Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lofa Tatupu out for Atlanta Falcons' season with injury 26 By Dan Hanzus Writer Published: July 24, 2012 at 05:13 p.m. Updated: July 24, 2012

A worst-case scenario has come to fruition for Atlanta Falcons linebacker Lofa Tatupu.

Falcons coach Mike Smith announced Tuesday that the torn pectoral muscle Tatupu suffered last week will sideline him for the entirety of the 2012 season.
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"As you know, Lofa suffered a pectoral injury last week," Smith said, according to the Falcons' official website. "After further testing, it was determined that he would require a procedure to repair the injury and unfortunately he will miss the entire season."

It's a devastating setback for Tatupu, who was out of football last year after being released by the Seattle Seahawks. A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Tatupu's career has been sent off track by a series of injuries, including concussion issues.

Tatupu was expected to vie with Akeem Dent for the Falcons' middle linebacker spot, vacated when Curtis Lofton signed with the New Orleans Saints in March. The Falcons prepared for Tatupu's loss by signing Mike Peterson, a 14-year veteran who turned 36 last month. He started five games for Atlanta, which initially parted ways with the linebacker to get younger at the position.

So much for that.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Falcons LB Lofa Tatupu injured in pre-camp workout

Posted by Darin Gantt on July 21, 2012, 11:31 AM EDT

What was supposed to be one of the competitions to watch in Falcons camp might not be much of one early.

Falcons coach Mike Smith announced Saturday, via the team’s official website, that middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu suffered a pectoral injury while working out Thursday.

“At this point, we do not know the extent of the injury, but we expect to have more information early next week,” Smith said.

The Falcons were expected to choose between Tatupu and Akeem Dent to fill the middle linebacker job vacated when Curtis Lofton went to New Orleans.

Tatupu, a former All-Pro with the Seahawks, was out of football last year, and was thought to be over the injury issues that plagued the end of his Seahawks run. The Falcons open training camp next Thursday.

(UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.) The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s terming it a “serious” injury, saying Tatupu will miss the start of camp, and will see a specialist to determine the severity of the injury.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hiring of Atuaia will help prime BYU's pipeline to the Polynesian community

By Dick Harmon, Deseret News

BYU's Mark Atuaia is shown running the ball against Hawaii during his career with the Cougars. Atuaia has been hired as an assistant in BYU's athletic administration.

Associated Press

Growing up on the north shore of Oahu, Mark Atuaia and Itula Mili were inseparable barefoot Samoan kids on the beaches around Laie, and both became superstar football players at storied Kahuku High. Atuaia became one of the most prolific running backs in Hawaiian high school history. Both played at BYU, and while Atuaia never made it to the NFL, Mili, a tight end, did.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of commentaries looking at BYU's increased recruiting strategy among Polynesian communities.

PROVO — Growing up on the north shore of Oahu, Mark Atuaia and Itula Mili were inseparable barefoot Samoan kids on the beaches around Laie, and both became superstar football players at storied Kahuku High. Atuaia became one of the most prolific running backs in Hawaiian high school history. Both played at BYU, and while Atuaia never made it to the NFL, Mili, a tight end, did.

Almost quietly last month, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe announced he'd hired Atuaia as his assistant in BYU's athletic administration. Atuaia will be working as a mentor and liaison for student-athletes and coaches and "work with the community to build relationships and strengthening ties to BYU athletics."

It is the latter part of that quote that draws my attention.

I say "quietly" because that's kind of how it was delivered to the public through a simple functional press release. In the Polynesian community, the hire of Atuaia has been trumpeted as a huge step by BYU to prime its pipeline to the islands and cement relations in the culturally diverse corners of Utah's Tongan and Samoan communities.

The Cougars have had a tremendous resource at their disposal over the years with LDS ties to Hawaii, Samoa and Tonga. It has been good for them. But it is fair to say, at times, BYU has been better at working this sowing field than others, and at times has taken it for granted.

Not any more, with increased institutional interest by BYU administrators who are actively engaging Utah's 26,000-plus population with bloodlines to Tonga and Samoa.

"It is an awesome thing," said former East High, BYU and NFL player Fui Vakapuna.

"The things Mark Atuaia can do and what he represents to Polynesians is a very big deal, and it will be a big key for BYU and how it relates to our people. He can talk to kids but he can also be a voice to BYU's administration to educate them."

It has already had an impact, from Western and American Samoa to the North Shore of Oahu and even here in Utah, according to Gabe Reid, another former Cougar and a member of the LDS Church's Provo Wasatch Tongan Stake high council.

"No question, this is making a difference for BYU in recruiting Polynesian football players around the country. BYU has always done a great job taking advantage of loyalty by Samoan and Tongan families in their recruiting, but this has just enhanced it in a significant way."

Combine the Atuaia hire with Mendenhall's visit to New Zealand and sending offensive coordinator Brandon Doman to Samoa this past spring, and Reid says it becomes obvious BYU has gone on the offensive to strategize on how it can optimize its connections with Polynesian football players.

"Mark is a guy people look up to, can turn to and he understands what they are and will go through," said Reid.

While going to law school, Atuaia stood on the sidelines of BYU games alongside his friend and mentor Robert Anae. Players say of all the Cougar personnel, coaches and staff, it was the voice of Atuaia that stood out the loudest and most passionate every Saturday.

"Mark's motivation has always been he wants to be there for kids, to be a person they can trust and confide in. He's wanted to coach, but that opportunity never worked out for him and that's OK, because things work out for a reason," said Reid, who like Atuaia is of Samoan heritage.

"It's one thing to be of influence as a coach, but to be in the position he's in now just gives him a farther reach."

Both BYU and Utah have built their successful football programs on the backs of Polynesian football players. Both schools have excelled in finding and developing talent. They battle one another for many of the same recruits. Relationships are everything.

"We are a touchy-feely people," said Reid. "In order to reach an athlete, you have to go through his family. You have to find out who the decision makers are, and you must relate to them because that's where it all happens."

In the past six month, it appears BYU has "upped" its ante in this sweepstakes.

"And that's where this move is key for BYU," said Reid. "Mark is one of the great examples of what is important and should be important for Polynesian youth who grow up believing their one big chance to make it to the big time is to get in the NFL. The reality is, not everyone makes it to the NFL, and there has to be more for them to shoot for."

Atuaia did just that. He is the ultimate example.

One of Hawaii's most celebrated football stars, Atuaia's college career at BYU was up and down. I remember just after his LDS mission to Arizona, he was in Tucson preparing for the Copper Bowl when a frustrating practice led to him throwing down his helmet. Obviously growing from that experience, as a senior he made huge plays in extending a game-winning drive against Wyoming in the final WAC championship in Las Vegas in 1994.

