Articles By Athlon Sports

Path: /nfl/jerome-harrisons-brain-tumor-timeline-how-it-was-found
Body:

Jerome Harrison now joins of the ranks of "guys who learned they had brain tumors because of football."

The last example of this was the famous Tony Gonzalez hit on then unknown photographer Mickey Pfleger. The hit knocked Pfleger unconscious and because he went to the hospital and had a brain scan, doctors discovered an enormous brain tumor and were able to catch it in time. In other words, the Tony Gonzalez hit saved Pfleger's life.

And now we have a similar situation with Jerome Harrison, who may have just had his life saved because of a physical performed during the Harrison for Ronnie Brown trade (which is now voided.)

A lot of dominoes had to fall for the life-saving Jerome Harrison for Ronnie Brown trade. So let's look at a few of the details and history that needed to happen for this trade to take place, and hence, for doctors to find Jerome Harrison's brain tumor and save his life.

7. Kevin Smith Tears His ACL In 2009
If the Lions starting running back at the time hadn't torn his ACL at the end of 2009, then Detroit probably wouldn't have made a point of trading up to go after Jahvid Best to replace him. (Why they went after an injury-prone back to fill the role of an injured back is another argument for another time.)

6. Jahvid's Concussions Drop Him In The 2010 Draft
Jahvid Best was supposed to be the next Chris Johnson. A super fast track star who could make guys miss and take it to the house on any given play. But after suffering two concussions in college one against Arizona State and another against Oregon State), his draft stock fell. Hard. Originally thought to be an early to mid first rounder, his injuries scared teams off and he fell to the end of the first round. The Lions traded up to get the 30th pick in the first round to snatch up Best (they took Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick.) If NFL teams weren't concerned about Best's injuries, he would have gone much higher, giving the Lions no chance at drafting him.

5. The Lions Draft Jahvid Best in 2010
Considered an injury risk coming out of Cal, Best seemed like he was a concussion away from happening in the new NFL. After suffering a couple concussions in college (one of them was brutal), combined with the NFL's increased concerns about player's concussions in recent years, Jahvid is one of the biggest running back injury concerns in the league. If the Lions opt for a more sturdy back, then the dominoes that fell into place for the Harrison deal has a far smaller chance of happening.

4. Mikel LeShoure's Tears His Achilles In the 2011 Preseason
Mikel LeShoure was supposed to be the back-up for Jahvid Best. And if he doesn't go out for the season with a torn achilles in the preseason, the Lions don't sign Jerome Harrison (who played for the Eagles last year) to play the role of back-up on Detroit.

3. Jerome Harrison and Ronnie Brown's Poor Play in 2011
Let's face it, if Harrison had been playing great, the Lions would have never traded him. And the same goes for Ronnie Brown and the Eagles. The Detroit Free Press had labeled the running game behind Best a "downer" and "unimpressive." The only reason this trade was made, was that Harrison played for the Eagles last year, so he knows the system. The Lions were hoping a change of scenery and offensive scheme would help Brown, while the Eagles were hoping the same for Harrison, who had played sparingly, but pretty well for them last year.

2. The Lions Played the 49ers in Week 6
To further the point about Best's concussion, the fact they were playing the 49ers seemed to increase Best's chances of getting hurt. According to the Mercury News: The 49ers have a history of knocking running backs out of games in the fourth quarter this year. In addition to Best, they've also hurt Tampa's LeGarrette Blount and Dallas' Felix Jones. If the Lions were playing another team, Best may have not suffered a concussion and the Harrison-Brown trade may have never happened.

1. Jahvid Best's Concussion in Week 6
It's ironic that a brain tumor was found because of a head injury to another player. But that's the case here. If Jahvid Best doesn't suffer a concussion in the 4th quarter of the Lions loss to the 49ers, then this trade never happens. The only reason the Harrison for Brown trade took place was that the ions thought Ronnie Brown was a better insurance policy than Harrison if Best ended up missing the rest of the season. The mandatory physical this trade caused found the tumor in Jerome Harrison's brain. Doctors think they have caught it so early that he will not only recover fully, but that he may be able to play again.

In summary, Jerome Harrison may have had his life saved because Kevin Smith tore his ACL in 2009, which caused the Lions to draft running back Jahvid Best in 2010. The Lions were able to draft Best because his draft stock fell due to his own concussions. When Mikel LeShoure tore his achilles, the Lions signed Harrison to back-up Best, who suffered his second concussion of the year when the Lions played the 49ers--a team who has a history of knocking running backs out of games. With the injury-prone Best's future in question this season, the Lions attempted to swap the poor playing Harrison for the equally poor playing Brown, causing the physical that found his tumor.

Teaser:
<p> A lot of dominoes had to fall for the life-saving Jerome Harrison for Ronnie Brown trade.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Friday, October 21, 2011 - 13:54
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/anyone-know-if-uab-tickets-are-still-available
Body:

This was the scene at the UAB Blazers home game tonight (Oct. 20th) against the UCF Knights. Even if UAB pulls off the upset and the fan(s) storm the field, I'm pretty sure that goal post has absolutely nothing to worry about. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a more epic case of no one showing up to a sporting event (that was also on TV) in my life.

Sure, the fightin' Blazers are ranked a mere 112th in college football's Top 120. But they're playing THE UCF Knights, who are a whopping 70th. Who wouldn't come out to see a football team who's so good, that only 69 teams in the country are better than? (That sentence sounds weird, but you get the joke.)

UAB might need some help in the "people who care about UAB" department.

If you want to see how this epic battle ended (I'm assuming you weren't there) the box score is here

