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  • Saturday, April 19, 2014
    NFL roundup: Saban clarifies Broncos interactions
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama coach Nick Saban said he visited with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Adam Gase at the school's football offices on the same day early last week, but not together.

    • The NFL is investigating the meeting because it might have violated the league's collective bargaining agreement. Players and coaches are not allowed to meet before teams begin their offseason workout programs.

      Saban on Friday night clarified comments he made the day before when he revealed meeting with the Broncos' quarterback and offensive coordinator.

      "I never said we sat down together," Saban told the Denver Post.

      Saban described the meeting as mutually beneficial as Manning looked for ways to improve, Gase and Saban talked generally, and Saban and his coaching staff learned more about the no-huddle offense.

      The NFL is looking into the meeting after Saban said Thursday that "the two of them were just making some visits."

      After some implied Gase and Manning met with Saban simultaneously, Saban on Friday said he was "shocked that anybody would think someone did anything wrong" and this is "what happens when people assume."

      "I never met with Adam," Saban added. "When I talked with him I talked about his family. Peyton, we talked an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Adam had been talking to our assistant coaches. I never talked with Adam about football."

      Saban said Manning and Gase did not arrive together and did not know if they left together.

      "Peyton had called and said he wanted to drop by," Saban said. "Adam had already been around for a couple days when Peyton showed up. It was kind of a coincidence that they were around at the same time. I don't know if they left together, but I know they didn't arrive here together.

      "I was asked about their visit at my coach's clinic press conference, but I never said we sat down together. Because we didn't."

      Saban coached against Manning when the quarterback played for the Indianapolis Colts and Saban guided the Miami Dolphins. Saban is also friends with Archie Manning. Gase began his coaching career working under Saban at Michigan State and then at LSU.

      ---Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was scheduled to work out for the Cleveland Browns on Saturday in College Station, Texas, according to ESPN.

      Manziel is also set to visit the Browns next week. The Browns did not attend his pro day workout last month.

      Manziel is widely projected as a high first-round pick in next month's draft. The Browns have the No. 4 overall selection.

      Veteran Brian Hoyer is the only quarterback on the Browns' roster. He is looking to come back from a serious knee injury.

      The Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, owner of the third choice, have met with Manziel.

      The Browns are coming off a 4-12 season and are rebuilding under new general manager Ray Farmer and first-year coach Mike Pettine.

      ---The Oakland Raiders will cut quarterback Terrelle Pryor on Monday if they are unable to trade him this weekend, according to FOX Sports.

      The Raiders have indicated that Pryor does not fit into their future plans. Since he is due $750,000 this season, the team reportedly is looking to get a low-round draft pick for him.

      Pryor, a gifted athlete who can run, completed 156 of 272 passes for 1,798 yards with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games last year. He also ran 83 times for 576 yards with two TDs.

      Pryor asked to be traded in January. The Raiders signed quarterback Matt Schaub earlier this offseason with the intention of starting him. They also have the No. 5 pick in next month's draft and may select a quarterback.

      ---The San Diego Chargers picked up their fifth-year year option on defensive end Corey Liuget, CBSSports.com reported Saturday.

      Liuget's 2015 option will cost the Chargers $6.969 million.

      The deadline for teams to pick up fifth-year options on players from the 2011 draft class is May 3.

      Liuget had 42 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble last year. In three NFL seasons, he has 122 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 13 pass breakups and two forced fumbles over 47 games.

      The Chargers made Liuget No. 18 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Report: Chargers pick up Liuget's option
    By The Sports Xchange

    The San Diego Chargers picked up their fifth-year year option on defensive end Corey Liuget, CBSSports.com reported Saturday.

    • Liuget's 2015 option will cost the Chargers $6.969 million.

      The deadline for teams to pick up five-year options on players from the 2011 draft class is May 3.

      Liuget had 42 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble last year. In three NFL seasons, he has 122 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 13 pass breakups and two forced fumbles over 47 games.

      The Chargers made Liuget No. 18 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Report: Raiders to trade or cut Pryor
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Oakland Raiders will cut quarterback Terrelle Pryor on Monday if they are unable to trade him this weekend, according to Fox Sports.

    • The Raiders have indicated that Pryor does not fit into their future plans. Since he is due $750,000 this season, the team reportedly is looking to get a low-round draft pick for him.

      Pryor, a gifted athlete who can run, completed 156 of 272 passes for 1,798 yards with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games last year. He also ran 83 times for 576 yards with two TDs.

      Pryor asked to be traded in January. The Raiders signed free agent quarterback Matt Schaub earlier this offseason with the intention of starting him. They also have the No. 5 pick in next month's draft and may select a quarterback.

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Report: Manziel working out for Browns
    By The Sports Xchange

    Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was scheduled to work out for the Cleveland Browns on Saturday in College Station, Texas, according to ESPN.

    • Manziel is also set to visit the Browns next week. The Browns did not attend his pro day workout last month.

      Manziel is widely projected as a high first-round pick in next month's draft. The Browns have the No. 4 overall selection.

      Veteran Brian Hoyer is the only quarterback on the Browns' roster. He is looking to come back from a serious knee injury.

      The Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, owner of the third choice, have met with Manziel.

      The Browns are coming off a 4-12 season and are rebuilding under new general manager Ray Farmer and first-year coach Mike Pettine.

  • Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Saban: Did not meet with Gase, Manning together
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama coach Nick Saban said he visited with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Adam Gase at the school's football offices on the same day early last week, but not together.

    • The NFL is investigating the meeting since it may have violated the league's collective bargaining agreement. Players and coaches are not allowed to meet before teams begin their offseason workout programs.

