Samstag, 6. Oktober 2012
Freitag, 5. Oktober 2012
As I begin to get up in years, having just crossed the half a century mark, it brings me immeasurable joy each time I witness the next generation begin to play a positive role in shaping our future.
As a close friend and fan of famed father and son triathletes, Dick and Rick Hoyt, I often wonder if there is an inspirational team waiting in the wings to carry forth the message of inclusion, acceptance and disability awareness that Team Hoyt has etched into our society over the past three decades.
Despite the fact that Rick Hoyt was born as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, he has been pushed, pedaled and paddled to the finish of nearly 1100 athletic competitions by his father, Dick, to the amazement and pleasure of fans around the globe.
So it literally sent shivers up my aging spine when I learned of the inception of a young running team that has been affectionately referred to as, “The Protégés."
Unlike the Hoyts, who are now age 72 and 50 respectively, the Protégés barely register on a calendar, at age six and five. That’s right. The heirs to the inspirational throne are barely old enough to attend grammar school and yet are lacing them up for a mile run together this November 10 in Norfolk, VA.
Like the Hoyts, the Protégés race with one teammate acting as the pusher and the other covering the miles in a wheelchair, taking in the sights and sounds of the adoring crowd, yet every bit as much the athlete from the starting gun to the finish line.
Jayden Nogueras, age six, attends the Peebles Elementary School in Bourne, MA, and despite the fact that he was born with Chromosome Disorder of 1p36 Duplication, Cerebral Palsy and Septo-Optic Dysplasia, he will be serving as the pusher. His five-year-old best friend and racing partner, Elson Martinez, will be enjoying the ride from his specially designed running chair.
Elson was a preemie born at 32 weeks in April of 2007. He was 14 inches long and weighed 2 lbs 15 oz. at birth. Elson spent the first six months of his life in neo-natal intensive care before being transferred to the step down unit where he stayed until December 24, 2007.
He spent Christmas at home, but after only two weeks was readmitted until June 2008. Elson endured 13 surgeries in his first year of life. He had to have half of his intestines removed because they did not form correctly, causing blockage.
Elson had a VP shunt and a VA shunt placed due to his Aqueductal Stenosis not properly forming. He has had several revisions to the shunts. Elson has been diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, Absence of Corpus Calosum, Seizure Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and Developmental Delay. He currently attends kindergarten at Pembroke Elementary.
“Jayden stated last school year, he wants to be a 'Team Hoyt pusher' shared his mother, Mary-Liz, who together with her husband, Jose, recently founded my Team Triumph Cape Cod (mTT-CC), a running team comprised of Captains (riders) and Angels (pushers).
Jayden was the inspiration and motivation for the formation of mTT-CC. “Then jokingly, we asked him who he was going to push because he's so small and many of the other riders are bigger and older than him. He then responded, ‘Elson is small, too. I can push Elson.’”
Jayden, who stands all of 42 inches tall and tips the scale at a feather-like 36 pounds, began his racing career in 2010 with Team Hoyt Virginia Beach as a rider (captain). It wasn’t until May of 2011, while visiting the Hoyts at their home in Holland, MA that he vacated the chair and traversed a 50-yard dash course on his own.
At that point, Jayden became a “running junky” and began training daily to increase his speed and stamina. In July of that year he entered and completed the One-Mile Allen Stone Kid’s Run in Virginia Beach, VA.
Elson, who is confined to a wheel chair, is currently a “captain” for Team Hoyt Virginia Beach, where he is normally pushed by either his brother Ruben or friend and fellow Angel, Dena Goble.
In preparation for the Norfolk's Freedom Warrior Trot 1 Mile Run, Jayden’s father, Jose is making some slight alterations to accommodate the diminutive racing team.
“We put smaller wheels on our running chair and we are talking to bike shops about the best way to lower the handlebars,” explains Nogueras, who serves as a Supply Petty Officer 2nd Class in the U.S. Coast Guard stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base in Buzzards Bay, MA.
“Jayden believes that he is now that much closer to becoming a real Team Hoyt pusher. We have to thank Team Hoyt VB’s Dennis Welch for being his initial motivator and inspiration.”
“Jayden motivates me to keep working on my running," adds Nogueras. “I never ran or liked to run before Jayden. It's good to see Jayden get excited about crossing the finish line and buying new running shoes."
