Terrell S Premier Jersey

27 kolovoz 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif. AP - Jim Harbaugh has gone against conventional wisdom since the moment he arrived at San Francisco 49ers headquarters.One of the most noticeable differences came when the first-year NFL head coach rearranged the locker room to spread out offensive and defensive players and made sure the same positions weren't together. He also carefully paired training camp roommates."It's about the team, the team, the team at all times," Harbaugh said Thursday. "As simple as when you come into a cafeteria, you walk in with a guy, you get your food in that same line and then go sit down together. Turn off the cellphone, take the earphones off and get to know a guy."Now that same philosophy is carrying deep into the exhibition season.Going against conventional wisdom again, Harbaugh plans to take many of his starters out early and give backups more meaningful minutes in San Francisco's preseason game against Houston on Saturday. The third exhibition is traditionally a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with many teams playing starters into the second half.Not for Harbaugh.Confident that his first-team units are mostly set, he all but named Alex Smith the starting quarterback and wants to see what rookie Colin Kaepernick and other backups can do against the best. So he plans to take Smith and others out early - possibly after only one series - with the option of returning them to the game late for another series or two."Get them ready before they need to be ready," Harbaugh said about his reasoning for playing backups big minutes.With the NFL lockout washing away minicamps and a new coaching staff to incorporate, the 49ers figured to be behind most teams.Couple that with the fact Smith and other free agents couldn't practice for the first week of training camp until the new labor agreement took shape, and most figured San Francisco would still be scrambling at this point. And maybe the 49ers still are.The projected starters, however, feel Harbaugh's three-hour practices and grueling training regimen were enough to make up for lost time. Most said they are perfectly fine with Harbaugh's against-the-grain approach to the preseason."We know the offense. We get almost like 300 reps in practice," receiver Josh Morgan said, smiling as he exaggerated just a little."We know it. He said he was going to make the practices as hard as possible so the games would be easy," he said. "He kept his word."The plan to push the backups goes well beyond quarterback.One of the biggest competitions left is for the spot behind two-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore; Anthony Dixon and rookie Kendall Hunter are promised big minutes against Houston.Other backups likely to see their minutes ramped up are second-string receivers and players along both lines. Harbaugh also said he hopes third-string quarterback Josh McCown will see action."Coach already made it known the backups are going to compete," said Dixon, who rushed for 237 yards and two touchdowns last season behind Gore. "These guys are expecting to go in there and go compete for the No. 2 spot."Mixing things up also shows how Harbaugh feels about the progression of his starters.The 49ers finished 6-10 last season, coach Mike Singletary was fired and Harbaugh was hired away from nearby Stanford to turn things around. Harbaugh said he has been more than pleased with how quickly players picked up his version of the West Coast offense, and he wouldn't have made the decision to back off his starters in the preseason if they hadn't.As Harbaugh hinted earlier this week, the break in the third preseason game might not be a long one. He could always chose to play his starters more in the fourth and final preseason game Sept. 1 at San Diego - when most traditionally rest - depending on how they perform this weekend.Of course, with Harbaugh, nobody ever really knows for sure."I think looking back on a lot of seasons that I've been involved with in pro football, the third preseason game is the important one, but it's really important too in evaluating your football team," Harbaugh said. "Who's going to make the team? Who's going to be on the practice squad? Along with getting the starters those opportunities. So it's a bit of a balance there we're going into with this week." Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use ordistribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and TheAssociated Press is strictly prohibited. PrintEmail a FriendFacebookTwitterStumble UponGoogleYahooDiggDeliciousShare

Personalized Eagles Jersey

25 kolovoz 2011

Md. (AP)The Baltimore Ravens are younger than last season. The bigquestion is: Are they better?Longtime fixtures Derrick Mason, Willis McGahee, Todd Heap andKelly Gregg are gone, victims of a salary cap purge. All were keycontributors to a team that made the playoffs in each of the lastthree seasons.And all of them were over 30 years old.Mason, the leading receiver in Ravens history, has been replacedby Lee Evans, who is seven years younger.''He's fast, he's made plays, and he's a big yards-per-catchguy,'' coach John Harbaugh said of Evans. ''That helps a lot.''Heap's job has been taken over by second-year tight end EdDickson; second-year pro Terrence Cody steps in for Gregg andbackup running back Ricky Williams comes at a much cheaper pricethan McGahee.Also missing from last year's 12-4 team is cornerback JoshWilson, who signed as a free agent with Washington. Playing in hisplace this season is first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith, who isquite talented but dangerously inexperienced.Two other rookies, wide receiver Torrey Smith and right tackleJah Reid, are currently projected as starters.The Ravens aren't in rebuilding mode, but there have definitelybeen some significant tweaks to team that expects to overtake rivalPittsburgh in the battle to win the AFC North.''It's probably a natural progression in this league,'' Harbaughsaid. ''It's tough. It's hard. It's just the reality of the salarycap and the situation we're in right now.''There have been some positive additions to go with Evans andWilliams. Pro Bowl fullback Vonte Leach is an upgrade over Le'RonMcClain, who was allowed to leave as a free agent, and safetyBernard Pollard should make it easy for Baltimore to get over theloss of free agent Dawan Landry.If Leach can pave the way for Ray Rice and Williams in thefashion he cleared holes for Arian Foster in Houston, the runninggame should be sound. Quarterback Joe Flacco should benefit fromthe addition of Evans and Smith, both of whom possess the downfieldspeed that complements the steady hands of possession receiverAnquan Boldin.''This is a team that you sense has a chance to do somethingspecial. I think they know that,'' offensive coordinator CamCameron said. ''I think they know it is going to take a lot of hardwork, and this group is not afraid to work. That's what the Ravensdo. The young guys have filled in and followed the example of theveteran guys.''If the Ravens are to make another trip to the postseason,Cameron's offense will have to improve. Unfortunately, the rightside of the line is still under construction and the frail knees ofveteran center Matt Birk could be an issue,Then there's Flacco, who has been asked to take a bigger role onthe field and in the huddle in his fourth NFL season. Flacco isconfident he can step up his game and assert himself a leader.''We're going to have a lot more younger guys,'' Flacco said.''This is going to be our fourth year, me and Ray, and it's justtime to kind of groom those guys and mold those guys the way wewant them, the way I want them. We will have that chance.''Flacco got married during the offseason, and it was apparentafter the lockout that he did more than merely take a honeymoon andlounge around the house.''He's in tremendous shape. He is as sharp starting off as Ihave ever seen him,'' Cameron said. ''We're at the best startingpoint with him going into the season than we have been since he hasbeen here. I haven't flinched on anything that I have believedabout Joe Flacco since the first day I saw him. We have one heck ofa quarterback, and he happens to be a young quarterback.''Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is gone, replaced by thefiery Chuck Pagano. But the mainstays of the unit are intact, whichmeans the opposition still has to worry about linebackers Ray Lewisand Terrell S, along with seven-time Pro Bowl safety EdReed.Baltimore's biggest problem on defense last year was a pass rushthat produced only 27 sacks, 11 of them by S. Linebacker SergioKindle, who missed his entire rookie season with a fractured skull,has been asked to team with end Paul Kruger to provide S withsupport from the other side.''Paul is a relentless guy. He's going to help the defense,''general manager Ozzie Newsome said. ''Sergio? Sometimes you need alittle luck in this business. You need a bonus, and he's our bonusthis year. The first reports we got is that he would never play andnow he looks like the player we drafted. The physical ability isthere.''Newsome's plan for this season was to make the Ravens youngerwithout a dropoff in talent. His logic is sound. Whether it worksor not remains to be seen.