That was the end of Atuaia's football career. He had every excuse to get a job and never return to school again. He got married and was on his way to becoming a dad to six children. Seven years after his final BYU season, Atuaia finished his degree at BYU-Hawaii in 2003 and returned to Provo to get his master's degree in public administration in 2009. He then volunteered to help coach BYU as an aide to offensive coordinator Anae and entered law school, where he earned his doctor of jurisprudence at J. Rueben Clark Law School in 2011.

Atuaia just finished working as an assistant to BYU's dean of student life, Vern Heperi.

"Mark proved how important it is to get an education, that it is a worthy and necessary goal, that there is life beyond football and education is a high priority," Reid said.

The Atuaia hire carries more weight than shuffling or creating titles on BYU's campus.

Maualuga Appears Fine After "Tweaking" Ankle During Celebrity Softball Game

by Josh Kirkendall on Jul 20, 2012 10:30 AM EDT in Injury

6 months ago: INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 03: Professional football player Rey Maualuga attends ESPN The Magazine's "NEXT" Event on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for ESPN)

The Cincinnati Bengals wouldn't be the Cincinnati Bengals without at least one non-football related offseason injury. Two years ago it was Jason Shirley injuring an Achilles, ending his season well before training camp even began. Last year it was Keith Rivers, showing up to training camp with what was described at the time as a "rebuilding of the wrist".

The Bengals almost had their third in three years when Rey Maualuga hurt an ankle at a charity softball game, initial reports said. However according to Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer, it was a "tweak" at best and that Maualuga "felt good going into the start of training camp." Maualuga told the Enquirer's beat writer:

"It was a little scare. I put myself in a vulnerable situation but I came out of it fine," he said. "I feel good. I have a different mindset but I’m more comfortable. I’m anxious to go out and compete and take my game to another level and show what I can do. Hopefully I can stay injury free."

Vinny Cerrato Thinks Haloti Ngata Is Out Of Shape, Vinny Cerrato Couldn’t Be More Wrong

By Zach Wilt on July 20th, 2012

Former Redskins GM and current 105.7 The Fan voice Vinny Cerrato told listeners on Thursday that he believes Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata will be this season’s biggest disappointment because he looked out shape during the team’s OTAs.

I’m no expert, but based on this picture taken a week ago and shared by the good folks at, I think Cerrato is sorely mistaken.

No one expects a former football GM to be accurate when talking about baseball — at least I don’t — but you have to wonder where he got the misinformation about Ngata.

Top-20 Bengals Of 2012: No. 13 Defensive Tackle Domata Peko by Anthony Cosenza on Jul 20, 2012 2:00 PM EDT

There are few players on the Bengals roster to who seem to care more about the club more than defensive tackle, Domata Peko. Not only does he seem to have a never-ending motor, but he's also assumed a leadership role over the past couple of seasons. He really emerged as a leader going into the 2011 season when the team was forced to come up with players-only practices because of the lockout. Peko was one of the organizers of these practices and attempted to do his best Mike Zimmer impression.

With the emergence of Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap since 2010, Peko has begun to be a bit overshadowed. On top of the that, the team invested two high draft picks in Devon Still and Brandon Thompson in the 2012 Draft. And, even though he's been part of a rotation on the line, Peko is very valuable to the team's defense. Zimmer himself has called him "the best defensive tackle he's ever worked with".

Aside from being an on-field coach for the defense, Peko had one of his best seasons in 2011. He was one short of tying his career high in tackles by racking up 66 total. He also tied his career high in sacks with 2.5--his best since his rookie year of 2006, as well as racking up a forced fumble and a recovery. He's also a pretty awesome fullback if you want him to channel his inner William "refrigerator" Perry.

Though some may view him as a tad overrated, Peko is the heart and soul of the Bengals defense and will likely have a job with the team as long as he's willing and able.

Marcus Mariota and Bryan Bennett are playing it cool before their QB battle comes to a boil in August

A simmering summer for Oregon’s quarterbacks

By Rob Moseley

The Register-Guard

Published: (Thursday, Jul 19, 2012 01:33PM)Midnight, July 19

After observing quarterbacks at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana last week, analyst Daniel Jeremiah of came away impressed by Oregon sophomore Bryan Bennett, who was working as a camp counselor for the second time.

Jeremiah, formerly a scout for three pro teams, wrote later of Bennett’s strong arm, long stride and peak conditioning, also noting that his “footwork is raw and his delivery can get a little long.”

While redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota remained in Eugene leading the Ducks’ summer workouts, Bennett was making a strong impression at the Manning camp.

“Bennett has a lot of tools to work with and I’m anxious to see how the position battle shakes out in Eugene,” Jeremiah wrote on

In that sentiment, Jeremiah isn’t alone — there are only, oh, tens of thousands of Oregon fans anxious to see as well. The wait continues for at least a couple more weeks, as Bennett and Mariota lead the Ducks through their final voluntary workouts of the summer before taking a break before the start of preseason camp in August.

“There may be some things you can do in the weight room or something, as far as pushing each other, but mostly it’s, ‘Let’s try to get the team ready for fall camp,’ ” Bennett said this week after returning from Louisiana.

Interviewed last week, Mariota also said there’s been no notion of a quarterback competition during the summer.

“You can’t really look at it that way,” Mariota said. “You’re just trying to get better as a team. Fall camp will really tell the tale for us.”

Finding their footing

For Bennett, 20, and Mariota, 19, there’s still plenty of room for personal growth without the added motivator of a quarterback competition.

Each said he’s a more comfortable, confident player than at this time a year ago.

“Last year I came in just trying to figure out where I fit in, and if this was the right decision in my life,” Mariota said. “Now I have to step up and be a leader.”

His spring game performance assured that. After redshirting the 2011 season, Mariota entered spring drills as the challenger to Bennett for the job of replacing Darron Thomas as Oregon’s starting quarterback. Bennett had the edge in experience, after his relief performance against Arizona State and start at Colorado as a redshirt freshman, but Mariota kept up the pressure through 14 practices and then got the better of the spring game.

Afterward, the mellow Mariota took his big day in stride. Bennett, more apt to wear his emotions on his sleeve, was dejected. His frustrations were apparent, both to his teammates and with the media.

“That was more upsetting to me than throwing two picks,” Bennett said this week. “But I’m happy it happened then, rather than during the season. I can guarantee that’s not going to happen again.”

Bennett said he gained confidence from his second trip to the Manning camp, holding his own against some of the top college quarterbacks in the country, including his roommate, Tyler Bray of Tennessee, and their suite-mate Matt Barkley of USC.