Jayden’s extremely proud and supportive mother, Mary-Liz, continues, "Running has played a huge role in Jayden's self-esteem. He is also learning many life lessons such as goal setting and overcoming adversity. I think running has made him more resilient."
To encourage and support Jayden and Elson’s run, please visit The Proteges Donation Page. All donations will help support my Team Triumph Cape Cod. Jayden and Elson have established a goal of $2000.
myTEAM TRIUMPH is an athletic ride-along program created for children, teens, adults and veterans with disabilities who would normally not be able to experience endurance events such as triathlons or road races.
Tonight proved to be an absolute nightmare for quarterback Kevin Kolb. He was dumped nine times by the St. Louis Rams defense and hit 11 more times. Over the past two week's Kolb has been sacked 17 times and hit 21 times. They are the first team in nine years to allow eight-plus sacks in consecutive weeks. Arizona's offensive line should be ashamed of themselves.
So, who is to blame for the fiasco upfront? I have four names that come to mind right off the top of my head. Bobby Massie and D'Anthony Batiste deserve the immediate blame. Through the first four games they have accounted for 44 total pressures. If you add tonight's game in, that number quickly approaches 70. Yes, that's how bad tonight was for the book end tackles.
The third person on my list who deserves criticism is Russ Grimm, the offensive line coach. I know there is only so much he can control when teaching these guys, but this poor level of play has me convinced that he is not that good of a teacher. By comparison, look at Paul Boudreau, the offensive line coach of the Rams.
His talent on the offensive line is equally as poor as Grimm's, yet you don't see his unit giving up 17 sacks and 21 hits over a two-game span. Their offensive tackles are freaking Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter. Sure, they have more experience under their belts, but there's no way you can tell me they are that much better than Batiste and Massie.
Hunter was originally playing right tackle in New York until injuries forced him to the left side. Kansas City wanted nothing to do with Richardson as his tenure for the Chiefs was not a good one. However, the coaching of Boudreau has turned both players into serviceable tackles. Since Chicago handed it to St. Louis in Week 3, Weeks 4 and 5 have been like night and day.
Neither of them allowed a sack and by my count they only allowed Bradford to get hit four times. That means over the past two games Hunter and Richardson have only allowed four quarterback hits. No sacks have been surrendered in two weeks. That just goes to show that proper coaching is the key to improvement.
And lastly, I blame general manager Rod Graves. Why hasn't he made more of an effort to really improve this offensive line? He just invested $60 million into a franchise quarterback, so why not protect him? I guess that would make too much sense. Instead of drafting Michael Floyd, Graves should have maybe drafted Riley Reiff, or any other offensive lineman with a pulse.
Arizona is too talented on defense to let the offense hold this team back. For the fifth game in a row the offense failed to reach the 300-yard mark. The running game was non-existent again and outside of Larry Fitzgerald there wasn't a consistent pass-catcher on the field. If you can't move the ball on the ground or through the air, how do you expect to win?
The good news is that even though tonight was a step back, they've already taken four steps forward. A 4-1 record stills puts them at the top of division. With a win over the Bills this Sunday, the 49ers would be tied for first place.
Lucky for Arizona, they now have 10 days to try and figure out that mess they call an offensive line.
Donnerstag, 4. Oktober 2012
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the New York Jets are chock-full of guys looking for second, even third chances.
Some may deserve it, some may not.
So, which of these three is the biggest loser? And, which is deserving of a second chance?
The case for Sanchez: If you looked at the line on Mark Sanchez this year and compared it to Tebow's 2011, it would be hard to tell them apart. Sanchez is completing less than 50 percent of his passes for just over 200 yards a game and has only one more touchdown than interception.
But actually, that's not fair to Tebow, who had a 2-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio last year and was exponentially more clutch than Sanchez has been this year.
The case for Ryan: Ryan is now in his fourth year as head coach of the Jets. He took his team to the AFC Championship in his first two seasons before taking a step back last year with an anemic offense and a weakened run defense that resulted in an 8-8 record and an early trip home.
Ryan earned two years, at least, with his two trips to the championship game. But if he tanks again this year then he could be gone. It may be too early to tell, but this year''s Jets remind me a lot of last year's Boston Red Sox. I don't know if Ryan has lost the locker room, but he's definitely struggling to connect with his players this year.
The case for Tanenbaum: Four years ago the Jets' GM was a young, up-and-coming front office talent, part of a turnaround that took a woe-begotten franchise and turned it into a contender seemingly overnight. Tanenbaum and Ryan were the talk of the town and could do no wrong for two years.
