Archive for September, 2007

Mark Blount Trade Bait?

September 27, 2007

The Minnesota Star-Tribune is suggesting that Mark Blount and some other veterans on the Timberwolves may be traded before the trade deadline this season. They also suggest that team Vice President Kevin McHale has been trying to deal the vets on the team for a few months, but hasn’t had any success so far:

The team’s youth movement — eight players are 25 years old or younger — makes veterans Trenton Hassell, Juwan Howard, Ricky Davis, Mark Blount and Marko Jaric potential trade candidates, either by the Nov. 2 season opener against Denver or the February trading deadline.

Wolves Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale said he talked to other teams all summer about deals that would further transform his team, but called September “a slow, slow, slow month” while potential trading partners discuss options with other teams and contemplate the $67 million-plus salary cap.

“We have three or four deals that are just laying around,” McHale said. “Teams are like, ‘If we can do this, we’ll do that.’ At a certain point between now and Nov. 2, they’re going to get their things in order.”

Sounds like just a matter of time until Mark or some of the other vets on the TWolves are moved.

NBA Training camp is right around the corner, if you can’t tell from us now adding NBA Pitt alumni to our daily searches.


Q&A With Shawntae Spencer

September 27, 2007

I know we’ve had a lot of these Q&A articles up lately, but as long as people keep writing them we pretty much have to keep linking to them.

This one is from the hometown Pittsburgh Tribune Review, done with San Francisco 49er Shawntae Spencer. The article showed up in today’s Trib, but I assume it was done while Spencer was in town playing the Steelers over the weekend.

Spencer is a 4th-year corner, and apparently he only speaks in cliches after his experience giving interviews for the last four years. The interview is one of the most boring I’ve read, that might be due to the questions, but Spencer doesn’t really say anything interesting. Here are a few highlights:

Q: What were the emotions like to return to play at Heinz Field?

A: “Nothing major. It’s the same as any other game. You approach it the same, whether you are away or at home. You come in and focus and try to do the best you can.”

Q: What are some of your fondest recollections of playing at Woodland Hills?

A: “It’s just the all-around good group of guys. Good coaching staff. Good people. They’ve changed a lot of people’s lives, helping them get into college and things like that. The whole staff at Woodland Hills, they are good at that and that’s the most important thing that they stress is getting guys to college and helping to change their lives around.”

Q: Were you a Steelers fan growing up in Western Pennsylvania?

A: “I really wasn’t a fan to any NFL team. I was a die-hard Reggie White fan. Whoever Reggie was playing for, that’s who I was rooting for.”

Congrats to Andy Lee

September 26, 2007

Andy Lee is having a very busy season. He’s also having the best season of any punter in the NFL. I know we’re only reaching the quarter mark of the season this weekend, but for a guy with the most punts in the NFL some of these stats (the ones that are averages) are even more impressive.

Currently Lee leads the entire NFL in these categories:

Punts (19)
Punting Yards (898)
Net Punting Yards (793)
Net Average Yards (41.7 – need at least 12 punts to qualify)

And he is close to the top in these:

Longest Single Punt (71 yards, second overall)
Average Yards (47.3, second among qualifiers)

And here is probably the most amazing stat. Andy has punted 19 times this year, including the 71 yarder. His punts have been returned for a total of 5 yards. FIVE YARDS. He does have 6 inside the 20, 5 touchbacks and 2 fair catches, but he basically has been killing the ball and doing it in a way that his coverage team has an excellent chance of giving up no return yards at all. Teams are currently averaging 9.5 INCHES of return per punt from Lee.

The Steelers or All Sports As We Know It?

September 26, 2007

This is totally off-topic, which might become slightly more the norm around here (hey we’ve had over 125 posts on this blog and I don’t think we’ve ever been more than slightly off topic, so we need to loosen up a bit). Doubt About it has a pretty interesting poll going on, with the expected results so far from yinzers.

