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Nov 16, 2012 9:14pm
Medium lingzi 1454 posts

NEW ORLEANS —Short-handed and disappointed, but hardly crippled, the New
Orleans Saints may at last be able to put bounty scandals behind them and focus
on putting together a fourth-straight playoff season. Roddy White Black Jersey . When the NFL first
announced as many as 27 current or ex-Saints participated in a cash-for-hits
bounty program, seemingly all Saints regulars on defence faced suspensions. As
it turned out, only two current Saints—linebacker Jonathan Vilma and
defensive end Will Smith—will be sanctioned. And while Vilma, a defensive
captain, is slated to miss the entire season, Smiths four-game suspension still
allows him to participate in training camp, as well as the final 12
regular-season games—and whatever playoff run the scandal-plagued but highly
motivated Saints might make. “We wish we had Will just like we wish we had
Jonathan, but other guys will step up,” Saints veteran right tackle Zach Strief
said in a phone interview. “All we can do is move on and allow the process to
run its course … and I have all the confidence in the world in the guys in the
locker room.” Smith said in a statement Wednesday, hours after his suspension
was announced, that he planned to appeal. Vilma at first said only that he would
fight what he perceived as an injustice perpetrated by NFL Commissioner Roger
Goodell, and then said on his Twitter page Thursday he “definitely” would
appeal. If Vilma is unable to win a reduction or delay in his suspension, the
Saints will still have proven players ready to step in. New Orleans signed three
linebackers in free agency, including two—Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne
—who have extensive experience at Vilmas middle linebacker spot. The 6-foot,
241-pound Lofton was a second-round draft choice by the Falcons in 2008 and has
started 63 of his 64 games, including all 16 last season. The 6-foot, 236-pound
Hawthorne, entering his fifth year in the NFL, has started 41 games in his last
three seasons at Seattle. With new defensive co-ordinator Steve Spagnuolo
bringing in his own system, Vilma would not have had much advantage over Lofton
or Hawthorne in terms of experience in the system. Also, Vilma, who turned 30
last month, is coming off his worst season with the Saints. He missed five games
in 2011 because of nagging knee problems. He finished with 54 total tackles, one
quarterback hit and only one tackle for a loss with no sacks. Those numbers were
way down from the Saints Super Bowl run two seasons earlier, when Vilma led the
team with 110 total tackles, had two sacks among 10 tackles for losses, had 10
QB hits and three interceptions. If Vilmas appeal or potential legal manoeuvrs
succeed, he may have a chance to prove he can come back and play the way he did
before 2011. Otherwise, he might have to wait until the 2013 season. At
defensive end, the Saints have three players other than Smith with NFL
experience: 2011 first-round pick Cam Jordan, veteran Turk McBride and
third-year pro Junior Gallette. Last season, Smith was second on the club with 6
1/2 sacks, but Gallette had 4 1/2 sacks in a reserve role, showing the potential
to be more productive with more playing time. Jordan started all but one game in
his rookie season and will be expected to produce even more in 2012. The Saints
lost only the defensive tackles they let walk in free agency, and will have
four-year starter Sedrick Ellis joining free-agent pickup Brodrick Bunkley in
the middle, with veteran Tom Johnson rotating in and perhaps contributions from
third-round draft choice Akiem Hicks. The Saints still have their secondary
intact with the exception of cornerback Tracy Porter, who left in free agency.
