NEIL CORNRICH & NC SPORTS: MANAGING THE CAREERS OF PROFESSIONALS IN THE SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kampman one of the best



October 29, 2007

By Jeff Legwold

The Broncos certainly aren’t alone in their struggles in dealing with Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman.

Kampman, who lines up on the defensive right side — usually the power end — is the Packers’ best threat in the pass rush. Scouts believe Kampman is one of the best players in the league with his hands, he rarely makes mistakes in his technique for offensive linemen to take advantage of, and he also comes hard every play.

He finished with all three of the Packers’ sacks to go with six tackles.

Kampman powered past Broncos right tackle Erik Pears for a sack just before halftime and then forced a holding penalty on Pears to go with another sack during the same Broncos possession in the third quarter.

He consistently forced Jay Cutler to adjust his positioning in the pocket, often unsettling the timing in the Broncos passing attack.

In the Packers’ last game before facing the Broncos — a three-point win over the Redskins — Kampman then had two sacks, another tackle for loss and another tackle for no gain in the Redskins’ final six plays from scrimmage in the game.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mike Vrabel named defensive player of the week



October 29, 2007

Defensive Player of the Week

New England LB Mike Vrabel, and not just because he caught another touchdown pass -- the 10th of his career -- in the Patriots' rout of Washington in Foxboro. On the first drive of the day, he stopped Clinton Portis for no gain on a second-and-10 run, leading to a Washington punt. On the 'Skins' fourth drive of the day, he strip-sacked Jason Campbell, the Pats recovered, and Stephen Gostkowski ended the drive with a field goal. On the 'Skins' sixth drive of the day, Vrabel strip-sacked Campbell again, the Pats recovered again, and Brady finished the drive off with another touchdown pass. For the day, Vrabel had 13 tackles to go with three sacks.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Whitner singles out moms who need a break


By Allen Wilson

October 26, 2007

Like many single mothers, Deborah Whitner didn’t have it easy. She worked multiple jobs to provide for her two sons and for the three nephews she took in.

There were some tough times, but with the help of her mother, Rosetta Whitner, Deborah managed to make ends meet and build a home for the children.

To show his appreciation for everything his mother and grandmother did for him, Buffalo Bills strong safety Donte Whitner came up with an idea to honor them by hosting a contest for single moms in Western New York to compete for a chance to spend a day at a local spa.

The Single Mother Spa Day will be held Nov. 17, at the Seasons Day Spa in Hamburg. Contestants must submit written entries about why they are most deserving of a day at the spa.

Whitner will choose four winners who will be taken by limousine to the spa, where they will be joined by his mother. They will be treated to a luncheon as well.
Donte said this is just one way for him to say “thank you” to the woman who helped make him the man he is today.

“My mom worked so hard that she never got the opportunity to go to a spa or anything like that,” said Donte, who is holding the same contest in his native Cleveland. “Most of her time, money and focus were on her kids. She worked two, three jobs. There’s a lot of single moms who have dedicated their lives, time and money to their kids, and I just wanted to give them an opportunity to enjoy a day at the spa where they don’t have any worries.

“It gives them a chance to go to a place where they can get pampered instead of them doing all the pampering.”

Looking back, Whitner wonders how his mother was able to take care of five kids on her own. It has given him even more respect for single mothers who went through similar experiences.

Whitner said his mother made a lot of sacrifices for him. Now it’s time to do something good for her.

“There are a lot of kids whose parents take care of them most of their lives and they never get the opportunity to repay them,” he said. “I have that opportunity to give back to my mom and it feels good. I just want her to know that I appreciate everything she did for me and all her hard work wasn’t for nothing.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NC Sports nutritionist David Ellis fuels teams



Teams helping pro players get nutrition into the game

October 24, 2007

Debbi Snook

The Indians, Cavs and Browns and dozens of out-of-town teams including the New England Patriots use Colorado-based dietitian and hockey coach David Ellis and his three-step version of the food pyramid including produce, carbohydrates and lean, varied proteins, including soy. He explains in sports lingo how a good diet can help performance. He shares his message with those who cook for athletes at home.

"We've got millions invested in our players," says Cavs spokesman Tad Carper. "Every little inch of success can add up and make a difference. We can't control everything, but what we can control, we want to go deep on."

Control can be mighty elusive. Cavs trainer Stan Kellers, who previously worked with the Indians and the Browns, says changing a player's eating habits can be impossible.

"It can be harder than any training you can put them through," he says.

While none of the officials interviewed would finger a bad eater for this story, they said that the youngest players often need the most work, especially the generation of players more intimately familiar with pop and processed snack foods and less familiar with nutritionally balanced, sit-down family dinners. Some have money in their pocket for the first time, college-kid tastes, and a chance to call room service.