      Saban on Friday night clarified comments he made the day before when he revealed meeting with the Broncos' quarterback and offensive coordinator.

      "I never said we sat down together," Saban told the Denver Post.

      Saban described the meeting as mutually beneficial in which Manning looked for ways to improve, Gase and Saban talked generally, and Saban and his coaching staff learned more about the no-huddle offense.

      The NFL is looking into the meeting after Saban said Thursday that "the two of them were just making some visits."

      After some implied Gase and Manning met with Saban simultaneously, Saban on Friday said he was "shocked that anybody would think someone did anything wrong" and this is "what happens when people assume."

      "I never met with Adam," Saban added. "When I talked with him I talked about his family. Peyton, we talked an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Adam had been talking to our assistant coaches. I never talked with Adam about football."

      Saban said Manning and Gase did not arrive together and did not know if they left together.

      "Peyton had called and said he wanted to drop by," Saban said. "Adam had already been around for a couple days when Peyton showed up. It was kind of a coincidence that they were around at the same time. I don't know if they left together but I know they didn't arrive here together.

      "I was asked about their visit at my coach's clinic press conference but I never said we sat down together. Because we didn't."

      Saban coached against Manning when the quarterback played for the Indianapolis Colts and Saban guided the Miami Dolphins. Saban is also friends with Archie Manning. Gase began his coaching career working under Saban at Michigan State and then at LSU.

  • Friday, April 18, 2014
    NFL roundup: 49ers delay contract talks with Kaepernick
    By The Sports Xchange

    Contract talks are on hold between the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, according to NFL.com.

    • The 49ers are putting off negotiations while police investigate an incident earlier this month at a Miami hotel that may have involved Kaepernick. The Miami Police Department confirmed last week that Kaepernick, wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette were named in a report filed April 4.

      The 49ers and Kaepernick want to get a new deal done before the start of the season, but the two sides are reportedly not close. He enters the final year on his contract that is scheduled to pay him $1,073,000. He is reportedly seeking a long-term deal worth up to $20 million per year.

      ---The New Orleans Saints re-signed veteran Robert Meachem to a one-year contract on Friday to provide depth at wide receiver.

      Financial terms were not disclosed. Meachem has spent most of his seven-year NFL career with the Saints. In 15 regular-season games last year, he averaged 20.3 yards on 16 receptions. That would have been the best average per catch in the NFL had he not fallen short of the minimum receptions required to be considered.

      Meachem's career totals include 171 catches for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns in 92 regular-season games and 33 starts.

      ---The San Francisco 49ers are not expected to pick up their 2015 contract option on linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith, ESPN reported Friday.

      The team has a May 3 deadline to make a decision on Smith's fifth-year option. Exercising the option would guarantee his 2015 salary of $9.75 million for injury only. As of next March, it would be fully guaranteed.

      Earlier this week, the San Jose Mercury News reported that the 49ers will likely release Smith, who has had several off-the-field problems since 2011. The team still owes him $3 million. Most recently, Smith was arrested last weekend for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport.

      ---The Cincinnati Bengals' new stadium lease agreement with Hamilton County will allow the Bengals to play two international "home" games, according to the team's website.

      Under terms of the previous lease, the Bengals had to play all eight of their regular-season home games at Paul Brown Stadium, which is owned by Hamilton County. The team will also get a new $10 million scoreboard, a bigger weight room and Paul Brown Stadium will be outfitted with Wi-Fi under terms of the lease, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

      A total of 13 NFL teams have played in the International Series since it began in 2007, with eight games of the games at Wembley Stadium in London. Cincinnati is one of the 15 remaining teams that have not played overseas.

  • Friday, April 18, 2014
    Saints retain WR Meachem with one-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New Orleans Saints re-signed veteran Robert Meachem to a one-year contract on Friday to provide depth at wide receiver.

    • Financial terms were not disclosed. Meachem has spent most of his seven-year NFL career with the Saints.

      With starting receivers Marques Colston and Kenny Stills returning for the Saints in 2014, Meachem likely will compete with Joe Morgan, Nick Toon, Andy Tanner and a possible draft pick for playing time. The Saints released veteran Lance Moore last month.

      The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Meachem has provided the Saints with a deep threat in his six years with the team. In 15 regular-season games last year, he averaged 20.3 yards on 16 receptions. That would have been the best average per catch in the NFL had he not fallen short of the minimum receptions required to be considered.

      The 29-year-old Meachem, a 2007 first-round draft pick from Tennessee, also had three catches for 109 yards in the playoffs last season.

      Meachem's career totals include 171 catches for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns in 92 regular-season games and 33 starts.

      He signed a free-agent deal with the San Diego Chargers in 2012 to be their No. 1 receiver but struggled there with only 14 catches and was released before the 2013 season. A week later, he was back with the Saints.

  • Friday, April 18, 2014
    Ravens pick up option on CB Smith
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Baltimore Ravens have exercised their option on cornerback Jimmy Smith, according to media reports.

    • Smith, who was taken with the 27th pick in the first round in the 2011 draft and been a productive starter the last two seasons, will earn $6.898 million, which is guaranteed only in case of an injury.

      "We are hopeful that we can sign Jimmy long-term," coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings. "That will be our goal."

      Smith made 59 tackles and 16 pass deflections in addition to forcing three fumbles in 2013.

  • Friday, April 18, 2014
    New lease allows Bengals to play overseas
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Cincinnati Bengals' new stadium lease agreement with Hamilton County will allow the Bengals to play two international "home" games, according to the team's website.

    • Under terms of the previous lease, the Bengals had to play all eight of their regular-season home games at Paul Brown Stadium, which is owned by Hamilton County.