But, oh what a difference a wasted No. 1 pick, a Hollywood trade for a sideshow quarterback, a few jettisoned free agents and a do-nothing offseason can make.
So, who should survive what looks to be a lost season in the making?
Rex Ryan deserves another year, and here's why in one simple sentence:
Ryan is doing the best he could with what Tanenbaum gave him. Sanchez is doing the best he could with what God gave him.
God apparently wasn't too kind to Sanchez, but Ryan should not have to pay for the fact that Tanenbaum did not see this coming.
Lou Rom covers the NFL and whatever else gets under his skin for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at louromlive.
After a nervy performance midweek against Olympiakos, Arsenal will face yet another difficult test on Saturday against West Ham United. Newly promoted West Ham finds themselves two points clear of the Gunners heading into Saturday's match.
Arsenal tasted defeat for the first time in the 2012-13 season last weekend at the Emirates Stadium, but the Gunners will be looking to bounce back from that performance.
A boring and sloppy yet efficient performance midweek earned the Gunners their second victory in as many matches in the Champions League. With a victory to boost the squad's confidence after their first defeat, Arsenal will be hoping they can handle the Hammers.
Saturday's defeat saw Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen anchor the defense, which didn't go so well for Arsene Wenger's men. The French defender could be to blame for both of Chelsea's goals, but Arsenal's defensive problems may have more to do with Vermaelen.
The Belgian international committed both fouls against Chelsea, which led to both goals. Against Olympiakos, Vermaelen was once again at fault for a number of clumsy challenges. If Per Mertesacker returns from illness this weekend, will Wenger opt to start the German over the new Arsenal captain, or will Koscielny be forced to sit out?
In the midfield, another injury blow to French international Abou Diaby forces Arsene Wenger to make some changes.
Mikel Arteta was able to feature against Olympiakos after an ankle injury almost kept him out of the match. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got the start on Wednesday night, but a below par performance from the Englishman may allow Aaron Ramsey to make his way back into the starting squad.
West Ham will head into the match high on confidence after a victory at Loftus Road on Monday against a sputtering Queens Park Rangers.
New signing Matt Jarvis got things started, beating Julio Cesar with a clever header. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers player will be a big boost and a key figure for West Ham in their new campaign back in the English Premier League.
England international Andy Carroll could get the start on Saturday, as Allardyce will be looking to cause problems for the Arsenal defensive line. A strong and physical striker will be a perfect recipe for West Ham, as they aim to take advantage of what can be a shaky defense.
In nine matches against Arsenal, Allardyce has won four and drawn three. With only two victories against big Sam in the last nine fixtures, Wenger will be desperate for a victory ahead of the international break.
Andy Carroll's presence could prove to be a problem for Arsenal's defense, but after two shaky performances, one could only imagine that Steve Bould will have sorted everything out. After all, he has worked long and hard to get Arsenal's defense this far, and it would be a shame to see it all revert back to the same old mistakes.
An in form Gervinho will also be a headache for West Ham's defense. The Ivorian international scored again midweek, and he will look to continue his positive run at Upton Park.
Will Saturday finally be the day that Olivier Giroud gets his Premier League goalscoring career off to a start? What are your thoughts on the match and how will the match play out?
By winning the Triple Crown, Miguel Cabrera pulled off an incredible feat that hadn't been accomplished since 1967.
But that doesn't mean the Detroit Tigers slugger should automatically be given the MVP award.
I don't want to make this a purely Cabrera versus Mike Trout argument. Though we will get into that, there are two factors to consider first: Historical precedent and how impressive his numbers actually are in the modern game.
Historically, six Triple Crown winners have been named as MVP. But three players haven't won the award in Triple crown seasons
- Ted Williams, 1947
- Ted Williams, 1942
- Lou Gehrig, 1934
- Chuck Klein, 1933
Poor Ted Williams.
I have no idea how he lost the MVP to Joe Gordon in 1942 or Joe DiMaggio in 1947—though Teddy Ballgame wasn't the most popular of players in his time, and the New York Yankees made the World Series in each season—as his numbers were far better across the board than either player. He even led baseball in runs and walks in each season.
In 1934, Mickey Cochrane won the MVP despite far inferior numbers to Gehrig. But again, the Detroit Tigers went to the World Series. And in 1933, Chuck Klein lost to pitcher Carl Hubbell, who finished 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 156 strikeouts, 10 shutouts and 22 complete games in 308.2 innings.
