your 2012 Washington Redskins Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 Washington Redskins Season Preview
Related: 2012 Washington Redskins Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on August 2, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Washington Redskins Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 04:59
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, Oakland Raiders, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/oakland-raiders-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the Oakland Raiders official Twitter account:

@RAIDERS (Followers: 173,448)

Top Raiders To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, August 1, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Terrelle Pryor QB @TerrellePryor 92,950
2. Darren McFadden RB @dmcfadden20 90,474
3. Jacoby Ford WR @JacobyFord12 52,692
4. Matt Leinart QB @MattLeinartQB 43,430
5. Michael Huff FS @Huffy247 34,932
6. Aaron Curry LB @AaronCurry51 33,349
7. Tyvon Branch SS @tyvonbranch 25,669
8. Darrius Heyward-Bey WR @theDHB85 21,026
9. Marcel Reece RB @CelReece45 18,512
10. Taiwan Jones RB @TaiwanJonesNFL 18,144
11. Chimdi Chekwa CB @ChimChek 16,589
12. Mike Mitchell SS @MikeMitchell34 14,722
13. Lamarr Houston DE @solo_dolo_9s 14,216
14. Mike Goodson RB @GoodNplenty33 9,008
15. Bryan McCann DB @bmac929 7,806
16. Nathan Stupar LB @thenastynate54 7,412
17. Joseph Barksdale OT @BazookaJoe72 6,875
18. Jack Crawford DE @Sack_Religious 6,278
19. Juron Criner WR @JbamaCriner82 5,163
20. Miles Burris LB @MilesBurris 4,164

Richard Seymour would have made the list as he has nearly nearly 5,500 followers. However, he has yet to Tweet from @BigSey92. Does anyone else find this strange?

If you want to follow some former Raider greats in the Twitterverse, you can choose from Marcus Allen (@MarcusAllenHOF), Tim Brown (@81TimBrown), Bo Jackson (@BoJackson) or Rich Gannon (@RichGannon12), to name a few.

The Raiders Beat:

Tim Kawakami, Mercury News sports columnist: @timkawakami (24,142)

Paul Gutierrez, Raiders Insider for Comcast SportsNet California, @PGutierrezCSN (10,453)

Steve Corkman, Raiders blogger for Contra Costa Times/Bay Area News Group: @CorkOnTheNFL (10,001)

Vic Tafur, covers Raiders for San Francisco Chronicle: @VicTafur (8,658)

Jason Jones, helps cover Raiders for Sacramento Bee: @mr_jasonjones (5,717)

Eric Gilmore, CBSSports.com Raiders RapidReports correspondent: @CBSSportsNFLOAK (1,395)

Raiders Blog Roll:

Silver And Black Pride is SB Nation's Raiders blog, featuring work by lead writer @LeviDamien.

Comcast SportsNet California has its own Raiders page and Raiders' news feed on Twitter, @CSNRaiders.

Silver & Black is the San Francisco Chronicle's Raiders blog, featuring posts by the aforementioned Vic Tafur.

RaiderFans.net is "The Largest Oakland Raider Fan Community on the Net," and it also has a good-sized following on Twitter (@raiderfans).

RaidersBlog.com is run by Chris Hansen (@RaidersBlog, 5,213), whose work can also be read on Bleacher Report as he is the site's lead AFC West blogger.

Inside the Oakland Raiders, Just Blog Baby, Raiders Gab are some others to check out.

The ESPN AFC West blog is run by Bill Williamson and you can follow him @espn_afcwest.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Oakland Raiders
No. 22: Thurs., Aug. 2

Order your 2012 Oakland Raiders Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 Oakland Raiders Season Preview
Related: 2012 Oakland Raiders Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on August 1, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Oakland Raiders Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 04:59
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-top-twitter-accounts-follow
Body:

Keeping up with your favorite team can be an all-consuming task. We’re here to help indulge that need to follow all aspects of the NFL on Twitter.

For all 32 teams, we’re picking the best Twitter accounts for each franchise. They run the gamut from players, coaches, executives, traditional media, bloggers or simply accounts that keep us informed and entertained.

Whether you’re a Twitter neophyte or simply trying to spice up your feed for football season, we’re here to help. And it all starts with the Kansas City Chiefs official Twitter account:

@kcchiefs (Followers: 97,094)

Top Chiefs To Follow:

Note: Followers as of date of publication, July 31, 2012

  Name Pos. Twitter Followers
1. Jamaal Charles RB @jcharles25 967,598
2. Jon Baldwin WR @Jon__Baldwin 288,492
3. Eric Berry S @Stuntman1429 67,593
4. Peyton Hillis RB @thepeytonhillis 49,739
5. Dexter McCluster RB @dextermccluster 45,380
6. Steve Breaston WR @SBreaston15 41,952
7. Brady Quinn QB @BQ9 37,075
8. Kevin Boss TE @KevinBossman 35,397
9. Brandon Flowers CB @BFlowers24 34,474
10. Eric Winston OT @ericwinston 28,924
11. Javier Arenas CB @JavierArenas21 28,183
12. Tamba Hali LB @TambaHali91 24,159
13. Derrick Johnson LB @superdj56 22,790
14. Dwayne Bowe WR @DwayneBowe82 12,807
15. Stanford Routt CB @SRoutt26 10,808
16. Kendrick Lewis S @klewis23 10,680
17. Andy Studebaker LB @studie32 10,227
18. Dontari Poe DT @PoeMans_dream 9,868
19. Tony Moeaki TE @TonyMoeaki81 8,565
20. Branden Albert OG @B_albert76 6,040

If you want the latest Chiefs' news and information, you need to follow @ChiefsPR (8,153 followers) and Chiefs Insider @JoshLooney (16,040).

Mitch Holthus, the Voice of the Chiefs, can be found in the Twitterverse at @mitchholthus (12,298).

To help you get in the spirit for the upcoming season, you can follow the Chiefs' cheerleaders at @ChiefsCheer (4,471).

The Chiefs Beat:

Kent Babb, Columnist for the Kansas City Star: @kentbabb (12,239)

Adam Teicher, Writer for Kansas City Star: @adamteicher (6,402)

Randy Covitz, Writer for Kansas City Star: @randycovitz (1,484)

Chiefs Blog Roll:

Red Zone is the Kansas City Star's Chiefs blog.

Arrowhead Pride is SB Nation's Chiefs blog, which also can be found on Twitter at @ArrowheadPride.

Warpaint Illustrated offers independent coverage of the Chiefs in print, online and via the Out of Bounds podcast. It's Twitter handle, @ChiefsInsider should not be confused with that of @JoshLooney, who is the official Chiefs Insider.

Arrowhead Addict, Chiefs Command, Chiefs Gab, and the appropriately named KC Chiefs Blog are some others to check out.

The ESPN AFC West blog is run by Bill Williamson and you can follow him @espn_afcwest.

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

No. 32: Jacksonville Jaguars
No. 31: St. Louis Rams
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings
No. 29: Indianapolis Colts
No. 28: Cleveland Browns
No. 27: Miami Dolphins
No. 26: Arizona Cardinals
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 24: Kansas City Chiefs
No. 23: Wed., Aug. 1

Order your 2012 Kansas City Chiefs Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

Related: 2012 Kansas City Chiefs Season Preview
Related: 2012 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule Analysis

- By Braden Gall and Mark Ross, published on July 31, 2012

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Kansas City Chiefs Top Twitter Accounts To Follow</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 04:59
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-30
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (7/23-7/29):

  Name Team Pos. R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Carlos Gomez* MIL OF 10 4 10 3 .346 1.264
2. Drew Stubbs* CIN OF 9 3 10 3 .370 1.197
3. Adam Dunn CWS 1B/OF 9 3 8 1 .375 1.256
4. Jose Reyes MIA SS 6 2 5 3 .409 1.344
5. Ike Davis* NYM 1B 6 6 6 0 .276 1.173
6. Anthony Rizzo* CHC 1B 5 3 7 1 .348 1.139
7. Josh Willingham MIN OF 6 4 10 0 .208 1.004
8. Corey Hart MIL 1B/OF 5 2 5 2 .379 1.040
9. Yoenis Cespedes OAK OF 6 1 9 1 .360 1.047
10. Michael Morse WAS 1B/OF 5 3 9 0 .321 1.066
11. Paul Konerko CWS 1B 4 3 7 0 .435 1.310
12. Ryan Braun MIL OF 6 2 5 2 .310 .961
13. Denard Span* MIN OF 8 0 2 2 .458 1.161
14. Shane Victorino PHI OF 6 1 2 3 .400 1.105
15. Adam LaRoche OAK OF 4 2 3 1 .455 1.293
16. Alex Rios CWS OF 6 2 8 1 .250 .894
17. Aramis Ramirez MIL 3B 5 2 6 0 .417 1.256
18. Ryan Ludwick* CIN OF 6 2 5 0 .444 1.444
19. Torii Hunter* LAA OF 6 1 3 1 .385 1.029
20. Hanley Ramirez LAD 3B/SS 5 1 8 1 .320 .953
21. Coco Crisp* OAK OF 6 2 5 1 .304 1.056
22. Chase Utley PHI 2B 5 2 5 2 .250 1.073
23. Ben Revere* MIN OF 4 0 5 3 .364 .872
24. Chris Johnson ARI 3B 4 2 4 0 .458 1.394
25. Miguel Montero ARI C 3 2 5 0 .529 1.608

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Opportunity Knocks

The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday and while the majority of the attention is paid to the "name" players who change uniforms, such as Hanley Ramirez going from Miami to the Dodgers or Ichiro Suzuki moving from Seattle to the Yankees, what shouldn't get overlooked is those players who receive more playing time as a result of said moves. For example, while Ramirez has settled in nicely with the Dodgers (.333, 1 HR, 7 RBI in first five games), the beneficiary of the trade on the Marlin is Donovan Solano. The new Marlins' third baseman, the 24-year-old Salano has been somewhat productive (.282, 6 RBI, 4 SB in 71 at-bats) when given the opportunity and now he should get an extended look at third base with Ramirez elsewhere.

In Suzuki's case, the main beneficiary in Seattle appears to be Michael Saunders, who has been moved into the No. 3 spot in the Mariners' lineup. Saunders was already offering valuable production in both the power (10 HR) and speed categories (15 SB), and now should have more opportunities to drive in more runs. Suzuki's absence also presents an opportunity for someone to seize the starting right field job, whether that be Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero or Trayvon Robinson.

A trade isn't the only avenue to increased playing time as an injury could open the door and allow some unknown the opportunity to make a name for themselves. Look no further than Justin Ruggiano. A bench player for the Marlins at the start of the season, Ruggiano made the most of the playing time he got filling in for injured outfielders Emilio Bonifacio, Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton and has since became a mainstay for manager Ozzie Guillen. As a starter, Ruggiano has posted a respectable .350-7-21 line to go along with eight stolen bases in just 33 games so far. With Stanton still on the disabled list and Morrison going back on it late last week and facing the prospect of season-ending knee surgery, it doesn't look like Ruggiano will be returning to the Marlins' bench anytime soon.