      A total of 13 National Football League teams have played in the International Series since it began in 2007, with eight games of the games at Wembley Stadium in London. The San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each have played twice at Wembley.

      This season, the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders will play at Wembley for the first time.

      Cincinnati is one of the 15 remaining teams that have not played overseas.

      The Bengals will also get a new $10-million scoreboard, a bigger weight room and Paul Brown Stadium will be outfitted with wi-fi under terms of the new lease, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

  • Friday, April 18, 2014
    Report: 49ers unlikely to pick up Smith's option
    By The Sports Xchange

    The San Francisco 49ers are not expected to pick up their 2015 contract option on linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith, ESPN reported Friday.

    • The team has a May 3 deadline to make a decision on Smith's fifth-year option. Exercising the option would guarantee his 2015 salary of $9.75 million for injury only. As of next March, it would be fully guaranteed.

      Earlier this week, the San Jose Mercury News reported that the 49ers will likely release Smith, who has had several off-the-field problems since joining the team in 2011. The team still owes him $3 million.

      Most recently, Smith was arrested last weekend for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport.

      Last September, Smith was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence following an accident. Smith also faces three felony counts of possessing illegal assault rifles, which were found after a June 2012 party at Smith's San Jose home. Smith sustained stab wounds at the party, and two partygoers were wounded by gunfire from alleged gang members.

      Smith had 19.5 sacks in 2012, but slipped to 8.5 sacks in 2013, when he played in 11 regular-season games.

  • Friday, April 18, 2014
    49ers-Kaepernick contract talks on hold
    By The Sports Xchange

    Contract talks are on hold between the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, according to NFL.com.

    • The 49ers are putting off negotiations while police investigate an incident earlier this month at a Miami hotel that may have involved Kaepernick.

      The Miami Police Department confirmed last week that Kaepernick, wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette were named in a report filed April 4.

      The 49ers and Kaepernick want to get a new deal done before the start of the season, but the two sides are reportedly not close.

      Kaepernick enters the final year on his contract that is scheduled to pay him $1,073,000. He is reportedly seeking a long-term deal worth up to $20 million per year.

      Kaepernick threw for 3,197 yards last year with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 524 yards with four TDs in leading the 49ers to the NFC championship game.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Jets RB Johnson out to quiet critics
    By The Sports Xchange

    Chris Johnson is out to show the football world he is still capable of being an elite running back.

    • One day after signing a two-year contract with the New York Jets, Johnson spoke Wednesday about what will drive him with his new team.

      "I know there (are) a lot of people out there that still believe in me, including the Jets, that's why they wanted to bring me in," Johnson said on a conference call. "But there are still a lot of people out there who say what they're going to say and feel how they want to feel, but I don't see how people can say some of things that they say when you have a guy that rushed for almost 1,100 yards with a torn meniscus.

      "But a player like myself, that's accomplished so much in my career, it's always great to have things to put a chip on your shoulder, to have things to motivate you.

      "I think I can turn a bad thing, (with) what people are saying, into a good thing. For me, that gives me motivation, keeps me hungry and keeps a chip on my shoulder to prove those naysayers wrong."

      Johnson, 28, was released by the Tennessee Titans after six 1,000-yard seasons in Nashville.

      In New York, Johnson figures to share time at running back with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.

      "Basically, it's just a situation (where I will be) coming in and competing and just doing whatever (I can) to help the team win," Johnson said. "Really, at the end of the day, I'm not coming in with too much of a concern about how the carries are going to be (divided) or whatever like that.

      "It's a situation, from talking to Rex (Ryan, the head coach), from talking to Marty (Mornhinweg, the offensive coordinator), that they will put everybody in the best position to help the Jets win."

      Johnson cited Ryan's style as one of the reasons he signed with the Jets.

      "Rex is an aggressive type of coach, and I feel like I am an aggressive type of player," he said. "Coming in, (they made) me feel comfortable, I felt like I was at home. From the offensive coordinator to the offensive line to the quarterbacks, it just made me feel comfortable."

      Johnson might not be the same player he was in 2009, when he rushed for more than 2,000 yards, but he carried the ball 279 times for 1,077 yards in 2013.

      He also is a solid short-range receiver with an average of 45 catches in Tennessee. That reliable outlet makes him the ideal check-down read for second-year quarterback Geno Smith, who will compete with Michael Vick for the Jets' starting job in 2014.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    NFL roundup: Chad Johnson catches on in CFL
    By The Sports Xchange

    Chad Johnson is headed across the border to resume his football career. The former NFL wide receiver signed a contract on Thursday with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League after working out for the team in Florida earlier this week.

    • The 36-year-old Johnson last played in the NFL during the 2011 season with the New England Patriots, seeing action in 15 games with limited impact. He caught 15 passes and had one touchdown with the Pats. In June 2012, he signed with the Dolphins but was cut two months later after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

      Johnson spent the first 10 years of his NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals. The flamboyant receiver, who changed his named to Ochocinco at one point and also became known for his outrageous stunts and television persona, had 751 receptions for 10,783 yards and 66 touchdowns for the Bengals.

      ---Longtime NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb served one day in jail in Arizona for a December DUI arrest and was released on Thursday.

      West Mesa Justice Court records showed that the 37-year-old McNabb spent Wednesday behind bars. Nine days of the sentence were suspended.

      McNabb pleaded guilty on March 27 on the DUI charge after an Dec. 15 arrest at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. According to TMZ, He was clocked at 81 mph in a 65 mph zone at 3:08 a.m. Court records, including a mug shot of McNabb, were released Thursday.