Hard to argue with that one.
Rogers Hornsby won in 1922, but there wasn't an MVP named in the National League that year. Four players who achieved the milestone (Ty Cobb in 1909, Nap Lajoie in 1901, Tip O'Neill in 1887 and Paul Hines in 1878) all predated the MVP award.
The argument here is simple: The Triple Crown has never automatically earned a player the MVP. It should be noted, however, that Williams and Gehrig were likely robbed because their teams didn't make the World Series, while Cabrera's team is playing postseason baseball this year.
But despite winning the Triple Crown, are Cabrera's numbers really all that impressive in the modern game?
To win the American League Triple Crown this season, a player had to hit (at the minimum) .327 with 44 home runs and 129 RBI (Cabrera hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI).
Albert Pujols surpassed those numbers in 2006 (.331, 49, 137) and 2009 (.327, 47, 135), though of course he did it in the National League. Barry Bonds did it in 2001 (.328, 73, 137), though I have my reservations as to how legitimate those numbers are.
So, yes, combining all three of those marks was pretty darn impressive for Cabrera, though not unprecedented. Still, if there wasn't another incredibly compelling case to be made for a different player winning the MVP, Cabrera would unquestionably win the award.
Unfortunately for him, there's that Mike Trout guy.
Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs and 89 RBI. He led all of baseball in runs scored (129) stolen bases (49) and WAR (10.7), tied for 20th all-time for position players.
Oh, and he's done all of this in 139 games (22 less than Cabrera, for what it's worth) in his rookie season, at the age of 20. He's only 20!
And he's going to win a Gold Glove as well.
He's accomplished a few bits of history himself. Had he not been caught stealing on Wednesday night, he would have made some history (via ESPN Stats and Info):
Mike Trout needs one steal to become 3rd player with 30+ HR and 50+ SB in season (Barry Bonds in 1990, Eric Davis in 1987).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 3, 2012
And then there's this, from Buster Olney of ESPN:
ELIAS: Mike Trout is the first player in MLB history with at least 45 steals, 30 HR and 125 runs scored in a single season.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 1, 2012
When you combine his excellent numbers at this dish and on the basepaths, his huge defensive contributions and the fact that he's doing this despite being just 20 years old, I have to give the MVP to Trout.
It just so happens to be my personal opinion. I understand the arguments for Cabrera—he was epic this year—and if he wins the MVP, I won't be angry.
But I hope voters don't automatically give him the award due to him winning the Triple Crown. It shouldn't be that black and white.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are on point like Geno Smith.
5-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams is arguably one of the biggest uncommitted names in the class of 2014, so the Florida Gators need to do everything they can to get him to buy into their program.
Blake Alderman of InsideTheGators.com is reporting that the 6'3'', 290-pound defensive lineman will be taking an unofficial visit to Florida this weekend. According to quotes via his report, Adams is excited to watch the team during the game:
"I haven't been there for a game, so I want to see how the coaches coach during the game and how the players react to that and see the atmosphere of the game down there. I also want to watch the defensive line and see if it's a place that feels like home with a Hall of Fame coach."
This is a big opportunity for Florida, as Adams has a ton of offers from some other major programs including SEC powers like Alabama, Georgia and Auburn. Any advantage in the recruiting process could be the key to landing the 5-star defensive tackle, so this is a moment Florida can't afford to take lightly.
What do the Gators have to do gain the edge over the rest of the SEC schools trying to recruit Adams?
The most effective recruiting tool would be a big-time win at home against the 5-0 LSU Tigers. That would show Adams that the Gators are back on track and can be considered a power in the SEC again, which in turn would make them a national power.
That's obviously easier said than done, but don't underestimate how powerful of a moment that would be for an elite prospect like Adams.
More than likely though, the Gators' greatest impact will come on the sidelines. You can tell a lot about a team and its coaching staff through their in-game reactions, a lot of which is not caught by television cameras.
Believe me, the sideline can be an emotional roller coaster, but it can also be a place of bonding, teaching and strategy. How do the coaches react to a player that misses an assignment? Do they coach him up and encourage him, or do they just pull him out? Do position coaches game-plan with their players after each series? What kind of in-game adjustments does the team make, and how do they execute?
An elite football prospect like Adams will notice all these things while watching the game, and as he stated, he will be watching.