"Z [Ilgauskas] eats well now," says Kellers, "but not so much when he was 20 and first came to the team from Lithuania. I remember the first restaurant words he learned were 'chicken wings.' "

In contrast, Ellis, the Colorado consultant, says that the Indians' young centerfielder Grady Sizemore is extremely lean and "an example from his generation who uses diet and training to get ahead."

Ellis defends C.C. Sabathia, the Indians' extra-baggage pitcher.

"He does an outstanding job of eating well," says Ellis. "He's just always going to be the biggest pitcher out there."

"Players know they have to stay healthy," says Michelle Riccardi, a Cleveland Clinic registered dietitian who has worked with the Browns for seven years. "They understand they have to stay healthy not only to earn their position, but to keep their position."

That can be a difficult goal for a football player who downs 6,000 calories a day during the season and has to cut that number almost in half when the season ends.

Ellis says he gets a lot of questions from veteran players at their peak, who want to push themselves over the top. He's had players ask him directly what they should eat.

"But I don't want to give them a fish," says the solidly built consultant. "I want to teach them to fish." He says most players comprehend their fitness in the mirror rather than in their microbiology.

Ellis starts teaching with his DVD, "The Fundamental Fueling Tactics Sports Nutrition System," which he loads with big-guy attitude and healthy-guy smarts. He also gives them a poster listing foods and how they can be eaten strategically.

Eating well helps you "play harder and recover faster," he tells his DVD audience. Eat well and "you will not be the guy to get sick every time the weather changes."

Regulate your carbohydrate intake (pasta, breads, etc.) and you won't be "the guy or girl with the refrigerator on their back halfway through practice."

Dark, leafy greens, apple and pear skins, grapes, garlic, onions, herbs and spices have the kind of antioxidant properties that can decrease downtime due to illness.
Athletes can look to other types of food for specific needs such as energy critical for quality work, less muscle soreness and improved recovery time.

"You gotta learn to like the stuff," he tells a team in his program. "It's very, very potent."

And don't just pop a supplement, he warns. "Food is infinitely more sophisticated than any multivitamin."

Looking at food as fuel for sport

When an athlete eats is as important as what and how much he eats, he says. Binge eaters, those who don't regulate their intake with three to five smart meals in a game day, don't recover from workouts as well, don't lose body fat and don't gain muscle.

Ellis doesn't stop there. He warns players about the perils of a bad diet leading to obesity, diabetes and depression.

Trainers know a mere soft-sell approach can work for some players. A raised eyebrow, a polite request to see more "color" (fruits, vegetables) on a buffet plate, or just the example set by older players can be all the education necessary.

Newble said he got a head start eating well with nutritional lessons from his first Detroit trainer, Luther Campball.

"Plus, as a black man, I've always been concerned about heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes," he said. "I believe you get out of your body what you put into it."

He no longer eats pork, rare meat or foods fried in saturated fat, but has trouble carrying the message home to his children, who love going to McDonald's.
"Moms sneak all this stuff in," he says.

He knows if he gets "lightheaded" during a game, he hasn't fueled himself correctly. Ditto for Ilgauskas, who has discovered his game-day eating habits are crucial. He varies his diet, doesn't load up on protein and carbs moments before tipoff and makes sure he gets some protein right after a game, to aid muscle recovery.

Kellers says no trainer wants to turn into the food police. But if education doesn't work, says Cavs spokesman Carper, management can press for specific language in a player's next contract. That might mean committing to work one-on-one with a dietitian.

But among model eaters such as Ilgauskas and Newble, occasional weaknesses are well-tolerated.

"I love pork. I couldn't live without pork," says Ilgauskas.
Newble has a thing for jellybeans.

And although the kitchen in the Cavs' new practice center in Independence was built without a deep-fryer, one might be on the way, said caterer Jagielski.

"There was one person who asked for a deep fryer and if he wants it, he can get it. I can't comment on who that is, but ever since I've come on board, my goal has been, what can I do to get these guys from stopping at McDonald's?"

To reach David Ellis:
www.fuelingtactics.com.

Nutrition is key player in sports


Diet plays an important position on every team.

In baseball, the dominant profile of the long, lean baseball player is not without its exceptions. What serious player is not prone to indulgence after giving it his or her all? “A lot of weight issues are in the outfield,” says David Ellis, a sports nutritionist based in Colorado Springs, Colo. All that standing around doesn’t facilitate sudden sprints. The true pros eat properly, he says, and can endure the long season.

Cavs assistant coach Melvin Hunt calls pro basketball players 7-foot hummingbirds, with LeBron James being the hummingest. “He can burn off anything he eats,” says Hunt. But the danger in basketball, says nutritionist Dave Ellis, is in losing too much muscle mass. Players have to keep well-fortified during the season, he says, but at the right times and with the right food. Binge eating once a day is a major contributor to failure on the court.