Teaser:
<p> UAB might need some help in the "people who care about UAB department."</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 22:44
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 — Wide Receiver Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Calvin Johnson DET vs. ATL
2 Mike Wallace PIT at ARI
3 Greg Jennings GB at MIN
4 Miles Austin DAL vs. STL
5 Steve Smith CAR vs. WAS
6 Marques Colston NO vs. IND
7 Dwayne Bowe KC at OAK
8 Roddy White ATL at DET
9 Dez Bryant DAL vs. STL
10 Larry Fitzgerald ARI vs. PIT
11 Brandon Marshall MIA vs. DEN
12 Santonio Holmes NYJ vs. SD
13 Anquan Boldin BAL at JAC
14 Vincent Jackson SD at NYJ
15 Pierre Garcon IND at NO
16 Jordy Nelson GB at MIN
17 Eric Decker DEN at MIA
18 Brandon Lloyd STL at DAL
19 Santana Moss WAS at CAR
20 Reggie Wayne IND at NO
21 Sidney Rice SEA at CLE
22 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. KC
23 Percy Harvin MIN vs. GB
24 Nate Washington TEN vs. HOU
25 Mike Williams TB vs. CHI (in London)
26 Greg Little CLE vs. SEA
27 Kevin Walter HOU at TEN
28 Malcom Floyd SD at NYJ
29 Lance Moore NO vs. IND
30 Doug Baldwin SEA at CLE
31 Mike Thomas JAC vs. BAL
32 Robert Meachem NO vs. IND
33 Jacoby Jones HOU at TEN
34 Jacoby Ford OAK vs. KC
35 James Jones GB at MIN
36 Plaxico Burress NYJ vs. SD
37 Steve Breaston KC at OAK
38 Johnny Knox CHI at TB (in London)
39 Torrey Smith BAL at JAC
40 Jason Hill JAC vs. BAL
41 Devin Hester CHI at TB (in London)
42 Danario Alexander STL at DAL
43 Jabar Gafney WAS at CAR
44 Arrelious Benn TB vs. CHI (in London)
45 Dane Sanzenbacher CHI at TB (in London)
46 Hines Ward CLE at OAK
47 Nate Burleson DET vs. ATL
48 Harry Douglas ATL at DET
49 Davone Bess MIA vs. DEN
50 Denarius Moore OAK at KC
51 Michael Jenkins MIN vs. GB
52 Antonio Brown PIT at ARI
53 Devery Henderson NO vs. IND
54 Brandon Gibson STL at DAL
55 Mohamed Massaquoi CLE vs. SEA
56 Early Doucet ARI vs. PIT
57 Titus Young DET vs. ATL
58 Damian Williams TEN vs. HOU
59 Ben Obomanu SEA at CLE
60 Preston Parker TB vs. CHI (in London)
61 Emmanuel Sanders PIT at ARI
62 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. WAS
63 Eddie Royal DEN at MIA
64 Randall Cobb GB at MIN
Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 20:29
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 — Kicker Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. KC
2 Billy Cundiff BAL at JAC
3 Jason Hanson DET vs. ATL
4 Mason Crosby GB at MIN
5 John Kasay NO vs. IND
6 Neil Rackers HOU at TEN
7 Dan Bailey DAL vs. STL
8 Robbie Gould CHI at TB (in London)
9 Rob Bironas TEN vs. HOU
10 Nick Novak SD at NYJ
11 Matt Bryant ATL at DET
12 Nick Folk NYJ vs. SD
13 Connor Barth TB vs. CHI (in London)
14 Graham Gano WAS at CAR
15 Adam Vinatieri IND at NO
16 Josh Brown STL at DAL
Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 20:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 — Quarterback Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Drew Brees NO vs. IND
2 Aaron Rodgers GB at MIN
3 Tony Romo DAL vs. STL
4 Cam Newton CAR vs. WAS
5 Ben Roethlisberger PIT at ARI
6 Philip Rivers SD at NYJ
7 Matthew Stafford DET vs. ATL
8 Matt Schaub HOU at TEN
9 Joe Flacco BAL at JAC
10 Tim Tebow DEN at MIA
11 Matt Hasselbeck TEN vs. HOU
12 Josh Freeman TB vs. CHI (in London)
13 Matt Ryan ATL at DET
14 Jay Cutler CHI at TB (in London)
15 Colt McCoy CLE vs. SEA
16 Matt Cassel KC at OAK
17 Mark Sanchez NYJ vs. SD
18 Sam Bradford STL at DAL
19 Kevin Kolb ARI vs. PIT
20 Carson Palmer OAK vs. KC
21 Curtis Painter IND at NO
22 Matt Moore MIA vs. DEN
23 Charlie Whitehurst SEA at CLE
24 John Beck WAS at CAR
25 Blaine Gabbert JAC vs. BAL
26 Christian Ponder MIN vs. GB

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 16:59
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 16:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 — Defense/Special Teams Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Rk Player OPPONENT
1 Green Bay Packers at MIN
2 Baltimore Ravens at JAC
3 Pittsburgh Steelers at ARI
4 Dallas Cowboys vs. STL
5 Chicago Bears at TB (in London)
6 New York Jets vs. IND
7 New Orleans Saints vs. IND
8 Detroit Lions vs. ATL
9 San Diego Chargers at NYJ
10 Oakland Raiders vs. KC
11 Washington Redksins at CAR
12 Cleveland Browns vs. SEA
13 Houston Texans at TEN
14 Tennessee Titans vs. HOU
15 Atlanta Falcons at DET
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. CHI (in London)

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 13:07
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 — Tight End Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jimmy Graham NO vs. IND
2 Jason Witten DAL vs. STL
3 Owen Daniels HOU at TEN
4 Jermichael Finley GB at MIN
5 Fred Davis WAS at CAR
6 Tony Gonzalez ATL at DET
7 Brandon Pettigrew DET vs. ATL
8 Greg Olsen CAR vs. WAS
9 Kellen Winslow TB vs. CHI (in London)
10 Dallas Clark IND at NO
11 Dustin Keller NYJ vs. SD
12 Ed Dickson BAL at JAC
13 Ben Watson CLE vs. SEA
14 Jared Cook TEN vs. HOU
15 Heath Miller PIT at ARI
16 Kevin Boss OAK vs. KC
17 Daniel Fells DEN at MIA
18 Jeremy Shockey CAR vs. WAS
19 Visanthe Shiancoe MIN vs. GB
20 Marcedes Lewis JAC at PIT
21 Todd Heap ARI vs. PIT
22 Lance Kendricks STL at DAL
23 Randy McMichael SD at NYJ
24 Zach Miller SEA at CLE
25 Anthony Fasano MIA vs. DEN
26 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. GB

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 12:18
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-7
Body:

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 7 — Running Back Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 7 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Darren McFadden OAK vs. KC
2 Ray Rice BAL at JAC
3 Matt Forte CHI at TB (in London)
4 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. GB
5 Arian Foster HOU at TEN
6 Rashard Mendenhall PIT at ARI
7 Michael Turner ATL at DET
8 Chris Johnson TEN vs. HOU
9 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. BAL
10 Steven Jackson STL at DAL
11 Ryan Mathews SD at NYJ
12 Beanie Wells ARI vs. PIT
13 Earnest Graham TB vs. CHI (in London)
14 Willis McGahee DEN at MIA
15 Darren Sproles NO vs. IND
16 Daniel Thomas MIA vs. DEN
17 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. SD
18 Ryan Torain WAS at CAR
19 Mark Ingram NO vs. IND
20 Jackie Battle KC at OAK
21 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. STL
22 Marshawn Lynch SEA at CLE
23 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. WAS
24 James Starks GB at MIN
25 Montario Hardesty CLE vs. SEA
26 Mike Tolbert SD at NYJ
27 Delone Carter IND at NO
28 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. WAS
29 Pierre Thomas NO vs. IND
30 Ryan Grant GB at MIN
31 Tashard Choice DAL vs. STL
32 Reggie Bush MIA vs. DEN
33 Ben Tate HOU at TEN
34 Michael Bush OAK vs. KC
35 Maurice Morris DET vs. ATL
36 LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ vs. SD
37 Thomas Jones KC at OAK
38 Donald Brown IND at NO
39 Knowshon Moreno DEN at MIA
40 Tim Hightower WAS at CAR
41 Dexter McCluster KC at OAK
42 Roy Helu WAS at CAR
43 Ricky Williams BAL at JAC
44 Isaac Redman PIT at ARI
45 Marion Barber CHI at TB (in London)
46 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at DET
47 Javon Ringer TEN vs. HOU
48 Deji Karim JAC vs. BAL

Teaser:
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Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 11:10
All taxonomy terms: hot spot camera, predator, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/what-it-felt-watching-foxs-hot-spot-cam
Body:

I'm not totally sure how long Fox has had their infrared "Hot Spot" camera, but it was a little jarring when they brought it out of nowhere last night to kinda, sorta tell us that maybe Adrian Beltre's ninth inning out, was actually a foul ball that had hit him in the foot. No one bothered explaining if a ball hitting someone's foot makes more of a "hot spot" than a ball hitting regular ground. But if Predator taught me anything, I guess it's that infrared cameras can't see anything that's covered in mud. 

