Sports Buffet for 06/03/10

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NFL

The Browns have announced that Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown and WR Paul Warfield will no longer serve as an advisers to owner Randy Lerner. Given the history of the Browns since the team returned in 1999, the leadership of the team needs all the advice they can get. Both will be missed.

Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest test of the suspension is not now going back with the team and participating in the OTAs. The biggest test will be how he completes what the league has asked him to do to reduce the suspension from 6 games to 4. The other half of that test will be how he behaves or misbehaves during the time from the end of the last preseason game until he gets reinstated by the league. Under NFL rules he can have no contact with the team at all during that time except for medical staff as prescribed by the terms of the suspension. If he has another incident like the ones that got him suspended in the past, there could be games added to his “unpaid leave.”

The talk around Dolphin land at their OTA last weekend was all about the passing game. QB Chad Henne has developed nicely after replacing Chad Pennington in 09. The one thing that he needs to improve on in 2010 is his TD to Int ratio. In 09 he threw 12 TDs but 14 picks. He looked even better in the OTAs. However, a lot of “want to be” guys look good in shorts.

Eagle CB Marlin Jackson is out for the season after rupturing an Achilles tendon in the team’s OTA. The team signed Jackson from the Colts to start despite his ending the 09 season on the IR.

Packer CB Al Harris is behind schedule on his recovery from knee surgery that ended his 09 season. He was expected to participate in the OTA last week but is still on the sideline.

Ram S Oshiomogho Atogwe did not sign his tender with the team. On June 1 the Rams could have increased their offer to 7M to keep their exclusive rights for him. They did not. Atogwe is now an unrestricted free agent but the Rams are still hoping they can come to a long term contract with him. He has a history of being a ball hawk. The only question is how much in this economy is he worth. The Packers and Vikings are teams that might be interested.

Lion RB Kevin Smith is not ready to participate in OTAs and will likely start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Players on that list do not count against the roster limits but only qualify if they are hurt away from football or from an injury in the previous season. Players that are on the PUP on the final cutdown day may not be activated until after week 6.

NBA

Game 1 of the Finals goes tonight. The 2-3-2 format puts the stress most on the Celtics. To win the title, in my opinion, they must win one of the first 2 games. The latest on injuries indicates that Celtics PG Rondo will play and is 85-90% while C Perkins is OK. For the Lakers C Bynum is as good as he can be expected to be with his knee problem. He had more than 70 ccs of liquid taken out of the knee on Monday.

MLB

Tampa Bay continues to lead the AL East by 2.5 games over the Yankees. The secret has been a 21-6 record on the road. As long as the pitching holds up, the Rays could be in the race for the duration.

The Twins have built a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Tigers. The Twinkies have been helped by the Tigers going 3-7 over the last 10.

The Rangers lead the AL West but both the As and Angels are coming on. The Rangers were 4-6 over the last 10 while both their pursuers were 6-4.

The two best races in MLB are in the NL. The Central and West divisions are both tight. The Reds and Cards have been trading leads in the Central for a couple of weeks. Last night the Cards beat Cincy 4-1 to climb back into a tie. The Padres have the best mark in the NL with a 32-21 record but only lead the Dodgers by 1 game in the West.

The Tigers traded former All Star P Dontrelle Willis to the Diamondbacks for P Billy Buckner and cash. The Tigers will pay all but the prorated remaining part a minimum veteran contract for Willis in 2010. Despite being a big dollar FA signing in 2008, he has only be able to start 22 games for the Tigers. In 2010 he had a 4.98 ERA and was 1-2 for Detroit.

NHL

The Flyers got back into the finals series with a 4-3 OT win yesterday. The key for Philly will be to win game 4 at home then take game 5 at Chicago. Otherwise, they could be in trouble. The Black Hawks are a lot deeper than the Flyers. As the series goes on, that should give them a real advantage.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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The 49ers need be more like their coach.

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Head coach Mike Singletary was known for 3 things—his love of the game, his intensity, and his knowledge of the game and everyone of his opponents. His team needs those qualities in order to change the culture of the team. The 49ers were once the team of the decade. But in the last few years it has become the team of decline.