In football, where you want enough mass to protect yourself, players are always trying to figure out how much muscle they can carry on their frame. This will always make them look overweight and drive their insurance agents crazy, says Ellis. They can easily gain 5 percent of their weight in fat in the off-season and lose speed and agility. This makes sensible eating crucial, Ellis says, along with year-round training.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Robert Smith shines on ESPN's Outside the Lines



Rude Awakening

By Michael McCarthy

October 22, 2007

Former Minnesota Vikings running back-turned-ESPN reporter Robert Smith had an excellent piece during Sunday's Outside the Lines on difficulties experienced by ex-NFL players trying to forge a second career in mixed martial arts.

Football players are used to being at the top of the toughness food chain. But they often become punching bags for more experienced fighters in MMA, Smith told viewers. "Unlike football, there are no timeouts — and nobody to come in and take your place. If you get hurt in here and can't continue, you've already lost."

"I've got two words for you: Johnnie Morton," said Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, about the ex-Detroit Lions receiver knocked out cold 38 seconds into his first MMA fight in June.

Dallas Clark is the Colts' MVP



By CHAREAN WILLIAMS

October 21, 2007

The Indianapolis Colts wouldn't have won the Super Bowl last season without tight end Dallas Clark.

Clark sprained his right knee in a Nov. 26 game against Philadelphia. It appeared to be season-ending, but the Colts resisted placing him on injured reserve.

He ended up missing only four games, returning for the regular-season finale. Some teammates have called him the team's postseason MVP after he made 21 catches for 317 yards in four playoff games.

Clark has been unstoppable this season.

He is off to the best start of his career with 26 receptions for 300 yards and five touchdowns. Clark is on pace to break the single-season club records by a tight end, owned by Hall of Famer John Mackey.

Clark has lined up at seven positions this season -- both receiver spots, both tight end spots, in the slot on both sides and as an H-back.

"He's a very unique guy in the league today," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "He kind of puts defenses in a bind. He makes them have a conversation about him: 'How are we going to play Clark?' It's nice to have a guy like that on your team."

Monday, October 22, 2007

NC Sports Clients Vrabel and O’Brien Better than Ever in the Postseason



October 22, 2007

Al Groh wins Coach of the Week

October 22, 2007

Doug Lesmerises

Coach of the Week

Virginia's Al Groh: Boasting a 42-33 record in six years with the Cavaliers coming into this season, Groh was a popular resident of most coaching hot-seat lists. Hello, 7-1. After an opening loss to Wyoming, Virginia has won seven straight, including a five-point win, two two-point wins and, the past two weeks, consecutive one-point wins over Connecticut and Maryland.

The latest victory came after backup running back Mikell Simpson touched the ball on 14 straight plays during a 90-yard drive that produced the winning touchdown with 16 seconds left.

"We're showing that this is a team that isn't going to crack," Groh said at his postgame news conference.

No. 15 in the BCS, the Cavs lead their division in the Atlantic Coast Conference and could keep rolling until the season finale against Virginia Tech.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pierre Woods Honored



By Erik Scalavino

October 17, 2007

Wednesday Practice Notebook

Three players won black shirt honors this week. For WR C.J. Jones, this is his third week in a row. TE Marcellus Rivers and LB Pierre Woods were the other two. The Patriots award black jerseys to players who give outstanding performances in recent practices.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Aaron Kampman dominates Redskins in 4th quarter



By Skeller


October 15, 2007


This is the type of thing you just love. Here's the play-by-play from the 4th quarter of the Redskins-Packers game:



Aaron Kampman controlled the entire series: 2 solo tackles and a sack in the space of 58 seconds. Fantastic.

Aaron Kampman: Defensive Player of the Week





October 15, 2007

Defensive Players of the Week

Green Bay DE Aaron Kampman. If you saw this game, you saw Kampman disrupting the pocket like some lighter version of Reggie White -- eight tackles, two sacks, five or six times chasing Jason Campbell for his life. His best game of the year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aaron Kampman is an All-Pro Dad



By Emily Matesic

October 15, 2007

The relationship between dads and their kids was the focus of an event at the Don Hutson Center on Saturday. The Packers and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans hosted the All-Pro Dad, Father and Kids Experience.

Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman and defensive coordinator Bob Sanders don't just shine on the field, but off the field as well. The two are part of All-Pro Dads, a non-profit organization which encourages men to be better fathers.

This afternoon more than 1,000 dads and their kids dressed in green and gold and took part in an All-Pro Dad event.

Kampman said, "It's an opportunity really to just spend some time and give dads some encouragement some practical advice on how to be better dads."

That advice and encouragement came during a short lecture session followed by football drills. During the lecture, Aaron Kampman relied on advice his father gave him when he was expecting his first son. He told the dads to be better fathers and love your wife. It's advice the dads seemed to take to heart.

