3 NFL players fined $21,000 each

Published: Friday, September 14, 2012 @ 7:33 PM
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 @ 7:33 PM

Safeties Madieu Williams of Washington, Taylor Mays of Cincinnati and Rahim Moore of Denver have been fined $21,000 each by the NFL for unnecessary roughness in Week 1.

Williams made helmet-to-helmet contact with Jimmy Graham when the Saints tight end was defenseless with about three minutes remaining in Sunday's game at New Orleans. Mays did the same to Baltimore tight end Ed Dickson in a Monday night game.

Rahim unnecessarily struck defenseless Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the head and neck area Sunday night.

Houston DE Antonio Smith says he's been fined $21,000 for kicking Miami guard Richie Incognito, who was not disciplined.

Drawing $15,750 fines were Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen for helmet-to-helmet contact with Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and Dallas tackle Tyron Smith for a horse collar tackle.


Bernard has TD run as Bengals beat Falcons 34-10

Published: Thursday, August 08, 2013 @ 11:49 PM
Updated: Friday, August 09, 2013 @ 9:46 AM

            Photo: Cincinnatibengals.com

Giovani Bernard scored in his opening bid for a share of the Bengals' carries, while Steven Jackson was provided little running room by the Falcons' depleted offensive line as Cincinnati rolled to a 34-10 preseason win over Atlanta on Thursday night.

Josh Johnson, who directed two second-quarter touchdown drives, made big plays as a passer and runner as he opened the competition for the Bengals' backup quarterback job.

Bernard, a second-round pick from North Carolina, played behind returning starter Benjarvus Green-Ellis and had 10 carries for 28 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. He added three catches for 16 yards.

Johnson, going against John Skelton for the backup job behind Andy Dalton, passed for 100 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Brandon Tate, and ran for 64 yards.

Dane Sanzenbacher had a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 36-yard scoring catch from Skelton.

Green-Ellis had three carries for 14 yards. Johnson was 9 of 16 for 100 yards with one touchdown.

The first preseason game highlighted the Falcons' concerns about their rebuilt offensive line. Jackson found little blocking as he had five carries for only 8 yards.

Atlanta lost projected starting right tackle Mike Johnson, likely for the season, when he dislocated his left ankle and broke his left leg in Tuesday's practice.

Lamar Holmes, a second-year player who appeared in only one game in 2012, moved up as the starting right tackle. Undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder played behind Holmes. The Falcons released right tackle Tyson Clabo after the 2012 season and longtime starting center Todd McClure retired.

Johnson led the Bengals to 17 second-quarter points. Following his scoring pass to Tate, Johnson directed a second touchdown drive capped by Bernard's 1-yard run.

Lined up deep in the I-formation, Bernard showed his explosiveness by quickly building his speed even before taking the handoff from Johnson and then running straight ahead for the touchdown with 2 seconds remaining in the half.

The Falcons had a fast start. Matt Ryan was 3 for 3 for 52 yards on Atlanta's opening drive, his first with Jackson at running back. Jackson, the former Rams standout, was signed to replace Michael Turner.

On the first play of the game, Jackson ran straight ahead, found no room and cut right for 4 yards. It was his longest run of the night.

Harry Douglas turned a screen pass from Ryan into a 42-yard gain, but the drive stalled when Geno Atkins stuffed Jackson on third-and-2 run from the 16, forcing the Falcons to settle for Matt Bryant's 37-yard field goal.

Ryan remained in the game for two more series. He completed 6 of 9 passes for 89 yards.

Dalton played only two possessions and went 3 of 7 for 36 yards.

Dominique Davis, mostly ineffective after replacing Ryan in the first half, led a third-quarter touchdown drive capped by his 8-yard pass to Jason Snelling. Davis hit 8 of 19 for 78 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Skelton took over for Johnson late in the third quarter and led a 78-yard touchdown drive finished off with his 36-yard scoring pass to Sanzenbacher, a third-year player who had only one catch in 2012.

Sorrell takes a chance on Vandy

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 @ 7:40 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 @ 7:40 PM

Middletown High School’s Chance Sorrell is not sure who was happier to see the end of the recruiting trail, he or his parents.

“We probably visited 30 schools since last summer,” Sorrell said. “I think my parents are glad it’s over. When it gets toward the end, it is exhausting.”

Sorrell ended the mayhem this week, committing to Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. The tight end chose the Commodores over Louisville and West Virginia.

Vanderbilt was the frontrunner from the beginning for Sorrell.

“Especially after the visit,” he said. “I really enjoyed meeting with the coaches and players there.”

Sorrell had wanted to have a decision made by the end of June. He made it with a weekend to spare.

“I made it comfortably,” Sorrell said with a laugh. “We have been talking a lot for the last month or two and we can’t find a reason not to go to Vanderbilt.”

The positives were easy to find for Sorrell, even going beyond the fact that Vanderbilt plays in the Southeastern Conference.