Still, a little explanation would have helped.

Teaser:
<p> Anyone else reminded of a certain '80s movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger while watching game 1 of the World Series?</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 05:12
Path: /nfl/devin-hester-scores-17th-return-td
Body:

Here's a look at some of the players who stood out in the NFL's week 6.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears
For some reason, teams continue to kick the ball to Hester, who scored his 17th career return TD on a 98-yard kick return in Chicago’s 39–10 blowout of Minnesota on Sunday night. Hester — who has scored on 12 punt returns, four kickoff returns and one missed FG return — now trails only Deion Sanders (19) for first on the all-time return TD list. The playmaker from Miami also added five catches for 91 yards and a 48-yard first-quarter TD, as the Bears’ offense scored more points than it had all season.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants
The G-Men head into their bye week sitting alone in first place of the NFC East standings, after a 27–24 win over upstate rival Buffalo. Bradshaw carried the load, with 26 rushes for 104 yards and three trips to the end zone — all coming from one yard out. The Big Blue offense protected the football (zero turnovers), while the Wrecking Crew defense forced two takeaways — with Corey Webster picking off a pair of Ryan Fitzpatrick passes intended for Stevie Johnson.

Kurt Coleman, S, Eagles
A seventh-round pick out of Ohio State in 2010, Coleman is not one of the decorated all-stars that litter the talent-laden Philadelphia roster. But the second-year safety was the hero of the underachieving “Dream Team” during a 20–13 win at Washington. Coleman, who was subbing for the injured Jarrad Page, became the first Eagle with three INTs in a single game since Joe Scarpati in 1966, as Philly earned its 10th win in its last 12 trips to the nation’s capital.

Shane Lechler, P, Raiders
It turns out the NFL’s all-time leader in career punting average also has a pretty good arm. Serving as the holder on a field goal attempt, Lechler executed the perfect fake — pausing to sell the kick before raising up and spinning a perfect pass to tight end Kevin Boss, who rumbled 35 yards for a TD. The eight-time All-Pro also had four punts for 194 yards (48.5 avg.) in a 24–17 victory over the Browns.

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers
Heading into the Week 6 showdown with the Saints, Freeman was 0–2 at home and 2–0 on the road against the NFC South division rival. That changed on Sunday. Freeman completed 23-of-41 passes for 303 yards, two TDs and zero INTs in a 26–20 win over New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium. On the other side, Drew Brees threw three costly INTs, as the Saints’ four-game win streak was snapped.
 

Teaser:
<p> The Bears playmaker trails only Deion Sanders on the all-time return TD list.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 17:12
Path: /mlb/world-series-preview-pictures
Body:

The 2011 World Series kicks off tonight with a battle between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. So to get you ready for this fall classic, let's take a look at both team's managers, players and even front office executives who you'll be watching for the next 4 to 7 games. 

By Saul Hutson

Teaser:
<p> The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals square off in the 2011 World Series</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 07:26
All taxonomy terms: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers, NFL
Path: /nfl/jim-harbaugh-captain-comeback
Body:

Jim Harbaugh was born to coach. His father, Jack, coached football for 40 years, winning an FCS national championship at Western Kentucky in 2002. His brother, John, has made the playoffs every season since taking over the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. Even his brother-in-law, Tom Crean, is in the business — coaching basketball at Indiana University.

With all due respect to the rest of the Harbaugh coaching clan, Jim is the star — and always has been.

Raised in Palo Alto, Calif., Harbaugh played under Bo Schembechler at Michigan, where he was named the 1986 Big Ten Player of the Year, finished third in the Heisman Trophy race and took the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl as a senior.

The 6'3", 215-pound Harbaugh was a first-round pick (No. 26 overall) of the Chicago Bears. After 15 seasons — highlighted by a Pro Bowl nod and Comeback Player of the Year honors in 1995 — Harbaugh retired from the NFL and started coaching full-time.

Working his way up the ranks, Harbaugh was the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders from 2002-03 — mentoring MVP Rich Gannon for the Super Bowl XXXVII runners-up.

Harbaugh’s first head coaching job came at San Diego University. In three seasons, he led the Toreros to a 29–6 record, with back-to-back 11–1 seasons and Pioneer League titles.

From there, Harbaugh moved up from the FCS to the FBS, taking over a Stanford University squad that finished 1–11 the year before he arrived. After four seasons, Harbaugh had turned the Cardinal into a 12–1 team and Orange Bowl winner.

Nine years after walking away from the NFL, the man known as “Captain Comeback” during his playing days was presented with a “perfect competitive opportunity” to coach his hometown team. Harbaugh jumped at the chance to return to the NFL as coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

“This is the shot, and the organization I wanted to do it with,” Harbaugh said, after signing a five-year, $25 million contract. “I can feel the enthusiasm coursing through my veins.”

Harbaugh’s energy and intensity have been evident — for both better and worse. The 49ers are alone in first place of the NFC West with a 5–1 record, the proud franchise’s best start since 1998.

But the biggest win of the season — a 25–19 upset on the road against the previously unbeaten Detroit Lions — ended in controversy. When the clock hit zero, Harbaugh celebrated by untucking his shirt, jumping around, hooting, hollering and running onto the field — where he gave Lions coach Jim Schwartz a quick, slap handshake and strong pat on the back before bolting for the locker room. Schwartz took offense, chasing after Harbaugh in a surreal scene.

Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Harbaugh learned his lesson.

“I was just really revved up,” explained Harbaugh. “I shook his hand too hard. … We’ll just try to do better — work on the postgame handshake.”
 

Teaser:
<p> The rookie coach is restoring order to the 49ers — but not with his postgame handshakes.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 05:43
All taxonomy terms: Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns, News
Path: /news/athlons-april-rose-tailgates-texas-ou-game-video
Body:

Athlon Sports Oklahoma vs Texas Tailgate Tour from Max Zarchin on Vimeo.

We sent our favorite reporter, April Rose, down to the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners game to find out why it's one of the biggest and best rivalries in sports. Apparently it has something to do with the fans not liking each other.

Teaser:
<p> The Longhorns and Sooners have one of the best rivalries in sports. April Rose finds out why.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 12:08
Path: /news/raiders-make-oopsy-trade-two-first-rounders-bengals-carson-palmer
Body:

Carson Palmer is finally out of retirement and no longer a Bengal after the Al Davis-less Raiders traded two first round draft picks (one of them conditional) to Cincinnati.

I guess Al Davis lives on.

Let's get this straight. The Oakland Raiders gave up two first rounders (ostensibly selling their future) for a quarterback who hasn't played in over a year. And when he did play the last two years, he wasn't actually "good."

Jason Campbell, who had performed great in 2011 for the surprise Raiders, and has been part of their early season success may only be out for six weeks. Even if he's out for the season, it's going to take Carson at least a month to get up to speed and learn the Raiders' offense. 

And it's not like Carson Palmer is Peyton Manning even when he has the complete grasp of an offensive scheme. After his injury three years ago, he was never the same quarterback he was in his early years in Cincinnati. Two first round picks seems like an insane price to pay, when you could probably have gotten Bruce Gradkowski--a QB who knows the offense and can fill in while Campbell is out--for a song. 

From a fan's perspective, it is nice to know that the Raiders are doing everything they can to win now. But guess what, Carson Palmer doesn't make you better than the Patriots, 49ers, Packers or Steelers. In fact, I'm not sure he makes you better than the Rams. 