"It's a great example it sounds like it's uncommon to say that to be a great dad but I really believe that as far as loving your wife and setting an example for your kids," said Bryan Keup of Waukesha.

And since kids were the real reason dads came out to play today, any and all advice was welcome.

Twin Lakes' Carl Anderson said, "It's just an opportunity to spend some time with my kids and do something that's cool and neat and different and maybe pick up some points on how to be a better dad."

Even though many of these dads tripped and tumbled thought the football drills, it was a fun day not only for the old men but the kids as well.

Matthew MacIntyre of Waukesha said, "I just like them because they're fun and I feel like I'm getting to know my dad better."

Pierre Woods continues to make strides



October 14, 2007

BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG


FOXBORO — On opening day last month, all five of the New England Patriots’ regular linebackers were at least 30 years old, and while it’s hard to find fault with the performance of Tedy Bruschi, Rosevelt Colvin, Junior Seau, Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel to this point, the time will come when their replacements will need to be found.

Pierre Woods is one of those potential replacements. One of many Patriot players who has gone from undrafted to contributor, the outside linebacker made the 53-man roster last year out of Michigan and played in 11 games, including all three playoff contests. Though he continues to play mostly on special teams, Woods continues to make strides. He was one of the Pats eight offseason award winners, a big deal in Foxboro.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dallas Clark is Valuable No Matter Where He Lines Up




Dallas Clark had a huge part in Indianapolis' Super Bowl charge. (US Presswire)

October 9, 2007

By Clark Judge

There were two plays I can't forget from Indianapolis' latest victory, and both involved tight end Dallas Clark.

The first was a one-handed stab of a Peyton Manning pass, with Clark taking the ball and dodging traffic en route to the Colts' first touchdown. The second was a front-end collision with Tampa Bay defensive back Tanard Jackson, with the unsuspecting Clark flattened as he stretched for a Manning throw.

The hit was as brutal as it was sudden, and it took Clark minutes to get to his feet. Yet he walked off without help and was in the huddle for the next series.

I mention both incidents because they symbolize what makes Clark one of the most valuable and least appreciated players in the pro football business. He's reliable. He's productive. And he's tough.

I don't know many people who could walk away from the Jackson hit, but Clark did -- and lucky for Indianapolis. Because, next to Manning, Dallas Clark may be the most valuable player on the Colts' offense.

Yeah, I know, they have star receiver Marvin Harrison. But they didn't Sunday. And they didn't for part of their game the preceding weekend. No problem. They had Clark, and he assumed some of Harrison's roles.

They have star receiver Reggie Wayne, too, but he can't play the slot, wide receiver, H-back and both tight end positions. Dallas Clark can, and that's what I love about this guy. He's versatile, he's accomplished and he's everywhere.

That's him lining up shoulder-to-shoulder with right tackle Ryan Diem. No, wait a minute, there he is next to left tackle Tony Ugoh. Hold it, he's in the slot position. Check that, he's out wide. He's in motion. He's wherever you want him to be.

"People can't appreciate how good he is," coach Tony Dungy said. "He's a lot like a great strong safety like Troy Polamalu or Bob Sanders. You can play them deep, or you can have them come to the line of scrimmage and make plays at the point of attack."

The point is: There isn't much Dallas Clark can't do.

Look at the Colts' 38-20 defeat of Denver. They lost Harrison in the second quarter with a bruised knee and were forced to move Clark to his position -- as well as both slot spots -- for some of the subsequent snaps. Result: He finished with a team-high six catches and two touchdowns.

A week later, he was back at all stations, this time hauling down seven receptions and scoring again. The touchdown was significant because of its degree of difficulty: Not only did Clark make a nifty one-handed catch; he stepped out of three tackles to find the end zone.

I marveled at the play, but those who know Clark didn't. They witnessed it too many times.

Remember that clutch third-down pass Manning made on the Colts' game-clinching drive in last season's playoffs against Baltimore? It was Clark who made the catch. Or how about that 52-yard pass play that set up a game-tying field goal against New England in the AFC title game? Uh-huh. Clark again.

"The thing that most people don't know about him," team president Bill Polian said, "is that he loves everything about football. He's one of those guys who loves getting his ankles taped, as Marv (Levy, Buffalo's general manager) would say. Plus, everyone loves him."

I can see why. When Indianapolis first scouted the guy prior to the 2003 Draft, Polian was drawn to him because of his superior pass-catching, route running and ability to make yards after the catch. But his size concerned him. At 6-feet-3, 252, Clark isn't built to be much of a blocker.

"What do you see him as?" he asked offensive coordinator Tom Moore. "Because if we're going to invest a number one pick in him, he's going to have to play a pretty big role."

Moore understood.