Washington recently lost shortstop Ian Desmond to an oblique injury, which resulted in them moving Danny Espniosa over from second base. Steve Lombardozzi was given the first chance at replacing Espinosa at second and so far he has made the most of his opportunity. The versatile Lombardozzi, who has played second, short, third and left field this season, is hitting .292 in July with one home run, 12 RBIs and three stolen bases. His numbers may not blow you away, but any sort of consistent production from a middle infield spot is worth mentioning, especially in deeper leagues. Keep in mind that besides the aforementioned Desmond, other middle infielders currently on the DL include the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Jed Lowrie, Dee Gordon, Erick Aybar and one of this year's fantasy revelations, Trevor Plouffe.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. Hiroki Kuroda NYY 22.0 2 18 1.23 0.73
2. Ian Kennedy ARI 22.1 3 23 2.42 0.94
3. Paul Maholm* CHC 22.2 2 16 1.19 0.84
4. Jordan Zimmerman WAS 18.0 2 16 1.00 0.78
5. Mike Minor* ATL 21.0 1 20 1.71 0.71
6. David Price TB 14.0 2 17 0.64 0.86
7. Doug Fister* DET 23.0 2 23 1.96 1.00
8. Jeremy Hellickson TB 18.1 2 11 1.96 0.60
9. Blake Beavan* SEA 20.2 3 14 3.05 0.77
10. Edinson Volquez* SD 16.0 1 13 1.13 0.63
11. Mike Fiers* MIL 19.1 1 17 0.47 1.03
12. Matt Moore TB 19.1 2 16 1.86 0.98
13. Scott Feldman* TEX 15.0 2 10 0.60 0.93
14. Jeff Samardzija* CHC 19.0 1 21 1.42 1.05
15. Homer Bailey* CIN 15.0 1 17 0.60 1.00
16. Max Scherzer DET 14.0 2 17 1.93 1.00
17. Adam Wainwright STL 20.1 1 21 2.21 0.93
18. Joe Blanton* PHI 23.0 1 20 2.74 0.83
19. Wei-Yin Chen* BAL 19.1 2 22 2.79 1.09
20. A.J. Griffin* OAK 12.0 2 15 1.50 1.00

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Homer Bailey, CIN: San Diego (Tues.)
Has posted five straight starts of 6 2/3 innings or more in which he has given up two earned runs or less in each. Since the All-Star break he has gone 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA, 19 strikeouts and seven walks in three starts (23 IP).

2. Mike Fiers, MIL: Houston (Wed.)
Has been a revelation for Brewers since entering starting rotation in late May. Has posted eight quality starts out of 10 total, including seven in a row. Gave up a total of three earned runs and struck out 26 in 26 2/3 innings in July (four starts).

3. Ben Sheets, ATL: Miami (Wed.)
Has given up one earned run (0.50) and posted three consecutive quality starts (18 IP) since joining Braves' rotation on July 15.

4. Doug Fister, DET: Cleveland (Sat.)
After struggling with injuries in the first half, right-hander has been at his best since the All-Star break. He has posted four consecutive quality starts, going 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA, 31 strikeouts and just five walks during that span. Only loss during this stretch was last Tuesday when he surrendered three runs on nine hits in seven innings in a 3-2 loss at Cleveland.

5. Tommy Milone, OAK: Tampa Bay (Tues.), Toronto (Sun.)
Has gone 5-1 with a 0.91 ERA (6 ER in 59 2/3 IP) in eight home starts. Also gets another shot at Blue Jays, who roughed him up for six runs (5 ER) on eight hits, including two home runs, in seven innings in his last start.

Other Pitchers to Watch

Oakland's A.J. Griffin and Boston's Clay Buchholz are each scheduled for two starts this week. The rookie Griffin (TB, Mon.; TOR, Sat.) has put together six quality starts witn a 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP since joining the starting rotation in late June. Buchholz (DET, Mon.; MIN, Sat.) has posted consecutive solid outings in which he's given up a combined two earned runs in 15 innnings. Everyone will be watching Mets' rookie Matt Harvey on Tuesday in San Francisco after the right-hander set a franchise record with 11 strikeouts in his first major league start last Thursday. Harvey shut out the Diamondbacks on just three hits over 5 1/3 innings, walking just three, and will make his second career start in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. A pair of lefties also have been doing good work lately as Atlanta's Mike Minor (MIA, Thurs.) has given up just six earned runs over his 27 1/3 innings and is coming off of a gem (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) against Philadelphia, while Washington's Ross Detwiler, who had posted a 2.35 ERA in his previous five starts before getting roughed up (4 ER in 4 2/3 IP) by the Brewerst last time out, will look to rebound against those same Phillies, who are hitting just. 232 as a team against southpaws.

Top 20 fantasy Relief Pitchers of last month:

  Name Team IP W SV K HLD ERA WHIP
1. Aroldis Chapman CIN 13.1 0 12 30 0 0.00 0.60
2. Craig Kimbrel ATL 11.0 0 8 19 0 0.82 0.27
3. Huston Street SD 10.2 1 6 15 0 0.00 0.47
4. Jason Motte STL 10.1 1 7 13 0 0.00 0.68
5. Rafael Soriano NYY 13.1 0 9 17 0 2.03 0.83
6. Joel Hanrahan PIT 11.1 1 11 12 0 2.38 1.15
7. Kenley Jansen LAD 13.1 0 8 18 0 0.68 0.98
8. Fernando Rodney TB 12.0 0 8 11 0 0.00 0.83
9. David Phelps* NYY 11.2 1 0 20 0 0.77 0.51
10. Carlos Torres* COL 12.0 1 0 12 0 0.00 0.42
11. Tom Wilhelmsen* SEA 14.2 0 8 16 0 1.84 1.23
12. Jerry Blevins* OAK 10.0 3 0 12 3 1.80 0.80
13. Alfredo Aceves BOS 15.1 2 4 8 0 1.76 1.11
14. Steve Cishek* MIA 11.1 0 3 11 4 0.00 0.71
15. Kevin Jepsen* LAA 9.1 1 1 9 4 0.00 0.54
16. Ryan Cook* OAK 8.2 2 4 7 0 3.12 0.92
17. Casey Janssen* TOR 9.0 0 4 10 0 1.00 0.67
18. Vinnie Pestano* CLE 13.0 0 0 17 11 0.00 0.77
19. J.J. Putz ARI 8.0 0 5 8 0 0.00 0.88
20. Fernando Salas* STL 12.2 1 0 13 1 0.71 0.79

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 30</p>
Post date: Monday, July 30, 2012 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/5-olympic-sports-united-states-sucks
Body:

Numbers do not lie.  With 2296 cumulative medals in the Summer Olympics, the United States is irrefutably the most dominant participating country in the history of the Olympic Games.  Despite this, there are events in which the U.S. has seen little success.  Here are five events where you'll be certain not to see an American atop the podium.  

 

5.  Weightlifting

From 1904 to 1968, the US won 38 medals in Men’s Olympic Weightlifting, 15 of which were gold.  Despite our initial dominance in the sport, since 1972, we’ve only managed to win 3 medals (none of which were gold).  The reasons for our fall from dominance are varied, most critical of which is a lack of financial incentive for our nation’s most talented athletes.  From the 1970s and until the fall of the Iron Curtain, the medal podium was dominated by the USSR.  However, China has recently emerged to be the major player in Olympic Weightlifting, having taken 8 of 15 possible gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  With only one man, Kendrick Farris, having qualified for the United States, don’t look for our losing streak to end any time soon on the men’s side. 

 

4.  Judo

One of the three different martial arts featured in the Olympic Games, Judo is a combat sport whose ultimate goal is for competitors to take down an opponent and hold them in submission using a myriad of techniques.  Historically, Japan has dominated the sport that they invented around the turn of the 20th century with 65 overall medals, 35 of which are gold.  The United States has a respectable overall medal count at 10, however they’ve never taken home a gold medal in the sport.  With only 5 entrants at the London Olympics, the United States is unlikely to break their winless streak.  Kayla Harrison, the 2010 World Judo Champion at 78 kilograms, represents Team USA’s most promising contender for their first gold medal in this event. 

 

3.  3000m Steeplechase

Kenyan athletes have historically dominated the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase, an obstacle race that has runners clear 28 ordinary barriers and seven water jumps over a 3000m track.  You have to go back to the 1980 Olympics to find a year where Kenya did not produce a Steeplechase champion.  The United States has not won a gold medal in this event since 1952 and has not reached the podium at all since 1984.  Top US qualifier Daniel Huling’s time at last month’s Olympic Trials was 8:29:00, well off the sub-8 minute pace that the top Kenyan competitors have posted in 2012.  In London, expect Kenya to continue its’ domination of this distance event.     

2.  Table Tennis

Table Tennis made its Olympic debut at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and has been dominated by China ever since.  China’s overall medal count stands at 41, 20 of which are gold. South Korea, the next closest nation has won 17 medals, only 3 of which are gold.  The United States has never medaled in Table Tennis and barring a major upset in London, will continue to languish in mediocrity.  To demonstrate our ineptitude in this event, Team USA’s top ranked player, Timothy Wang, is only #408 in the world.  

1.  Men’s Football (Soccer)

The United States’ failure to produce a competitive men’s football squad has been well documented over the years especially as the US Women’s National Team has enjoyed tremendous success ever since the sports’ inception as an Olympic event.  The men’s squad has won 1 silver and 1 bronze medal however; both medals came from the 1904 Olympics where only 3 teams participated in the tournament.  The 108 year medal-less streak will undoubtedly continue in London, as the United States failed to qualify for the 2nd time out of the last 3 tournaments after losses at the hands of El Salvador and Canada.  On the bright side, the women’s squad enters the London Olympics as heavy favorites to take home a 4th gold medal for the United States.  

 

By Eric Chalifour

Teaser:
<p> Hey, we can win them all</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 12:35
All taxonomy terms: Olympics, Olympics
Path: /olympics/weirdest-olympic-sports-all-time
Body:

The 2012 Summer Olympics are just around the corner. Millions of viewers around the world will be glued to their TV sets watching popular events such as basketball, gymnastics and swimming. But there are some sports, historically and today, that have us wondering one thing—WHY?!

Here is a look at some of the weirdest actual events in the history of the modern Olympics.

Live Pigeon Shooting

The 1900 Paris Olympics has the distinction of being the only Olympics where athletes killed animals for sport. Belgium’s Leon Lunden took home the gold with 21 downed birds, with a total of 300 birds being killed during the competition.   

 

Tug-of-War

Remember playing Tug-of-War in elementary school during gym class? In the early days of the modern Olympics, this event was a mainstay of the games, with the Tug-of-War being held at every Olympiad as a track-and-field event between the years 1900 and 1920. The sports’ greatest scandal came in 1908 when the City of London Police Club purportedly wore illegal footwear that was so heavy the men had trouble moving their feet.

The champions were as follows: 1900, a combination Swedish/Danish team; 1904: the Milwaukee Athletic Club, representing Team USA; 1906: Germany/Switzerland; 1908: The London Police Club, representing Great Britain; 1912: Sweden; and 1920: Great Britain.

 

Racewalking (20km and 50km)

It seems ridiculous that racewalking continues to be an Olympic sport while more popular sports like baseball and cricket continue to be snubbed by the Olympic Committee. For the uninformed, Racewalking differs from running in that competitors must maintain contact with the ground at all times with at least one foot. While the event is very technically difficult (competitors are continually judged for proper form and docked if caught using illegal technique), there is nothing exciting about watching a bunch of people walking at a brisk pace. Finally, it doesn’t help that the athletes look like constipated penguins when competing. See for yourself. 

 

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Olympic Committee members, if you’re reading this, please vote to eliminate Rhythmic Gymnastics for 2016. While there’s no denying the technical difficulty and beauty of the competitors’ performances, this activity has no place in today’s Olympic Games. The sport is simply painful to watch and is guaranteed to put viewers at home into a deep coma. Proponents argue that the sport combines elements of modern dance, ballet and artistic gymnastics but that does not prevent the uninitiated viewers from seeing a bunch of girls dancing around with a ribbon and hula-hoop. 

 

Rope Climbing

One of the more unusual events in the history of the modern Olympic movement, Rope Climbing was part of the gymnastics programs in 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924 and 1932. Starting in a seated position, competitors raced to the top of a roughly 8-meter rope and were judged on both their time and style. In the 1986 Olympics, 

The sport is enjoying a resurgence in France and the Czech Republic, giving hope for those who wish to see this event return to the Olympic Games. 