And so, when you don't actually win after raiding your future drafts, you're left with a team that will wallow in mediocrity for a long time. Just ask the Chicago Bears. They went out and spent a lot of draft picks on a quarterback thinking it would get them over the hump. It did not. Sure, they got to a Conference Championship last year, but anyone who saw the Bears play last year knew they got lucky with more than a few wins (and Cutler wasn't what got them there). And because they had no draft picks to build up their offensive line or go get a top-rated receiver, they will be a .500 football team for the foreseeable future.

But someone should finally congratulate Mike Brown, the stubborn owner of the Bengals, who finally saw the error of his ways (or was given an offer that even he couldn't refuse). Maybe turning down two first rounders for Ochocinco two years ago only to see Ochocinco turn into an Ocho-ty year old man in front of his eyes made Brown realize that it's smarter to get something for nothing, than stick with nothing sitting on a couch instead of playing football.

Teaser:
<p> This may go down as one of the worst trades in history</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 11:41
Path: /nfl/sam-bradford-owners-rejoice-%E2%80%94-brandon-lloyd-has-arrived
Body:

It's safe to say that the St. Louis Rams, who have yet to win a game this season, probably won't make the NFL playoffs. However, it appears they haven't thrown in the towel yet, either, as evidenced by Monday's trade for Brandon Lloyd.

The addition of the former Denver Broncos wide receiver provides quarterback Sam Bradford and the Rams' passing attack with something they have been lacking —a bona fide No. 1 receiver. Lloyd immediately becomes the top option for the Rams' aerial attack, which currently ranks 25th in the NFL with 209.4 yards per game.

The Rams acquired Lloyd from the Broncos on Monday for a conditional sixth-round pick in next year's draft. The pick could become a fifth-rounder, depending on how many receptions Lloyd has with the Rams.

Lloyd, 30, was in the last year of his contract with the Broncos and didn't figure in the team's future plans. With the trade, Lloyd is reunited with Ram's offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was the Broncos' head coach last season.

Having played for McDaniels in Denver, Lloyd is familiar with the Rams' offense, so there's little reason to think he won't be in the starting line up this Sunday when the Rams travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.

Further, it was under McDaniels that Lloyd had his best season, when he caught 77 passes for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010. This year he has 19 receptions for 283 yards and no touchdowns.

Even though Lloyd's production is down this year compared to last, he still represents an upgrade for the Rams' receiving corps. Brandon Gibson currently leads the Rams with 17 receptions, which have gone for 214 yards and a touchdown.

Danario Alexander has received the most targets (33, same number as Lloyd) and has the most receiving yards with 287. He also is averaging more than 20 yards per catch and has one touchdown.

Lloyd's arrival also means the departure of Mike Sims-Walker, who signed as a free agent in August and was released Monday afternoon. He was expected to be the Rams' starting wide receiver, opposite Danny Amendola, before the start of this season. Sims-Walker caught six passes against the New York Giants in Week 2, but totaled five receptions in three other games. He was inactive this past Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Amendola, on the other hand, was the Rams' leading receiver last year, but he went down in Week 1 with a dislocated elbow and then suffered a triceps tear that required surgery. Looking at a four-month recovery, the team placed him on injured reserve during their bye week, ending his season.

Lloyd should be one starter, with Alexander, a viable deep threat provided he can stay healthy, lining up on the other side. Gibson had replaced Amendola as the Rams' second option/slot receiver, but he's being pushed by rookie Greg Salas, who caught eight passes against the Packers.
 
Regardless, the addition of Lloyd should lead to good things for the Rams’ passing attack and likewise, Bradford’s numbers. Bradford was the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year last season after completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,512 yards (219.5 ypg) with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 76.5. Five games into this season, Bradford’s completion percentage has dropped to 53 percent and he’s thrown for 1,170 yards (234 ypg) with just three touchdown passes and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 72.0.
 
Some of Bradford’s struggles can be attributed to the offensive line. Last year he was sacked a total of 34 times. This year, Bradford’s already been sacked an NFL-high 21 times. At this rate (4.2 sacks per game), Bradford is on pace to be sacked 67 times. Last year, the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler was sacked 52 times, the most of any quarterback.
 
Besides the offensive line, wide receiver play has not helped Bradford’s production, as Rams receivers have already dropped 11 passes this season. That ties for the sixth-most in the NFL, according to STATS.
 
Lloyd should help here as he has 19 receptions on 33 targets this season, meaning he has caught 58 percent of the passes thrown his way. Among Rams receivers with 20 or more targets, only Salas (13 for 21, 62 percent) has a better percentage than Lloyd.
 
Unfortunately, as eager as Bradford may be to start working with Lloyd, he may have to wait a while still. Bradford suffered a high left ankle sprain in the loss to the Packers and is in a walking boot. His status for this Sunday’s game against the Cowboys is up in the air and the Rams are preparing to have backup A.J. Feeley under center instead of Bradford.
 
Feeley is an 11-year veteran, but he’s played in a total of 24 games and he’s just 1-for-5 for 21 yards in mop up duty this season. He has 15 career starts under his belt, but his most recent one came with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007.
 
Obviously not the scenario the Rams envisioned when they made the trade for Lloyd, but at least Bradford has something to look forward to, or more specifically, someone to look forward to throwing to, when he does return to action.

Teaser:
<p> Wide receiver looks to invigorate St. Louis Rams' passing attack</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 11:37
All taxonomy terms: Donovan McNabb, Minnesota Vikings, News
Path: /news/donovan-mcnabb-pulls-al-bundy-after-his-benching
Body:

This is Donovan McNabb's stance after getting benched. He looks more like Al Bundy than a Super Bowl almost-winning quarterback who's been sent to the bench for--and then getting outplayed by--a rookie quarterback (Christian Ponder) who, by all consensus, was drafted way too high. 

It looks like the only thing missing from Minnesota's sideline was a couch, a TV and a bag of chips.

Teaser:
<p> The Vikings quarterback seemed to take his benching pretty well</p>
Post date: Monday, October 17, 2011 - 02:10
Path: /news/delone-carter-danny-woodhead-tim-hightower-and-greg-little-who-you-should-play-and-who-you-shou
Body:

Here we are in week 6 of the NFL fantasy football season and difficult decisions need to be made. With byes decimating some teams, it's hard to decide who to take a flier on. Here's what you should do with four of them.

Delone Carter: Don't Play
Delone has been the darling of the waiver wire this week, but this is not an ideal match-up for him against the Bengals, who have one of the top defenses against the run. If Carter had performed admirably last week when he took over for the injured Joseph Addai, we'd say give him a shot, because he does seem to have the goal line duties. But back-up Donald Brown seemed to outplay him last week, which means there's a good chance the two will split carries against Cincinnati. Not a good place to be even for a top back. The most you can hope for out of Carter is 40-50 yards and a touchdown. That's his upside. If you have another sure thing in your backfield who's guaranteed more than 12 touches, go that route. It just doesn't seem like a good situation for Carter this week.

Danny Woodhead: Don't Play
Ahh, the game-time decision. The bane of the fantasy football player's existence. And that's what the Patriots' Danny Woodhead is this week. And that's why you should sit him. The Pats are firing on almost all cylinders now with Aaron Hernandez back and the man with the law firm name, BenJarvis Green-Ellis having a career week last week. I know Bill Belichick's New England Patriots' switches is up from week to week, but the last thing this offense seems to need is Danny Woodhead. Which means there's no need for them to push him out onto the field faster than they need to. If he's on your waiver wire next week, and you're still dealing with bye week issues, go after him. But this week, let him sit.