      ---The Jacksonville Jaguars released starting outside linebacker Russell Allen, defensive end D'Aundre Reed, defensive end Will Pericak and wide receiver Jabin Sambrano on Thursday.

      According to reports, Allen failed a team physical after finishing last season on injured reserve because of a concussion. Allen started 29 games, including 14 before the concussion last year, during the past two seasons. He led the Jaguars in tackles in 2012.

      Releasing Allen will save $2.5 million in salary-cap space for the Jaguars. His three-year contract called for a $1.975 million salary in 2014.

      ---The Indianapolis Colts signed restricted free agent guard Joe Reitz to a qualifying offer on Thursday.

      Reitz started three games and played in 14 for the Colts last season. He came to Indianapolis in September 2010 after he was claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. Reitz has 20 career starts -- eight in 2012 and nine in 2013 -- in 34 games.

      ---Safety Kurt Coleman signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

      Coleman was a three-year starter but was a reserve last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started 29 of the 59 career regular-season games in which he played before primarily working on special teams in 2013.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    McNabb spends day in jail
    By The Sports Xchange

    Longtime NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb served one day in jail in Arizona for a December DUI arrest and was released on Thursday.

    • West Mesa Justice Court records showed that the 37-year-old McNabb spent Wednesday behind bars. Nine days of the sentence were suspended.

      McNabb pleaded guilty on March 27 on the DUI charge after an Dec. 15 arrest at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. According to TMZ, McNabb was clocked at 81 mph in a 65 mph zone at 3:08 a.m.

      Court records, including a mug shot of McNabb, were released on Thursday.

      The former quarterback had the greatest success of his 13-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing in four NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. He retired after the 2011 season.

      McNabb appeared on his NBC Sports Radio show Thursday but made no mention of the case. He also works as an analyst for Fox Sports 1.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Draft: Covering 2014 defensive backs
    By The Sports Xchange

    Bigger, better, badder.

    • In direct response to pro football's prolific passing antics, and to the dismay of old school English teachers, that describes the talented class of defensive backs in the 2014 NFL Draft

      According to projections by NFLDraftscout.com, seven defensive backs -- including two safeties -- are first-round prospects in the NFL Draft that begins May 8 and as many as 16 could be grabbed in the first two rounds.

      The cornerbacks are led by Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard. An unusually strong group of safeties is topped by Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor. All four could be among the first 20 players selected.

      In homage to the tone set by the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, led by cornerback Richard Sherman's rough-housing style, this draft group is larger and more physical than most previous draft classes, with six of the top 11 corners at least six feet tall and the top five safeties all between 5-foot-11 and 6-1.

      Not only are these defensive backs set to test those wide-open offenses, but despite league desires to the contrary, there is nothing safe about the brutal hitting ability of the top safeties in this class.

      Here is a closer look at the defensive backs projected to be selected among the top 100 as rated by NFLDrafScout.com (Free and strong safety prospects are differentiated as FS and SS).

      Pos. Rank/Overall Rank/Player/Position/School/Height/Weight/40 time/Proj. Round

      CORNERBACKS

      1/11. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State, 6-0, 202, 4.37, 1.

      Texas prep sensation as quarterback, defensive back, returner, track star, basketball player, Gilbert's overall athleticism continues to be his best asset. However, he must show he is willing to maintain high level of play after admittedly becoming complacent in 2012 after a great 2011 season. He stood out again in 2013 with six interceptions, including two for touchdowns, and a 100-yard kickoff return. Although his announced 40-yard time of 4.37 seconds was the fastest among a curiously slow group of defensive backs at the combine, his best clocking at Indy was actually 4.31 seconds.

      Frankly: Gilbert is no shut-down, in-your-face corner, but he will serve well in zones or off-man coverage where he can keep everything in front of him, then maximize his athleticism.

      2/16. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State, 5-11, 199, 4.51, 1

      After injury-marred 2012 season, Dennard exploded in 2013 to demoralize several offenses and win numerous awards, including the Jim Thorpe, Tatum-Woodson, and first-team All-America. Tough, plays with pain, but history of injuries dating back to 2010 could concern teams (sports hernia required two surgeries, shoulder, ankle, knee). Prepares hard, plays harder and excels at press-and-run. Although his announced 40-yard time at combine was 4.51 seconds, he had four clockings there between 4.41 and 4.42, which is a bit more comforting to scouts who dwell on such things.

      Frankly: Dennard has the talent, attitude and short memory needed to survive in NFL, but may need to be more sly when man-handling receivers.

      3/27. Kyle Fuller , Virginia Tech, 6-0, 190, 4.49, 1-2

      Fuller plays like a natural who has the athleticism to cover and the aggressiveness to play the run. Had sports hernia surgery in November, missed final six games and Senior Bowl. Quiet team leader, brother of former Tennessee Titan Vincent Fuller and younger brother Kendall is a sophomore to watch with Hokies this year.

      Frankly: A solid player against pass and in run support, Fuller has efficient, functional speed (bests of 4.40 and 4.42 seconds at combine), excellent leaping ability (38.5-inch vertical) and a knack at finding the ball.

      4/29. Jason Verrett, TCU, 5-10, 189, 4.38, 1-2

      Fluid, natural athlete with smooth transition on flip and aggressive approach mentally, physically. Has that rare ability to blanket even the quickest receiver. Selected first-team All-America on several lists, second team by Associated Press. Allowed LSU's nifty Odell Beckham Jr. (projected as first-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com) only one catch.

      Frankly: Verrett's startling physical ability and apparent toughness belies fact that he is still maturing and learning skills to cope both on and off the field.