Bennett also had a conversation with New York Giants practice squad member Ryan Perrilloux, whose message was “be confident in yourself, and confident in what you’re doing.”

In his last preseason camp, Bennett pressed too much, trying to prove himself a viable alternative to Thomas if the need arose. This time Bennett hopes to heed Perrilloux’s advice, and play more like he did in his command performances off the bench against the Sun Devils and Buffaloes.

“Coming into this, my third fall camp, that’s something I’ve noticed my whole career, is how much more comfortable and relaxed you become just by doing it,” Bennett said.

Picking up the pace

Despite the competition, quarterbacks are expected to be leaders on any team, and in that regard Bennett and Mariota seem to have had a successful summer.

Players say the team has built chemistry, and will hit the ground running when preseason camp starts. There have also been notably few offseason incidents to mar the Ducks’ record, unlike the past few summers.

Mariota said Oregon’s veterans have been the key to that, including one of the past offenders, senior linebacker Kiko Alonso, who has warned newcomers not to make the mistakes he did.

“A lot of these guys, it’s their last season, and they want to leave the right legacy,” Mariota said. “However they want things done, we’ll follow.”

The Ducks have met four times a week with UO strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe for workouts, and usually get together an hour or so earlier to hold mock practices in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 formats. Radcliffe runs them through conditioning and agility drills, as the only coach allowed to meet with the team during the offseason.

At the Manning camp, Bennett was lauded for his conditioning, often finding himself “about 15 yards ahead of everyone else” in drills, according to the analyst Jeremiah of Bennett said that stemmed from trying to keep pace in Eugene with the likes of speedy UO star De’Anthony Thomas and redshirt freshman wideout B.J. Kelley, another track standout.

“Guys (at the Manning camp) were like, ‘Come on, Oregon, give us a break,’ ” Bennett joked. “I was like, man, when we’re running, I’m the one trying to keep up.”

New to the team for summer workouts are the bulk of Oregon’s incoming freshman class, joining the three who enrolled in time for spring drills. While Thomas drew raves as a standout during his initial summer on campus last year, no one individual from the new class seems to be standing out this year — or at least, neither Bennett or Mariota would admit to as much.

“On anyone’s first day, usually you’re trying to learn everything at once, and your head is spinning,” Mariota said. “But these guys came in prepared. A lot of these guys know what they’re doing, and that’s exciting for us. They want to be out here, and they want to learn. It’ll just make us that much better.”

Building toward August

For Mariota, what’s changed the most since last summer, he said, is the trust level he feels, both in his teammates and from them.

Bennett may have improved his arm strength, according to the analysis, but he hasn’t focused on improving any one element of his game.

“I try to think about the whole picture at all times,” Bennett said. “When I’m training, I want to make sure I go hard in the weight room, hard in conditioning, stay on my film work, work on my feet, work on my routes. It’s the whole game at all times.

“If there’s one thing I have to work on, it’ll get taken care of if I’m doing everything right.”

In a little over six weeks, the Ducks will take the field for their season opener against Arkansas State, on Sept. 1. Only one of Bennett or Mariota will lead the Oregon offense out for its first drive, barring any trickery by the Ducks.

Bennett is a big-picture thinker — he said he spends time every once in a while working on taking snaps from under center, to be prepared in the event he ever gets to play in a pro-style system, meaning the NFL. But he said he tries to block out the potential for not being Oregon’s starter in 2012.

“If you get caught up in the negative, you’re leaving the door open for it to happen,” Bennett said.

Instead, both he and Mariota are focused on being at their best in August.

“It’s going good, and we’re ready,” Mariota said. “Fall camp’s right around the corner. The team’s excited, and we just want to get things going.”

“It’s going good, and we’re ready. Fall camp’s right around the corner. The team’s excited, and we just want to get things going.”

— Marcus Mariota, UO redshirt freshman quarterback


Yards passing, on 18-of-26 attempts with one TD, for redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota in the spring game.


Yards rushing for Mariota, with two TDs, in his team’s 41-14 victory over Bryan Bennett’s squad.


Number of career starts for Bennett, then a redshirt freshman, at Colorado last season.


Combined yards passing (156) and rushing (69) for Bennett in the lopsided victory over the Buffaloes.


Days until Oregon’s season opener against Arkansas State at Autzen Stadium.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vikings | Matt Asiata is dark horse candidate

Posted: 6 hrs 59 mins ago. | Source footballguys

Minnesota Vikings RB Matt Asiata catches the ball well enough to draw the attention of coaches, and he might get a chance to carry the ball in his second camp with the team. He has a chance to win a job, but there is plenty of competition at the position.

Troy Polamalu said he has lied about sustaining concussions to get back into an NFL game.

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu revealed on Wednesday’s Dan Patrick Show that he has lied about sustaining concussions as an NFL player to get back into a game, and said playing a “tough man’s game” is what makes it so popular.

In response to Patrick asking him whether he has lied to get back into a game, Polamalu said:

“Yes I have,” Polamalu said. “There’s so much built up about team camaraderie and sacrifice and football is such a tough mans game. I think that’s why it’s so popular. That’s why so many blue collar communities and people can really feel attracted to this because it is a blue collar struggle that football players go through.”

He said that the idea is to “just push yourself to be out there with your brothers.” He estimates having suffered eight or nine concussions throughout his career, and he expects the number will be higher by the time he retires. If players count every little “buzz” as a concussion, he said, the number would more likely be 50 to 100.

The NFL schedule is grueling, he said, and there’s a pressure to play every week despite perhaps being legitimately injured:

“You feel sore, you’re beat up, you’re injured, you’re legitimately injured, most people may take three months off to work in an office, we choose to play the next week.”

He said that while he has no doubt lied about suffering head injuries so that he wouldn’t have to miss playing time, in cases where the concussion is severe, “you can’t even be conscious enough to lie.”

Concussions have long been an issue for the NFL, but it is an especially sensitive topic now for the league given the recent scandal involving the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

College Football Awards 2012: Manti Te’o Named To Butkus Watch List

Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o is widely regarded as one of the best linebackers in college football, so it’s no surprise that he has been named to the 2012 Butkus Award Watch List. In 13 games last season, Te’o tallied 128 tackles, which was tied for No. 16 overall in the country. Te’o also had 13.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a forced fumble.

Northwestern Wildcats linebacker David Nwabuisi was also named to the watch list. As a junior in 2011, he totaled 84 tackles, with 8.5 of those going for loss. He also had a sack and two forced fumbles. Jonathan Brown of the Illinois Fighting Illini was tabbed as well. As a sophomore last season, Brown amassed 108 tackles, with 19.5 going for loss. He also picked up six sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and a fumble recovery.