The premise of the poll is you have to choose: For one year you would have to banish, exile, not mention, destroy, forget, etc… either the Steelers or basically ALL OTHER SPORTS. Of course as I write this the Steelers are winning by 20%. I don’t understand this, as the Steelers play 16 games per year. The Pens alone play at least 82 games a year, 41 at home. And then you add in Pitt basketball and Pitt and Penn State football (WVU was pardoned somehow) and even the Pirates and you’re looking at around 15 times as many games as the Steelers give you. I just don’t see how you can choose the Steelers, but this is Pittsburgh I guess.

The Young Guy (HB Blades) makes some plays

September 25, 2007

HB Blades was forced into his first significant action on Sunday against the Giants when starting weakside linebacker Rocky McIntosh left the game with a shoulder injury. The game was tied in teh 4th quarter when HB was called upon.

It seems from the initial reactions that HB played well in his short time in the game, although Washington did give up the winning touchdown while he was in the game.

The Washington Post has some quotes from teammates and some reaction to Blades’ debut in such a crucial part of the game Sunday:

McIntosh went to the sideline late in the game after experiencing pain in both shoulders. Rookie linebacker H.B. Blades replaced him in crucial situations, which wasn’t good news for Washington.

A hard-working rookie, Blades is supposed to be relegated to special teams. The fact that Blades was in the game with the outcome undecided — well, that’s not what the Redskins expected.

“You could say that, but I saw the young guy come in there and make plays,” starting strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington said. “The young guy didn’t expect to be in that position, and it’s tough when you don’t know if you’re going to play and you get in there. But you can’t stop when guys go down. You just have to keep going on, and that’s what we had to do.”

NFL Week 3 Wrap-Up

September 25, 2007

What’s this? A timely round up of the weekend of NFL action on this blog?? It can’t be! It is, enjoy:

Dallas Cowboys 34
Chicago Bears 10

Ruben Brown started the game but left in the 4th quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. When Brown left there was only around 10 minutes left and Chicago was down 17 points, so he may have been held out just as a precaution. We’ll update his status as the week goes on.

Lousaka Polite was inactive for the game, unless you include divulging secrets about the opposing team’s offense as being active. I do count that as active.

New York Giants 24
Washington Redskins 17

HB Blades saw his regular action on special teams, picking up an assist, but also got some action with the game on the line in the 4th quarter, making a solo tackle on a first down. Unfortunately the next play went for the game winning touchdown. HB fininshed with one solo tackle and one assist.

Carolina Panthers 27
Atlanta Falcons 20

Nick Goings held onto his kick returning duties for one more wee, but only returned the opening kickoff for 20 yards. He also added a solo tackle on kick coverage later in the game.

Cleveland Browns 24
Oakland Raiders 26

Darnell Dinkins picked up a solo tackle on kick coverage, his only real action of the day.

Arizona Cardinals 23
Baltimore Ravens 26

Larry Fitzgerald had 5 catches for 85 yards, but had a very costly fumble in the 3rd quarter. Everyone is saying that Leinart is still the starter in Arizona, but I’m not sure Fitz should be wishing for that. In the first half Leinart was able to get one ball to Fitz for 13 yards, in the second half Warner got him 4 balls for 72 yards.

Gerald Hayes added 11 tackles (9 solo) and continued his solid play inside for the Cardinals.

Miami Dolphins 28
New York Jets 21

Darrelle Revis got his 3rd start of his NFL career, which I guess is less newsworthy everyday because he’ll probably be starting in New York for a long time, and had 8 tackles (7 solo). That puts him at an average of 7 tackles (6 solo) per game, which would keep him over 100 tackles on the year. With as much as the Jets defense is on the field, he has an excellent shot at that mark.

Indianapolis Colts 30
Houston Texans 24

Clint Session played again on special teams, but only added an offsides penalty on a kick off.

San Francisco 16
Pittsburgh 37

Shawntae Spencer had 2 solo tackles and a pass defensed in his nickel back role.

Andy Lee was again busy against the Steelers, with 5 punts for a pretty amazing 57 yard average. That included 2 punts inside the 20, so he was definitely booming some of those punts, with a long of 66 on the day.