However, former first-round draft choice Patrick Robinson, who led New Orleans
with four interceptions last season, was expected to slide into the starting
spot opposite veteran Jabari Greer. Both of the Saints hard-hitting safeties,
Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, were spared bounty-related suspensions. That
had to come as a relief to Harper, who was flagged and fined repeatedly last
season for hits that came late or around the head of players he tackled. Harper
is keeping quiet for now, while the teams training headquarters is closed to
media. He has not returned a phone message left after the NFL announced player
punishments. The Saints as an organization also have not commented since the
player suspensions were announced. Theres been no word from general manager
Mickey Loomis or assistant head coach Joe Vitt—whos handling most head
coaching duties during Sean Paytons season-long suspension—concerning how the
club will respond to Vilma and Smith suspensions. Of the players who have spoken
up, most have done so on social media websites. Receiver Lance Moore, back along
with much of New Orleans record-setting offence, was among those who, in the
wake of the suspension, predicted continued success for a Saints club seeking a
fourth-straight playoff appearance. “We will be fine!!!” Moore tweeted. “Who Dat
all day!” Asante Samuel Jersey . —Jaguars coach Mike
Mularkey is hearing rumours that holdout Maurice Jones-Drew will report soon,
but says none of the talk is coming from anyone who matters. Michael Turner Jersey . None of the other 125
men in the field can honestly say the same. Indeed, its tough to imagine anyone
outside that trio winning this years championship at the All England Club, where
play begins on Monday. http://www.officialatlantafalconsgear.com/roddy-white-jerseys
. Sabathia lost his third consecutive decision last Friday against Tampa Bay, as
he surrendered four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings to fall to 13-6 on the
year, while raising his ERA to 3. Michael Turner Womens Jersey . The Pittsburgh
Penguins sent one with their fists. Message received on both sides. Brett Favre Falcons Jersey . Tournament
organizers approved Tennis South Africas request for the switch and says Canada
will stage the matchup from Sept. 14-16. The venue hasnt been decided.As any
athlete knows, good teammates are invaluable to ones performance. Even in an
individual sport like hurdles, teammates are what push athletes to perform at
their best. This is something that Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Nikkita Holder and
Phylicia George, three of Canadas top female hurdlers, understand very well. As
Canadian Track and Field Trials approach, the three hurdlers – who train
together in Toronto under coach Anthony McCleary – are kicking things into high
gear in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. But before they approach
Trials, Lopes-Schliep, Holder and George compete in the Meeting de la Region de
la Guadeloupe in Gossier, Guadeloupe on May 1. This race is especially important
for Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, as it will be her
first international meet since giving birth to daughter Nataliya in September
2011. While getting back to Olympic form has not been easy, her teammates have
helped her make a smooth transition back to the track. “It felt good to get
back, associating with my teammates,” said Lopes-Schliep. “It kept me focused
and driven, so I was able to go out there and train hard.” This positive
training environment has played an important part in Priscilla Lopes-Schlieps
comeback to the track. “You cant do it on your own,” she said. “You have to have
that unit and have a strong group who believes in what Im going after.” Thanks
to a network of support – including her teammates – Lopes-Schliep has found her
stride once again. While the race in Guadeloupe has no bearings on Olympic
berths, it will serve as a preview and a measuring stick for all three Canadian
hurdlers to assess their performances and see where they rank. There are just
three Olympic beerths available to Canada—and five top-ranked hurdlers. Todd McClure Womens Jersey. . The other women
vying for a berth are two-time Olympians Perdita Felicien (who missed Beijing
2008 due to injury) and Angela Whyte. While the competition will certainly heat
up in anticipation of Trials at the end of June, the hurdlers remain calm and
cool as they continue to enjoy their training sessions together. “Its important
to have a strong team to train with because, particularly for me, environment is
a big thing,” Holder said. “I definitely thrive in a good environment, and
having teammates that I can train with and have a relationship with benefits
me.” With her sights now set on London 2012, Holder is even more dedicated than
ever, and credits her teammates for always pushing her to improve. George could
not agree more. “I think just having the environment of having such high-class,
world-class athletes all the time definitely keeps up the intensity at
practice,” said George. “But we have a lot of fun, too, cracking jokes. And we
travel together, which is always a lot of fun.” Ask all three hurdlers questions
like, “Whos got the best dance moves?” and “Who would school whom in a game of
pick-up basketball?” and theyll poke fun at each other; but talk to them about
the upcoming Games and it is obvious their focus never falters. “I think its
fun, but when its game time, we do what we need to do,” George said. While they
have teammates to lean on during training sessions, all three understand their
Olympic dream rests on each individuals shoulders alone. As Lopes-Schliep says,
“When I line up on that track, its me against the other girls and the 10 hurdles
and the finish line.” ’ ’ ’ 

Nov 17, 2012 1:11pm
User_img_not_found_04_med belstaffxs... 16 posts