      5/31. *Bradley Roby, Ohio State, 5-11, 194, 4.39, 1-2

      After redshirting the 2010 season as a true freshman, Roby started all 13 games at cornerback in 2011 and quickly flashed his world class speed while leading team with three interceptions. He sat out 2013 opener (suspension after arrest for battery in bar fight) and shook off a so-so start to register a good season. Had more than his share of bothersome injuries the last two years.

      Frankly: Roby is gifted when it comes to doing the hard things, like mirroring receivers, but a lack of discipline and focus get him into trouble against inferior players.

      6/51. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State, 5-08, 184, 4.55, 2

      Small and not really blazing fast, but Joyner is a football junky with an innate feel for the game. High school phenom at prep powerhouse St. Thomas Acquinas, where he was USA Today's National Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. Joyner played safety and corner in a college career that included 15 pass deflections, eight interceptions and an average of 24.23 yards on kickoffs.

      Frankly: Joyner plays much bigger than he measures, hits like the linebacker he was in high school, and his shocking zero-to-gone acceleration will help as a returner.

      7/56. Phillip Gaines, Rice, 6-0, 193, 4.38, 2

      Two-time, All-CUSA selection set a school career record by breaking up 38 passes, 27 in last two years. Played in 52 career games, started 40, including the final 35 consecutive. In 2013, targeted 40 times, allowed 13 catches and stole four passes. Missed best chance to show skills when suspended for season opener vs. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel-to-Mike Evans tandem. Added eight pounds to get to 193 at combine and probably could handle -- and use -- more of the same.

      Frankly: Gaines has the skills, speed (Indy best of 4.31 seconds in 40 yards) and discipline to be an NFL starter, but his most intriguing trait is getting to the ball on so many plays.

      8/63. *Marcus Roberson, Florida, 6-0, 191, 4.61, 2

      Physical in coverage, aggressive in pursuit and plays with attitude. Like Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner (sixth-rated CB by NFLDraftScout.com), Roberson is a product of prep powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas (15-0 his senior year). Injuries a concern (fractured C6 vertebrae in 2011; hurt knee in 2013) and he could use more bulk on lanky frame.

      Frankly: Roberson can play in the NFL if he learns to work in space without losing track of the action and he must also refine his hands-on work downfield to avoid penalties.

      9/74. Keith McGill, Utah, 6-3, 211, 4.51, 2-3

      Former JUCO All-America safety at Cerritos, McGill lasted only five games there with the Utes before a shoulder injury dictated a move to cornerback. McGill shows field awareness of a safety and even baits quarterbacks to throw underneath routes where he excels at closing on the ball. Uses height and long arms well, but lacks unbridled enthusiasm on run support.

      Frankly: Curiously reminiscent of Nnamdi Asomugha (Cal, Raiders, Eagles, 49ers), who maximized his height and ball skills as a boundary-style cornerback to make All-Pro. Like Asomugha, McGill seems more suited for safety except for that bad shoulder, which may explain why neither of them will be remembered as a big hitter.

      10/78. *Bashaud Breeland, Clemson, 5-11, 197, 4.62, 2-3

      Breeland may not be ready to step in as a starter, but he has above-average skills across the board while lacking blinding speed. After being hampered by a groin injury in 2012, Breeland was impressive as a junior last season with 17 passes defensed, four interceptions and 74 tackles, including five for a loss. Lack of elite speed should limit his use to off-man and zone coverage and even then he needs work on technique.

      Frankly: Breeland is aggressive and willing, but maybe not able to handle the speed at the next level. His exceptional ball skills may not be a factor if he is a full step behind in a game of inches.

      11/86. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska, 6-3, 218, 4.61, 2-3

      Jean-Baptiste is a big athlete in search of a position. Well-traveled, former wide receiver (at Miami Central High, North Carolina Tech Prep and Fort Scott Community College), Jean-Baptiste saw no action while listed as a receiver at Nebraska in 2010 and had only one catch in 2011 before transitioning to corner for nine games. His previous experience as defensive back was at safety at Miami Central. Made a lot of plays in college just on pure athletic ability, which was abundantly evident at combine workouts that included best vertical jump of 41.5 inches.

      Frankly: In that inevitable search for the NFL's next Richard Sherman, Jean-Babtiste fits the role as if from central casting, complete with switch from wide receiver. But he lacks Sherman's physicality and instincts and his best shot may be as a safety.

      12/93. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood, 6-1, 198, 4.59, 3

      Haitian-born, Desir moved to U. S. when he was four and spent youth playing soccer, the sport in which his father, Wilfrid, starred. But while playing football at two Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) colleges -- Washburn and Lindenwood -- Desir showed natural ability and collected 25 career interceptions. Fluid, flexible mature athlete with wife and two children who dominated low level competition.

      Frankly: Best MIAA prospect since? Of course you said Pittsburg State's DE Troy Wilson (21 sacks in 1991 to help win DII National Championship; 46 career sacks from 89-92; drafted in seventh round by San Francisco in 1993, in time to win a Super Bowl ring after 1994 season).

      13/95. Jaylen Watkins, Florida, 6-0, 194, 4.41, 3

      Older half brother of Clemson wide receiver and top-10 draft prospect Sammy Watkins, Jaylen showed family's elite athletic genetics since he was a versatile football star at Cape Coral, Fla., High as dual threat quarterback, wide receiver and, oh yes, cornerback. Showed ability last season to play both corner and safety. At combine he clocked 40 yards in 4.41 seconds; 10 yards in 1.50 second and benched 225 pounds 22 times -- all better marks than his highly-rated little brother.

      Frankly: Watkins does not seem like a gamble as a natural football player with the chance of playing either cornerback or safety. Hey, how about emergency quarterback?