 

Dueling Pistols

It is hard to believe that dueling pistols was an actual Olympic event, but it was part of the 1906 Athens Olympics. Despite the name of the event, competitors were forced to fire at mannequins with bulls eyes affixed to their chests. Evidently, the lack of bloodshed made this shooting event unpopular, as it was not renewed in future Olympics.   

 

Solo Synchronized Swimming

Solo Synchronized Swimming was an official Olympic sport between 1984 and 1992. What’s most shocking about this is that it took the IOC three Olympics to realize that the sport is an oxymoron since a person swimming alone cannot be synchronized with someone else. In reality, competitors were judged for their synchronization with the music. Quite frankly, we’re OK if this event never returns from the abyss of retired Olympic sports.    

 

 

—By Eric Chalifour

See more 2012 Olympics coverage.

Teaser:
<p> Examining some of the strangest sports of the games</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 06:01
All taxonomy terms: News, Olympics
Path: /news/11-olympians-who-are-more-famous-something-else
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For these former 11 Olympians, being famous for their athletic efforts at the games just wasn't enough.

Herschel Walker

Everyone remembers the former running back as one of the great sports icons of the 1980s; Walker finished in the top three of the Heisman Trophy voting after all three of his seasons at Georgia, and he won the award in ’82. He was also an accomplished sprinter for the Bulldogs track team. Walker played professionally in the USFL and NFL from ’83 to ’97, but many probably have forgotten about his brief foray into Olympic bobsledding: He was on the U.S. two-man team in ’92, and finished seventh.

 

Princess Anne

The princess competed in the 1976 Olympics on Britain’s equestrian team, where she did not medal, though she did medal in the European Eventing Championships. Obviously, Her Royal Highness is far more famous for representing her country than for her athletic feats.

Bill Bradley

The Princeton basketball star became the youngest member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic basketball team, which won gold. Bradley later went on to a successful NBA career, but became just as (and maybe more) famous as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey from 1979 to 1997 and a Presidential candidate.

 

 

 

Babe Didrikson Zaharias

The Texan won two golds and one silver in the 1932 Games between the javelin, high jump, and 80-meter hurdles. She also dove, roller-skated, bowled, and played baseball and basketball outside the Olympics, but was most famous as a dominant golfer (she won 82 amateur tournaments) and a founding member of the LPGA, where she won 41 events and even played in three PGA men’s events as well. She may be the greatest female athlete of all time.

Larry “Buster” Crabbe 

The Hawaiian swimmer won bronze in the 1500-meter freestyle in 1928, and the gold in the 400-meter freestyle four years later. He later starred in over 100 movies, including roles as Tarzan and Flash Gordon.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Campbell immigrated to America at age 6, then competed for his country in judo in the 1964 Olympics, where he was injured and did not medal. A military veteran-turned-politician in the 1980s, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1993, then as a Senator from ’93 to 2005. Campbell switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican side in 1995.

Bruce Jenner

Those of us who grew up in the 1970s know Bruce Jenner as one of the most famous Olympic athletes of his time. Jenner finished third in the decathlon at the 1972 Munich Olympics and won the same event in 1976 in Montreal. He won the Sullivan Award and the AP’s Male Athlete of the Year in ’76 as well. Sadly, later generations know him as the stepfather to Kourtney, Kim and Khloe and father to Kendall and Kylie on the E! reality series, Keeping up with the Kardashians.

 

Bob Mathias

The Californian won the decathlon in 1948 and in ’52, and also took Stanford to the Rose Bowl the latter year. He served his state in the U.S. House of Representatives from ’67 to ’75 as well.

Jim Thorpe

Thorpe was the male counterpart of Babe Didrikson, excelling in just about every sport he ever tried. As far as Olympic sports, that included the decathlon and pentathlon, in which he won gold in both at Stockholm in 1912. Those medals were taken away from Thorpe when it later became known he’d taken money for playing baseball, but he was re-awarded them in 1983. He later played Major League Baseball and also in the NFL, where he was elected to the Hall of Fame. After Thorpe’s death, the Pennsylvania town of Mauch Chunk renamed itself “Jim Thorpe” even though Thorpe had never been there.

Johnny Weismuller

When Weissmuller was nine, he contracted polio, and doctors recommended swimming as therapy. What a suggestion that turned out to be: He won three swimming gold medals in the 1924 Games and then two more in Amsterdam four years later. The handsome Weismuller became a model one year later before Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cast him as Tarzan in the 1932 hit, Tarzan the Ape Man. He would appear in six more Tarzan movies, and later, 13 Jungle Jimfilms while working for Columbia.

Jim Ryun

Ryun won silver at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City in the 1500 meters, four years after becoming the first U.S. high school runner to break four minutes in the mile. From 1996 to 2007, Ryun served his native Kansas at one of its U.S. Representatives.

 

By Chris Lee, VandySports.com (@ChrisLee70)

Teaser:
<p> These athletes made their mark away from the games.</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 05:28
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-training-camp-storylines-watch
Body:

NFL training camps are underway as teams have begun their preparations for the upcoming season in earnest. Here are a few storylines to keep an eye as players and teams return to the practice field.

Quarterback Battles
The most wide-open battles for starting quarterback spots are in Arizona, Jacksonville and Miami. Cleveland, Seattle and Tennessee are some other situations that bear watching for different reasons. For the Browns and Titans a decision has to be made on whether to go with the “young” quarterback over the veteran on the roster, whereas the Seahawks appear ready to hold a three-man competition for their starting job.

And then there are the Jets. While Rex Ryan’s team may not be starring on “Hard Knocks” this season, the Jets’ training camp will still attract its fair share of attention, as the media is sure to provide plenty of coverage on the daily Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow “battle.”

Related: 2012 Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

New Eras Begin in Indianapolis and Washington
There appears to be no quarterback controversy in both Indianapolis and Washington as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are expected to be the starter for their respective teams come Week 1. Expectations are high for the first two picks of this year’s draft as Luck will attempt to the take the place of a future Hall of Famer, while Griffin will be tasked with leading a once-proud franchise back to the Super Bowl.

No one, however, is expecting either of these scenarios to occur in 2012, especially considering Luck is joining a team that was able to take him at No. 1 overall because it went 2-14 in 2011. The starting quarterback isn’t the only thing that’s new in Indy in 2012 either, as owner Jim Irsay brought in a new general manager (Ryan Grigson) and head coach (Chuck Pagano), in addition to overhauling the Colts’ roster during the offseason and through the draft. Now fellow rookies Grigson, Pagano and Luck hope to transform the Colts into a new version of the team that dominated the AFC South from 2002-10.

The situation in Washington is a little different as head coach Mike Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder want to win now. That’s easier said than done considering the Redskins are in the NFC East, the same division as the defending Super Bowl Giants, not to mention the Cowboys and Eagles. So while no one is expecting the ‘Skins to win the division this season, an improvement on last season’s 5-11 showing must happen. Otherwise, Shanahan may not be around long enough to see if Griffin was worth trading up for in the first place.

Peyton’s New Place
Luck is the starter in Indianapolis because, after 14 seasons, Peyton Manning is no longer there. After cutting ties with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 1998, the coveted free agent decided to sign a five-year contract with Denver, much to the delight of both Broncos’ fans and John Elway, the Hall of Fame quarterback and team’s executive vice president of football operations.

Elway and the rest of the Broncos’ front office is pinning their hopes of another Super Bowl title on Manning, who last played in an NFL game in January 2011. Manning appears to be healthy after missing all of last season because of multiple neck surgeries, but no one knows for sure until they get a close look at him in action, both in training camp and in preseason games.

Denver head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy are comfortable handing the offense over to Manning, and the team has made multiple moves during the offseason to provide No. 18 with more weapons. However, it will be for naught if the Broncos don’t make the postseason, or worse, if Manning succumbs to injury once again. After all, Manning’s current backup is former Chicago Bear Caleb Hanie, who could end up losing that job this season to second-round pick Brock Osweiler.

Bountygate Hangover?
Without question, no team had a worse offseason than New Orleans. Thankfully, with training camp opening on Tuesday, the team can finally turn its focus to this season. Or at least that’s what they would like to do.

The truth is that the questions about the bounty scandal and the NFL’s punishments stemming from it, won’t go away anytime soon, especially since Saints head coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma are both suspended for the entire season because of it.

General manager Mickey Loomis and interim head coach Joe Vitt, both of whom will be serving multi-game suspensions themselves once the regular season starts, will get the bulk of the questions, but the players will not be immune to the constant queries. One can’t help but wonder how much of a distraction this will be for the Saints during training camp.

At least the Saints do have some good news to talk about as franchise quarterback Drew Brees and the team finally came to agreement on a new five-year contract worth $100 million, including a record $60 million guaranteed. Then again, Brees has already filed an affidavit in support of teammate Vilma’s appeal of his season-long suspension by the NFL.

One way or another, Bountygate isn’t going away anytime soon. This just adds another obstacle for the Saints to overcome as they prepare to defend their NFC South crown against an Atlanta team that won 10 games in 2011 and a Carolina team that should be even better in Cam Newton’s second year.

Dynasty in Philadelphia?
Apparently Michael Vick didn’t learn anything from the mistake made by his former teammate Vince Young, who declared the Eagles a “Dream Team” prior to last season, only to watch them finish a disappointing 8-8 and miss the playoffs. In fact, you could argue Vick went a step further than Young’s bold prediction when he said in a recent interview that he thinks the Eagles could develop into a dynasty.

Before Vick and the rest of the Eagles can even start to mention their team in the same breath as the Steelers from the 1970s or the 49ers from the ‘80s or even the Patriots from the 2000s, they may want to win one Super Bowl, something the franchise has yet to do in its history.

For what it’s worth, the Eagles look to be a legitimate playoff contender in 2012, as the team took a different route to improving its roster this offseason. Unlike the free-agent spending spree that took place in 2011, this time around the Eagles used trades and the draft to further bolster their defense, while signing key offensive playmakers LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson to contract extensions.

So once again the Eagles look the part, at least on paper, to be a contender not only in 2012, but also beyond. But if last season showed the team and everyone else anything, it’s that the games aren’t played on paper. If the Vick and his teammates have any hopes of laying the groundwork for a possible dynasty, it needs to start this season; otherwise head coach Andy Reid may be looking for a new job.

— By Mark Ross, published on July 24, 2012

Related NFL Content

2012 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch
2012 NFL Head Coaches: Who is on the Hot Seat?
Ranking the NFL's Top 10 Head Coaches in 2012
2012 NFL Coaches: Who is the NFC's Best Coach?
2012 NFL Coaches: Who is the AFC's Best Coach?

2012 NFL Quarterbacks: Ranking the Best and Worst Starters

Ranking the NFL’s Best Backup Quarterbacks

The 10 Worst NFL Teams Since Expansion

NFL Quarterbacks Rewrote Record Books in 2011

Miami Dolphins QBs Since Dan Marino: An NFL Horror Story

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers


AFC South
Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings


NFC South
Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2012 Preview magazine

Teaser:
<p> 2012 NFL Training Camp Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 09:01
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-training-camp-quarterback-battles-watch
Body:

Position battles are always one of the main focuses during training camp and no position garners more attention and scrutiny than quarterback. While the majority of NFL teams are set when it comes to their starter under center, there are several teams that are searching for an answer as training camps get underway.

As it stands right now, the starting jobs in Arizona, Jacksonville and Miami appear to be completely wide open. Cleveland, Seattle and Tennessee are unsettled to different degrees and when it comes to the Jets, let’s just say it’s a made-for-TV storyline that everyone will be watching.