"He's a weapon," he told Polian.

And so he is. He's tied for the team lead in touchdowns. He's second in catches. He's second in yards receiving. And he leads the Colts in positions played.

"I think from Day One, when I was a rookie, it was clear they wanted me to play everything but quarterback," Clark said. "And I like that. I just want to be on the football field because I love being out there. I'm probably more comfortable at tight end, next to the offensive line, but they all have their perks."

Especially for the Colts, who continue to march on despite the losses of key offensive performers like Harrison and running back Joseph Addai. Having Peyton Manning on your side certainly doesn't hurt. But having Dallas Clark doesn't, either, and it's high time the country wakes up to what Indianapolis already knows.

Dallas Clark is an invaluable asset, and it’s hard to imagine where Indianapolis would be without him.

"Ever since he was a rookie, he's been something like a utility infielder for us," Polian said. "We'll have a wide receiver down, and we want to go three wides. 'That's OK,' Tom will say, 'We'll just flex Dallas.'

"We'll lose a fullback, and Tom will say, 'That's OK. We'll put Dallas back there.' We like to go two tight ends in our base, which means it's back to Dallas. And if we need to move him, Dallas becomes an H-back.

"Really, he can be whatever we want him to be. That's why he's invaluable."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dallas Clark: Indianapolis man of mystery


By Tom James

October 7, 2007


INDIANAPOLIS— Dallas Clark? A new secret weapon for the Indianapolis Colts offense?

Perhaps.

After the first four games of the 2007 season, it sure seems as if the Colts have found several new ways to utilize the special talents that Clark brings to each game.

Last week’s 38-20 home-field win over Denver was a prime example of what offensive coordinator Tom Moore may have in store for future opposing defensive units.

Even before ace wide receiver Marvin Harrison was sidelined with a sprained left knee in the Broncos’ game, Moore came up the novel idea of having Harrison and wide receiver Reggie Wayne line up together on one side of the field and allowing Clark to be split wide by himself near the opposite sideline.

The ploy proved to be quite a tweak in the Colts’ usual offensive formation. And it caused considerable consternation on the Denver sideline. Who’s going to cover Clark? A linebacker? A safety? A cornerback?

As it turned out, it didn’t really matter who tried to cover the versatile tight end.

Not even Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey was up to the task of covering the surprisingly speedy Clark on a consistent basis. Neither were safety Dominque Foxworth or inside linebacker Ian Gold.

The result of all the havoc Clark created in the Broncos’ secondary? Six catches for 76 yards.

Two touchdowns. One touchdown coming on a diving catch in the right corner of the end zone on a picture perfect pass from quarterback Peyton Manning. The other on a fade route to the back corner of the end zone and, once again, a very catchable pass from Manning.

Ron Prince: Impressive Work at K-State



October 8, 2007


Inside Dish

By Matt Hayes

Kansas State coach Ron Prince is rising quickly on the NFL's radar. Prince worked minority fellowships with four NFL teams in the 1990s and quickly earned a reputation as a charismatic organizer. Despite K-State's loss to Kansas last week, Prince's work in Manhattan has been impressive, especially considering what he inherited and how the once-elite program had grown stale on the field and in recruiting.

Mike Vrabel: The Ultimate Patriot



OSU graduate embodies spirit of perennial power

October 5, 2007

By Bill Rabinowitz

Based on NFL actuarial tables, the end should be near for Mike Vrabel.

Yet at 32, Vrabel shows no signs of slowing down. The Bengals learned that Monday. The Browns will take their dose Sunday.

Vrabel, who graduated from Ohio State and lives in Lewis Center during the offseason, contributed in all three phases of the New England Patriots' win over Cincinnati. On defense, the linebacker pressured Carson Palmer into a third-down incompletion. On offense, he lined up as a tight end and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass, the ninth time in his career he has had a scoring reception. When David Thomas got hurt, Vrabel took his spot on special teams.

Just another night's work for a player described as the ultimate Patriot: smart, versatile and tough.

"I think the Patriots are looked at in high regard around the league," Vrabel said. "To represent that is certainly an honor. You have to continue to work and continue to produce, as does everybody on the team. But it's certainly an honor to say that that guy embodies what the Patriots are trying to do."

Vrabel's NFL career looked like it might be numbered seven years ago. Pittsburgh let the former third-round draft pick go after four undistinguished seasons in which Vrabel never started.

But under coach Bill Belichick in New England, he emerged as a crucial cog in helping the Patriots win three Super Bowls.

"I got some really good coaching in New England," Vrabel said. "Not to say I didn't in Pittsburgh, but I just think Bill saw something he wanted to try to get out of me, and eventually he did."

Vrabel wants to ride the wave as long as he can.

"I want to play as long as I feel I'm still able to make plays and contribute and not just hang on," he said.

