Posted on: June 17, 2010 12:42 pm

Good-Spirited Drama Along the Giants DL

In a follow up to the Osi Umenyiora story from yesterday, Mathias Kiwanuka spoke about the situation at the right defensive end position.

"That's my goal and that's where my focus is,” Kiwanuka said of keeping his starting job. “There's no other thought in my mind "Once I get it, I have to keep it."

"We can maintain a friendly competition because that's where we need everybody's mind to be. This is the NFL. There are battles at every position up and down the line."

Umenyiora and Kiwanuka (who, by the way, also has a contract situation), won’t be competing for the same spot on third down, apparently. Yesterday the Giants revealed a four-man nickel front consisting of first-round rookie Jason Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka as the ends, and Justin Tuck and Umenyiora as the tackles. Tuck is as versatile as any player in the game and has the strength and technique to be dominant inside. Umenyiora has generally been a space player though could give guards fits with his initial quickness.

--Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 12:01 pm

Saints Get Their Bling

The New Orleans Saints got their Super Bowl rings in a private ceremony Wednesday. All the players said it felt good and incredible and everything else. If you want to see a picture of the ring, click here.

For those of you who are interested, the ring is a “fleur-de-lis” along with the triple-spired St. Louis Cathedral and the Louisiana Superdome.

--Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 11:30 am

A Pair of Niners Skipping Minicamp

Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and outside linebacker Manny Lawson are both skipping the team’s mandatory minicamp. Franklin has not yet signed his franchise tag contract and is technically under no obligation to attend. Lawson is unhappy with his contract. He’s in the final year of his five-year rookie deal. His base salary is $700,000.

Singletary isn’t worried about either player.

"I have heard that Aubrayo will not be here, which does not bother me one bit," the head coach said. "Manny is not here — does not bother me one bit. Those guys are working. They are doing what they need to do. I'll see them when I see them."

Franklin is vital to the Niners’ 3-4 scheme. His presence inside keeps blockers off Patrick Willis and also allows tireless end Justin Smith to exploiting one-on-one matchups. Plus, Franklin himself has great lateral range as a run-stopper.

Lawson is a role player who doesn’t often get to the quarterback but is a fluid pass defender in the flats.

--Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 10:57 am

Rookie TE Hernandez Is Becoming a True Patriot

New England’s fourth-round pick out of Florida, tight end Aaron Hernandez, is learning the one skill that all Patriot players must learn: talking to the media without saying anything. Hernandez has been dogged by reports that he failed multiple drug tests for marijuana while in college. He has admitted to failing one test but has been mum on everything else. Wednesday, Hernandez addressed the topic (in Belichick fashion).

“That’s in the past,” Hernandez said. “I’m just worried about the future and the present. I forgot about the past. I just keep grinding and do the best I can for this team.”

Hernandez slipped to the fourth round because of character concerns (he was suspended for a game and parts of another while at Florida; undisclosed reasons). But keep in mind, Belichick is close friends with Urban Meyer. He got the full scoop on the kid before and still comfortable drafting him.

Hernandez is a 6’5”, 250-pound pass-catcher. He’ll work with fellow rookie Rob Gronkowski (as second-rounder) to help fill the hole that was created by Ben Watson’s departure.

--Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 10:29 am
Edited on: June 17, 2010 2:58 pm

More on Ravens Cornerback Situation

Yesterday we wrote that the Ravens were likely to sign Walt Harris, Ken Lucas or Ken Hamlin. Hamlin is the best of the three, but Harris and Lucas are cornerbacks, which is a greater area of need in Baltimore.

To take the story a step further, John Harbaugh spoke about the health of starting corner Fabian Washington and shimmering young nickelback Lardarius Webb, two players coming off late-season ACL injuries. Both have claimed all offseason to be on track to start opening day, but every player rehabbing a major injury claims to be “on track” (or “ahead of schedule”).