— SB Nation

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chris Owusu Can Become a Star

With the 49ers' recent additions of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and A.J Jenkins to the wide receiver group that already features Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams, you can be forgiven for allowing Chris Owusu to slip your mind.

I fully expect Moss, Manningham, Jenkins, Crabtree and Williams to make the final roster, but I'm really hoping the team takes a sixth wide receiver in the shape of Owusu.

Coached by Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Owusu could have been a pretty high draft selection had it not been for worrying concussion issues.

Now, I'm all for Owusu spending a year on the practice squad if he isn't healthy, but if he is fully fit, I want him to be a major weapon for the team.

Whether he contributes as a receiver or return man, I just want another elite athlete on offense who can go deep and create some magic.

Some may say that Ted Ginn fills that role, but I see him as more of a full-time return man who can be a gadget type of player when needed.

Owusu will have little trouble in understanding the system of the San Francisco 49ers; I'm not saying it will be easy, but he did master one of the most complex offenses in college football with Harbaugh at Stanford.

Ty Montgomery is the new star wide receiver at Stanford and the biggest praise he has been given is that he is thought of by many as the "new" Chris Owusu.

Owusu's physical attributes are incredible too; pure 4.3 speed with a 40"-plus vertical to match.

He may be seen as a speed merchant, but a 6'0", near 200-pound frame who can bench press 225 pounds 19 times has plenty of strength to cope with physical corners in the NFL.

The thing to admire most about Owusu is that he reaches his top gear straight away and doesn't slow down until he completes his route. He can also go up and get the ball at its highest point in a similar fashion to a receiver much taller than he is.

He is a big play waiting to happen and he also is less raw in the route-running department than many receivers who were actually drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.

That being said, he did miss seven games in 2010, some more in 2011 and suffered three concussions in just over a year.

To me, Owusu is a future starter in the NFL if he can stay injury-free because he has blistering speed, strength to beat the press, good route-running and a good pedigree from his time at Stanford.

A three-year starter in college, I really hope Owusu can have a long career with the 49ers in which he can showcase just how dynamic a talent he is.

What do you guys think?

Troy Polamalu wins appeal on $10K mobile phone fine

Way in October, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was penalized $10,000 for speaking on his mobile phone throughout a game title. Polamalu was on the telephone together with his wife, declaring that was OK health-smart, and that's why Steelers coach Mike Tomlin thought the security should not be penalized.

The National football league did not care, and penalized Polamalu anyway. But happy news today as Jason LaCanfora from the National football league Network reviews that Polamalu won his benefit of the fine and was informed of his win through the league on Thursday.

Based on league rules, using electronics around the sideline (or, within the bench area, should you prefer) is against the law as much as 1 hour 30 minutes before games before the finish of game. (It's why gamers can't tweet throughout games either.)

Clearly Polamalu's communication together with his wife was dependent on notifying her he was physically safe therefore the league is supplying the best towards the rule here. There's some argument that permitting this kind of exception could create a simple excuse for gamers who wish to use electronics around the sideline.

A couple of issues with that logic: there needs to be some concern for the sake of someone who really wants to use electronics for your excuse to use. Polamalu was penalized anyway, therefore the player under consideration may likely need proof that the emergency contact/immediate member of the family was known as/texted/tweeted. And lastly, the benefit of utilizing a mobile phone around the sidelines is fairly minimal.

Everything being stated, the league could be wise to create something similar to this prior to the competition committee within the offseason and see wherein a team by having an hurt player can offer a reminder to family people who aren't at the overall game and can be worried about the healthiness of the gamer under consideration.

Friday, July 13, 2012

LB Manti Te'o earned recognition on the Bednarik Award Watch List.

Te'o (Laie, Hawaii/Punahou H.S.) led the Irish with 128 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2011. He has collected 261 combined tackles over the last two seasons. Te'o became the 10th player in Notre Dame history to record 300 tackles for a career and currently ranks eighth in school history with 324 tackles.

Walter Camp, Rivals, Phil Steele, and Associated Press named Te'o a second-team All-American. He earned Capital One Academic All-America second-team honors last year. Te'o was also a finalist for the Butkus Award and Lott Trophy in 2011.

Lofa Tatupu contract details out, better than we thought.

It's a two year deal. Broken down as such:

$600,000 signing bonus, so $300,000 cap hit per year.
2012 base - $750,000
2013 base - $1,000,000 but will turn into $2,250,000 if he hits playing time incentives.
In terms of LTBE incentives for 2012, there isn't a single one. However, Tatupu can make $40,625 per game if he is active this season. For a max of $650,000 that would turn into LTBE incentives for 2013.

Cap Hits:
2012 - $1,050,000
2013 - $1,300,000 if he plays all 16 it turns into $3,200,000 as he would surely hit all PT incentives for the bigger bonus.

So essentially this:

Year 1 - $750,000 salary + $300,000 Signing Bonus = $1.050 M cap hit
Year 2 - $1.000 M salary + $300,000 Signing Bonus = $1.300 M cap hit
OR - $2.25M salary + $650k incentives + $300k Signing bonus = $3.200 M cap hit.

So while Tatupu can legitimately make up to 4.9M in his deal, a maximum of 4.25 can hit the cap and this year just 1.050 will hit the cap.

Matured Paul Soliai plays key role in Miami Dolphins’ defense

Defensive lineman Paul Soliai has matured during his time with Miami and has developed into ‘the anchor’ of the Dolphins’ defense.


The NFL’s evolution into a pass-first league changes nothing in that NFL defense starts up front (ask New England why the Giants have two Super Bowl rings the Patriots don’t). So the continued progress of the Dolphins defense this season begins with the two current longest continuous serving members of the Dolphins defense.

And one of them says the other is “the anchor of our defense.”

“If he doesn’t play well, we have no defense,” defensive tackle Randy Starks said of nose guard/defensive tackle Paul Soliai.

Neither one’s effectiveness can be seen in the standard statistics. Starks earned a Pro Bowl berth as an alternate in 2010 despite his sacks dropping from 7.0 in 2009 to 3.0 and tackles dropping from 56 to 30.

You have to actually see blockers occupied, running plays disrupted or quarterbacks influenced into sacks or turnovers. While edge rushers get the sexy blindside bashes and the big sack totals, the pressure that truly discomforts quarterbacks comes rumbling up the middle. Being unable to step up in the pocket often leads to throws without feet being set, which often lack enough steam or accuracy.