New coach tries to return Raiders to old glory
UpdatedAug 23, 2011 4:30 PM ETOAKLAND, Calif. (AP)Early in Hue Jackson's first training camp as Oakland Raidershead coach he staged movie night for his players.Instead of a Hollywood blockbuster, Jackson pulled out ahistoric film that depicted the history of a once-proud franchisethat has fallen on tough times.Former stars talked about what it meant to be a Raider andhighlights were shown from the team's glory days of three SuperBowl titles in eight seasons.''My job is to make sure these guys understand the history ofthe Raiders and we did that,'' Jackson said. ''We really talkedabout the tape that was put together. If you ask our players,they'd say it was fantastic. I mean there have been some greatplayers that have played here and we need to uphold thatstandard.The recent editions of the Raiders have fallen far short of thestandard set in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s when Al Davis builtone of pro football's best franchises. The Raiders have not had awinning record since 2002, losing 91 games in eight seasons for theleague's second worst mark over that span.Jackson hopes to turn back the clock by building a team that candominate physically to get Oakland back to the playoffs afterimproving to 8-8 last season.That .500 record ended seven straight years of at least 11losses and prompted former coach Tom Cable to proclaim ''we're notlosers anymore.'' That statement irked Davis and falls far short ofJackson's goals.''I expect to win here,'' he said. ''I want our players toexpect to win and I want our fans to have an expectation that thisorganization is making a comeback to where it rightfully belongs.And 8-8 doesn't cut it for me. I'm not interested in being 8-8. I'minterested in being great.''Jackson helped transform a lackluster offense last season ascoordinator. Behind a 1,000-yard rushing season from DarrenMcFadden, big plays from receiver-kick returner Jacoby Ford andimproved play at quarterback from Jason Campbell, the Raiders morethan doubled their scoring output from the previous year to finishsixth in the league with 410 points.Now Jackson tries to translate that improvement to the entireteam.''I don't know what the Raiders'offense was before that, butwhen he got here we were scoring a lot of points last year,''Campbell said. ''We were making plays, and the reason is because ofhis mentality. He brings that mentality of physical, relentlessfootball and playing like a Raider. That's what he's allabout.''The key to Oakland's success rests heavily on Campbell's rightarm. Given some rare stability with a second year in Jackson'ssystem and a reunion with former offensive coordinator Al Saunders,Campbell is being counted on to take a big step forward from theup-and-down quarterback he has been for his first six years.Campbell lost his starting job twice last season, but stillmanaged to post the second-highest quarterback rating of hiscareer. He has a firm hold on the job - and the offense - thisseason in a change evident to all around him.''His pocket presence, his huddle presence, is definitely betterthan it used to be,'' said offensive lineman Stephon Heyer,Campbell's teammate in Washington. ''It looks like he's more of aleader. He's comfortable. I can see that now more so thanever.''The Raiders believed so much in last year's talent that theymade few major additions in the abbreviated offseason.Despite losing a pair of Pro Bowlers in cornerback NnamdiAsomugha and tight end Zach Miller, as well as their mostconsistent lineman in recent years, Robert Gallery, to free agency,the Raiders signed only one potential starter in tight end KevinBoss.The one big change was at coach.''Hue stresses just being a bully, being a big bully on theblock and just being more physical than anybody in the AFC West,''defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. ''That's what he wants us to beand that's what we got to be.''While Jackson is in charge on the field, the Raiders are stillDavis' team. Davis has been a much less visible presence thissummer, not attending practice even once in the first three weeksof training camp.But Jackson says he still talks to Davis daily about what itwill take to improve the Raiders.''This is his football team and he lets me drive the engine,''he said. ''I talk to him all the time about what we are doing,where we are, what we are, and where we are getting to. ... I givehim my input, he listens; he gives me his input, I listen and on wemarch.''How far they march remains to be seen.

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