The most important person on that sideline will undoubtedly be defensive tackle coach Bryant Young, who Adams appears to really respect, according to Alderman's report:
Talking with Coach Young is a big deal to the 6-foot-3, 290-pound tackle, because Adams is well aware of Coach Young's recent honor.
"He was a great player in the NFL," stated Adams. "He just had his name out there to be in the Hall of Fame and now is coaching."
If Young's defensive line crew can step up and have a big game by getting into the backfield and causing issues for LSU's offense, that could really go a long ways in getting Adams to want to commit to Florida.
Sometimes prospects have to be able to visualize what they could do with a team, and it helps to see how a coach would use them in a big-time game like this one.
In the end, Florida has to show Adams that an elite defensive tackle prospect like him can thrive in their system.
Everybody talks the talk in recruiting, but it's the programs that can back it up that get the major commitments.
There's no doubt that Adams would be a major commitment for the Gators.
Jackie Battle, for the second time in as many years, has become a viable fantasy option.
The San Diego Chargers running back has been putting up decent stats over the last three games, including a 15 carry, 39-yard, one touchdown performance, plus four receptions for 42 yards and a score against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4, and 14 rushes for 69 yards and two touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.
He may not be a week-to-week fantasy stud like Arian Foster, but the Bolts back is certainly a viable play in deeper leagues and as a bye-week replacement. His emergence has Ryan Mathew’s owners furious, but it seems that Battle is here to stay, especially after getting the bulk of the carries in that blowout victory over KC.
So what should you look to get out of the 29-year-old back if he’s on your fantasy team?
It’s reasonable to expect that from here on out the Chargers will continue to use a platoon system in their backfield. Barring an injury, Battle can be counted on for approximately 10 carries per game, with that more or less depending on the score.
With those carries, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate the former Houston Cougars star to earn anywhere between 30 to 60 yards per outing, with a touchdown coming every other contest or so.
Battle’s real value will lie in PPR leagues, where it seems he is becoming more integrated into the passing offense and getting comfortable with QB Philip Rivers. He hadn’t had a catch in 2012 before Week 4, but made the most of his four receptions and scored a TD.
While Battle isn’t going to be an absolute beast in fantasy, he can be counted on to have a production similar to Mathews, who was a second-round pick in many drafts this preseason. Don’t hesitate to pick up the emerging RB if you need a quick fill-in or play in a deep league.
This week’s three keys to an Arizona Cardinals victory are much like what has been stated throughout the first four weeks of the 2012 season.
Standing in the direct path of the team moving to 5-0 for the first time since moving to Arizona is a St. Louis Rams team coming off a home win over the division rival Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is a team the Cardinals beat at home to open the season—a team responsible for the biggest NFL controversy of the past two decades following their victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Last week, Arizona survived a scare against the Miami Dolphins, overcoming a 13-0 halftime deficit to win in overtime, 24-21. Another flat performance from the defense this week and the team may not be so lucky.
What must the Cardinals do to become the first NFL team in 2012 to five wins?
Win the Battle in the Trenches
It seems almost cliché to say “run the ball,” but it is exactly what Arizona needs to do. Arizona is 29th in rushing at just 68.0 yards per game. Part of that has been the caliber of opponent the team has faced, with Miami, Seattle, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots making up four of the NFL’s top 12 run defenses—the former two sitting atop the league, in that order.
But part of the responsibility lies also with the interior linemen.
Guards Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder and center Lyle Sendlein have struggled to move defenders on run plays this season. Often, whether it has been the now-injured Beanie Wells or Ryan Williams, the line has been pushed back into the runner as they get the ball.
Sometimes they win. Those are the plays that generate yards. There have not been enough of those plays, however.
According to ProFootballFocus, the Cardinals rank as the worst run-blocking team in the NFL. With a score of minus-36.5, they are 14.6 points worse than the next closest franchise, the New York Jets. Snyder is ranked as the next-to-last run-blocking guard—Sendlein, the third-worst run-blocking center.
But that could change this week.
St. Louis’ defensive tackles, Kendall Langford and rookie first-round pick Michael Brockers, have been pushed around in the run game. Brockers’ first action came last week after missing the first three games due to injury, and he did not fare well against the run.
Langford is ranked league wide as second worst against the run. As a result, the Rams allow 135.2 yards rushing per game, ranked 26th.
Williams should get open lanes to run through Thursday night. That will be big in sustaining an offensive attack.