Soliai, 6-4, 355, is better at taking up blockers in the run game than getting a pass rush — he didn’t have a single sack in 2011 — but the Dolphins didn’t keep him to be a specialist in the lesser part of modern offenses. After making $12.5 million as the Dolphins franchise player in 2011, Soliai re-signed a two-year deal worth $8.15 million in base salary rather than truly explore free agency.

“I left it all up to my agent [David Canter],” Soliai said. “I took the offseason to spend time with my family. I really didn’t get to think about it until my agent gave me a call to tell me who wanted to talk to me. I just wanted to have fun with my family.

“I wanted to stay,” he continued. “That’s my main goal was to stay here. I started here. I started slow. I like how I’m going right now, I’m going well.”

Back in 2008, it seemed ludicrous to think either Starks or Soliai would still be Dolphins in 2012.

Tennessee, which had a track record of knowing when to let defensive linemen go, didn’t prevent Starks from leaving as an unrestricted free agent. Soliai got into only eight games as a rookie in 2007.

It took Soliai time to figure out a few things after going from college to the NFL: professionalism, fitness, the nuances of the thankless nose guard position.

As a rookie, he reported overweight because he thought he needed it.

His second year saw less weight, more playing time, but two one-game suspensions for violations of team policy.

Jason Ferguson’s retirement after two seasons starting at nose tackle and Soliai’s slow improvement prompted a plan to move Starks to nose guard in 2010. That got scrapped when Soliai got good.

“I’ve grown up a lot,” he said. “Stuff I did the first and second year … I’m more responsible, more accountable. A lot of my teammates look to me now. I’m just trying to be a leader.”

Starks said, “I’ve seen him grow as a person and a player. We watch film more together [now]. When I first got here, he was kind of quiet. I didn’t know what he was thinking. Maybe he was just following Ferguson’s role. Now, he’s taken over the role of nose tackle.”

The now-veteran Soliai didn’t take long to figure out his role in the Dolphins new defense.

“It’s basically the same as last year,” he said. “Last year, we ran a lot of 4-3. But we’re more aggressive this year, so that’s a good thing.”

Starks said he’ll be playing more “three technique” lining up between the guard and tackle.

“It’s going to put pressure on me to get a pass rush, help [outside linebacker] Cam [Wake] out,” he said. “At the same time, I’m looking forward to that challenge.

“I feel like I’m more comfortable in the position. I know where I’m going to be playing. It gives me a chance to get used to it and perfect the position. In the 3-4, I might be head up [over the center], might be over the tackle, might be over the guard.”

Starks’ 2011 season ended with a spectacular game against the Jets: a sack and the first two-interception game by a defensive lineman in Dolphins history.

Overall, however, he said, “I thought I did OK. I’m capable of doing more. I’ve proven that in the past. I think this year, I need to play to the level I did three years ago.”

San Francisco 49ers NT Isaac Sopoaga Deserves a Bumper New Contract After 2012

Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman get all the headlines, but Isaac Sopoaga is the cornerstone of the San Francisco 49ers defense. The veteran nose tackle deserves a lucrative new contract after his current deal expires at the end of the 2012 season.

The unheralded nine-year pro made the switch to nose tackle in 2011 and quickly became one of the league's best at the position. Moving Sopoaga over the center helped turn an already-talented defense into a truly formidable unit.

At 6'2", 330 pounds, Sopoaga has the powerful frame and natural leverage to occupy double-teams and push the pocket. With Sopoaga holding the middle, Justin Smith is allowed to spend more time rushing the passer than most 3-4 linemen enjoy.

Bowman and Willis both benefit from clear lanes of pursuit thanks to Sopoaga's ability to handle 2-gap responsibilities. He was the fulcrum of a run defense that went 14 games without yielding a touchdown in 2011.

There are more high-profile nose tackles in the NFC—Dallas Cowboys' playmaker Jay Ratliff and Green Bay Packers' youngster B.J. Raji—but none can match Sopoaga's ability to be a force in the middle.

Sopoaga turns 31 in September, but nose tackles tend to get better with age. New England Patriots' star Vince Wilfork and Pittsburgh Steelers' stalwart Casey Hampton are prime examples.

There is every reason to believe Sopoaga will do the same. He has improved each season since becoming a regular starter in 2008. The move to nose tackle is likely to add another couple of years to his career.

The New York Jets showed that age is no barrier in recognising the importance of a dominant nose tackle. They gave a three-year, $15 million deal to 33-year-old Sione Pouha.

Pure 2-gappers in the middle aren't easy to find at the pro level. If Sopoaga enjoys another stellar campaign this season, then he should be rewarded with a lucrative, long-term contract.

Monday, July 9, 2012

3 star OT Poasi Moala 2013 Verbal Washington Huskies

Ht: 6-5 Wt: 265 Position: OL
Year: Class of 2013
High School: Rancho Verde HS
(Moreno Valley, CA)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mike Iupati, LG Underpaid San Francisco 49er

Mike Iupati has been nothing but rock solid since arriving in San Francisco in 2010.

The 49ers drafted the former Idaho Vandal 17th overall in hopes that they could transform the 6'5", 331-pound mauling guard into an All-Pro-caliber force on the gridiron.

After just two seasons, Iupati is heading firmly in that direction.

Iupati is already one of the nastiest and most effective run-blocking guards the NFL has to offer. B/R's Matt Miller ranked him as the second-best left guard in the league for the 2011 season.

Bonuses aside, Iupati will earn a measly base salary of $703,500 and ranks as just the 45th highest-paid guard in the NFL.

Surprisingly enough, he's just the second-most underpaid 49er on the current roster.

Can you guess who's No. 1? You'll find out soon enough.


IFAF / Michael Preston on 07/08/2012

Sweden running back Oscar Nevermann

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) has selected the All-Tournament team for the 2012 IFAF Under-19 World Championship played at Burger Stadium in Austin from June 30 to July 7.

American Samoa head coach Taase 'Pooch' Suaese was named Coach of the Tournament having taken his team from their eighth seed ranking to a final fifth placing. The first-time entrants on the international stage became the first team to score a touchdown in four U-19 tournament games against the United States in a first round 27-6 loss, then bounced back to defeat Panama 51-0 and France 27-14 to finish fifth overall.

"I am kind of surprised," admitted Suaese. "I assumed Canada's coach would win. I thank our assistants and all of our players. Their effort made this happen. It's also special with our governor being here tonight.

"Our experience here means a lot because the community back home went through a lot of effort to finance the trip to make it possible for us to be here. The players had to work through a lot to be here. They had to work hard.

"We're getting ready for 2014 and we're already getting emails from people interested in playing for us. American Samoa players are scattered everywhere and they want to participate in 2014 so it's going to get better."