Greg Little: Play
Yes, the Browns offense has been anemic. Yes, the Browns haven't done those minor things like "move the ball" or "score points," but this week Greg Little, the flashy, playmaking rookie wide receiver got a vote of confidence from the coaching staff and was promoted to starter for the Browns. What exactly does this mean? Who knows, but it seems like he'll at least get a few looks and targets as the staff will want to make their decision look like a smart one. And Little has the skills to make them right. So pop him in your lineup and see what happens. He's got nothing but upside right now. That could change from upside to downside at some point, but this is a smart, calculated gamble. If he's going to become a WR2, he may as well do it on your team. You can always cut him if he flops.

Tim Hightower: Don't Play
It's rare to say you shouldn't play a running back who's going to probably start against one of the worst run defenses in the league. But when he's starting a committee, that looks like it's leaning towards a dictatorship (with Ryan Torain acting as the dictator), it's a tough call, but you may want to sit him. It seems as though Hightower, who is coming off a tweaked knee, is fine on the ninjury front. But after Ryan Torain blew up two weeks ago, we're expecting Ryan to get the majority fo the carries. While it's tempting, and probably hurts, to see your 5-7th round draft pick get upstaged by a waiver wire pickup, this is the tough decision fantasy football owners have to make to win leagues. We expect Hightower to get 10 touches and put up 50 yards. If he's lucky enough to add a touchdown to that line, then he's worth playing. But if you have someone on your bench who will get 15-20 touches, put him in instead. You can never bank on touchdowns, and we always opt for the guy who should get more touches.

Teaser:
<p> We break down four key fantasy football players in week 6</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 16, 2011 - 02:57
Path: /news/legarrette-blount-out-2-4-weeks-go-get-earnest-graham-kregg-lumpkin-and-delone-carter
Body:

LeGarrette Blount wasn't having a great season, but he was having a very LeGarrette Blout-esque season. Which means his owners are hurting now that the Tampa Bay running back is out several weeks with a grade 2 tear in his left MCL.

So what should Blount owners do now that their missing a fantasy footballer who wouldn't pile up yards, but had found the end zone three times in four and a half games.

There's speculation for exactly how long Blount will be out, but you can easily expect to miss weeks 6-8 at best.

The first option is to go get Earnest Graham, who will be the primary back-up while Blount is riding the pine. But there's a catch (there's always a catch in fantasy football, isn't there). Graham has battled hamstirng issues for a few weeks. And while he was on the field in last week's shellacking at the hands of the 49ers, hamstrings have a way of coming back.

Earnest Graham should catch a few ball (he's got 23 receptions so far this season.) Some of that is from his role as third down back when Blount is getting the majority of carries. But look for that to continue. If his hamstring holds up, Graham could easily put up a 80 yard, 1 TD day with 4-5 catches sprinkled in. He should be a solid RB1 if healthy.

If his hamstring acts up, keep an eye on Kregg Lumpkin, who would slide into the feature back role. I wouldn't pick up Lumpkin just yet, but monitor the Tampa Bay-Saints box score and news, and if you have some space for a flier, Lumpkin could be a decent gamble.

And of course, if you're really looking for an exact replica of Blount (well, a B-version of LeGarrette) go get Delone Carter. With Joseph Addai out this Sunday, Carter, who's been the goal line back for the Indianapolis Colts, will get more carries this week as well as the goal line duties. Delone hasn't shown many flashes of brilliance, or flashes of gaining yards, but he has found the end zone once (and when you take into account how woeful the Colts offense was in the first few weeks, and how few carries he got when Addai was healthy, any end zone trips is a success on that team.) Look for Delone to put up 50 yards and a touchdown this Sunday against a solid Bengals defense. 

Teaser:
<p> The Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back has a grade 2 MCL tear.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 13:49
Path: /college-basketball/duke-blue-devils-basketball-2011-2012-preview-and-predictions
Body:

As he stands on the cusp of history, Mike Krzyzewski’s 32nd season for the Duke Blue Devils means dealing with a program reboot. With 900 Division I college basketball coaching wins, Krzyzewski needs two wins to catch his mentor, Bob Knight, for the all-time record and three wins to call the mark his own. He’ll likely get there in November, but he’ll do so with a team that will look nothing like the squad that went 32–5 and won the ACC Tournament before bowing out in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils lost a pair of senior stalwarts in guard Nolan Smith, the ACC Player of the Year, and Kyle Singler, plus freshman guard Kyrie Irving, who showed enough during his injury-shortened, 11-game season to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

So last year’s perimeter-oriented team has transformed into this year’s version featuring a deep, but not yet proven, frontcourt along with a talented but mostly inexperienced backcourt. Duke’s top returning scorer is junior guard Seth Curry (9.0 ppg). The Blue Devils’ lone senior is forward Miles Plumlee (4.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

Yet the 64-year-old Krzyzewski is at peace with the challenge ahead as he looks down the road beyond win No. 903. “Now it’s this group’s turn,” Krzyzewski says, “not just for this year, but to set the wheels in motion to see how the next few years can be.”

FRONTCOURT 
While Duke lacks a dominating post player, the Blue Devils possess depth and experience that should provide defensive toughness and rebounding. Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee were regular starters last season, while Miles Plumlee started occasionally and was a solid player off the bench. Krzyzewski likes his frontcourt depth so much that there’s a chance Duke could be an “inside-outside” team this season rather than looking for points on the perimeter first.

The 6'10" Miles Plumlee became a serviceable cog in the rotation last year while averaging 17 minutes per game. He’s not likely to develop into a double-figure scorer but should provide solid rebounding and defense with additional minutes. Junior Mason Plumlee possesses the highest ceiling. He started 32 games, averaging 7.2 points and 8.4 rebounds last season while blocking a team-high 62 shots. More consistent play could make him the kind of double-double regular Duke needs. This season, a third Plumlee brother, 6'11" freshman Marshall, will fight for playing time in the paint.

Kelly made a big jump in his sophomore season, contributing points from the perimeter and inside while teaming with the Plumlees to guard the basket well. His 3-point shot (31.9 percent) ­wasn’t consistent, but his strength and passing ability make him valuable.

Sophomore Josh Hairston, an athletic 6'7" forward, saw few significant minutes last season as he adjusted to the physical nature of Division I basketball. His improvement in conditioning will determine how much he’ll contribute. Freshman Alex Murphy is built in the Singler mode and could force his way into the rotation.

Key Blue Devil Stat: 4
There are four former Blue Devil team captains on Duke's coaching staff, with former Oklahoma and VCU head coach Jeff Capel joining Chris Collins, Steve Wojciechowski and Nate James on the bench.

BACKCOURT
Curry and Andre Dawkins bring the most experience but are both score-first players. Both have the ability to knock down 3-pointers with regularity, yet the Blue Devils are in need of playmakers this season.

Sophomore point guard Tyler Thornton showed strong defensive skills last season in spot duty. He’ll need to produce on the offensive end to increase his playing time.

Freshmen Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook will provide athleticism and talent. A true scorer, Rivers will play from Day 1, while Cook has a chance to seize the point guard minutes. Their development, when and if it comes, is crucial to Duke’s success.