      14/100. Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State, 5-10, 189, 4.51, 3-4

      This former star quarterback at San Fernando High School (Pacoima, Calif.) had to beg to play cornerback and they are thankful at Oregon State, where he played 50 games, starting his final 38 at right corner. Tough, three-time city prep wrestling champ with excellent coverage techniques and great character as leader on the field and in community. Last year he overcame a knee injury to collect 61 tackles, six interceptions and two fumbles returned for a score in one game.

      Frankly: Forget his height, or lack thereof, just put him on the field and watch him give a clinic in how this position is supposed to be played.

      SAFETIES

      1 Free Safety/17 overall. *Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama, 6-1, 208, 4.58, 1

      Clinton-Dix's instincts and ability to diagnose seem better than his athletic ability, which is considerable. His rare combination of size, speed, aggression and ball skills mark him as a potential future NFL star. He was suspended for two games last year -- vs. Georgia State and Kentucky -- for taking an improper loan from an assistant strength coach. But if he plays up to his potential, Clinton-Dix won't need to borrow money for a while.

      Frankly: Birth name is Ha'Sean. Grandmother gave him the unusual name he goes by, but that talent is nothing to laugh at.

      2 Free Safety/20. *Calvin Pryor, Louisville, 5-11, 207, 4.58, 1

      Pryor was a hard-hitting junior who compiled 69 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. In conference play, Pryor ranked 16th in tackles for all positions with 50, or 7.1 per game. He teamed with Hakeem Smith to create perhaps the best safety tandem in the country for 2013.

      Frankly: If you want a hitter, Pryor is your man. What he lacks in instinct, he makes up for in raw, relentless aggression.

      1 Strong Safety/41. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois, 5-11, 193, 4.48, 2

      Ward has football smarts and puts himself in position to succeed, using his speed and range to cover the deep half of the field. He came off a 95-tackle, seven interception senior season at NIU and then further impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl. NFLDdraftScout.com's Rob Rang said Ward was the Senior Bowl's most impressive pass defender. He set school-record with three punt blocks as a freshman in 2010

      Frankly: In an NFL deep in destructive tight ends, Ward would be a first round pick if he were a bit taller and that is saying a lot for a strong safety.

      3FS/71. Terrence Brooks, Florida State, 5-11, 198, 4.42, 2-3

      Swiss Army knife on the back seven. Former cornerback who can match up well with those pesky slot receivers and yet an enforcer who can hit like a linebacker. Brooks is a serious-minded, weight-room fanatic who will light up opponents on special teams.

      Frankly: Want to toughen up your defense? Brooks will be happy to set the tone regardless of where you line him up.

      2SS/82. Deone Bucannon, Washington State, 6-1, 211, 4.49, 2-3

      Bucannon may have set an unofficial record for noisy collisions during a truly impactful four years in which he played in every game. Last year was named first-team All-American after 78 solo tackles, three forced fumbles and six interceptions.

      Frankly: Nevermind his lack of agility, so-so reaction time in coverage and occasional missed tackle. Put him on the field and listen for the wind being knocked out of runners, receivers as if hit by a Mike Tyson body punch.

      --Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, covered the NFL and the draft since the 1960s and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Jaguars release LB Allen
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Jacksonville Jaguars released starting outside linebacker Russell Allen, defensive end D'Aundre Reed, defensive end Will Pericak and wide receiver Jabin Sambrano on Thursday.

    • According to reports, Allen failed a team physical after finishing last season on injured reserve because of a concussion.

      Releasing Allen will save $2.5 million in salary-cap space for the Jaguars. His three-year contract called for a $1.975 million salary in 2014.

      Allen started 29 games, including 14 before the concussion last year, during the past two seasons. He led the Jaguars in tackles in 2012.

      The undrafted free agent spent five seasons in Jacksonville and made 44 career starts.

      Reed played in six games during the 2012 season for the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2011.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Ex-NFL WR Johnson signs with Alouettes
    By The Sports Xchange

    Chad Johnson is headed across the border to resume his football career.

    • The former NFL wide receiver signed a contract on Thursday with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

      Johnson worked out for the team earlier in the week in Florida. The Alouettes finished the 2013 season with an 8-10 record.

      "Chad Johnson did an outstanding job the last three days," Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said. "As we added him into the mix, it was to see how he communicated with the players, how he held himself, the way he physically held up, his true interest in coming to the CFL.

      "It was a total evaluation so that it's a good fit. He was very happy and very excited to be on the field again, and we are happy to welcome him to the Alouettes."

      The 36-year-old Johnson last played in the NFL during the 2011 season with the New England Patriots, seeing action in 15 games with limited impact. He caught 15 passes and had one touchdown with the Pats.

      In June 2012, he signed with the Dolphins but was cut two months later after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

      Johnson spent the first 10 years of his NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals. The flamboyant receiver, who changed his named to Ochocinco and also became known for his outrageous stunts and televison persona, left Cincinnati with 751 receptions for 10,783 yards and 66 touchdowns.

      The Alouettes begin training camp in June and play their first regular-season game on June 28 at Calgary.

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Colts G Reitz signs qualifying offer
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Indianapolis Colts signed restricted free agent guard Joe Reitz to a qualifying offer on Thursday.

    • Reitz started three games and played in 14 for the Colts last season.

      He came to Indianapolis in September 2010 after he was claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. Reitz has 20 career starts -- eight in 2012 and nine in 2013 -- in 34 games.

      In college at Western Michigan, Reitz played basketball and had 1,713 points and 939 rebounds in 128 career games.

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    WR Rice to stay in Seattle
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wide receiver Sidney Rice is going to be with the Seattle Seahawks next year.