Canada Defensive Back Kevin McGee was named Tournament MVP on a night when his two interceptions helped to shut down the United States as Canada won the Gold Medal.

"I didn't think I'd even be a game MVP let alone the tournament MVP," said McGee. "It's unexpected. They'll be really happy and really proud of me back home (at Champlain College in Sherbrooke, Quebec). I'm pretty happy.

"Everybody expected the Americans to win and we shocked the world. Hopefully everybody realizes we're not just a hockey nation, we're a football nation."

McGee led the tournament with 4 passes defended and had 2 interceptions and recorded 12 tackles.

The all-tournament team featured 24 players in total with 9 from the United States, 8 from Canada, 2 from American Samoa and Japan and one each from Austria, France and Sweden.

Canadian quarterback Will Finch, who completed 19 of 29 pass attempts for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns, was joined by his favorite receiver Doug Corby, who had 12 receptions for a tournament-high 290 yards and 2 touchdowns.

American running back Tarean Folston who had 26 carries for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns and a third score receiving, was joined by USA teammate Demarcus Ayres, who had 12 receptions for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns. Durham Smythe from USA, who caught 7 passes for 55 yards won the vote at the tight end position.

American Samoa running back Ietiaia Manu completed the all-tournament backfield in recognition of his tournament-best 27 carries for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns.

USA had Hunter Bivin and Logan Tuley-Tillman selected for offensive line honors alongside Louis-Gabriel Beaudet from Canada, Daniel Feichter of Austria and Japan's Kenzo Shimano.

On the defensive side of the ball, Canadian defensive linemen Edward Godin-Gosselin and Charles Remi-Sarrazin were joined by Dakota Jackson of the USA and DL/LB Justus Faaiu from American Samoa. Faaiu led the tournament with 3 sacks and was second with 4.5 tackles for a loss

Eric Beisel and Reggie Chevis from USA were joined by Canada's John Rush as the linebackers honored. Rush was the tournament's third-leading tackler with 14.5 and was Canada's MVP in the semi final win over Japan, while Beisel posted 3.5 tackles for a loss and Chevis 3 among their stats.

Four different nations were represented in the defensive backfield. Tournament MVP Kevin McGee from Canada had 4 pass break ups, closely followed by Cameron Walker from USA with 3 and Yuta Shimozuru from Japan and Carl Tembo from France who each recorded 2.

Two players were honored as specialists. Canada kicker Louis-Phillipe Simoneau made 4 of 5 field goals with a long of 37 yards, 8 of 10 extra points and punted 8 times for 309 yards and a 38.6-yard average.

Swedish running back Oscar Nevermann scored a tournament-record five touchdowns in his team's seventh-place win over Panama and led the tournament in points scored with 30. He also led the all-purpose yardage with 445 total yards.

All-tournament selections:


Will Finch

Tarean Folston

Ietiaia Manu

Demarcus Ayres

Doug Corby

Durham Smythe

Hunter Bivin

Logan Tuley-Tillman

Daniel Feichter

Kenzo Shimano

Louis-Gabriel Beaudet


Edward Godin-Gosselin

Charles Remy-Sarrazin

Dakota Jackson

Justus Faaiu

John Rush

Eric Beisel

Reggie Chevis

Cameron Walker

Yuta Shimozuru

Kevin McGee

Carl Tembo


Louis-Phillipe Simoneau

Oscar Nevermann


Todd Bell on 07/01/2012

Running back Lorenzo Woodley in action for the USA

The United States survived a fierce American Samoa effort to win its IFAF Under 19 World Championship opener 27-6 and earn a fourth of July semi final clash with Austria, 40-0 winner over Panama earlier today.

Team USA opened the game with a record 77-yard touchdown run and followed that with touchdowns on its first two possessions en route to a 27-6 win over American Samoa in Game 4 of the 2012 IFAF U19 World Championship at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas.

"They were quick, they played awful hard, they had a great scheme, they played up-tempo," said USA coach Steve Specht of his team's opponent. "That's a good football team. I told Pooch (Taase, American Samoa coach) afterwards, ‘you ought to be proud of your kids. They played their hearts out.'

"We had way too many stupid penalties but it was the first time we've played together so we've got things to clean up but we'll get better. I was proud of our kids' effort. They played hard. We've just got to get better."

Jesus Wilson opened the scoring for Team USA with an electrifying 77-yard scamper to give the United States a 6-0 lead 13 seconds into the game.

American Samoa drove to the US 39-yard line on its opening drive before the USA defense forced a punt. The USA offense took over at their own 20 and marched 80 yards in nine plays to extend the lead to 13-0 on a one-yard run by quarterback Brayden Scott. The big play on the drive was a 43-yard pass from Scott to DeMarcus Ayers to put the ball at the one.

American Samoa again drove deep into US territory before linebacker Cory Jasudowich forced a fumble by American Samoa running back Faafounia Sitagta that was recovered by Reggie Chevis to end the threat at the US 16-yard line.

Scott then directed an 84-yard, 15-play drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Ayers for a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.

"It felt really good to be out there," said Scott. "It's kind of funny playing a game in the summer but representing my country is something I'd if it was 100,000 degrees. I love representing my country and wearing USA across my chest. Give the credit to our offensive line and our defense. They did a really good job today."

American Samoa's next drive found the end zone as quarterback Ben Langford deftly directed his team's option offense on a 66-yard drive that chewed up four minutes on the clock before Howard Tautu scored from a yard out. The two-point conversion failed and the US lead stood at 20-6 with 5:45 left in the half.

"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Coach Specht and Team USA," said American Samoa coach Pooh Taase. "We learned a great lesson tonight. They just stopped our rhythm and did a great job getting us out of sync. I just told our kids now, learn from this and let's come back and play them again in a couple of years."

Buoyed by the score the American Samoa defense stiffened and forced a USA punt. The Samoans then drove to the US 39 before US defensive back Cameron Walker ended the drive with an interception at the 15-yard line with 1:04 in the half.

American Samoa looked to have turned the momentum late in the third quarter when punter Shalom Luani broke loose on a 25-yard run on 4th and 12 from the American Samoa 15 to turn the field position around. The Samoans stayed on the move into the fourth quarter before the USA defense stiffened and held American Samoa on downs at the USA 26.

"Shalom saw them all commit and he took off," explained coach Taase. "We talked about it all week and he knew what to do when he saw it.

"I think Shalom and Vincent Taala did a great job tonight. Vincent chased guys from side to side and they both played on both sides of the ball."