Duel in the Desert
A year ago, Arizona thought that it had found their long-term answer when the team acquired Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia. Not only did the Cardinals send cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick to the Eagles for Kolb last July 29, they then signed him to a five-year contract worth more than $62 million.

So far, the returns have been nothing short of disastrous, as Kolb went 3-6 as the Cardinals’ starter last season, completing less than 58 percent of his passes for 1,955 yards and accounting for fewer touchdowns (nine, all passing) than turnovers (11 total). Kolb also had to deal with a foot injury and a concussion that cost him the final month of the season. To make matters worse, backup John Skelton had better numbers (1,913 yards passing, 14 TD, 11 INT) in fewer starts and led the Cardinals to a winning record (5-2) in those games.

The Cadinals’ training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., got going on Tuesday, so now is the time for Kolb to show head coach Ken Whisenhunt, the rest of the coaching staff, the front office and his teammates that he’s the guy to lead them back to the playoffs, otherwise Skelton may get an extended look and a legitimate shot at the starting job. Sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley out of San Diego State also bears watching.
Prediction: The Cardinals have too much invested in Kolb to not give him another chance. However, I think he will under a short leash and they will turn to Shelton should he struggle once again.

Does Gabbert Get Another Chance in Jacksonville?
In Jacksonville, Blaine Gabbert did little, if anything at all, in his rookie season to show that he has what it takes to be a capable starting quarterback in the NFL. It also doesn’t help that the Jaguars have a new head coach, Mike Mularkey. On the other hand, the regime change presents Gabbert a chance to start over with a new coaching staff, one led by Mularkey, who helped develop Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan during his time as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.

Whether Gabbert will get the chance to prove his worth come Week 1 remains to be seen, as he will more than likely have to hold off Chad Henne in training camp to remain the Jaguars’ starter. Nathan Enderle and Jordan Palmer are also expected to participate in training camp with the Jaguars.
Prediction: As bad as Gabbert was in 2011, it’s entirely too early to completely give up on him. Jacksonville isn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot, so I think Mularkey will give Gabbert another season to show if he’s the long-term answer or not.

Who Starts in Miami?
Just like Jacksonville, Miami also has a new head coach as former Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin takes over the Dolphins. The first-year head coach will experience plenty of new things running his first training camp in Davie, Fla., one of those being he won’t see Aaron Rodgers out on the field in a red jersey.

Instead Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will have to decide if their starting quarterback for Week 1 will be Matt Moore, David Garrard or first-round pick Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M. Moore went 6-6 as the ‘Fins’ primary starter last season, putting up respectable numbers (2,497 yards passing, 16 TD, 9 INT) in the process. Garrard spent nine seasons (2002-09) in Jacksonville, five of those as the starter, before sitting out last season with a back injury. He appears to be fully healthy and some reports label him as the early front-runner for the starting job.

Tannehill appears to be the long shot at this point because the team wants to give the No. 8 overall pick as much time as they can to develop. After all, Tannehill is the first quarterback taken by the Dolphins in the first round of the draft since 1983. That year, Miami selected a certain University of Pittsburgh quarterback at No. 27 overall. That quarterback was named Dan Marino and he worked out pretty well. The Dolphins are hoping history will repeat itself with Tannehill, even if it may take some time to see the finished product on the field.
Prediction: Garrard may reportedly have the early lead, but I think Moore will overtake him in the end and be the Dolphins’ Week 1 starter. Moore, who turns 28 in August, showed last season what he’s capable of and he presents more upside than Garrard, who’s 34. I also don’t think Tannehill gets on the field for a single snap this season. He’s the future and they are going to take their time with him.

Browns Could Turn to “Old” Rookie
Cleveland also used a first-round draft pick on a quarterback, taking Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden at No. 22 overall. Unlike Tannehill, Weeden appears to have a very good shot at starting for the Browns in Week 1, provided he performs better than incumbent starter Colt McCoy in training camp.

Weeden is not your typical NFL rookie, just as he wasn’t a typical college quarterback for the Cowboys. At 28, Weeden became the oldest ever taken in the first round of the NFL Draft when the Browns took him. In fact, Weeden is four years older than McCoy, five years older than Cam Newton, last season’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and nearly two months older than Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP.

Whether Weeden follows more the path of McCoy or Newton (minus the rushing numbers) in his first season remains to be seen, but it does look like the Browns are willing to put him out on the field early, perhaps starting in Week 1, to find out.
Prediction: You don’t draft a 28-year-old rookie quarterback and not find out if he can play in the NFL, right? I think Weeden gets the call in Week 1 and it will be up to him if he keeps the job or not.

Three-Way Battle in Seattle
Prior to the draft in April, it looked like Seattle settled its quarterback situation when it signed free agent Matt Flynn in March. The Seahawks signed Flynn, who served as Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay, to a three-year deal worth $26 million with $10 million guaranteed.

One thing Flynn’s new contract doesn’t seem to guarantee, however, is the Seahawks’ starting job as early indications are that head coach Pete Carroll will give Flynn, incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson and third-round pick Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin equal snaps with the first-team offense.

Jackson went 7-7 as the Seahawks’ starter in 2011 and has 34 career starts under his belt, compared to a grand total of two for Flynn. Then again Flynn threw for 518 yards and six touchdowns in his lone start last season, and you don’t sign someone to a contract like this to be the backup, do you?

And what about Wilson? Could the highly polished and accomplished college quarterback who slid down everyone’s draft board in April because of his size (5-11) prove everyone wrong by wresting the starting job from the two veterans? Whoever ends up under center come Week 1, it should make for an interesting couple of weeks at Seahawks’ camp in Renton, Wash.
Prediction: Jackson has had his chances as a starting quarterback for two different teams. And while his record (17-17) as a starter for both the Vikings and the Seahawks is respectable, I think there’s a reason the team committed three years and all that money to Flynn. Besides, Seattle’s already gone down this road with another Green Bay backup quarterback once before and that worked out pretty well for the team.

The Future is now in Tennessee?
Tennessee Titans training camp in Nashville also bears watching because it’s possible that Jake Locker, the team’s first-round pick (No. 8 overall) in 2010, could unseat veteran Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job. Hasselbeck put together his best season since 2007 as he nearly led the Titans to the playoffs in his first season not in a Seattle uniform.

However, Locker showed signs of what he’s capable of in the five games he played in last season. In fact, the rookie fared so well that Titans’ head coach Mike Munchak has already declared that there will be an open quarterback competition for the starting job in training camp, which starts up on Friday for the veterans.

Early indications are that Locker will have to clearly out-perform Hasselbeck in order to wrest the Week 1 starting job away from the 13-year veteran. Whether that happens or not, it does look like the 36-year-old Hasselbeck will be turning the reins over sooner rather than later to the 24-year-old Locker.
Prediction: Locker is the future in Tennessee, but I don’t see that starting in Week 1. I think Hasselbeck holds off the rookie to start the season, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Locker take over by the end of October or early November.

The “Battle” Everyone Will Be Watching
Age is certainly not the issue as far as the Jets’ starting quarterback situation goes. Mark Sanchez is a little more than a year older than Tim Tebow, but head coach Rex Ryan has already made it clear that Sanchez is the starter and Tebow is the backup.

Of course that means little to the media throng that will descend upon Jets’ training camp when the two report on Thursday. After all that’s what happens when you play in the media capital of the world and the team shows it faith in its incumbent starter by trading for a guy who attracts more attention than anyone and fared better as a starter last season.

For all the criticism regarding his abilities as a passer, Tebow had a better record (7-4) as a starter than Sanchez (8-8) last season, and that doesn’t include his win over Pittsburgh in the first round of the AFC Playoffs. Sanchez actually had his best season in terms of statistics in 2011, but all that production (3,474 yards passing, 26 TD) didn’t carry the Jets to the playoffs.

And in New York, which also is home to the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, winning and playing in the postseason is what truly matters. So while Sanchez may be the clear-cut starter, Tebow will see his share of snaps under center too.

The pressure is on Ryan and the Jets to get back to the playoffs this season. Sanchez may be the starter, but if Tebow and the team produce better results when he’s under center, Ryan may have no choice but to make the switch.

So while Sanchez’ status as the Jets’ starting quarterback is clear in July and August, come September his job security will come down to what he does with the football when it’s in his hands.
Prediction: Despite his best efforts, the quarterback situation is persistent distraction throughout the season for Ryan and the rest of the team. Sanchez’ poor play at the start of the season leads to a near 50-50 split on snaps come October. Sanchez requests a trade at season’s end, if not sooner, and the Jets end up drafting a quarterback in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, meaning we get to revisit this again next season.

— By Mark Ross, published on July 24, 2012

Related NFL Content

2012 NFL Training Camp: Storylines to Watch
2012 NFL Head Coaches: Who is on the Hot Seat?
Ranking the NFL's Top 10 Head Coaches in 2012
2012 NFL Coaches: Who is the NFC's Best Coach?
2012 NFL Coaches: Who is the AFC's Best Coach?

2012 NFL Quarterbacks: Ranking the Best and Worst Starters

Ranking the NFL’s Best Backup Quarterbacks

The 10 Worst NFL Teams Since Expansion

NFL Quarterbacks Rewrote Record Books in 2011

Miami Dolphins QBs Since Dan Marino: An NFL Horror Story

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers


AFC South
Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings


NFC South
Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2012 Preview magazine

Teaser:
<p> 2012 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-10-biggest-changes-2012-season
Body:

Simply put, college football fans may never again witness the pure volume and amplitude of changes which will take place as the 2012 season unravels itself. Below is a list of the top-ten changes, in ascending order of significance (defined by national impact and/or the precedent for the listed change):

10. New Coordinator Sets at Auburn and Iowa
Auburn followed up its 2010 National Championship season with a less-than-stellar 8-5 (4-4 SEC) record. Gus Malzahn dropped the reins of the Tigers’ offense to become head coach at Arkansas State. Meanwhile, Ted Roof left Auburn’s defense to take over at Penn State (following a one-month stay at UCF). Gene Chizik hired Temple’s Scott Loeffler to lead the offense. Taking what the defense offers, Loeffler expects to establish the run but that task will not be easy with a giant question mark at quarterback. New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder came over from the Atlanta Falcons and was well received this spring. One of the nation’s top set of bookends (Nosa Eguae and Corey Lemonier) will help him develop pressure but anchoring against the run will be an important goal to cement this season.  Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz never lost a coordinator in his 13 years at Iowa – until this past offseason, when he lost both. This year, Greg Davis takes over the offense while Phil Parker will lead the Hawkeyes’ defense. Parker coached Iowa’s defensive backs during all of Ferentz’s tenure at Iowa so, to say the least, he is familiar with the old system which should reduce that unit’s learning curve. Davis spent the last 13 years leading the Texas offense, which begs a focus on whether Iowa can control the line of scrimmage in this season’s running game.           

9. Mike Stoops Joins His Brother – Brent Venables Leaves for Clemson 
The venerable Venables was a fixture on Bob Stoops’ defensive staff for the past 13 years during which time many fans wondered how he would fare with another school. It was not under ideal circumstances but Venables gets the chance to hold his own reins and start anew this season With Mike Stoops’ dismissal as head coach of Arizona, his brother, Bob, sought a staff reunion which brought Mike to Norman as a supposed co-defensive coordinator with Venables. The situation was not comfortable for any of the men involved and a disastrous Orange Bowl performance by Clemson against West Virginia opened the door for Venables to take over Tigers’ stop-unit. The changes injected new blood and enthusiasm into both programs. Mike set out to simplify the Sooners’ defensive scheme while Venables set out to instill toughness in his athletic Clemson personnel.

