Football is back! Brees, Saints defeat Cardinals

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Football is back! Brees, Saints defeat Cardinals

From Comcast SportsNet
CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame and see all the bronze busts. Cheer tackle Willie Roaf's induction. Watch Drew Brees produce a touchdown on his only try. Pretty good weekend for the New Orleans Saints. And boy, did they need it. Brees didn't need much time to top off a good visit, smoothly leading a touchdown drive in his only series Sunday night during a 17-10 victory over Arizona in the Hall of Fame game. "Just to be up here and see all those guys get inducted and take a tour of the Hall of Fame, that was really special," said Mark Ingram, who scored the first touchdown on a 1-yard run. "For us to all be here, it puts a lot of things into perspective going into this football season." The game was canceled last year for the first time in 45 years, a casualty of the NFL's lockout of the players. Labor issues also came into play in Sunday night's game -- the seven officials were replacements. It showed. The referee announced the result of the coin flip incorrectly -- Craig Ochoa said the Saints won the toss and deferred, then caught his mistake and said the Cardinals had won the toss. There were some other communication problems as well for the first-time crew. The win completed a good trip for the Saints (No. 9 in the AP Pro32), who needed a few smiles after their offseason dominated by their bounty scandal. Suspended coach Sean Payton got the league's permission to attend a dinner for Roaf and the other five Hall of Fame inductees on Friday night. Payton isn't allowed to have any contact with the team this season as punishment for the team's bounty program. Players got to tour the hall and sat in the back three rows of the stadium for Roaf's induction on Saturday, wearing black t-shirts with his No. 77. It was a proud moment for a franchise that's been overshadowed by the bounty scandal all offseason. "The induction was great," interim coach Joe Vitt said. "Our young players went through the Hall of Fame yesterday and saw a lot of history of the NFL and really took it in. From that standpoint, it was a great weekend." Don't forget that opening drive. Brees was sharp on the 10-play drive, completing 4 of 5 passes for 41 yards with one off-target throw. Brees skipped offseason workouts and minicamp because he was unhappy getting the team's franchise tag. He later agreed to a five-year, 100 million deal. Nothing has changed. "Drew was Drew," Vitt said. "That's the first unit. There's high standards here." The Cardinals (No. 23) are using the preseason to pick a quarterback, with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton competing for the starting job. Kolb got to start the game but had a tough time, throwing an interception on his first pass and leaving after bruising his ribs on the third series. "He has a bruise in his chest and that makes it kind of tough to rotate, move," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I think he'll probably be practicing sometime this week." Skelton took over and completed 4 of 6 for 32 yards. "You never want to have an injury in the preseason, especially an early game like this, having to play that fifth preseason game," Skelton said. "But he will be OK." The Cardinals finished 8-8 last season, Kolb's first in Arizona. He started nine games and threw for nine touchdowns with eight interceptions while learning a new offense on the fly because of the lockout. Skelton filled in when Kolb was hurt and went 5-2 as a starter. After the opening series for each team, the backups got into the game and things got ragged. The fill-in officials had a few rough moments, too. Ochoa, who has eight years of experience with BCS leagues and 16 years at Division III, flipped the ceremonial coin and announced that New Orleans had won and deferred. As he started walking away, he caught his mistake. "Correction," he said. "Arizona won the coin toss." After New Orleans scored on its first possession, several Saints came in to block for the extra point and gestured to the officials to point out that they had reported for the play. Coming out of the 2-minute warning in the first half, Ochoa announced that the previous play was under review, then corrected himself and said it was not. The officials had trouble spotting the ball after a punt that involved a penalty, repeatedly moving the ball after consultations. The league has locked out its officials and hired replacements in case the labor dispute extends into the season. They've trained them for the last two months. The league used replacement officials for the opening week of the 2001 season before reaching agreement with the union. Notes: It was the Saints' fifth appearance in the Hall of Fame game, their first since 2007. The Cardinals made their fourth appearance, their first since 1986. ... Arizona's Dave Zastudil had a 79-yard punt, a record for the Hall of Fame game. ... Saints rookie Laron Scott had a 67-yard kickoff return. ... Arizona LB Paris Lenon limped off with an ankle injury after the opening series and didn't return.

Ravens lose week of OTAs, Harbaugh and organization fined by NFL

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Ravens lose week of OTAs, Harbaugh and organization fined by NFL

OWINGS MILLS – The NFL punished the Ravens by taking away their second OTA session (June 1-3), and fining both coach John Harbaugh and the organization, the league announced Thursday. The punishment stems from a practice violation in rookie camp on May 6, when the Ravens briefly practiced in pads during a non-contact drill, which violated the collective bargaining agreement. The NFL investigated after the Ravens’ violation was brought to the league’s attention. 

The amount of the fines was not immediately disclosed. The Ravens issued a brief statement after the punishment was announced.