Vrabel's success has been largely attributed to his instincts and intelligence, but football is not chess.

“You still have to win one-on-one in this league, no matter how much you know or how smart you think you are," Vrabel said. "You have to go out and physically win against someone else. I think those skills are still there."

Vrabel, who is married and has two sons, is unsure what he will do when he retires. He was pre-med at Ohio State, but his long NFL career has caused him to give up any ambitions of becoming a doctor.

He works out in the offseason at Ohio State and would like to remain involved in that program.

Along with fellow Buckeyes Luke Fickell and Ryan Miller, Vrabel has started the 2nd&7 Foundation, which provides books to second-graders in the Columbus school system.

"I love the time we spend in Columbus in the offseason and try to be a part of that community and try to do the stuff with the foundation and see the kids at Ohio State," he said.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Amazing Dallas Clark Plays Like He Is in the Matrix



Posted by: Anthony Bialy

October 8, 2007


The most incessant current NFL argument is over whether the Colts or Patriots are the best team on Earth, and it's one that won't be resolved as long as both continue rampaging through their respective schedules. The dispute may be resolved on Nov. 4 when they finally face each other, and in the meantime a specific similarity between the AFC's two elite franchises emerged during Indianapolis' Week 5 victory over Tampa: As with New England's famous ability to maintain success while plugging new players into schemes, the reigning champs find ways to win no matter who's missing.

For example, when a player like, say, the unparalleled Marvin Harrison is out with injury, no Colt receivers play as if they have an excuse if they lose. Instead, someone like tight end Dallas Clark elevates his game when his team needs it.

The amazing thing about Clark is that he plays like he's in The Matrix: Everyone around him is frantically speeding, and he's somehow able to slow the game and calmly do his job, an innate capability often found among choice athletes in any sport.

One of Clark's seven grabs for 49 total yards went for the first score of the game, a 10-yard touchdown where he finished his block, ran a few yards, and coolly turned to make the reception before dashing for the end zone. Most impressively, he did it all without looking frenzied, which is the mark of a professional making sure he's contributing, especially when the week's talent pool is a bit shallow.

Dallas Clark is tough to cover



By Clifton Brown

October 8, 2007

The Colts adjusted by moving tight end Dallas Clark outside to a wide receiver position, and Clark caught two touchdown passes. The Broncos covered Clark with a cornerback, a safety and a linebacker, but no one covered him well.

Dallas Clark on fire



October 8, 2007




Dallas Clark steps up



By John Oehser

September 30, 2007


In a New Role, Colts Tight End Clark Continues to Excel


INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe, some day, it will be different.

Maybe, Colts tight end Dallas Clark said, some day scoring touchdowns in the NFL will be so routine that he doesn’t worry about retrieving a ball from the stands, and that everyone doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

That day isn’t here yet.

And even though the argument could be made that it’s getting closer – much closer – by the week, the fifth-year veteran won’t be among those making the argument.

“Hopefully, I get to the point where it’s like (Colts wide receiver) Marv (Harrison) and those guys where it’s old hat,” Clark said, whose two touchdown receptions keyed a 28-point second- and third-quarter surge as the Colts rallied past the Denver Broncos for a 38-20 victory in the RCA Dome Sunday afternoon.

“It hasn’t gotten like that. I haven’t caught enough yet where it’s every other day. I’m enjoying them right now. Hopefully, I get to the point where if it goes in the stands I’m not going to sit there like a three-year old and ask him for it back.”

The incident to which Clark referred came after a first-half touchdown.

On the play, Clark – the Colts’ 2003 first-round draft selection from the University of Iowa – made a diving, nine-yard reception.

He spiked the ball in the end zone.

One problem.

When it bounced, it went into the stands.

Clark, who saves all of his touchdown balls, found himself in what he said was the embarrassing situation of asking for the ball back.

He did, and the fans who caught it, returned it.

“I didn’t really know, ‘Do I have the right to ask for it back?’’’ Clark said. “If he starts arguing, are we going to sit there the whole game? I was very happy that he gave it back and I was able to give him another ball after the game. It was very nice. I appreciated that.

“I’m sorry he didn’t get the touchdown ball, but he gets a replacement.”

Clark on Sunday had bigger concerns. He spent much of the game playing as the outside receiver in the Colts’ offense, a spot usually played by eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

“I was outside a lot, which I wasn’t expecting coming into the game,” Clark said. “I knew we were going to try it a bit to see how they adjusted to it. With some injuries and stuff like that, I think we wanted to go back to it and see how well it worked. We were able to get some things going. It was fun being out there. I wasn’t totally comfortable out there.

“Hopefully, we don’t make that a habit. The slot’s a lot easier.”

Clark, who caught six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns – all team-highs Sunday – had another new experience because of the new position. He was covered at least part of the game by Broncos All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey.