Pressure Sam Bradford
Unlike Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose completion percentage is slightly higher under pressure than when not, Sam Bradford struggles to complete passes under duress. The drop-off—67.8 percent with no pressure, 47.4 with pressure—is substantial.
He has been pressured 38.5 percent of all dropbacks, which is the sixth-highest percentage among starters.
The Rams have allowed the fourth-most total pressures on offense (52), while the Cardinals have generated the second most on defense (90). St. Louis’ entire offensive line could be in for a long day, as could Bradford. With coordinator Ray Horton’s defense getting pressure from anywhere at any time, any of the pass-rushers could end up with multiple sacks.
Inside linebackers Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington have both recorded multiple-sack games already, two of three such players to do so in 2012—Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is the other.
Starting left tackle Rodger Saffold has already been ruled out of the game and backup Wayne Hunter is questionable—both with knee injuries. What does that mean for the Cardinals’ pass rush?
If neither can play, that would leave Joe Barksdale, who was the Oakland Raiders' third-round pick last year and played in 11 games as a rookie—including zero at left tackle. That bodes very well for outside linebacker Sam Acho.
Continue Play-Action Success
According to ESPN NFC West Blogger Mike Sando, Kevin Kolb completed 5-of-5 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns out of play-action passing against Miami—a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating.
That is incredible considering Arizona’s rushing attack was nonexistent.
As long as Williams, William Powell and LaRod Stephens-Howling (who is listed as questionable and whose availability for game action is unknown) perform at a higher level than that which was shown last week, play-action passing should be effective
It will be difficult for Kolb to duplicate the numbers he put up against Miami, but completing even one deep pass off play-action will go a long way toward opening up the offense.
It cannot be used often, as the offensive line woes would doom Kolb. Typically, it takes just a little longer to run a play-action pass, so the longer it takes to get rid of the football, the better chance the line has of allowing the trio of young stud defensive linemen into the backfield—that is, defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn and rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Matchup to Watch: Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Rams CB Cortland Finnegan
It is a safe bet Cortland Finnegan will be hovering in the same allotment of turf as Larry Fitzgerald all night, and it is the beginning of what should be a physical, chippy two-game-per-season battle.
A veteran AFC South alum, Finnegan has seen his fair share of elite wide receivers throughout his seven NFL seasons. The likes of Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne and Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson—especially Johnson—have allowed Finnegan to make a name for himself as an undersized but scrappy corner with an attitude.
We have all seen the fist fight between Finnegan and Johnson during the 2010 season (and if you have not, do yourself a favor and click this). While it is highly doubtful this soon-to-be rivalry ever gets to that level—because Fitzgerald is not that kind of player—there is no doubt it will be fun to watch.
This matchup gets an extra special tag on it, because with 140 yards, Fitz will become the second-youngest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards. Only Randy Moss (28 years, 207 days) was younger.
Prediction: Cardinals 24, Rams 13
**NOTE** The prediction is cut short this week. In its place I would like to highlight something special being done by Larry Fitzgerald this month. Please watch the video below.
Once again this season, Fitzgerald will be making a donation for every reception and touchdown catch he makes during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. He has added a wrinkle this season, however. He laid out the details in this tweet:
In honor of #BreastCancerAwareness I'm donating .25 for every new follower I get on Facebook & Twitter. I'll also b giving $5k/TD & $1k/rec.
— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) October 2, 2012
I will keep a running total in every edition of my "Keys" column each week, culminating with a grand total donated in the preview of the Nov. 4 game against the Green Bay Packers.
Mittwoch, 3. Oktober 2012
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price has won the 2012 American League ERA title after a fantastic season that has earned him consideration for the Cy Young award.
Price ended the year with a 2.56 ERA, which was just edged out by Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw’s mark of 2.53 for the top overall mark by MLB pitchers this season.
The Rays lefty went 20-5 in 31 starts with 205 strikeouts and 59 walks. Price and the Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver are the only AL pitchers to win 20 games this season.
Weaver was among several extremely talented pitchers involved in the AL ERA title race. Here are the other players Price beat out.
As the temperature rose in Tampa this summer, Price also continued to heat up, enjoying his best months in July and August.
Coming off what would be his worst monthly ERA mark of the year in June, Price was nearly unstoppable during his five games in July. He won three of his appearances while receiving two no-decisions and had a cumulative ERA of just 1.78.
He continued his success by going 2-1 in five starts with a 2.12 ERA in August. He experienced a slight drop-off in September, but still went 4-0 and kept his ERA low enough to add another accomplishment to his promising career.