    • Rice, who was released by the team on Feb. 28 in a salary-cap move, agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the team.

      After visiting the New York Jets on Wednesday, Rice confirmed on Twitter the deal with the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

      Rice was due to make $8.5 million in 2014 as part of a three-year, $41 million deal he signed with the Seahawks in 2011 before he was released. His salary under the new contract is expected to be far lower than the previous amount.

      There were reports that the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers also were interested in Rice -- possibly expediting the Seahawks making the move to reach out of him.

      After rehabbing from surgery on a torn ACL from the 2013 season, Rice was given clearance on Monday by Dr. James Andrews to resume football activities.

      In three seasons with the Seahawks, Rice played in 33 games while battling knee problems. Last year, he had 15 receptions for 231 yards and three touchdowns before he suffered the knee injury.

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    NFL roundup: RB Johnson signs with Jets
    By The Sports Xchange

    Running back Chris Johnson signed a two-year deal with the New York Jets on Wednesday.

    • Johnson, 28, was released by the Tennessee Titans after six 1,000-yard seasons in Nashville. The Jets envision Johnson as a big-play threat to pair with Chris Ivory when the offense slows to coach Rex Ryan's preferred "ground and pound" approach of relying on power running to move the chains and wear down opponents.

      Johnson signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the Titans in 2011 that included a base salary of $8 million for the 2014 season. New coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster made it clear that Johnson was not part of the long-term plans. Attempts to trade Johnson for draft pick compensation did not materialize.

      Johnson might not be the same player he was in 2009, when he rushed for more than 2,000 yards, but he carried the ball 279 times in 2013 and could flourish as part of a rotation. With the Jets, Ivory and Bilal Powell figure into the workload.

      ---Josh Freeman agreed to a one-year deal with the New York Giants.

      The quarterback gives the team a second arm in offseason workouts, joining second-year backup Ryan Nassib. Starter Eli Manning is out for at least six weeks after undergoing ankle surgery.

      A first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Freeman will be joining his third team in six months, which included a start for the Minnesota Vikings against the Giants last season.

      ---Peyton Manning finds no value in reliving the Denver Broncos' loss to the Seattle Seahawks in February. The MVP quarterback prefers to lock into the season ahead.

      "Just because you were there last year in the game, it doesn't guarantee you anything," Manning said Wednesday at the Boy Scouts of America breakfast in Denver. "It does take a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I think forming that chemistry takes time. Certainly working together in the weight room is part of it."

      There are new faces on both sides of the ball for Manning and others to get to know, including high-priced free agents on defense -- cornerback Aqib Talib, safety TJ Ward and defensive end DeMarcus Ware. The Broncos also lost running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Eric Decker, and signed slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

      ---San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd will join the team for workouts after receiving medical clearance for the first time since a season-ending injury at Philadelphia in 2013.

      The 32-year-old Floyd, diagnosed with a spinal disc injury last September, was cleared for light workouts.

      He is owed $2.75 million in 2014 and could bring a needed secondary receiver to Keenan Allen, who emerged as a rookie as a legitimate lead receiver for quarterback Philip Rivers.

      ---San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who was arrested last weekend for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, likely will not play for the team in 2014, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

      The Mercury News also reported that several sources involved with the team's decision-making said the 49ers will unlikely release Smith. They still owe him $3 million guaranteed. The 49ers have until May 3 to decide whether to extend Smith's contract from four years to five.

      In addition to his latest run-in with the law, Smith has had other run-ins with police since joining the 49ers in 2011.

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    Report: LB Smith may not play for 49ers in 2014
    By The Sports Xchange

    San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who was arrested over the weekend for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, likely won't play for the team in 2014, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

    • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News also reported Tuesday that several sources involved with the team's decision-making said the 49ers will unlikely release Smith. They still owe him $3 million guaranteed.

      The 49ers have until May 3 to decide whether to extend Smith's contract from four years to five.

      Exercising the option would guarantee his 2015 salary of $9.75 million for injury only. As of next March, it would be fully guaranteed.

      In addition to his latest run-in with the law, Smith has had other run-ins with police since joining the 49ers in 2011.

      Last September, Smith was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence following an accident. Smith also faces three felony counts of possessing illegal assault rifles, which were found after a June 2012 party at Smith's San Jose home. Smith sustained stab wounds at the party, and two partygoers were wounded by gunfire from alleged gang members.

      On Sunday, Smith was detained at Los Angeles International Airport after suggesting he had a bomb in his possession while in the security line.

      A police report said the following:

      "At approximately 1400 hrs, a 25-year-old male resident of San Jose, California, was going through Terminal 1 screening and was randomly selected for a secondary screening. The suspect then became belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding towards the gate area. Los Angeles Airport Police made contact with him at the gate and he was positively identified as the person in question. Once again the male subject became uncooperative and he was detained and taken into custody by Airport Police and is currently being transported to LAPD for booking."

      Smith, who turns 25 on Aug. 25, was at Gate 6 of Terminal 1 when confronted by several police, who then led Smith away.

      "We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement Sunday. "As this is a pending legal matter and we are still gathering the pertinent facts, we will have no further comment."

      Smith had 19.5 sacks in 2012, but slipped to 8.5 sacks in 2013, when he played in 11 regular-season games.

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    NFL roundup: RB Johnson visits Jets
    By The Sports Xchange

    Running back Chris Johnson began his first free-agent tour on Tuesday, meeting with the New York Jets, one of three teams to express interest in the former Tennessee Titans Pro Bowler.

    • Johnson, 28, was released by the Titans after six 1,000-yard seasons in Nashville.