“It’s kind of a rite of passage, from being a good player to being an outstanding player,” Krzyzewski says. “Some guys make it freshman year. Some guys do it along the way. I’m looking forward to seeing who does that.”

Curry and Dawkins have played enough in Krzyzewski’s system to know what needs to be done. The Blue Devils need them to provide regular double-figure scoring nights to be a top-10 team.

FINAL ANALYSIS 
With so many proven players gone, Krzyzewski faces a season in which roles will develop as the months progress. He’s not worried, though. “We have talent,” Krzyzewski says, “and that’s a good place to start.”

North Carolina is the overwhelming favorite in the ACC, but Duke is the clear No. 2 pick. If Mason Plumlee emerges as a consistent force and the freshman guards are as good as advertised, a trip to the Final Four is well within reach.

ACC Prediction: 2nd
NCAA Tournament Prediction: Elite Eight

 

Teaser:
<p> We break down the Duke Blue Devils chances at winning the championship in 2011-2012</p>
Post date: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 12:50
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2011-preview-north-carolina-tarheels
Body:

After the North Carolina Tar Heels fell one step short of the Final Four, Roy Williams entered the offseason uncertain about what his team might look like for 2011-12. Now, he couldn’t be more pleased. Each member of Williams’ starting frontcourt — Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller — passed up a chance to enter the NBA Draft. Their decision to stay in school means that the Tar Heels return their top seven scorers from last season. Throw in a recruiting class that includes top-flight freshmen James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, and UNC is a favorite to win its third NCAA college basketball title in the last eight years.

“I’ve had five or six teams that I thought had a chance if they get lucky, if things go well, to win a national championship,” Williams says. “That’s the same kind of thing I think with this team. But you never know what’s going to happen.”

FRONTCOURT
UNC’s starters up front will contend for All-ACC first-team status after the trio combined for 43.1 points per game last season. Barnes got off to a slow start amid unreasonably high expectations for his freshman season, but he established himself as a fearless shot-maker in the clutch. He spent the offseason working on his ball-handling, which he hopes will enable him to drive more to the basket rather than relying so heavily on his jumper.

Henson, with his long reach and leaping ability, has become the ACC’s most dominating defensive force. He still needs to improve his offense, but he led the league in blocked shots (3.2 bpg) and finished third in rebounding (10.1 rpg) last year as a sophomore. Zeller, meanwhile, proved how effective he could be when healthy for a full season. The senior remains a perfect fit for UNC’s transition game — “He’s as good a runner as I’ve ever coached,” Williams says — and he has refined a right-handed hook shot as his go-to move in the post.

McAdoo figures to rotate in as the team’s third big man, and sophomore Reggie Bullock can spell Barnes at small forward after missing the final nine games last season with a knee injury. Senior Justin Watts is undersized as a backup forward, but he compensates with explosive leaping ability.

Tar Heels Key Stat: 19.7
Harrison Barnes averaged 19.7 points over the final 18 games of his freshman season. He averaged 11.8 in his first 19 games.

BACKCOURT
The Tar Heels won 17 of their final 20 games last season, a run that began when Kendall Marshall became their starting point guard. Marshall took over the starting role after outplaying incumbent Larry Drew II for the first half of the season, and he received heavy minutes after Drew quit the team in early February. Now a sophomore, Marshall is comfortable in his leadership position. He isn’t UNC’s top talent, but he is its most indispensable player because of the team’s lack of depth at his position.

Ultra-quick junior Dexter Strickland struggled with his shooting for the second year in a row, but he found his niche as UNC’s best perimeter defender. He will continue to start at shooting guard while also serving as Marshall’s primary backup at the point.

The Tar Heels shot just 32.8 percent from 3-point range last season, an area they must improve to fulfill their national championship aspirations. Junior Leslie McDonald was expected to provide some outside shooting off the bench, but he suffered a torn ACL over the summer. His loss will put more pressure on Bullock and Hairston to deliver some scoring from the perimeter.

FINAL ANALYSIS
The Tar Heels face different expectations from the ones they encountered a year ago. Then, UNC basketball rallied around the idea of clawing their way to the top of the ACC after they fell out of the Top 25 early in the season. Now, they will open the season at the top of every major poll because of their unequaled combination of talent, depth and experience.

Anything less than the ACC regular-season title and a trip to the Final Four would be a disappointment for UNC players, coaches and fans alike. There are no guarantees in the single-elimination world of the NCAA Tournament, of course, but the Tar Heels have as good a chance as anyone of cutting down the nets in New Orleans — coincidentally, the site of Dean Smith’s 1982 and ’93 national titles.

“We have the opportunity to win it all, and we have the opportunity to completely fail,” Barnes says. “It’s just a matter of whether we continue to stay humble and continue to take the right steps and get our way back up to the top like we did last year.”

ACC Prediction: 1st
NCAA Tournament Prediction: National Champs

Teaser:
<p> How far will Roy Williams and his Tar Heels go this season?</p>
Post date: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 11:48
Path: /college-basketball/jared-sullinger-singing-eating-and-returning-ohio-state
Body:

Jared Sullinger’s decision to return to Ohio State ensured the Buckeyes another shot at getting to the Final Four. Thad Matta hadn’t had much luck keeping big men around Columbus for more than one year — witness Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos and B.J. Mullens.

However, Sullinger is a different breed. He averaged a double-double as a freshman and would have been a sure-fire lottery pick, but he opted to return for another year in college.

He told reporters immediately after getting bounced in the Elite Eight that he’d be back — and he stuck to his word. Athlon Sports sat down with Sullinger over the summer to discuss the upcoming season.

Athlon Sports: What is your favorite opposing gym?
Jared Sullinger: Michigan — mostly because of the rivalry. That building is electric and a fun place to play.


What’s the place you least like to play in the Big Ten?
I’m not sure there is a bad place to play in the league, but they were entertaining at Purdue. They kept singing “Party in the USA” and were yelling “Subway Diet” at me every time I was at the free throw line.


Who is the toughest guy who guarded you so far in college?
Colton Iverson at Minnesota (who has since transferred to Colorado State). The one thing about him is that I couldn’t move him. He really held his ground and I honestly didn’t expect that.


How about the most difficult player you have had to guard?
JaJuan Johnson. He’s able to make really difficult shots. Even when I had a hand in his face, he made shots. There was really nothing you could do.

Which coach in the league would you want to play for — other than Thad Matta, of course?
Tubby Smith. I like his high-low. It looks like there are a lot of easy baskets down in the post.

You didn’t wait long to announce you’d be coming back to Ohio State for your sophomore season. You did it immediately after you guys lost in the Elite Eight. Did you ever have second thoughts after saying it?
Never. Honestly, I knew the whole year I was coming back. I never came out and blatantly said it, but I knew. A lot of people were telling me it was off emotion, but I knew I was coming back — and I’m a man of my word.

Why did you decide to come back even though you probably would have been a high lottery pick?
My teammates. They make college fun. I still want to be a kid. I don’t want to be a professional just yet. I’m honestly having too much fun right now — and I also think that I can learn a lot more from Coach Matta and develop my game before I get to the next level.

When did it hit you that your season was over?
The day after we lost, when I got on the plane. I was thinking that we were supposed to be in the hotel getting ready to shoot. Actually, maybe it was right after the game, when the buzzer went off, I was still thinking we had tomorrow. But then I walked in the locker room and saw Jon (Diebler), Dave (Lighty) and Dallas (Lauderdale) all crying, and then it hit me that there was no tomorrow for them.