8. The State of Arizona Starts Over
As stated above, Mike Stoops was dismissed from Arizona last season, and the Wildcats find themselves under the leadership of Rich Rodriguez. Unlike Rich Rod’s last transition (where he pounded the square-peg of a read-option spread scheme into the round-hole of plodding pro-style personnel with no prior spread knowledge or experience), he now inherits a program that has a basic understanding of spread concepts and a quarterback in Matt Scott who has the tools to make the offense run. A focus on passing this spring paid surprising dividends for Scott and the offense, though things may change as he becomes a live target this fall. Meanwhile, in Tempe, Pitt’s former head coach sprinted his way into the Arizona State teamhouse this offseason. Graham’s tenure at Tulsa proved he can squeeze production out of his brand of the spread and that the system is capable of producing on the ground as well as the air. The Sun Devils came out of spring camp without a named starter under center though some insiders feel there is a “slight edge” to Mike Bercovici (Brock Osweiler’s backup last season).

7. Arkansas Picks Up Bobby Petrino’s Pieces
Arkansas fans may have wished the news out of campus was a mere April Fool’s joke but, alas, it was not. Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle with 25-year old Jessica Dorrell on board. As word of his affair with the engaged Dorrell continued to leak, and the extent of Petrino’s attempt to cover-up the affair and incident became clear, Arkansas became the last school to require a new head coach for the 2012 season. Former Razorback assistant coach John L. Smith was brought in to assure continuity and stem the bleeding. Many eyes will be on Arkansas this fall to see whether the hire is simply a band-aid or if Smith can lead the talented ‘Hogs to success in the nation’s toughest division (the SEC West).

6. 28 New Head Coaches
There are 124 teams in the FBS, so nearly a quarter of them are subject to new skippers this season. No fewer than 14 of the programs with new head coaches are from BCS conference-affiliated schools and they include four of the more storied programs in the country (Ohio State, Penn State, UCLA and Texas A&M). Florida Atlantic turns to Carl Pelini to take over for Howard Schnellenberger, who hung up his sport coat after 52 years of coaching.

5. Rule Changes
Safety, safety, safety. Stopping shy of installing Velcro flags on waists, the NCAA has made several rule changes with a nod towards reducing the incidences of players placing themselves in the game’s most unsafe positions. Having resolved that more injuries occur during kickoff returns than any other play, the NCAA implemented three rules designed to reduce their frequency. First, teams will kick off from the 35-yard line (instead of the 30). Second, no player can line up further than five (5) yards behind the line of scrimmage prior to the kickoff so that running starts by coverage personnel will be shortened. Perhaps the most impactful rule-change, though, is a “carrot” rather than a “stick.” From now on, touchbacks from kickoffs will result in drives beginning at the 25-yard line instead of the traditional 20-yard line. We all know that concussions have become a ‘hot topic,’ so two new rules have been implemented to seek their reduction. Any player who loses his helmet during a play (except due to an opponent’s facemask violation) will be required to leave the field for one play. Moreover, a player who loses his helmet during a play must quit the play rather than continue without the helmet. The final change to be highlighted here is that, seeking to reduce the incidences of players flipping over onto their heads, players may no longer leap over blockers in an attempt to block a punt.

4. Playing Without Historic Players Under Center
At the end of last season, the NCAA lost the most prolific career passer in its history (Houston’s Case Keenum [19,217 yards, 155 TD’s]), its winningest quarterback (Boise State’s Kellen Moore [50-3]), its most efficient single-season passer (Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson) and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner (Baylor’s Robert Griffin III). Yet, none of those players were the first quarterback taken in the NFL Draft (Stanford’s Andrew Luck) and, potentially, next year’s most productive NFL rookie signal caller could be Oklahoma State’s former starter, 28-year old Brandon Weeden. These programs don’t simply have an opening to fill in their roster – they have gaping craters. So, too, do Michigan State (replacing Kirk Cousins), Arizona State (Brock Osweiler) and Texas A&M (Ryan Tannehill). The staffs at each of these schools have their work cut out for them in 2012.

3. West Virginia and TCU to the Big 12
With the loss of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC (see below), last year’s ten-team Big 12 dropped to eight members. West Virginia committed to join the Big 12 and the Big East sued. Twenty million dollars later, the Mountaineers freed themselves from their former conference and joined the Big 12. TCU joined WVU as a new Big 12 member having never set foot in the Big East which they had formerly committed to join. The change was seamless as West Virginia took over Missouri’s conference schedule and the Horned Frogs took over A&M’s. TCU brings its historically elite defense to the land of the spread offense, while WVU quarterback Geno Smith has found the luster added by the increased schedule-difficulty in the Big 12 has enhanced his presence in preseason Heisman Trophy discussions.

2.  Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC
Winners of the last six national championships, the SEC’s expansion was a matter of ‘want-to’ rather than ‘need-to.’ Perhaps with an eye towards a national move towards ‘super-conferences,’ the SEC added Missouri and Texas A&M to bring the conference to 14 members. Missouri will compete in the Eastern Division and, given the volume of players returning to the Tigers from its 2011 edition (along with the nation’s top recruit at receiver [Dorial Green-Beckham]), it should compete from the start. A&M opens up Texas to the SEC market and brings 350,000 alumni to the fan base but many question marks exist given the brand-new staff (Houston’s Kevin Sumlin took over this spring) and loss of last year’s quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.

1. New Beginnings in Happy Valley
As he continued to stamp his own renewals, the nation wondered whether Joe Paterno’s tenure at Penn State might end poorly but nobody could have imagined the carnage of the few weeks which ultimately ended his 46th year at the helm of the Nittany Lions. Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on the strength of accusations from several men that Sandusky sexually abused them when they were young boys and the story suggested knowledge of at least one incident reached the Penn State football offices without meriting a substantial response. When the nightmarish smoke cleared, Joe Pa was fired and all but two of his coaches were let go while the fallout also claimed the jobs of the school’s President and Athletic Director. Rising from the wreckage was the refreshing leadership of former New England Patriot offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, who assembled a competent and hungry staff. The nation’s eyes will be on Happy Valley this fall and it is wise to remember that: a) the players had nothing to do with the Sandusky debacle; and, b) the magnitude of change to be experienced by the Nittany Lion faithful is unprecedented. Well over two generations of fans witnessed the late-Joe Paterno lead Penn State from the sidelines. Today’s world demands immediate satisfaction with such intensity it is safe to say that no other school will ever lay claim to such a feat.

 

Brock Murphy is a freelance college football writer and analyst and can be reached at bgmurphy91@yahoo.com

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Teaser:
<p> College Football's 10 Biggest Changes For the 2012 Season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 04:55
Path: /olympics/michael-phelps-ryan-lochte-rivalry-comes-london
Body:

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are two of the most decorated, dominant swimmers in U.S. history. Rivals in the pool and friends out of it, they’re poised to take their personal rivalry to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, where they’ll showcase it with the world watching.

Phelps will arrive in London looking to add to his record haul of 14 gold medals and cap off a career that has already established him as arguably the greatest Olympian in history. Four years ago, he took Beijing by storm, winning eight gold medals and providing some of the Games’ indelible images. Phelps’ gold medal total surpassed fellow swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven at the 1972 Games as the American standard, leaving even Spitz in awe of this pool prodigy.

“Epic,” said Spitz of Phelps’ performance. “It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time. He’s the greatest racer who ever walked the planet.”

Phelps remains a threat for gold even in the twilight of his career, says rival and fellow gold medalist Ian Thorpe.

“I believe Michael is the very strong favorite to win three gold medals in London, and is a 50-50 contender to win another three,” Thorpe told the UK website Sportsvibe. “In my mind winning multiple golds in London would be just as impressive as winning eight in Beijing. Of course what he achieved in China was phenomenal. There’s no way I’ll ever see that again in my lifetime.”

If anyone can threaten Phelps for current swimming supremacy, it’s Lochte, who won five titles at last year’s world championships to Phelps’ four before out-swimming his rival at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. “If we look at the results, just the numbers, Lochte looks better,” Thorpe said.

Lochte is also outpacing his countryman on the hype meter heading to London after Phelps mania reached its peak four years ago. But together, they comprise a TV ad exec’s dream pairing.

And even if Lochte dethrones Phelps as king of the pool in the minds of Americans, Thorpe says that Phelps’ place in history is secure.

“To keep on doing it, Games after Games, is what makes Michael so special,” Thorpe said. “The man has dominated world swimming for a decade now. How can he still have such desire when he’s accomplished everything there is to in sport?

“He’s the greatest swimmer in history.”

Teaser:
<p> USA swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte highlight the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 04:51
Path: /olympics/lolo-jones%E2%80%99-redemption-run
Body:

Long before she was trending on Twitter and spiking ratings for HBO, Lolo Jones was one hurdle away from achieving her lifelong dream of winning an Olympic gold medal. But Jones — who entered the 100-meter hurdles final in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the fastest qualifier and prohibitive favorite — clipped the ninth of 10 hurdles and staggered across the finish line in a disastrous seventh place.

“The race was just going so smoothly. In the middle part, I caught my rhythm; everything was clicking. And it was just like a golden road, like the light shined down, like ‘Ahhh!’” Jones explained to the Associated Press after her race. “And then, just disaster. I didn’t even see it coming. I hit that hurdle and completely lost balance. For me, it normally happens about twice a year…It’s just crazy that it happened at the biggest race of my life.”

For Lori “Lolo” Jones, overcoming obstacles with undeniable grace and poise is nothing new. She has been a world-class hurdler — on and off the track — for her entire life.

One of six children raised by a single mother in Iowa, Jones once attended eight schools in eight years. She has lived in the basement of a Salvation Army church and was separated from her family and lived with four different local families during her career at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines.

Jones persevered through the hard times and came out on the other side in a full sprint at top speed. After being named Gatorade Midwest Athlete of the Year, Jones enrolled at LSU. While in Baton Rouge, she became an 11-time NCAA All-American and two-time member of the NCAA national title-winning 4x100-meter relay team.

Since establishing herself as an American record holder (60-meter hurdles) and Olympic heartbreaker, Jones has had substantial physical impediments placed in her way. Spinal surgery in late 2011 put her 2012 Olympic dreams in jeopardy. But, in typical Lolo style, she jumped over the barrier and kept on going.

Something of a Tim Tebow of track, the attractive Jones has made headlines by asserting that she is still a virgin, and she credits her Christian faith and old-fashioned hard work as the secrets to her success. With London calling, Jones is ready for her run at redemption, but she knows that winning that elusive gold medal won’t be easy. But she’s ready for whatever is in her way.

“They put the hurdles there for a reason; you have to get over them,” she says. “If you can’t get over them, you’re not meant to be the champion.”

Teaser:
<p> Lolo Jones aims for gold in the London Olympics.</p>
Post date: Monday, July 23, 2012 - 06:42
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-training-camp-dates-and-locations
Body:

The 2012 NFL season doesn't officially kick off until Sept. 5, but for all intents and purposes the road to Super Bowl XLVII gets started this week. Training camps for all 32 NFL teams are starting up as the preparation for the upcoming season kicks into high gear.

Some teams hold training camp at home, while others like to hit the road, but either way it's a great opportunity to get an early glimpse of how your favorite team is shaping up, not to mention a long sought-after autograph or two.