      The Jets envision Johnson as a big-play threat who could pair with Chris Ivory when the offense slows to coach Rex Ryan's preferred "ground and pound" approach of relying on power running to move the chains and wear down opponents.

      The Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys are also reportedly interested in signing Johnson in a timeshare arrangement at running back.

      ---Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater worked out for the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday and stuck around for an extended visit with the team through Monday.

      The multi-day trip is the latest signal from the Vikings that quarterback is again a priority in the 2014 draft. The Vikings pick eighth overall and the 2012 Big East Offensive Player of the Year could still be available. He had a below-average showing at his March 17 pro day in Louisville with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman present.

      ---Matt Flynn agreed to contract terms and will re-sign with the Green Bay Packers as the primary backup to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

      Flynn rejoined the Packers last season after a series of unexpected moves led him back to Green Bay as a street free agent. Flynn signed a three-year, $26 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent after four years as a backup with the Packers. He started two games with Green Bay, including the epic 480-yard, six-touchdown record-setting performance in a Week 17 game against the Detroit Lions.

      The Packers also want to bring back quarter back Brett Favre -- for a reunion and to retire his number, but team president Mark Murphy still is not sure when it will take place.

      Murphy told ESPN that Favre was invited to Lambeau Field in 2013, but a deep run in the Mississippi High School playoffs by the Oak Grove team for which Favre served as offensive coordinator complicated the schedule. Current quarterback Aaron Rodgers, once Favre's understudy, encouraged the franchise to embrace Favre and retire his jersey number.

      ---Brandon Lloyd was lured out of retirement by the San Francisco 49ers, who signed the former Pro Bowl wide receiver to a one-year contract.

      The 32-year-old receiver chose to pursue off-field interests last season, denying overtures of the 49ers, Patriots and other teams who wanted him to play in 2013. Lloyd played 10 NFL seasons with six teams, including the 49ers, who drafted him in the fourth-round out of Illinois in 2003.

      The 49ers were reportedly interested in DeSean Jackson and other slot receivers -- including Emmanuel Sanders, a free agent who left the Steelers to join the Broncos -- but made only one move at the position this offseason, re-signing Anquan Boldin.

      ---The Pittsburgh Steelers signed punter Adam Podlesh to a one-year contract, the team announced Tuesday.

      Podlesh was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He spent the 2007-2010 seasons with Jacksonville and 2011-2013 with the Chicago Bears.

      He has punted in 107 regular-season games and averaged 40-plus yards per punt each season of his career.

      ---The Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday signed tight end Allen Reisner and claimed linebacker Terrell Manning off waivers.

      Reisner rejoins the team after spending the final week of the 2012 season and the entire 2013 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Originally signed by the Vikings as a rookie free agent in 2011, Reisner joined the Jaguars after being signed off the Vikings' practice squad on Dec. 24, 2012. In 15 career appearances, Reisner has caught seven passes for 58 yards. Reisner has made three career starts, all coming during the 2013 season.

      Manning began his career with Green Bay in 2012 as a fifth-round draft pick and played in five games before he was waived before the 2013 season. He spent last season with the San Diego Chargers but saw action in only one game because of injuries and was released on Monday.

      Meanwhile, offensive lineman Josh Samuda fractured and dislocated his ankle during Tuesday's voluntary workout, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Surgery is Wednesday.

      ---The Chicago Bears waived defensive end Cheta Ozougwu, the team announced Tuesday.

      Ozougwu, a third-year veteran, appeared in nine games over the past two seasons, recording four tackles, one sack, one tackle-for-loss, one forced fumble and five special teams tackles. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder played in the final seven games last season, registering one tackle, one sack and one forced fumble.

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    Vikings add TE Reisner, LB Manning; OL Samuda injured
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday signed tight end Allen Reisner and claimed linebacker Terrell Manning off waivers.

    • Reisner rejoins the team after spending the final week of the 2012 season and the entire 2013 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

      Originally signed by the Vikings as a rookie free agent in 2011, Reisner joined the Jaguars after being signed off the Vikings' practice squad on Dec. 24, 2012.

      In 15 career appearances, Reisner has caught seven passes for 58 yards. Reisner has made three career starts, all coming during the 2013 season.

      Manning began his career with the Green Bay Packers in 2012 as a fifth-round draft pick and played in five games before he was waived before the 2013 season. He spent last season with the San Diego Chargers but saw action in only one game because of injuries and was released on Monday.

      Meanwhile, offensive lineman Josh Samuda fractured and dislocated his ankle during Tuesday's voluntary workout, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.

      Samuda played for the Miami Dolphins in 2012 but did not play last season. He will likely spend the season on injured reserve.

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    Bears waive DE Ozougwu
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Chicago Bears waived defensive end Cheta Ozougwu, the team announced Tuesday.

    • Ozougwu, a third-year veteran, appeared in nine games over the past two seasons, recording four tackles, one sack, one tackle-for-loss, one forced fumble and five special teams tackles.

      The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder played in the final seven games last season, registering one tackle, one sack and one forced fumble.

      Ozougwu was selected by the Houston Texans in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Rice.

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    Steelers sign P Podlesh
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Pittsburgh Steelers signed punter Adam Podlesh to a one-year contract, the team announced Tuesday.

    • Podlesh (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) was originally drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He spent the 2007-2010 seasons with Jacksonville and the 2011-2013 seasons with the Chicago Bears.

      He has punted in 107 regular-season games, recording 467 punts for 19,816 yards with a long punt of 76 yards. Podlesh has averaged 40-plus yards per punt in every single season of his career and has 157 career punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line in the regular season.

      "Very excited to be part of the storied franchise that is #Steelernation, time to get to work in the black and gold!!" Podlesh tweeted.