How much blame did you put on yourself for the loss to Kentucky?
Those two free throws I missed. I put a lot on those because we ended up losing by two points. I went 7-for-9 from the line, but if I make those two free throws, we have a chance to go to overtime. It’s tough thinking about that. It’s still tough.

There’s been a lot of talk that you decided to come back so that you could expand your game and play power forward.
I talked to Coach Matta and told him that whatever position he wants me to play, I’ll play it. Whatever he asks, I’ll do — whether it’s the 4 or the 5. People say that I can’t shoot, dribble and that I’m too slow to guard a 4. I’ll let people be the judge of that this year. I came in last year at 285 pounds, and now I’m at 275. It’s a big difference. I’m actually surviving conditioning this time around.

How tough has it been to slim down? Let’s face it, I know you like food.
I love to eat, but I don’t eat a lot anymore. I used to eat three or four plates at each meal, but I’ve cut it down now to just one plate. It’s kind of crazy.

What’s your ultimate meal?

My mom’s steak, my aunt’s broccoli and cheese and some loaded mashed potatoes.

Have you and Aaron Craft worked on your voices after that, um, unique rendition last year of “Party in the USA” that made the rounds just about everywhere?

No singing lessons. We still get a lot of stuff about that, though. I was in a fast food restaurant and “Party in the USA” came on and everyone in the whole place wanted me to sing it. 



Give me a rating from 1 to 10 on each of your singing performances — you, (Aaron) Craft and (Jon) Diebler.
(laughing) Craft was a negative two, Diebler was probably a 0.28 and I was a 10. But I’m going to take Craft’s side on this one, he was sick when he sang. He’s better than what was in the video.



What’s your take on a bunch of the top players — not just you — returning to college basketball this season?
That was pretty amazing for college basketball. We showed that it’s not just about the money; it’s about winning. I know Terrence Jones and Harrison Barnes personally — and they both love to win. This was a big step for college basketball. and I think it’ll make for a great year.



With Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller all coming back to North Carolina and Jones returning to Kentucky, you guys went from the preseason No. 1 team in the country to the consensus No. 3 team. What are your thoughts on that?
I feel like we’re in the same spot as we were last year, not being the favorite — but being ranked somewhere between three and five. It doesn’t really matter to me. I like where we’re at — and I love the freshman class we’ve brought in.

Tell us a little bit about this new group. Give us your thoughts on each of the new guys.
Let’s start with (center) Amir Williams. He’s a funny kid who is real athletic and has a high motor. (Center) Trey McDonald is a hard worker who is pretty dang good. (Forward) Sam Thompson is athletic, smart and is high-energy — especially on defense. (Forward) LaQuinton Ross is a skilled forward who is long as can be, and (point guard) Shannon Scott is fast and is similar to Aaron Craft. These guys are really going to help us this year and in the future.

What do you want to do after you are done playing basketball?
I want to own my own business someday. I’m big and I like to eat. I want to own a restaurant, maybe a soul food place.

 

Teaser:
<p> Here's our Q&amp;A with the Buckeyes big man as he returns for his sophomore year</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 17:26
All taxonomy terms: Tim Tebow, Overtime
Path: /overtime/worst-tim-tebow-tribute-video-0
Body:

I've never seen grown men get so worked up over another grown man like football fans and Tim Tebow. What is is about the Denver Broncos new starting quarterback that makes guys want to spend a lot of time and energy expressing their love for him?

Sure, he works hard, but lots of players work hard. Are these all Florida Gators fans? I just don't get it. 

If anyone can explain the Tim Tebow phenomenon to me, I would love to hear it.

Teaser:
<p> Sometimes you don't want people to pay tribute to you.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 14:56
Path: /college-football/arizona-state-rolls-dice-dennis-erickson
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This article originally appeared in Athlon's 2007 College Football annual.

This is Dennis Erickson:

He won two national championships at the University of Miami.

He led downtrodden Oregon State to an 11–1 season capped off by a 41–9 rout of Notre Dame in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.

He’s the all-time winningest coach in University of Idaho history, he guided Washington State to its first bowl victory since 1931, and his record in the college ranks is a gaudy 148–65–1.

This, too, is Dennis Erickson: His 1987 WSU team had a 1.94 grade-point average when it won the Aloha Bowl. During his six-year tenure at Miami, players fraudulently received more than $200,000 in Pell Grant money.

The Hurricanes were slapped with multiple rules violations that resulted in the loss of 31 scholarships and a one-year ban on postseason play. The NCAA also found that Erickson allowed three players who failed drug tests to play in games.

Miami’s 46–3 drubbing of Texas in the 1991 Cotton Bowl was tainted by the Hurricanes’ nine personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, leading Miami president Edward Foote to say it was “an unfortunate end to an otherwise outstanding season.”

Arizona State researched the good and the bad before it hired Erickson last December.

Its verdict?

“I feel comfortable with who this man is,” says Lisa Love, ASU’s vice president of athletics.

It’s easy to understand why the Sun Devils hired Erickson. They were perennial underachievers under coach Dirk Koetter, fashioning a 40–34 record in his six seasons in Tempe and never finishing higher than third in the Pac-10 Conference.

In addition, Koetter was 0–12 in Pac-10 games played in California, 21–28 overall in conference play and 2–19 against top-25 teams.

Erickson, 60, should change all that. He’s won wherever he’s coached in college, with the exception of his one-year stint at Idaho in 2006, and the Sun Devils expect nothing less.

“This is not a guessing game,” Love says. “This is not a roll of the dice. His track record is extraordinary. He is not only a big-game coach. He is a big-season coach. And he is a program builder, which is what we are seeking. We are not seeking a success on one great game day; we’re seeking a great season, and then a repeat.”

UTEP coach Mike Price, a friend of Erickson’s since high school, says: “Wherever Dennis goes, he fits right in immediately. He won’t have to start from scratch at ASU. He’s got good coaches and a good plan, and he’ll put it to use. I’m excited for ASU. It will be a lot of fun with him there.”
The Sun Devils could use a little fun.

“I don’t think our team had a personality (last year),” says quarterback Rudy Carpenter. “We didn’t play with a swagger or attitude. It was a little suppressed.”

That won’t happen under Erickson, who signed a five-year, $5.6 million contract. He’ll want his players to be intense, outgoing and vocal. His Miami and Oregon State clubs weren’t wallflowers, and ASU won’t be either.

Erickson’s players appreciate the freedom and, in turn, are fiercely loyal to him.

Former Oregon State and current Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson once said, “If I was 90 years old and he recruited me, I would play for him.”
In the days leading up to the 2006 Hawaii Bowl, Koetter said it would be difficult for any coach to consistently win in Tempe. “The thing is — and I was guilty of this — a lot of people look at ASU on the outside and have a perception of what Arizona State is. That’s not what it is,” said Koetter, declining to be more specific. “The only way to know that is to go on the inside. Arizona State is not what it is perceived to be on the outside. It really isn’t. That’s been proven.”

ASU has been to two Rose Bowls (1986 season, 1996 season) in its 28 years in the Pac-10. Since 1986, it’s won more than seven games in a season just four times.