“There is probably not a better degree, because they are so prestigious academically,” Sorrell said. “I clicked with the players and can tell I want to be around them the next four or five years and the coaches were real transparent with what they said.”

The Grand Old Opry calls Nashville home, not to mention numerous country stars.

And, no, playing in the SEC didn’t hurt when it came time to choose.

“Nashville is a great city and I love country music,” Sorrell said. “The SEC is the third-best conference in the country behind the AFC and NFC.”

Sorrell didn’t give colleges much film to look at last season. Before suffering a season-ending injury in week five, Sorrell had two catches for 24 yards.

Bowling Green was the first to offer Sorrell a scholarship, he said, after seeing him play the post on the Middletown basketball team.

From there, it snowballed.

“I am feeling a lot of pressure lifted off my chest,” Sorrell said. “I know for the next four or five years I have a home at Vanderbilt and for the next 40 or 50 years I can plan my life with a Vandy degree.”

Bengals sign 1st-round pick

Published: Friday, May 18, 2012 @ 1:21 PM
Updated: Friday, May 18, 2012 @ 1:21 PM

The Bengals have signed cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama, their top pick in the draft. It's the fastest they've gotten a top pick under contract since 2003.

Kirkpatrick was the first of Cincinnati's two picks in the opening round, going 17th overall. He's expected to compete for a starting job, teaming with Leon Hall at cornerback. Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon but is expected back.

It's the fastest Cincinnati has reached agreement with its top pick since quarterback Carson Palmer was the first overall pick in 2003, allowing the Bengals to negotiate a deal before the draft.

The Bengals got the extra pick in the first round by trading Palmer to Oakland last season.

Cincinnati now has six of its 10 picks under contract.

Greenville grad, NFL star Light said it's right time to retire

Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 @ 9:16 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 @ 9:16 AM

Tom Brady tried to persuade Matt Light to return for another season by offering him a year's supply of his favorite candy bar. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia reminded Light that he's still in the prime of his career.

But Light, one of a handful of NFL players to have started in five Super Bowls, said on Monday he is retiring from the league at the age of 33 to have a chance "to leave this game upright and feeling good."

"When it's your time, you just know," the New England Patriots offensive lineman said Monday in a retirement ceremony at the team's Hall of Fame.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl champ, Light retired after 11 seasons. Coach Bill Belichick, owner Bob Kraft and much of the Patriots' offensive line attended to support Light, along with his family, friends and fans.

"He's one of my favorite teammates I've ever had," Brady said in a video prepared for the occasion. "I'm certainly going to miss him and I'm still going to try to talk him out of retirement because I still want him back here for a few more years."

In fact, Light said, Brady offered a year's supply of Kit Kat candy bars to entice Light to stay, to no avail.

"One of the things that was very apparent over the last couple of seasons is that it takes a lot longer to recover the older you get," Light said. "It really became very difficult to give much outside of a `hi,' `goodbye' or `good morning' to my family, and that's always been really important to me."

Belichick, wearing a short-sleeved, button-down shirt and jeans and a frequent smile, recounted some of the off-field antics that made Light so popular among his teammates and the first one they all suspected whenever there was a prank.

"That's the way it was with Matt," Belichick said. "He had a great sense when to lighten up and when to tighten up."

The coach talked about trading up to take Light in the second round of the 2001 draft, jumping ahead of the New York Jets, and then mis-casting him at right tackle. After an unproductive training camp, Light was moved to the left side, where he had played at Purdue and where he's remained ever since.

"He played on out left side for 11 great seasons, in the biggest games on the biggest stages," Brady said. "He was a fun player to be around, he was tough, he was physical, he was a great example."

Belichick called the decision to move Light back to his natural position perhaps the best "un-coaching" move he's ever made.

Brady is now the only Patriot on the roster from the 2002 Super Bowl championship team. (Kevin Faulk is unsigned and likely to retire). Kraft noted that Light and Brady are two of the five players in NFL history to have started in five Super Bowls; the others are Cornelius Bennett, John Elway and Charles Haley.

Kraft said the team would plan a special day to honor Light during the season.

"It's hard to imagine going to practice or playing in a game and not having Matt sit behind me on the bus," said offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who played next to Light and said he usually sat next to him on the team plane. "Matt had a model career that a lot of guys would love to have. His technique was flawless."

Belichick said he watched Light mature from a player who had 19 mental errors in his first season to only two last year in one of the most demanding positions on the field: protecting the quarterback's blind side.

Scarnecchia said Light could still do the job.

"He's walking away from this game really in the prime of his career. He could play longer," Scarnecchia said. "He's walking away after having a great, great season last season and a lot of guys would never do that.  ... I think the greatest thing you could ever say to someone that leaves you is that you'll be missed.

He will be missed in a lot of ways, he'll be missed certainly as a football player, one of our leaders on our football team and a guy that every day came in with his lunch pail, went to work and did all the things that he needed to do to be successful and for our team to be successful."