Below are dates and locations for 2012 training camps for all 32 NFL teams:

Team Site Location Rookies Veterans
Arizona Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 7/23 7/23
Atlanta Atlanta Falcons Facility Flowery Branch, GA 7/25 7/25
Baltimore Under Armour Performance Center Owings Mills, MD 7/22 7/25
Buffalo St. John Fisher College Pittsford, NY 7/9 7/25
Carolina Wofford College Spartanburg, SC 7/16 7/27
Chicago Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL 7/25 7/25
Cincinnati Paul Brown Stadium Cincinnati, OH 7/26 7/26
Cleveland Cleveland Browns Training Facility Berea, OH 7/24 7/26
Dallas City of Oxnard Fields Oxnard, CA 7/25 7/29
Denver Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre Englewood, CO 7/25 7/25
Detroit Detroit Lions Training Facility Allen Park, MI 7/23 7/26
Green Bay St. Norbert College Green Bay, WI 7/25 7/25
Houston Methodist Training Center Houston, TX 7/22 7/27
Indianapolis Anderson University Anderson, IN 7/25 7/28
Jacksonville Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields Jacksonville, FL 7/26 7/26
Kansas City Missouri Western State University St. Joseph, MO 7/26 7/26
Miami Miami Dolphins Training Facility Davie, FL 7/26 7/26
Minnesota Minnesota State University, Mankato Mankato, MN 7/26 7/26
New England Gillette Stadium Foxboro, MA 7/19 7/25
New Orleans New Orleans Saints Training Facility Metairie, LA 7/24 7/24
NY Giants University at Albany Albany, NY 7/26 7/26
NY Jets SUNY Cortland Cortland, NY 7/23 7/26
Oakland Napa Valley Marriott Napa, CA 7/29 7/29
Philadelphia Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA 7/22 7/25
Pittsburgh Saint Vincent College Latrobe, PA 7/25 7/25
San Diego Chargers Park San Diego, CA 7/22 7/25
San Francisco Marie P. DeBartolo Sports Center Santa Clara, CA 7/21 7/26
Seattle Virginia Mason Athletic Center Renton, WA 7/27 7/27
St. Louis ContinuityX Training Center Earth City, MO 7/24 7/28
Tampa Bay One Buccaneer Place Tampa, FL 7/18 7/26
Tennessee Baptist Sports Park Nashville, TN 7/24 7/27
Washington Redskins Park Ashburn, VA 7/16 7/25

— Published on July 9, 2012

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NFL Quarterbacks Rewrote Record Books in 2011

Miami Dolphins QBs Since Dan Marino: An NFL Horror Story

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2012 Preview magazine

Teaser:
<p> 2012 NFL Training Camp Dates and Locations</p>
Post date: Sunday, July 22, 2012 - 14:40
Path: /college-football/aj-mccarron-emerging-star-sec
Body:

How impressive was AJ McCarron’s performance against LSU in the BCS title game? He had surgery on his shoulder three days later.

In fact, McCarron’s whole season was pretty remarkable, and not just because he led Alabama to the national championship as a first-year starter. On Sept. 24, on the seventh play against Arkansas, he dislocated the shoulder on his throwing arm and sprained the AC joint and the labrum. He was often in so much pain that he couldn’t practice. Yet, when then-Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain told him that the gameplan for the rematch with the Tigers would involve a heavy dose of passing, McCarron just bit down on a chunk of leather and let it fly.

Okay, so he didn’t exactly hit LSU with a flurry of bombs. It was more like a tactical approach, with plenty of short throws. But McCarron finished 23-of-34 for 234 yards and no interceptions in the Tide’s 21–0 victory. Anybody surprised by his showing would have been positively stunned to know how much pain he had been in throughout the season. Until early January, that is.

“That night, in the championship game, it didn’t hurt a bit,” McCarron says.

When the 2011 season dawned, Alabama’s biggest question mark was under center. Gone were Greg McElroy and his 24–3 record as a starter. Neither McCarron nor Phillip Sims had distinguished himself particularly during spring drills, so McElwain and head coach Nick Saban didn’t designate a starter. But once the summer drills started, McCarron emerged and became a steady hand. As he approaches the start of his junior season, there is no doubt about his primacy, just as there are no questions about his health.

In new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s wide-open, spread system, McCarron should be even better. His arm strength has improved, thanks to an aggressive rehab program after surgery — “It feels like a million dollars,” he says — and his approach to defending the Tide’s title is aggressive and unwavering

“Do you want to be basic?” McCarron asks. “Do you want the (freshman) class of ’09 to walk off campus with two national championships, or do you want to be a dynasty and legendary and win three championships in four years?”

Now, some might say that being part of two title squads is anything but basic. (McCarron redshirted during the 2009 season.) But McCarron has a reason to be angry, and it’s not just to push himself to do better things. He grew up under extremely difficult financial circumstances, raised on “grilled cheese and French fries,” as he puts it. If the people in his neighborhood in Mobile hadn’t looked out for him and his brother, Corey, the sandwiches and fries might not have even made it to the table.

“It affected me tremendously, coming up from nothing at all,” McCarron says.

McCarron talks about how well his parents hid the family’s financial struggles from their children. If they hadn’t paid the cable bill, or the phone was turned off, it was simply a matter of workers tending to the lines. “My dad played it off so well,” McCarron says.

Because money was never plentiful, when the quarterback gets some now, he tends to hold onto it. His teammates tease him, because he checks the price before buying something. Anything.

“I’m super cheap,” he admits. “When you come from nothing, when you do have some money, you don’t want to blow it and go back to the way it was.”

The hard times have taught McCarron about what’s important. For instance, during the spring, Corey stayed with him after transferring to Tuscaloosa from South Alabama, where he played tight end. Corey got the bedroom. AJ took the couch. “He rules the place,” AJ says.

On the field, big brother is in charge. While Corey rehabs an injured ankle and prepares to make a bid for playing time at tight end, AJ gets ready to build on a fine debut season, during which he completed 66.8 percent of his throws for 2,634 yards, 16 scores and only five interceptions. Although the Tide relied heavily on running back Trent Richardson, who has moved on to the NFL, McCarron showed his ability by making few mistakes, even after getting hurt.

The shoulder injury came on a third down scramble on Bama’s first possession against the Razorbacks. On fourth down, Saban called for a fake field goal, with the holder (McCarron) supposed to throw the ball to tight end Michael Williams.

“I thought I broke my collarbone, because my bone was poking into my shoulder pads,” ­McCarron says. “I told (Williams), ‘I have no idea where this throw is going to go.’”

Of course, the ball was a perfect strike to Williams in the flat, and he took it 37 yards for a touchdown. It was just another highlight in a near-perfect season that ended with the big triumph in New Orleans against LSU, which had stumped the Bama offense in their early-November meeting, a 9–6 yawner.

As Alabama prepared for the Tigers, and McElwain informed McCarron of the plan, the quarterback was completely confident he could handle the added responsibility.

“They brought me along gradually last year and taught me how to play the game,” McCarron says. “In the national championship game, we knew they would be keying on Trent, so they gave me a chance to make plays.”

McCarron’s 34 attempts were his highest total all year. He didn’t take too many chances downfield, but he was accurate, kept the ball moving and allowed the Tide to build a lead slowly with five field goals. It wasn’t exactly the Run ‘n’ Shoot, but it was effective and kept LSU’s vaunted defense from controlling the game.

“He’s a very competitive guy,” LSU coach Les Miles says. “He really makes quality decisions and is very heady. He improved significantly during the back end of the season.”

That kind of talk makes McCarron happy, but he views complacency as an enemy and can’t wait to be the focal point of the Tide offense.

During conversation, he seems a bit arrogant. After a while, you just realize that he’s driven to excel and not interested in struggling in anything ever again. He’ll graduate next December (in only three-and-a-half years) with a degree in Health and Environmental Science, and he relishes the chance to lead the way this season.

“I think it’s huge,” he says of the opportunity. “If you are a competitor, you want the football. If you want to be considered the top dog, you’ve got to make big plays in big games.

“That’s where the greats come from.”

Even if they’re hurt.

— by Michael Bradley

This article appeared in Athlon's 2012 SEC Preview Annual.

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Ranking the SEC Defensive Lines for 2012

Ranking the SEC Wide Receiving Corps for 2012

Athlon's 2012 College Football Bowl Projections

Athlon’s 2012 SEC Predictions

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Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 Team Preview

SEC 2012 Heisman Contenders

Alabama’s Top 10 Players for 2012

An Inside Look at Signing Day With Vanderbilt’s James Franklin

Teaser:
<p> Alabama Football: AJ McCarron is an Emerging Star in the SEC</p>
Post date: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 06:35
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-weekend-rundown-july-19
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.

Injured All-Stars
The start of the second half has not been kind to several players who took part in the All-Star Game in Kansas City. Joey Votto, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Matt Holliday and Ryan Braun have all either been placed on the disabled list or left a game early due to injury this week. And that’s just the all-stars (see "Other DL and Injury News" below).

Votto actually initially injured his left knee sliding into third back on June 29, but he didn’t officially go on the DL until Tuesday. The 2010 NL MVP, who was having another stellar season (.342-14-49) at the plate, is expected to miss three to four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in the knee.

Bautista was the next to go down as the Toronto slugger left Monday’s game against the Yankees after feeling pain in his left wrist after hitting a long foul ball. X-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed inflammation and the Blue Jays put him on the DL on Tuesday. Bautista got off to a slow start at the plate, and even though the average (.244) may not be as high as last year’s .302 mark, he was second in the American League in both home runs (27) and RBIs (65) before he went on the shelf. The team is hopeful this will not turn into a lingering issue that will either keep him sidelined an extended period of time or affect his swing when he does try and return.

Ortiz also left his game on Monday early as he injured his Achilles circling the bases after teammate Adrian Gonzalez had hit a home run. Ortiz limped noticeably as he rounded third and crossed home plate. Aftterwards he and the team sought two different opinions before the decision was made to place him on the DL on Wednesday. The team is hoping this right Achilles strain will keep him out only the required 15 days.

Even though both left the same game early and were held out of the starting lineup the next day, for now it appears that neither Holliday nor Braun will be out for an extended period of time. Holliday left Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee after being hit in the leg with a pitch in the first inning. Braun left six innings later with an apparent groin strain while playing left field. Both were held out of the lineup on Wednesday, although Holliday did strike out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Both are off on Thursday and hope to be back in there on Friday.

The injury news hasn't been all bad for all-star-caliber players, however. The Red Sox and Dodgers each got a pair of big bats back in the returns of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury and Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, respectively, while Yankees ace CC Sabathia and Phillies ace Roy Halladay each made their first starts off of the DL on Tuesday night. The Cardinals’ Lance Berkman, the Mets’ Jason Bay, the Marlins’ Emilio Bonifacio, the Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz and the Rangers’ Alexi Ogando are some of the other players who have recently returned from extensive DL stints.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that there is a lot of talented, not to mention high-priced and more than likely highly drafted, hitters languishing on the DL. Chances are just about every owner out there has seen one or more of their big bats get bitten by the injury bug at some point this season. Consider this all-star lineup of players currently on the DL:

1B – Joey Votto
2B – Dustin Pedroia
SS – Troy Tulowitzki
3B – Evan Longoria
OF – Jose Bautista
OF – Jayson Werth
OF – Giancarlo Stanton
C – Victor Martinez
DH – David Ortiz

A Little Help?
If you are one of those unfortunate owners who are going to have to make do without the services of a Votto, Bautista or Ortiz for the next few weeks or longer, I don’t need to tell you that you won’t find a suitable replacement on your waiver wire. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some intriguing 1B, 3B and/or OF options out there. All of these are currently owned in less than 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Tyler Colvin, 1B/OF, Colorado – Colvin has shown what he can do with regular playing time as he’s sporting a handy .291-13-40 line in a little more than 200 at-bats. With Todd Helton on the DL, Colvin should continue to get plenty of opportunities from here out. And while Colvin undoubtedly benefits somewhat from calling Coor Fields home, his home/road splits are very similar. He’s managed a .299-7-23 line at home and a .283-6-17 on the road.

Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego – The subject of many a trade rumor, Headley does a lot of things well enough to merit roster consideration. He maintains a respectable batting average (.268), while offering both some pop (10 HR) and speed (10 SB). If he does get a new address via a trade, it will be interesting to see what the 28-year-old switch-hitter can do away from Petco Park, where he’s just a .259 hitter with two home runs so far this season.