After an exchange of punts the USA took over at its own 14 with 8:09 to go in the game. Needing a score to put the game away, Scott completed four of five passes for 81 yards before Tarean Folston plunged the final yard to up the lead to 27-6 with 4:38 left in the game.

Wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers earned USA Team MVP honors with seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive back/punter Shalom Luani was named American Samoa Team MVP after averaging 35.5 yards per punt and recording four tackles along with his first down run on the fake punt.

The United States will face Austria in the semifinals of the IFAF U19 World Championship on July 4. American Samoa will meet Panama in the consolation round on July 3.


Todd Bell on 07/04/2012

American Samoa rushed for an IFAF Under-19 World Championship record 432 yards and limited Panama to a record minus 46 yards on the ground to roll to a 51-0 consolation round victory on Tuesday night at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas.

American Samoa finished with 606 yards in total offense, the second-highest total in tournament history, and limited Panama to eight yards of offense, the second-lowest total in tournament history.

"We haven't played our best yet, from Saturday to today," said American Samoa head coach Pooch Teaase. "It's great that we have one more game against France. We haven't played our best and I think they pitched a shutout today too so we've got to play our best game against France for the final game to get us home.

"We're at .500 now, 1-1, so we've got to get one more game and that's the beauty of this tournament."

Bruce Scanlan rushed for 121 yards on six carries and two scores to pace a Samoa ground attack that found the end zone six times on the night. Quarterback Ben Langford threw for 159 yards and a touchdown.

After forcing a Panama punt on its first series, Scanlan opened the scoring with a 53-yard touchdown run on the Samoan's first play from scrimmage, taking a pitch on a counter play from Langford and streaking untouched down the left sideline.

"This took focus and working through the team," said Scanlan. "After our recent loss it's all been about teamwork and sticking together.

"This win means a lot to us. Most of us were feeling down so it motivated the team to perform better and tonight we showed our talent."

Kicking from its own 45 due to a Panama personal foul on the scoring run, American Samoa squibbed the kickoff and recovered the ball at the Panama 41. Four plays later Scanlan found the end zone again, this time from 8 yards out and American Samoa led 14-0 with 8:05 to go in the first quarter.

American Samoa upped its lead to 20-0 on a 16-yard touchdown run by Langford and a failed two-point conversion attempt early in the second quarter.

Leading 20-0 midway through the second quarter, punter Shalom Luani scampered 36 yards on a fake punt to set American Samoa up at the Panama 21 but Joel Doiny ended the threat with an interception in the end zone two plays later.

On first down on the ensuing series Panama quarterback Ernesto Calvo found Adrian Flores for a 36-yard gain into American Samoa territory. A personal foul on the Samoans put the ball at the 29-yard line but the Panamanian offense stalled and American Samoa took over on downs.

Langford then moved the Samoans 71 yards in eight plays to up the lead to 26-0 on a seven-yard touchdown run by Ietiaia Manu and end the first half scoring.

American Samoa wasted little time getting on the board in the second half with Manu capping a five-play 94-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown run for a 33-0 lead. The lead moved to 40-0 with 2:01 to go in the third quarter when Langford connected for this first scoring pass of the night with wide receiver Jamie Tago.

American Samoa continued to grind out yards on the ground, passing the 400-yard rushing mark early in the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 48-0 on a 7-yard touchdown run by back-up quarterback Fagalilo Oa and a two-point conversion tally by Tago.

Luani tacked on a 23-yard field goal with 1:46 to go for the final margin.

Scanlan earned MVP honors for American Samoa while linebacker Alejandro Boyd earned MVP honors for Panama with 13 tackles.

American Samoa will play France in the 5th place game on July 6, while
Panama will meet Sweden in the 7th place game on July 6.

"They knew we were going to play a very tough team," said Panama head coach Raul Arosemena of his team. "We saw them play the U.S. They are active, disciplined. They were a little overpowering in the beginning, but we fought.

"We have to elevate our game, be more dedicated to football and get people to support us back home. It's been a learning experience all the time. We are going to put our best effort in the next game, and hopefully someday be better."


Todd Bell on 07/07/2012

American Samoa with Coach Pooh Taase

After spotting France a 7-0 lead, American Samoa scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 21-7 halftime lead then held on for a 27-14 win in the fifth place game at the International Federation of American Football Under-19 Championship at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas on Friday night.

American Samoa quarterback Ben Langford threw for a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass to earn team MVP honors.

France linebacker Etienne Roudel earned team MVP honors for his squad with 15 tackles and a forced fumble that set up France's first touchdown.

"We talked about ripping the ball loose whenever possible and it worked pretty well there," said Roudel. "We had to adjust our approach for this game and it worked pretty well. We stopped the run but got tricked on the trick play.

"I think we are more prepared. We are better athletes. Stronger, faster, bigger and we prepared very well. It was very good work by our coaches to make us a better team."

American Samoa's opening drive ended when Roudel forced a fumble by Aloese Sua that was recovered by defensive lineman Adrien Baudard at the Samoa 43. Mathias Soler put France up 7-0 four plays later when he connected with Maxime Durand Gasselin on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 8:13 left in the first quarter.

A bad snap on a French punt attempt gave American Samoa the ball at the French 42 late in the first quarter. Eight plays later running back Faafouina Sitagata pulled up on a toss sweep and threw back across the field for an eight-yard touchdown pass to Langford to tie the game 53 seconds into the second quarter.

Heavy pressure by the Samoa punt coverage team resulted in a five-yard punt by France from its own 26 on the next series. The punt was returned 10 yards to the 21 by Mola Tagaloa and set American Samoa up deep in France territory again. Langford found Sione Latu alone in the end zone from nine yards out to give the Samoans a 13-7 lead following a failed two-point conversion attempt.

Samoa began their final drive of the half at their own 20. Langford directed an 11-play drive that used 3:39 before the quarterback carried the final 10 yards for his second score of the day. Shalom Luani carried three yards for the two-point conversion and American Samoa led 21-7 with 1:20 left in the half.

France cut the lead to 21-14 on the opening drive of the third quarter as Soler found Anthony Mahoungou open down the right sideline from 34 yards out. The drive started at the France 40 after American Samoa's third quarter kickoff went out of bounds.

American Samoa looked poised to extend the lead early in the fourth quarter following an interception by Shalom Luani that set the Samoans up at the France 19 but the French defense held and Luani missed on a 37-yard field goal with 9:07 to go.

France set up to punt from its own 42 on the ensuing series but Remi Bertellin attempted to pass for the first down on fourth and seven and the ball fell to the turf incomplete. Langford then drove American Samoa 42 yards for the clinching score as Sitigata scored from nine yards out for a 27-14 lead following a blocked extra point.