The 27-year-old has put together a fantastic three-year stretch, capping it off with the most wins and lowest ERA during any of his five seasons in the majors.
He has been an All-Star each year since 2010, and now he is in the running for more prestigious accolades. The other four pitchers who gave Price a run for the AL ERA title are strong candidates for the Cy Young award, but the Rays pitcher has an extremely compelling case as well.
Whether he wins the award or not, Price is on the rise. He has entered the prime of his career by proving that he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball across a season.
Judging by his age and performances over the past few seasons, this will not be the last time that Price’s name is near the top of the AL ERA list and in Cy Young award conversations.
The Atlanta Falcons are 4-0 for the first time in nine years.
Their hot start undoubtedly has taken a team effort, but some Falcons have played much bigger roles than others to help the team finish this first quarter of the season undefeated.
Here are the Falcons' top five performers from the month of September.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA is warning players to stop the flop.
Currently uncommitted 5-star wide receiver Robert Foster has what it takes to be an elite college wideout at 6'3'', 190 pounds, especially if he bulks up a bit. The question is, where will Foster commit?
The talented receiver currently has Alabama and Pittsburgh on top of his interest list, according to 247Sports, followed closely by Ohio State as a warm interest.
There may be questions as to where he'll end up, but there are no questions regarding how good Foster can be at the next level.
Here's my scouting report as well as a few predictions for the 5-star wide receiver.
Right away, it's hard not to notice Foster's athleticism as a football player. He's quick and shifty, and he displays very good field vision.
This is a kid who can be much more than just a receiver at the next level. He almost reminds me of Percy Harvin back when he played for Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators. He's quick and talented enough to be utilized as a deep-threat wide receiver, but he can also be used in the running game and as a kick returner.
He's very effective when he gets the football in his hands with room to work.
In the picture below, he's being targeted on a bubble route with plenty of blocking in front of him. Notice how he's still parallel to the line of scrimmage, but his body is naturally starting to lean forward. His eyes are on the football, but he's preparing to run after the catch.
He gets the ball with plenty of forward momentum, picking up positive yardage, and his eyes are already upfield, looking for his blocks and running lanes.
In this next picture, you can see how he uses his blocks to set up a cutback lane and gain extra yards. He's able to use the blocker on the outside to slow down the defenders enough to outrun them, and he cuts back just slightly enough to let his blocker on the inside get an angle to run off the safety, which in the end gains him extra yards.
This is all off a simple bubble route that started in the backfield.
247sports has him down for running a 4.49 40-yard dash, so he's undoubtedly fast enough to outrun defenders, but he's big enough to play physically at 6'3''. He really is an all-purpose football player.
Like I said, 247sports has Alabama and Pittsburgh on top of his interest list, and it's tough to count the Crimson Tide out in that competition. Pittsburgh does have the home-state team advantage going for them, as Foster is from Monaca, Pennsylvania.
I wouldn't count out Meyer and the Buckeyes here, though. Foster would fit their system very well on offense as a big-play receiver, and he can be a major contributor on special teams.
Don't forget, Meyer coached Harvin at Florida, and there is a similarity in playing style between the two players. Meyer obviously found ways to make Harvin successful, and he could do the same for Foster.
Alabama and Pitt may be on top of his list, but Ohio State is also an interest, and in the end they may be the best fit.
I see the 5-star wideout ending up with the Buckeyes.
MIAMI (AP) -- Dwyane Wade will not be wearing Jordan Brand sneakers and apparel.
Dienstag, 2. Oktober 2012
The move is a bit of a surprise given how quickly Rolle fell out of favor with the team. After starting 13 games for the Birds at weak side linebacker last season, Rolle only appeared in two games on defense this year for a total of 18 snaps according to PFF. In part, Rolle was marginalized as the result of a numbers game.
Last season, the Eagles needed every linebacker they could get their hands on as offenses punished the defense with the running game. Despite the constant shuffling of every linebacker on the roster, there was no real success. This year, the Eagles added Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans, leaving only the will linebacker position open. Rolle was the favorite to win the job given his status from the previous year. However, he competed with Jamar Chaney and Akeem Jordan for the job throughout camp and was eventually buried on the depth chart.
Also, as mentioned earlier, the motivations for the move involve special teams. Kick coverage has been miserable throughout the year and the coaching staff must have deemed Rolle the weak link. As a result, Moten will be called upon to take his place.