One of the last things that the previous administration did was to use its 1st pick on QB Alex Smith. Smith has a history of injury and inconsistency that drove the previous coach mad and then into the unemployment line. Singletary allowed Smith to compete with Shaun Hill for the starting job. Hill won the job and Smith has had his last shot at winning over the team in SF. Hill has a below average arm but is more accurate and less injury prone than Smith. Singletary is a coach that will fit the system to the players that he has. The 49ers use a version of the West Coast offense that relies on timing of short and medium passes and a strong running game.

The running game is very strong with Frank Gore being the leading character in the offense. Gore is able to squirt through tiny holes and break long gains with a combination of great vision and quick feet. The knew that Gore has been overused in the last few seasons and drafted Alabama rookie Glen Coffee to carry some of the load. Both Gore and Coffee hit the hole quickly and are North South backs. Former Penn State QB Michael Robinson is also in the mix and has been used as a short yardage back and on 3rd downs.

The team has not given either QB much in terms of a reliable group of WRs and that has hurt their development. This year the team drafted WR Michael Crabtree from Texas Tech. But the combination of a broken bone in the foot and an extended holdout have reduced the chance he will be a factor this year. Isaac Bruce was the team’s leading receiver last year despite his age. Three younger players are contesting for playing time. Josh Morgan has the best shot to start. Brandon Jones and Jason Hill are right at his heals. The winner will be the one that produces yards after the catch and holds onto the ball the best. TE Vernon Davis has been inconsistent catching the ball as well but has speed and is a better blocker than people give him credit for supporting the running game.

The O line has been a problem for years. Things didn’t get better when former all pro Marvel Smith retired unexpectedly. They hope LT Joe Staley will prove his big new deal is money well spent. C Eric Heitmann is the best of the group. Journeyman Barry Sims has beaten out Adam Snyder to start at RT. That is not a good sign. LG David Baas has started at G and C but has not proven himself at either position. RG Chilo Rachal,a 2nd round pick as was Baas, looked better at USC than he has in SF. Both have to get it done this year to be around in 2010. There is quantity but not quality on the bench.

When Singletary took over, he changed the team to a 3-4. That improved their overall performance. RE Justin Smith plays the run and pass very well. The team does not have a true NT. Aubrayo Franklin does his best but gets washed out of the play too often. He is much more of a 1 gap player. LE Isaac Sopoaga is barely adequate at E and less than that at NT. Rookie Demetric Evans and vet Kentwan Balmer are in the rotation. This group needs to be better at keeping the LBs free to run to the ball.

The linebackers will be LOLB Manny Lawson, LILB Takeo Spikes, RILB Patrick Willis, ROLB Parys Haralson. Lawson was drafted to be the rush linebacker but has not produced yet. Willis is a pro bowl IB but Spikes starts because there just isn’t anyone else. He does help with leadership and keeping the D focused. Haralson is below average.

The only part of the D backfield that Singletary can count on is CB Nate Clements. The team signed well traveled Dre’ Bly to compete with Tarell Brown for the other CB spot. The competition is too close to call since Brown returned from a toe injury. The loser will become the nickel back and Shawntae Spencer will be the dime. The safety spots are in worse shape. SS Michael Lewis is solid against the run but can’t cover a grandmother with a walker. FS Dashon Goldson is the next in line to prove he can play the position. Former FS Mark Roman has proved he can’t. CB Marcus Hudson has had a few good moments but not enough to assure his inclusion in the 53 man roster.

OVERALL: The 49ers have to be better in the draft because Singletary will get the maximum out of the players he has. He deserves a better roster than he was given. The team should be better than the Rams and but has a way to go before they can challenge either the Cards or the Seahawks.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Alex Smith,Hill,Singletary,NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Crabtree,Gore,Coffee,Alabama,Texas Tech,Bruce,Marvel Smith,Staley,Baas,Heitmann,Franklin,Justin Smith,Spikes,Lawson,Clements,Bly,Brown,Rams,Cardinals,Seahawks
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