Torii Hunter, OF, Los Angeles Angels – Nothing about Hunter’s current numbers (.272-10-39) necessarily stand out, but keep in mind two things. One, Hunter missed more than two weeks in May due to personal reasons, and he’s currently hitting second in the Angels’ lineup, behind Mike Trout and in front of Albert Pujols. In the No. 2 spot this season, Hunter has produced a .311-4-23 line, to go along with 23 runs scored.

Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington – LaRoche has had a nice rebound season after injuries devastated him in 2011 (.172, 3 HR, 15 RBI in just 43 G). LaRoche leads the Nationals with 55 RBIs and is second in home runs with 16, while batting .257.

Cody Ross, OF, Boston – Ross may not be on the wire much longer after the damage (3-for-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R) he did last night against the White Sox. On the season, Ross has put together a .269-15-47 line and even with Ellsbury and Crawford back, you have to figure Bobby Valentine will find a way to keep his bat in the lineup, especially with Ortiz on the DL. Ross is especially dangerous against left-handers as he is hitting .328 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 67 at-bats against southpaws this season.

Kyle Seager, 2B/3B/SS, Seattle – Believe it or not, but Seager has more RBIs than Votto (58 to 49) to go along with 11 home runs and eight stolen bases as he been a bright spot in what has otherwise been another dismal season for the Mariners.

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs – After hitting no home runs in April, Soriano has cranked 17 since, two of those coming after the All-Star break. Soriano is currently hitting .272, which is nearly 30 points higher than last year’s .244 average. A notorious free-swinger, Soriano has already walked 21 times this season, compared to 27 for all of 2011.

Other DL and Injury News
*Jason Bay returned to the Mets’ lineup on Tuesday, a month after sustaining a concussion when he slammed into the outfield wall trying to make a catch. Bay, who has struggled mightily at the plate this season, went 2-for-4 with a home run in Wednesday’s loss to the Nationals, his second game back.

*Dodgers’ right-hander Chad Billingsley went on the DL on Tuesday with elbow inflammation. Billingsley, who is 4-9 with a 4.30 ERA in 18 starts this season, is expected to return to the mound on July 23, the first day he is eligible to be reinstated from the DL.

*Minnesota closer Matt Capps went back on the DL on Tuesday with right rotator cuff irritation. Capps was sidelined briefly in June with shoulder issues, which led to his first DL stint, and the problem only got worse upon his return. Capps is expected to be out several weeks at the very least.

*Gavin Floyd went on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with right elbow tendinitis. An MRI revealed no structural damage and the White Sox right-hander is hopeful of returning to the mound on July 23. The team activated Philip Humber (right elbow flexor strain) from the DL to take Floyd’s place in the rotation. Humber, who tossed a perfect game against Seattle earlier this season, pitched six innings and gave up two runs in a 7-5 victory over Boston on Tuesday.

*Baltimore right-hander Jason Hammel underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Monday. Hammel injured his knee in Monday’s start against the Tigers, one he left after three innings. The team is not expecting Hammel, who leads the teams in wins (8), ERA (3.54) and strikeouts (106), back until September.

*Arizona outfielder Jason Kubel, who missed the team’s previous three games due to hamstring soreness, promptly returned to the lineup on Wednesday and hit two home runs off of Cincinnati’s Mat Latos. It was reported that Kubel may be headed to the DL because of the hamstring issue, but given his successful return last night, that’s probably a non-issue for now. Kubel has handled his adjustment to the NL quite nicely as the lefty swinger has managed a .295-17-63 line in his first season in a Diamondbacks’ uniform.

*Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie suffered a bruised right calf when he fell into the photographer’s well chasing a pop foul in Wednesday’s matinee against the Yankees. At first glance, the injury appeared to be much more serious, but X-rays were negative and Lawrie is day-to-day. The Blue Jays are off on Thursday and Lawrie said he hopes to be back in there on Friday against Boston.

*Houston infielder Jed Lowrie is expected to be out four to six weeks after spraining his right ankle and suffering nerve damage in his leg on a play at second base in Saturday’s game against the Giants. Lowrie was tied for third among shortstop-eligible players with 14 home runs at the time of his injury.

— By Mark Ross, published on July 19, 2012

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Weekend Rundown: July 19</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-state-football-cowboys-team-rise-big-12
Body:

Mike Gundy still remembers his dizzy response to the news that T. Boone Pickens was presenting a record $165 million gift to Oklahoma State athletics in 2005.

But then, how could he forget, with Pickens’ mega-donation stamped so permanently on Gundy’s program?

“I didn’t actually fathom the numbers that were involved, and that somebody would actually give that kind of money,” Gundy says. “But I had been in on or around the discussions enough to know that our only chance was to be able to at least somewhat re-do the facilities here.

“Everybody knew that Boone had made tons of money. And that he had the money. Still, you don’t give away $165 million. So I was stunned.”

These days, it’s Gundy and the Cowboys who are doing the stunning.

While Pickens provided the leaping-off point for a Cowboys program that has moved into the neighborhood of college football’s elite — and with a chance to stay, not to rent — it was only Step 1 in OSU’s rise to national prominence.

Gundy had to have a multifaceted plan, and then he and his assistants and the players had to pull it off. In January 2012, the project was all but complete, when the Cowboys capped their first Big 12 championship with their first BCS bowl appearance, rallying past Stanford for a 41–38 overtime win in the Fiesta Bowl.

In a season of firsts, the Pokes posted the only 12-win season in program history, the final step in a stunning progression. Oklahoma State had incrementally built toward the 12-win mark, winning nine, nine and 11 games in the three seasons before 2011.

But it all started with the plan and Gundy’s stated No. 1 step: Be unique.

“We started with how to separate ourselves and how to make ourselves different than we had been the past 60 years here,” says Gundy, who, as a former player and assistant coach, was all too aware of the program’s lackluster history. “We knew if we just kept going forward with the same program, it wasn’t going to work.”

First, Gundy hired Larry Fedora to install an up-tempo spread offense in 2005, moving away from Les Miles’ power-oriented attack and shifting the recruiting emphasis away from elite offensive linemen to a more plentiful supply of difference-making wide receivers.

“I brought Fedora in here, wanting to be no-huddle and play fast,” Gundy says. “We were kind of the innovators of that in this league, other than Mike Leach (at Texas Tech).

“Then we said we had to be different in recruiting, in order to recruit equal to or better than Texas and Oklahoma.”

Again, Gundy’s plan was to be unique.

The Cowboys held satellite camps in Texas in an effort to enhance their visibility in a key target state and to make it easier for prospects to check out what they had to offer. They sold high-scoring offense. They sold the promise of playing in a football palace, the renovated Boone Pickens Stadium. And they sold comforts — everything from bigger, better beds to training table chefs willing to cook mom’s favorite recipes.

“We had to have our niche,” Gundy says. “What could we do to be different? We knew we had to have an everyday lifestyle for our players that was equal to or better than anybody we recruited against. And one that they were comfortable with, so that our players could recruit other players. Or we didn’t feel like we had any chance at all at Oklahoma State. We didn’t think we could have players on our team that were sour and still recruit against teams that were tradition-rich, who could recruit no matter what.

“We had a number of discussions as a staff on what’s really important. Ultimately players win games. You’ve got to get the best players here. And we’ve got to keep them happy so that they’ll want to perform.”

Step by step, the pieces of the plan came together. And as the Cowboys built their model, the players came. Gundy and his staff hit on premium players like Dez Bryant, Zac Robinson, Russell Okung, Kendall Hunter and Perrish Cox.

“From there, we got to seven and nine wins, we were playing head-to-head with Texas and Oklahoma when they were No. 1 in the country,” Gundy says. “So people began to believe in us. And we started to get a few more good players each year.”

Then came the next wave, featuring Justin Blackmon, Markelle Martin, Joseph Randle, Justin Gilbert and others. And the program’s enhanced status appealed to Brandon Weeden, a 2001 OSU baseball signee who finally made it to Stillwater once his try at a professional baseball career had fizzled.

Eventually, the roster revealed landmark depth, featuring arguably the strongest top-to-bottom talent base in school history.

Along the way, the Cowboys broke down barriers. They took down Texas A&M four straight times. They beat the Longhorns back-to-back — in Austin. And finally, they popped Oklahoma 44–10, giving Gundy his first head coaching win over the Sooners and completing the meteoric rise.

“A helluva lot more satisfying,” says Weeden, who returned to Oklahoma State for his senior season, putting the NFL Draft on hold for another year. “I came back to beat Oklahoma. I came to Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma. To win 12 games, be able to go to a BCS game — all the things we accomplished — and to beat them like we did, that’s pretty special. You always want to win the big ones.”

OSU’s task now: to keep on winning, especially the big ones.
Weeden and Blackmon are gone, along with several other key members of a senior class that will go down as the most successful group in school history.

“Preseason magazines aren’t going to be that fired up about us,” Gundy says about predictions for 2012. “We’re not going to be ranked very high. But I expect our players to play very well…

“I expect to win a lot of football games.”

OSU’s profile has never been brighter. Along with the wins and the recent championships, Gundy carted off two national Coach of the Year awards and was rewarded with an eight-year, $30.3 million contract extension. The Cowboys play fast, score a lot and in 2011 became a Nike preferred team, further enhancing their image with recruits who admit to digging the creative uniform combinations.

“Now, we’re in a position where people do know who we are,” Gundy says. “And people do believe in us. Our recruiting is different. Players believe and they’re different. We don’t have a player on our team who hasn’t won a minimum of nine games a year.

“Winning’s become a habit here. And people expect it.”

And the Cowboys expect it, too, no matter the outside perception.

Two years ago, OSU was in a similar spot. A successful group that included Robinson, Okung, Bryant and Cox departed. But rather than fall back, as many predicted, the Cowboys made a statement about the strength of the program, surging to 11 wins and setting up their sensational 2012.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who left with Miles for LSU because he didn’t think the Cowboys had “as many bullets as the top programs,” returned last year to join Gundy and the new landscape in Stillwater.

“When I left, I didn’t think we had a chance to win every game,” Monken says. “From a coaching perspective, I’ve said this a number of times, I want to be somewhere where you have a chance to win every game. And when that isn’t reality, then I don’t want to be a part of it.

“I really feel with the facilities and with Mike and the other coaches, I think we have a chance to win every game.”

Monken had left just as Pickens was just opening his wallet. Eventually, Pickens’ gift opened doors to a positive future that once seemed off limits for OSU.

“Boone is so big in the big picture,” Gundy says. “We couldn’t have gotten started without him. He’s like the money guy you get to invest in a company. He invested in the company, got the company started. Then the company hired people, had workers, the coaches and players, who made the company run.

“And the company now could pay the investor back.”

— by John Helsley

This article appeared in Athlon's 2012 Big 12 Preview Annual.

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Teaser:
<p> Oklahoma State Football: T. Boone Pickens Has Launched Cowboys Rise to Power</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 05:30
All taxonomy terms: London 2012, Olympics, trivia, News, Olympics
Path: /olympics/10-surprising-facts-about-olympics
Body:

With the 2012 Summer Olympics coming soon, sports fans will be overwhelmed with facts, figures and features of every kind imaginable. But we found a few things you probably won't learn. Here are 10 surprising facts about the Olympic Games. 

1. Gold medals are mostly made of silver.

Despite the popular belief that the Gold Medal is composed of pure gold, this hasn’t been the case since the 1912 Olympics. Today’s Olympic Gold Medal is an imposter, made almost entirely from silver with approximately 6 grams of gold to meet the standard laid out in the Olympic Charter. The London Games medals are the biggest Olympic medals ever, weighing in at 400 grams. With gold selling at $1,571 an ounce, an Olympic medal made of pure gold would cost upwards of $20,000. 