On one play in the third quarter – 3rd-and-3 from the Colts 47 – Clark beat Bailey on a 27-yard gain down the right sideline.

Clark said he wasn’t sure when the time would come when he would consider beating a player such as Bailey – and catching touchdown passes routine – but he said the time wasn’t now. At least not yet.

“It’s way early,” Clark said. “I’m just trying to do my job. Fortunately, I’m getting some touchdowns here and there. I’m so far from that. I’m enjoying it. I’m trying to work hard to get better every day. I’ve been producing some numbers here lately. I just try to keep going.

“If we need outlets, hopefully, I’m there, and we just keep going. It’s about moving the chains, making first downs and making plays, which is what we did today.”

Friday, October 05, 2007

Phil Dawson is a Remarkable Talent



Jeff Schudel

October 3, 2007

Both kicker and top returner are undrafted players who have been productive for Browns

Phil Dawson feels like one of the luckiest kickers in the NFL. He doesn't have to kick off to Josh Cribbs on Sunday.

Kicking off to Cribbs on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in practice is challenge enough for Dawson, but when it comes to kicking off when it counts, Dawson is content to watch the kicker on the opposite side of the field squirm.

"I love Josh Cribbs," Dawson said Monday in the Browns' locker room. "I can relate. He's an undrafted kid who came into the league and had to earn his way. He continues to make play after play.

"He's the kind of player I think fans of the Browns can really identify with and appreciate."

Dawson is 6-for-7 on field-goal tries heading into Sunday's game at New England. He would be a perfect 7-for-7 and the Browns would be 3-1 if Nat Dorsey hadn't missed a block on kick protection in Oakland on Sept. 23, a mistake that allowed the Raiders' Tom Kelly to block Dawson's 40-yard field-goal attempt on the final play.

Even more remarkable than being 6 of 7 is Dawson is 5-for-5 at Cleveland Browns Stadium, a place that has been treacherous for kickers even in good weather because they often have trouble setting their plant foot. The Ravens' Matt Stover, normally one of the most accurate kickers in the league, missed wide right from 46 and 41 yards Sunday.

There is even more to Dawson's success. He has had three holders in four games. If it isn't an NFL record, it has to be close. Paul Ernster held for the opener, a game in which Dawson's only kick was a PAT in a 34-7 loss. Dave Zastudil held for him against the Bengals. Scott Player was his holder the last two weeks.

The reason Dawson has played musical holders is Zastudil, his normal holder, has been battling a strained oblique.

"I jinxed myself in training camp," Dawson said. "I made the comment this was the first year in five years I had the same snapper and holder. You'd be surprised. It's not that they hold differently, but it looks completely different.

"Some guys catch the ball into their bodies. Some guys reach out and catch it. Some guys place it down differently. When you consider it only takes 1.3 seconds from snap to kick, there's not a lot of time for something to go wrong."

Dallas Clark is a tough matchup



October 5, 2007

Lining up as a slot receiver is not uncharted territory for TE Dallas Clark. Clark got his first taste of playing recevier last season when slot receiver Brandon Stokley was injured.

The Colts chose not to re-sign Stokley in the offseason and instead used their first-round draft pick to select Ohio State WR Anthony Gonzalez to fill the slot WR role. With Gonzalez developing a little bit slower than the Colts had expected—he dropped two passes in Week Three—Clark has again spent much of his time in the slot.

Clark led the Colts in receiving in Weeks Two and Four and has scored four touchdowns in the last three games. “Dallas had gotten a lot of opportunities in the middle of the field,” Tony Dungy said last week. “He’s a tough matchup, especially when you’re doing things that take care of the outside guys. He’s been really productive for us. He’s blocked well in the slot and he’s blocked well at tight end. He’s been a big, big component.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dallas Clark is the X Factor



October 1, 2007

By Rick Gosselin

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts are very explosive but very predictable with Pro Bowl wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne on the field.

Harrison lines up at flanker on the right side of the formation and Wayne at split end on the left side – and the Colts dare you to stop them.

But when Harrison left Sunday's game against Denver in the second quarter with a bruised knee, it gave Peyton Manning and the Colts offense license to be creative. And Dallas Clark became the licensee.

Clark caught a game-high six passes and two touchdowns from a variety of different positions as the Colts shellacked the Broncos, 38-20, to remain unbeaten at 4-0.

There are only four remaining unbeatens a month into the season – Indianapolis and New England, which plays tonight, in the AFC and Dallas and Green Bay in the AFC.

With Harrison and Wayne on the field, Clark lines up at either his natural tight end position or the slot. But with Harrison out for the final three quarters, Clark got to line up at both wide receiver spots, both slot positions and tight end.

"It's nice to have a guy that puts a defense in tough situations," Manning said. "He's the X factor."