Erickson, however, doesn’t believe the Sun Devils have to be trapped in a spin cycle of mediocrity. “I’ve always felt, from the outside looking in, that ASU is a place where you have an opportunity to win a Pac-10 championship and compete nationally,” he says. “This job opened at the right time. It’s an opportunity for me and my coaches to get back in the Pac-10 and get to a Rose Bowl, which is the only big bowl I haven’t been to.”

“Dennis’ message has been clear ever since we got here,” says offensive line coach Gregg Smith, an assistant to Erickson at every coaching stop since 1982. “He wants ASU to not be satisfied with seven-win seasons or lower-tier bowls. … When things look impossible, Dennis will sit you down and show you the light at the end of the tunnel. And he’ll get you there.”

It helps to have two championship rings to show off to the players. Getting the players’ attention won’t be an issue for Erickson. 

“Going in, they know we’ve been there and what we’ve done,” he says. “They have respect for that. They know that, if they listen to what we ask them to do, they have a chance to be successful. If you do these things and are accountable in all aspects of what we ask you to do, you will be successful.”

The question is, what price will ASU pay for those victories? Erickson’s hire, while greeted enthusiastically by boosters, was met with skepticism by the media and some fans. Sun Devil alums Dan and Barbara Driscoll showed up for Erickson’s introductory press conference holding a sign that said, “Erickson, Go Home … ASU Deserved Better.” They were upset Erickson left Idaho after only one season. 

“I’m amazed,” says Dan Driscoll, who grew up in Moscow, Idaho. “You trust what the guy says, and 10 months later, he’s gone.”

The second question at his press conference: “Coach, I was just wondering what the words commitment and loyalty mean to you?”

ASU officials bristle at the notion that in Erickson, they hired a man who runs a renegade program and has little regard for NCAA rules or on-field sportsmanship.

“He is a person of character,” says university president Michael Crow. “I was assuming a Barry Switzer-type, a cocky personality. He’s more professorial, a master coach. I became convinced in talking to him that, with the right support that we provide in academics and compliance that other programs might not have, he’ll be great.”

Erickson hasn’t ducked the hard questions, including queries about his DUI arrest in 1995. He will not admit the criticisms have any merit, though, particularly in regard to his teams’ lack of discipline. “You talk about discipline,” Erickson says. “I see it (undisciplined behavior) happen sometimes, but I don’t see that’s something that has happened regularly in Dennis Erickson’s program at all.”

Erickson has held nine head coaching jobs in the past 21 years: Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami, the Seattle Seahawks, Oregon State, the San Francisco 49ers, Idaho again and now ASU. He has been, by any measure, a coach always looking for the bigger job and the bigger paycheck. But that doesn’t bother ASU. 

“I personally hope that he is here for the long haul,” Love says. “If he’s not, we’ll go hire another great football coach.”

“I am here to build a program,” Erickson says. “If I do leave — and that may be 20 years down the road, I don’t know — it will be a very solid program that people will be proud of.”
 

Teaser:
<p> The Sun Devils took the risk of hiring Dennis Erickson. And it paid off.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 14:08
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-blueprint-missing-playoffs
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The Philadelphia Eagles have already declared the Dream Team “dead”, but they only meant the nickname, not the team itself. They still remain confident that they’re talented enough and have enough time to turn their sinking ship around.

But do that? Five weeks into the season they’ve been a disaster. They’ve won only one game and given up 132 points – tied for most in the NFC. Their explosive quarterback, Michael Vick, has become turnover prone. Their coach, Andy Reid, is already sitting on a seat that’s on fire.

Hard as it is to believe, their last win was more than a month ago on Opening Day.

There’s also not much reason to think things will get better. Still looming on their schedule are the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots, the New York Jets and five division games. They’re 1-4 and need to finish 7-4 just to get to .500 – and that might not be enough for a playoff berth in the NFC.

Is it impossible? No. Difficult? Yes. And keep in mind that the more the former Dream Team falters the more intense the pressure will become and the more difficult a playoff run will get. It’s hard to look at the schedule in a vacuum, but if you could, here’s a look at what the Eagles are facing and a prediction of the outcome.

It’s not a pretty sight:

Sunday at Washington – The Redskins are not only 3-1, they’re playing mistake-free football and look the most like an old NFC East team that can run the ball and dominate both lines of scrimmage. The mistake-free part is the opposite of what’s happening in Philly.
Prediction: Loss, 1-5

Bye – If ever a team needed a week off to regroup, it’s this one.

Oct. 30 vs. Cowboys – It could be a very ugly return home for the Eagles, but the Cowboys aren’t exactly the NFL’s most disciplined team. Plus, despite what’s happening this year, Reid is a brilliant coach and he’s a good bet to have his team ready with an extra week to prepare.
Prediction: Win, 2-5

Nov. 7 vs. Bears – The Bears defense is tough (despite their bad game against Detroit), but maybe more concerning for the Eagles is that the Bears Matt Forte may be one of the better running backs in the league. The Eagles are very susceptible to the run, which means this could be a big day for Forte.
Prediction: Loss, 2-6

Nov. 13 vs. Cardinals – Game three of a three-game home stand against a team that doesn’t travel very well. Cards quarterback Kevin Kolb knows his old team, but more importantly they know him. Figure Reid knows how to confuse and beat him, too.
Prediction: Win, 3-6

Nov. 20 at Giants – The Giants beat them last time, but the Eagles out-played them for much of the game and killed themselves with mistakes. That can happen again, obviously, but the Eagles have the receivers to torch the Giants’ secondary. This seems like a season series destined to split.
Prediction: Win, 4-6

Nov. 27 vs. Patriots – The way the Eagles’ defense has played so far this year, they likely will be no match for the most explosive offense in the NFL. The Patriots have way too many weapons and are too smart to lose to a team that has become turnover prone.
Prediction: Loss, 4-7

Dec. 1 at Seattle – The Seahawks are sometimes a different team at home, and trips across the country are never easy. They are a beatable team, though, with a questionable run game and a shaky passing offense. They also likely won’t have a good defensive answer for Michael Vick and his arsenal.
Prediction: Win, 5-7

Dec. 11 at Miami – Maybe the easiest game and certainly the easiest road trip left on their schedule. The Dolphins’ season is already over at 0-4 and at this point in the season their main goal could be to win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. If the Eagles have any hopes of being anything this season, this is one they have to win.
Prediction: Win, 6-7

Dec. 18 vs. Jets – This game may completely depend on what Jets team shows up. Is it the brash, tough-talking, contending Rex Ryan Jets? Or is it a team in turmoil, like it seems to be now, sleepwalking through the end of the season? These aren’t the Jets of the last two years, though, so chalk this up as a winnable game.
Prediction, Win 7-7

Dec. 24 at Dallas – NFC East games late in the year are always close, and these two teams could be locked in a very tight battle for a playoff berth. As long as Tony Romo is still healthy, figure the Cowboys will be able to put up some points. And give them a big home-field advantage, too.
Prediction: Loss, 7-8

Jan. 1 vs. Redskins – Will .500 be enough to get into the playoffs in the NFC this year? That’s hard to imagine. If this game matters, though, it’s a good bet the Eagles will find a way to win it at home. But by this point, their season may already be over. In that case, they could be in for a very ugly end.
Prediction: Loss, 7-9.

Since this isn't the NFC West, a sub-.500 record will not get the Eagles into the playoffs. Where will this debacle go down in football history? Only time will tell.

By Ralph Vacciano

Teaser:
<p> We predict each of the Eagles' remaining games and it doesn't look good for Philly.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 13:36

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