 

2. The Olympic Torch Relay is not an ancient tradition.

The Torch Relay has its roots in the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics. Carl Diem, Chief Organizer of the Olympic Games, conceived of the relay as a propaganda tool for the Nazi Party to showcase the supposed superiority of the Aryan race. The relay passed through Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia, who would all succumb to Nazi rule within 10 years. 

 

3. Only three modern Olympic Games have been cancelled.

The games were cancelled due to World War I (1916) and World War II (1940, 1944). 

 

4. At least one of the Olympic Rings' colors appears in every national flag.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder off the modern Olympic Movement, conceived of the five-ringed symbol. He specifically chose the different colors—blue, green, yellow, black, and red—because at least one of those colors appeared on all the national flags of the world.  

 

5. Only five countries have been represented at every modern-era Summer Olympic Games.

Greece, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Australia. 

 

6.  Only one person has ever won gold medals during the Summer and Winter Olympics.

American Eddie Eagan has this distinction. In 1920, Eagan took home gold in boxing. He later earned a gold medal at the 1932 Lake Placid Games in the team bobsled event. 

 

7. Two athletes have won gold medals competing for two different nations.

Daniel Carrol first won gold in Rugby representing Australia in 1908 and then again in 1920 for the United States.  Kakhi Kakhiashvili won his first gold medal in Men’s Weightlifting competing as part of the Unified Team in the 1992 Barcelona Games, and later as a Greek citizen in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. 

 

8. Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games competed in the nude.

In fact, the word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek root “gymnos” meaning nude. As such, the literal translation of gymnasium is “school for naked exercise.”

 

9. The first Olympic drug suspension did not occur until 1968.

Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, a Swedish Pentathlete, tested positive for alcohol. He purportedly drank several beers before the Pentathlon and was thus suspended from the competition. 

 

10. The youngest Olympian in the modern era is Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed in the 1896 Athens Olympics at the age of 10.

Other young Olympian facts: At age 13, springboard diver Marjorie Gestring is the youngest female gold medalist in history, while 14-year-old Kusuo Kitamura is the youngest male individual gold medalist.  

 

—By Eric Chalifour

Teaser:
<p> Little-known facts about the gathering of nations.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 04:38
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /FantasyHelp
Body:

Athlon Sports has all the tools and resources you need to help you put together a championship-winning fantasy football team. First and foremost is the unique and ever-important Athlon Sports 2012 Big Board, the most accurate consensus top 150 list of fantasy footballers on the web. If you are curious to see how eight different sites rank the top players in fantasy football for the upcoming season, that's the place to start.

Besides the Big Board, Athlon's player rankings will be updated frequently and additional articles, team reports and other content will be added here each day. Be sure to bookmark this page and revisit it often.

Player Rankings:

Athlon Sports Big Board: Top 150

2012 NFL Fantasy Football Athlon's Top 250

Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: QBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: RBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: WRs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: TEs

Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: IDP Top 75
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: DLs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: LBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: DBs

Additional Analysis:

15 Best Fantasy Football Sleepers

2012 Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup: Quarterbacks

2012 Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup: Running Backs

2012 Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

Fantasy Football 2012: Breakout Sophomore Players

Fantasy Football 2012: Players Coming Back From Injury

Fantasy Football: 10 Biggest Injury Concerns at Quarterback

Fantasy Football: 10 Biggest Injury Concerns at Running Back

Fantasy Football: 10 Biggest Injury Concerns at Wide Receiver

Fantasy Football: 10 Biggest Injury Concerns at Tight End

How 2011 Fantasy Football Busts Will Do in 2012

Who's Number 1?

Feature Articles:

Fantasy Football 2012: Best Offensive Lines to Help the Running Game

Fantasy Football 2012: The Cure for Your Tim Tebow Obsession

Fantasy Football 2012: Decline of the Running Back

Fantasy Football 2012: The Rules for Picking Rookies

Other Resources:

2012 Bye Week Cheat Sheet

2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft I

50 Funny Fantasy Football Team Names

Team Reports:

Interested in playing Daily Fantasy Football this season? Athlon Sports is partnering with FanDuel to bring you the best in fantasy football games. See how much you can win.
 
You can order your award-winning Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Football preview magazine here.
Teaser:
<p> 2012 NFL Fantasy Football Tools and Resources</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 16:24
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-head-coaches-who-hot-seat
Body:

NFL Training Camps open up in a little more than a week, which means players will soon start fighting for coveted roster spots. Players aren’t the only ones, however, who could be fighting for their jobs. A number of coaches enter the upcoming season on the proverbial “hot seat.”

Below is a look at the coaches who really need to win in 2012 or otherwise start polishing up their resume.

2012 NFL Head Coaches Hot Seat Rankings

1. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
After missing the playoffs for a second straight season with a team that many expected to contend for a Super Bowl title, some were surprised that Turner got a reprieve for this season. There’s little doubt that this is Turner’s last stand with the Chargers, who should be able to compete with the now Peyton Manning-led Broncos for AFC West supremacy in 2012. For his career, Turner has a sub-.500 record (107-113-1) in 14 seasons and has only been to the playoffs four times. Two of those appearances have come in his five seasons with the Chargers, but if Turner has any hopes of keeping his job, just making the playoffs may not be enough this season.

2. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Reid is the most tenured coach in all of the NFL as he enters his 14th season leading the Eagles. The franchise’s all-time leader in wins (126), Reid has taken the team to the playoffs nine times, won six division titles, one NFC Championship, and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX following the 2004 season. However, after signing several marquee free agents, the Eagles’ so-called “Dream Team” stumbled out of the gates in 2011, starting the season 1-4. They never really got any momentum going until the end, when they won four in a row against non-playoff teams, and finished the season a disappointing 8-8. Owner Jeffrey Lurie has not come out and said so publicly, but it’s pretty clear that Reid and the Eagles need to not only make the playoffs this season, but get beyond the first round. Otherwise there will probably be significant changes, starting at the top.

3. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Last season was the first in three that Ryan did not lead his Jets to the playoffs, although he did get them to just a win away from the Super Bowl in his first two. However, when the team you share the city with has two world championships in the past five seasons, it’s pretty clear that you need to do more than just talk a good game. Ryan seems to have moved on from his annual Super Bowl guarantees, which is a wise move on his part. Besides, if he and the Jets don’t fare better than 8-8 this season, the only guarantee he will need to worry about is one coming from owner Woody Johnson about his job security.

4. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Garrett may be entering just his second full season as a head coach, but let’s not kid ourselves here, the Dallas Cowboys aren’t your typical NFL franchise. Garrett has posted a winning record (15-13) in his tenure, but the ‘Boys went 8-8 in 2011, missing the playoffs for the second straight season. Jerry Jones isn’t known for being a patient man and with a potential coaching free agency pool that could include the likes of Super Bowl winners Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Brian Billick and Jon Gruden, Garrett can ill afford a slow start or losing season.

5. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Just like Garrett, Frazier has been in charge of the Vikings for only one full season. However, that’s where the similarities end between the two coaches as the Vikings and Cowboys are in two entirely different situations. The Vikings are in complete rebuild mode and no one is expecting them to compete for a playoff spot in 2012. That said, if Frazier isn't even able to improve on last year’s 3-13 dismal showing then no one would be surprised if owner Zygi Wilf goes with someone else to oversee the rebuild in Minnesota.

6. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Lewis has accomplished quite a bit in his nine-season Bengals’ tenure, most notably two division titles and three playoff appearances. However, he’s yet to post consecutive winning seasons or playoff berths either, and overall has a losing record (69-74-1). If the Bengals are unable to build upon last season’s wild card berth, this may end up being Lewis’ last season in Cincinnati.

7. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
After starting the 2011 season 7-3, the Bears stumbled miserably down the stretch finishing 1-5 and missing the playoffs. Season-ending injuries to both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte played a significant role behind the team’s collapse. That’s why new general manager Phil Emery addressed the depth at both quarterback and running back as well as added wide receiver Brandon Marshall during the offseason. With these moves and others, Smith and the Bears really have no excuses should they miss the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. If that happens, Smith’s run in the Windy City could come to an end.

8. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Like the Bears, the Bills got off to a great start (5-2) last season, before watching it all come apart and finishing a disappointing 6-10. The Bills focused their offseason efforts on upgrading the defense, highlighted by the signing of marquee free agent Mario Williams. If the team doesn’t show signs of taking that next step in 2012 and posts an eighth straight losing season, the first casualty will more than likely be the 60-year-old Gailey.

9. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
The Browns haven’t been in the playoffs since 2002 and have had two winning seasons in the past 10. No one is expecting them to contend for a playoff spot in 2012, especially since they are in the same division as Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but there’s no reason they can’t win more than four games this season either. The Browns have put together several solid drafts recently, highlighted by this year’s first-round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. If Shurmur and his team doesn’t start showing some results on the field, chances are someone else will get the chance to coach the young pups in 2013.

10. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Injuries devastated the Chiefs early and often last season, but that still wasn’t enough of an excuse for Todd Haley to save his job. Crennel took over, went 2-1 in the final three games, and should get a healthy Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and other key players back this season. Now it’s up to Crennel to show he’s the right man to lead the Chiefs back to the playoffs. Even though he and general manager Scott Pioli have a relationship that goes back to their days with the Patriots, Crennel’s track record as a head coach (24-40 with Cleveland from 2005-08) isn’t exactly the strongest.

Four More Names to Watch

Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Kubiak led the Texans to their first-ever 10-win season, division title, playoff appearance and playoff victory in 2011 and then signed a two-year contract extension that takes him through the 2014 season in June. So why is he even mentioned here, you ask? Because for the first time in franchise history, the Texans are not only expected to make the playoffs, but compete for a spot in the Super Bowl. Kubiak’s never had to coach a team with such high expectations, so what happens if the Texans don’t meet said expectations?

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Yes Payton won’t be coaching this season, so he can’t do anything to “hurt” his resume, if you will. However, given the damage done, not only to Peyton’s reputation and wallet, but also to the Saints’ franchise itself, because of the bounty scandal, you can’t help but wonder if perhaps Payton has already coached his last game for the Saints. He is under contract through the 2015 season, but I have to think should he want out of the Big Easy or vice versa, something can be worked out. Did I mention Payton has a house in Dallas?

Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
What’s a coach with 157 career wins (14th all-time) and two Super Bowl titles have to worry about? Perhaps nothing, but Shanahan has gone just 11-21 in his first two seasons in Washington. His contract runs through 2014 and it pays him $7 million a year, but money has never been an issue for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Shanahan's best seasons came when he had a quarterback named John Elway on his roster. Will he be able to revisit that success with his new field general, No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III? More importantly, will he get enough time to even find out?

Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
Whisenhunt has won two division titles and led the Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII in his five seasons so far in the desert. The problem is, both playoff appearances and the NFC Championship came with Kurt Warner leading the offense. Since Warner’s retirement, the Cardinals have gone 13-21 and missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Arizona’s quarterback situation entering training camp is uncertain at best and how that turns out this season could play a significant role in Whisenhunt’s future with the team.

— By Mark Ross, published on July 16, 2012

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2012 NFL Coaches: Who is the NFC's Best Coach?
2012 NFL Coaches: Who is the AFC's Best Coach?

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Ranking the NFL’s Best Backup Quarterbacks

The 10 Worst NFL Teams Since Expansion

NFL Quarterbacks Rewrote Record Books in 2011

Miami Dolphins QBs Since Dan Marino: An NFL Horror Story

2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers


AFC South
Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings


NFC South
Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2012 Preview magazine

Teaser:
<p> 2012 NFL Head Coaches: Who is on the Hot Seat?</p>
Post date: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 09:30

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