Minnesota Vikings 10
Kansas City Chiefs 13

Kris Wilson got his 3rd NFL start at fullback and had 3 catches for 13 yards. They did throw deep to him twice but were incomplete both times. It’s nice to see them trying to get him mismatches down the field, because we all know that Kris can be a deep threat at times.

Another Q&A With Larry Fitzgerald

September 23, 2007

This interview from Pro Football Weekly actually took place before the rumor mills started about Larry wanting out of Arizona at the end of the season. So while that isn’t directly addressed, Larry doesn’t give the impression he is extremely unhappy…but he doesn’t seem extremely happy either. He’s basically just saying the right things the whole time, so you can take that as truth or as just athlete interview speak.

Go ahead to the link above to read the interview, but it doesn’t offer a lot of insight on whether or not Larry is really happy. It does give a look at how his relationship with Leinart and Boldin has grown though, and that may be a factor in him staying in Arizona.

Revis Officially Unofficially A Starter

September 21, 2007

The New York Post is reporting that corner Andre Dyson, who returned last week from a foot injury, has “quietly and unofficially” lost his starting job to Darrelle Revis. Even when Dyson was able to play at 100%, he only came in for obvious passing situations. The way Revis has played this is no surprise, and I doubt he’ll ever give up the starting spot:

Dyson quietly and unofficially has lost his starting job to rookie No. 1 pick Darrelle Revis. In last week’s game, when Dyson returned from a foot injury that kept him out of the opener, he came in on nickel situations and played the outside while Revis moved inside to play the slot receiver.

Andre Dyson = Wally Pipp?

Larry Fitzgerald Leaving Arizona?

September 21, 2007

Pro Football Talk in its Rumor Mill post from yesterday speculates on Fitz leaving Arizona after his contract expires. Apparently he isn’t happy with Coach Whisenhunt’s run-first approach, and it’s impact has showed in his stats through the first two games. Those number probably won’t get too much better against the Ravens this week.

It’s basically stated that the rumor is pretty strong that Fitzgerald wants out after his contract, and with Anquan Boldin also needing paid, the Cards just can’t afford Larry. So instead of losing him for nothing a trade may be in the works. I’ve heard possible teams that would be interested as Seattle (would they really trade him to a division rival? I think not), Philadelphia and Minnesota. PFT mentions only Minnesota, being Larry’s hometown, as making the most sense. Minnesota could be an exciting offense for Fitzgerald with Adrian Peterson and a young QB. He’d definitely be the #1 receiver there, but I’d really like to see him go to an AFC team on the East Coast so that we could see him more often.

In another Cardinals-related note, after some statistic corrections following Sunday’s win over Seattle Gerald Hayes was credited with his first forced fumble of the season. After watching the game on NFL Replay yesterday I was pretty amazed he didn’t get a forced fumble, and it’s good to see this correction was made.

Lousaka Polite, Super Spy

September 20, 2007 has an interview with Lousaka Polite (by Bear Report) dealing with his transition to the Bears’ offense and how he can help them with his knowledge of the Dallas offense when they play the Cowboys this weekend. If you happen to subscribe to Bears Report (and I know all of you do), you can listen to the full audio. Here’s the one question they actually published:

John Crist: There was a lot of talk about the Cowboys signing Tank Johnson this week and possibly trying to get some information on the Bears from him. Did the Chicago coaching staff approach you at all about what to expect from Dallas?

Lousaka Polite: Me being there the last three years, there’s things that I do know about the offense. Basically, what I know, I gave them a few pointers of how things can go. But I don’t know in detail. I know what I do know from when I was there. Things changed the last couple weeks. We watched the film, and hopefully we’re prepared for them.

So if that doesn’t make you want to sign up for a Bears Report subscription I don’t know what will. If anyone has one of these subscriptions and can fill in any more details (don’t give us the full audio or text, that’s stealing) in the comments, we’d be much appreciative.