France refused to quit as Soler drove the team to the American Samoa eight-yard line before turning the ball over on downs with eight seconds left.

"We lost the game on details," said France head coach Olivier Moret. "It was not that we weren't prepared. We just aren't at the level we need be to beat teams like this. We need to work all year long.

"My first aim coming here was to show we can play football in France. The key is the next generation. If we want to be in the top three we have to work more. That's the message I want to send to all the teams and players back home. Improving the level of play in France is our goal. That's how we get better at the international level."

Can Irish LB Te'o keep top-40 projection?

Notre Dame senior LB Manti Te'o will try to live up to his top-40 pick projection throughout his final season.
Many felt Te'o would have been a first-round pick if he had declared early, but the Irish's defensive leader quickly made up his mind on returning for the 2012 season. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler highlights Te'o's rangy and active play style after trusting his read to quickly attack the ball carrier. Brugler would like to see Te'o improve his strength at the point of attack to finish more consistently, but credits the linebacker as Notre Dame's top draft-eligible prospect. Jul 4 - 4:51 PM

Ignition Athlete of the Week: Rey Maualuga

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Polamalu wants his sons to play football

Jamison Hensley |

Troy Polamalu holds his two sons, Paisios, right, and Ephraim during a benefit for FOCUS North America sponsored by the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church Community Center in Mt. Lebanon.

Few in the NFL are more familiar with head injuries these days than Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Last season, Polamalu left two games because of head trauma. This is only a small portion of his history with concussions.

Polamalu reportedly had at least three concussions while at USC and two while playing high school football. But Polamalu wouldn't dissuade his sons from playing football. In fact, he would "absolutely" want them to play the game.

Polamalu has two sons, Paisios (3 years old) and Ephraim (who will turn 2 in September).

"This game has provided me with a lot of beautiful life lessons, and I definitely would like my son to learn that," Polamalu told The Fan in Pittsburgh, via

"Because you’re not faced with the same type of situations in other sports as you are in football.” Polamalu said he doesn't know whether concussions will shorten his career. He does acknowledge that it has changed his view on football.

"Football has taught me and I’ve had this, I guess maybe kind of growing motto in my life, is to live day-to-day and never to take anything for granted," he said. "I’ve been injured, I’ve missed large parts of football seasons and sometimes you get caught up in, ‘Oh man, OTAs or all this practice,’ but when it’s taken away from you, you realize how much you miss it. …

Whether this concussion issue is really as big as it may seem to be, I don’t think it would really change my view on anything.”

Falcons Got a ‘Monster’ in Lofa Tatupu

by Knox Bardeen on June 29, 2012

LB Lofa Tatupu (Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons)

ATLANTA – Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill spent time this week in Atlanta at the 2012 New Era Football Camp presented by France AllPro Athlete Management, a four-day event for area kids.

Hill and new Atlanta Falcons linebacker Lofa Tatupu were drafted by the Seahawks in 2005, Tatupu in the second round and Hill in the third. Hill shared some insight on just what Tatupu can bring to the table in Atlanta.

“They’re getting a monster,” said Hill. “They just don’t know it. [They're getting] a leader, a guy that’s going to be where he’s supposed to be every single play, a guy that doesn’t make mistakes, that makes tackles, he’s a complete linebacker. Losing him obviously hurt a couple of years ago, but the Falcons are getting a hell of a player.”

Hill and Tatupu still keep in touch regularly and Hill reported that Tatupu said OTAs and minicamp went well.

After arthroscopic surgeries on both knees, Tatupu sat out the 2011 season, but the reason wasn’t entirely injury related. The Seahawks wouldn’t restructure his contract—Tatupu took a hard-line stance.

After sitting away from the game for a season, Tatupu will battle with second-year player Akeem Dent for the middle linebacker position. Hill feels the decision could all boil down to health.

“We’ll see in training camp and preseason how he’s really feeling,” said Hill. “ If he’s healthy, he’s an All-Pro player.”

Webb-Helu football camp a hit

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012 8:00 pm | Updated: 2:00 am, Tue Jul 3, 2012.

By Danny Haines Times Staff Writer | 0 comments

As the four-day Lardarius Webb/Roy Helu Football Camp came to a close Monday afternoon at McDaniel College, instructors and pro football players alike agreed it was a success for the developing football players.

Camp instructor Jerry Pannoni talked before the last day of practice about what he saw.

“These kids have gotten much better football-wise and also in terms of learning how to respond to coaches,” Pannoni said.

Dante Jones, another instructor at the camp, completed his eighth year with Monday’s finale. This year he worked exclusively with kids in the 7-to-12-year-old age range and said he likes coming back each year.

“Just the enjoyment of being around kids teaching them good football and the fun and learning that we have going on at the same time,” Jones said. “At most camps you don’t get this much instruction and a lot of attention to detail, when you have a lot of quality coaches and supportive parents then it’s going to be a successful camp.”

The campers weren’t just receiving instruction from their coaches.

Webb, a starting cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens, was on hand for much of the camp to instruct and give advice to the young players while being surrounded by ecstatic campers wanting autographs or pictures.

Webb was happy to oblige the kids and he shared some focal points Monday about what he said to them. His message had more to do with life than football.

“I told them first that you always need to get on your knees, you know, prayer is No. 1,” Webb said. “No. 2 is the homework, and how important it is to do well in school and having good study habits.

“No. 3 is that you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it and that you don’t have to play football to be successful. There are plenty of things you can do out there to be successful so if you don’t make it playing football don’t think that you can’t be successful.

“So I just stick to those ideas and let them know that they have to be responsible for themselves.”

Webb came to sign autographs at the camp last year and was asked to be one of the sponsors this summer. And he sounds excited to have the opportunity to do so again in the future.

“Yes, yes, I hope they pick me again. I told them I’ll be available so please pick me,” said Webb. “So hopefully we can make this a long time thing. I like it.”

Pannoni said Helu, a Washington Redskins running back, also came by Monday morning and spoke to the campers about working hard and staying persistent.

Some of the campers are returning from previous positive experiences at the camp, but there are also a large number of players attending the camp for the first time.

Kyree Henderson, 14, is one of those first-time attendees as he worked out at running back and linebacker to prepare for the upcoming football season at National Academy Foundation High School in Baltimore City. Henderson is included in the group of campers that were excited by meeting and hearing from pro players.

“It was the best, that’s all I can say,” said Henderson with a smile on his face. “They were teaching us that swag isn’t about what you wear, it’s about confidence and that we have to keep our heads in the books.

“This camp has boosted up my skills and has made me a better player. I hope that I can come back and attend this camp again in the future.”