“We made a mistake and we are sorry for that,” the statement said. “We accept the NFL discipline.”

The Ravens were in the midst of completing their first OTA session when the league’s ruling was handed down. The Ravens will still have their OTA scheduled for the second week in June, as well as their mandatory minicamp later in the month.

Considering injuries, Ravens have strong turnout at OTA's

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Considering injuries, Ravens have strong turnout at OTA's

OWINGS MILLS – More than 70 of the 90 players on the Ravens roster were in attendance at Thursday’s voluntary workouts, the first OTA’s open to the media.

Veterans who were not on the field included wide receivers Michael Campanaro and Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles); linebackers Elvis Dumervil, C. J. Mosley, and Terrell Suggs (Achilles); quarterback Joe Flacco (knee); defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder); cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), and right guard Marshal Yanda.

Those not on the field also included running backs Kenneth Dixon and Trent Richardson; defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, and wide receiver Keenan Reynolds. In the case of rookies, college graduation ceremonies may have interfered with their attendance.

Two players who missed all of last season due to injuries were participating – tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Both Perriman and Pitta were scheduled to speak with the media at the conclusion of practice.

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

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Courtesy of Amanda Carrera

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

It’s very easy to get jaded when thinking about professional sports and social media, especially where those two things intersect, particularly when fans spew vitriolic comments after nearly every event. 

But, sometimes, pro sports and social media can produce great stories, and tremendous results. The recent story of Cameron Carrera counts as one of those stories.

A first-grader at Urbana Elementary School in Urbana, Md., Cameron was born with Spina bifida, a birth defect that damages the spinal cord and leads to other lifelong health issues.

Despite his condition, Cameron is a fun-loving kid, and like many young boys, loves football.

“He loves the Redskins, typical boy, the only thing that’s different for him is he can’t walk,” Amanda Carrera, Cameron’s mom, explained.

“He just loves the Redskins,” Carrera said of her 7-year-old son. “He always says one day when he’s older he wants to be a Redskins player. I say ‘we will figure it out.’”

Cameron, who uses a wheelchair, also has two sets of braces for his legs. His request? Put the Redskins logo on them. Twice a week Cameron endures tough physical therapy sessions - though he is paralyzed from the knees down he is working to walk using a walker. Despite the PT and obvious hurdles, Amanda remains amazed at her son’s positivity.

“He always says ‘I’ll walk when I’m older’ or ‘when I’m bigger I’ll play football,’” she said. “I don’t want to crush his dreams. We’ll figure it out.”

While Cameron’s football playing future may be in doubt, it’s remarkable what has happened for the Carreras during the last six months to dramatically improve their lives. 

“We’ve needed a handicap accessible van,” Amanda said, explaining that the van required a special mechanical seat for Cameron, “and $10,000 for this chair was just out of our reach.”

So knowing they needed the chair, the family started a Go Fund Me account last fall. 

“It’s crazy how much social media can help,” Amanda said. “Within two or three months, we have more than 200 people donate for our van.”

Once the Go Fund Me account became so popular, friends of friends joined in the effort to help Cameron. A friend offered tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll, where Cameron got to meet Ryan Kerrigan.

In May, the Mom’s Club of Urbana held a fundraiser to benefit Cameron, but prior to the fundraiser, Amanda explained to the group that her son loves the Skins. So what happened next? A signed Kirk Cousins jersey.

From there, through the help of more social media and more friends of friends, things really started to snowball. Once he learned more about Cameron’s condition from CSN Director of Strategic Partnerships Eric Shuster, Kerrigan sent along a video.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” Amanda said. “It’s really been a whirlwind and Cameron is just loving all the attention.”

After Kerrigan’s video, Redskins LB Will Compton joined the party, only with a distinct take. It seems Cameron had not heard of Compton, so the linebacker did his best to clear up any confusion.

“That video was hilarious,” Amanda said of Compton’s video. “That made it really special for him, he said, ‘Oh wow, he wants to meet me.’”

Kerrigan, reached for comment, made clear he didn't intend for his message to become a news item. He just wanted to reach out to Cameron after meeting him at the White House.

"It's a pleasure as a professional athlete to help bring a smile on a child's face," Kerrigan said of his video.

One interesting wrinkle in the Carrera family dynamic: Amanda is a lifelong Skins fan, and she obviously passed that on to her son. Her husband Danny, however, likes the Cowboys.

“That’s the funny part, my husband is a Cowboys fan,” Amanda said via text, before adding Danny is obviously “so thankful” for what the Redskins players are doing for Cameron.

Amanda, who works as a civilian at Fort Detrick, and Danny, who manages a Bed, Bath & Beyond, don’t know what to expect next from the Redskins. The videos have been surprises, though Amanda said she would love to bring Cameron to a practice to meet the players.

In late June, Cameron will celebrate his eighth birthday. With about a month lead time, maybe the ‘Skins players will come up with something fitting.