An undrafted free agent out of Maryland, Moten played for both the Colts and Seahawks last season. He also spent time time with the Eagles during the pre-season, but was released in the cut down to 53 players.
The other move that the Eagles made today was to release tight end and long snapper Kyle Nelson for guard Julian Vandervelde.
This signing, while less shocking, is probably more influential for the team in the long run. Drafted in the 5th round last year, Vandervelde was released in the final roster cuts and signed to Tampa Bay’s practice squad. However, the Birds likely expected the former Hawkeye to clear waivers, rather than lose him entirely.
Vandevelde fits the bill for what Eagles like in their lineman: versatility. He has played at both center and guard for the Birds and could develop into a serviceable starter or spot starter in time. Think of Nick Cole, for example. For that same reason, I predict that he will be called up in a few weeks to replace Steve Vallos, who plays a similar role, for the opportunity to claim a prospect of interest to the practice squad.
Robin van Persie's move from Arsenal to Manchester United over the summer transfer window was one of the most incredible deals that we saw take place, with the Red Devils to stand as very big winners from the Gunners' contract dispute.
After all, the Dutch international striker had just come off a season where he netted 38 goals across all competition for Arsenal—doing so in just 48 appearances for the club—and proving that he is one of the top strikers in world football.
His 30 goals and 14 assists in the English Premier League were a testament to his skill and talent in attack—rightly winning the Golden Boot Award in the process.
Plagued with injury right throughout his career, Van Persie was finally proving that, when healthy, he can be one of the most devastating strikers on the planet and a man that should definitely be feared by all defensive units.
Which made the Red Devils signing of him huge news for the Manchester club and a huge loss for the North London club.
Where Arsenal had just sold their best player once more, United now had two world-class strikers now in their lineup and with the addition of Shinji Kagawa behind the pair coupled with their world-class wingers, Sir Alex Ferguson would have one of the most potent attacks in the league.
The season so far testifies that to be true, with Van Persie leading the Red Devils attack to a plethora of goals throughout the Premier League and Champions League so far.
And with a large majority of the season still to come, the question must be asked—how many goals will Robin van Persie finish with this season?
I mean, if he can score 38 goals last year for Arsenal, is it possible for him to even bigger and better things for the Red Devils this year?
A quick glance at the Dutch international's numbers would suggest that it is indeed very likely that he will score more goals this year than the year before.
Van Persie has scored five goals through his six Premier League appearances, and should he keep scoring at that rate throughout the season, he's likely to finish with around 30-32 league goals—numbers very similar to last year's.
But then, we have all the other competitions, with the UEFA Champions League a particularly crucial factor in Van Persie's goal-scoring this year.
He has, after all, netted two goals from two games so far in the tournament, and if United can make a run deep into the competition—further than Arsenal did last season—than the 29-yea-old will be afforded more opportunities to find the back of the net.
And more opportunities will equal more goals for Van Persie.
Now the argument against Van Persie netting more goals this year is simple, and flows out of two main points—the first of which is that the Dutch international has only netted the goals he has done this year because Rooney has been injured.
Meaning that when Rooney is back into the attack, RVP's opportunities will become less and less as the attack gets shared around.
The second is most likely regarding his injuries, and whether or not the 29-year-old can maintain peak fitness throughout the season given his career of injuries.
Whilst both of those points are valid, they are perhaps cancelled out by the simple fact that Manchester United have a better squad this season than Arsenal did last season.
They have better players, a greater depth of talent and better playmakers than the Gunners did last year.
Countless times, Van Persie simply had to create goals out of nothing last year, or he had to try and do it all to find the back of the net.
Simply put, that is not the case this season. He has depth and talent around him, and great assist-makers whom he is bound to thrive and score goals off.
Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick—all are world-class players who have proven themselves as attacking threats. Van Persie is another player in this attack—the one who spearheads it—and will bag himself plenty of goals out of their brilliant work in attack this season.
So can he score more goals than last year?
The team around him is better, and he won't have to do as much to put the ball in the back of the net given the strength of the Red Devils' midfield.
Van Persie is brilliant striker and can succeed in all competitions that United will play in this season—scoring goals and driving the Red Devils' attack to great results.
Last season was a phenomenal year for the Dutch international, and one that he will surely remember forever as the year that his career finally got going in world football.
I wonder what he'll remember this season by.
How many goals will Robin Van Persie score for United this year?
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