Clark caught both of his touchdown passes matched against linebacker Ian Gold. The second one came on a 3-yard fade route in the third quarter.

"We've practiced that play for three years in our OTAs [organized team activities] and training camp but never used it in a game," Manning said. "It was nice to see it finally reach fruition."

In addition to Gold, Clark drew cornerback Dre Bly at times. He drew Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey. He drew safety Dominique Foxworth. He drew safety Nick Ferguson.

"If they [defenders] had a number in the 90s, they weren't out there," Clark said. "But I think I saw everyone else. I had no idea who was covering me half the time."

The Broncos tried to jam Clark at the line with Gold. They tried to double-cover him with a linebacker and safety. On his game-long 26-yard go route, he beat the zone coverage of Bailey and Ferguson in the fourth quarter.

"We tried a new formation this week where we wanted to get Bailey and Bly to one side just to see who'd they'd leave over there to cover Dallas," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

Clark was the Colts' leading receiver last postseason during their Super Bowl run. He has now caught four touchdown passes in the last three weeks. He has never gone to a Pro Bowl. That drought seems likely to end in 2007.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mark Tauscher Earns Rave Reviews


October 2, 2007

Mark Tauscher and his fellow linemen continue to earn rave reviews for their pass protection, especially in light of how many passes the Packers have thrown in their last two games (90).

Ted Thompson took a lot of heat in the off-season for not adding any help to an offense that ranked 22nd in points scored in 2006.

As it turns out, maybe the playmakers were here all along. A young offensive line forced the Packers to keep seven men in to pass block most of last season, but this year it's mainly the linemen on their own, putting more skill players out in patterns.

As a result, the Packers now rank 8th in points scored.

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said, "Tom Clements and I were talking about how everybody last year was saying we were a seven-man protection team and this year we are only five -- we skipped right past six. Everybody has to be on the same page because you don't have a running back behind you to bail you out if you miss, but our guys have done an excellent job with that scheme."

Vrabel catches ninth touchdown pass



Watson wants to try Vrabel's gig


October 2, 2007

By JIM DONALDSON

CINCINNATI -- Turnabout, Patriots tight end Ben Watson believes, is fair play.

Since linebacker Mike Vrabel gets to come in near the goal line and catch touchdown passes, Watson wants a chance to rush the passer.

``I want to come in on third-and-long,'' he said, smiling broadly. "I want to come in when it's third-and-20, when everybody's knows the quarterback is going to pass, and get a sack.''

Watson, still smiling, added that the tight ends get ``a little jealous'' when Vrabel gets the ball thrown to him in the end zone.

''Whenever we see Mike coming in,'' said Watson, "we roll our eyes and say: 'Oh, man!' ''

The tight ends try not to let Vrabel slip into their meetings during the week.
"He tries to sneak in," Watson said.

But they can't keep him out of the huddle when coach Bill Belichick sends him in.

And, it appears, opposing defenses can't keep the versatile Vrabel from catching the ball in the end zone.

He has caught nine passes since coming to the Patriots from Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent in 2001, and all of them have been for touchdowns.

Two of them were in Super Bowls -- one against Carolina, one against the Eagles -- and his latest TD catch came last night in Cincinnati, when he hauled in a 1-yard toss from Tom Brady in the final minute of the first quarter that put the Patriots on top, 10-0.

''Mike's a great threat down there," Brady said. "He's very elusive and has good hands."

"His eyes light up," Belichick said, "when he sees the ball coming."

Dallas Clark continues huge run with 2 TDs


September 30, 2007

Dallas Clark caught six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts took down the Broncos 38-20 in Week 4 and improved to 4-0 on the season.

Clark took advantage of Marvin Harrison being out of the lineup and came through with a huge second half. Through four games, the former Iowa Hawkeye has 19 catches for 251 yards and four touchdowns, good for a 76-1004-13.2-16 pace. While he's unlikely to keep scoring at that rate, Clark is smartly having the best season of his five-year career in a contract season.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Kampman League's craftiest pass rusher



Unpredictable: Kampman, Peppers boast many moves


September 30, 2007






Monday, October 01, 2007

Ron Prince Coach of the Week



By Doug Lesmerises

October 1, 2007

Kansas State's Ron Prince

We'd be talking about the second-year coach anyway after he beat Texas for the second consecutive season, but his success always provides the opportunity to mention the travesty that there are just six black head coaches among the 119 top-level schools.

Kansas State Athletic Director Tim Weiser met the relatively little-known Prince at an NCAA forum for minority coaches, and last year, Prince beat the Longhorns when they were ranked fourth and finished 7-6 after a loss to Rutgers in the Texas Bowl.

This season, Kansas State is 3-1 and ranked 24th, their first appearance in the AP poll since the second week of the 2004 season.

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