Here’s what Harbaugh had to say on WBAL’s Sportsline with Brett Hollander:

“You never know about those ACLs. Even when (Washington and Webb) come back to play, if they play earlier in the year, they’re probably not going to be fully back with their strength. We have to factor that in. As the season goes along, you’ll probably see them get better and better.”

Baltimore’s other starting corner is Domonique Foxworth. Chris Carr, a return man and finesse dime back, is also no the roster, as is journeyman Travis Fisher. If Harris or Lucas sign, they’ll likely have a key role in September.

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Ravens have signed Ken Hamlin to a one-year contract.

--Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 9:46 am
Edited on: June 17, 2010 1:10 pm

Miles Austin Dating Kim Kardashian (R Bush's Ex)?

We’ll try to avoid tawdry rumors on this blog….after we get this one out of the way. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian is reportedly dating Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin. Kardashian has had somewhat of an on-again, off-again relationship with Reggie Bush. The National Enquirer reported this story, which means it’s likely hogwash. Apparently Austin and Kardashian were both at Game 6 of the NBA Finals, but they didn’t sit together.

Keep in mind, it’s possible that Kardashian thinks she’s actually dating Alex Rodriguez.

--Andy Benoit

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 17, 2010 9:07 am
Edited on: June 17, 2010 9:11 am

Marvin Harrison Has Gun Confiscated

Police confiscated a 9 mm handgun from former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison during a traffic stop Wednesday. Harrison was stopped three blocks from the Philadelphia garage he owns where, you may recall, in 2008, three people were injured in a shooting. Harrison’s name came up in that case, but he was never charged. Police are testing Harrison’s gun to see if it is related to the ’08 shooting.

ESPN the Magazine’s Shaun Assael described Wednesday’s incident:

"The 37-year-old former Pro Bowl receiver was driving the wrong way down the one-way street in a Cadillac Escalade when the patrolman stopped him along with the driver of a second car that was trailing him, the sources said.

According to the law enforcement sources, the patrolman saw Harrison place something that appeared to be a weapon in the seat console of his car. When the officer asked him to step out of the vehicle, Harrison produced a car registration and a permit to carry a weapon, both of which were in order. When he was asked whether he had a weapon, however, he answered no, the sources said.

At that point, the sources added, the officer said that he had probable cause to search the vehicle and found a weapon in the seat console."

--Andy Benoit

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 17, 2010 12:18 am

An Interesting Criticism on Cleveland's RFA's

Terry Pluto in the Cleveland Plain Dealer praised Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers for looking like the “only winners” among the Browns’ unhappy free agents. Harrison and Vickers were the only restricted free agents in Cleveland to participate in the bulk of the team’s offseason programs. The other restricted free agents – D’Qwell Jackson, Matt Roth and Abe Elam – did not sign their tenders until the June 15 deadline and have not been around the team.

Pluto wrote:
[Harrison and Vickers] signed a type of insurance form and showed up for at least some of the OTAs and minicamps. Even wiser was [RFA] Jason Trusnik, the Nordonia product who signed his $1.7 million offer a few months ago. He realized the key word in restricted free agent is "restricted."

That means you ain't going anywhere, because the Browns could match any offer you receive. Because the Browns had the right to match any offer ... well ... there would be no offers.

So sign the one-year deal, have a good year and then cash in when you're unrestricted and teams could freely bid for you. That's how it works. In the meantime, all are being paid about $1.7 million.

The argument many restricted free agents made was that, by not signing, they were maximizing their rights as free agents. Because the uncapped year drastically limited many of those rights, it was important to fully maximize what was left.

But several players, such as Atari Bigby in Green Bay, Deuce Lutui in Arizona or, perhaps, Abe Elam in Cleveland, may come to realize that, by staying away, they opened the door for their starting job and let someone else walk right through it. That’s a point Pluto made, writing “Abe, you should have been in camp. You're not good enough to hold out. You were cut twice before Mangini signed you with the Jets. You had 17 career starts before Mangini brought you to the Browns last season.”

--Andy Benoit

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or