Visit to McCarthy's Hometown...........Kenny Mayne

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

UW football: Swan catches on

That's OK if you have underestimated University of Wisconsin senior wide receiver Luke Swan in the past. He's used to it.

Swan, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, came to the Badgers as an unheralded walk-on from Fennimore, who supposedly was too small and too slow to be a receiver in the Big Ten Conference.

So, when Swan went into fall camp a year ago listed atop the depth chart, it seemed like a nice story, but almost no one expected it to last. It was supposed to be only a matter of time before Swan was overtaken by one of two true freshman receivers, Isaac Anderson or Xavier Harris.

Despite missing part of camp with an injury, Swan not only held on to the starting job, he finished third on the team with 35 catches for 595 yards, an average of 17 yards per reception that topped the team. He also tied for the team high with five touchdown catches.

Once again, most fans figured Swan had reached his glass ceiling, as a nice intermediary complement to tight end Travis Beckum and deep threat Paul Hubbard.

But Swan defied the popular opinion again, taking his game up another notch in the spring.
"He's a better player right now than he was at the end of (last) season," receivers coach Henry Mason said in the spring. "He's really got a feel for things."

In fact, Swan was so good in the spring, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst started thinking of ways to feature him in the offense. Chryst took it a step further when he compared Swan to departed quarterback John Stocco.

"The thing you appreciate — and you try to get others to understand — you know what you're going to get (with Swan),'' Chryst said.

" 'Swanny,' maybe, is like 'Stoc' at quarterback, not real sexy, but you're going to win with him. If he should be open, he'll be open. He's a heck of a competitor. There are some of the same qualities."

If you're keeping track at home, that means Swan has gone from walk-on, to starter, to receiving a scholarship, to being a featured receiver, all in the span of a little more than one year.

The stability Swan and Hubbard — fifth-year seniors who spent all last season as starters — bring to the position is crucial with the recent news the Badgers will be without the popular Mason, who was hospitalized with back problems and replaced by interim coach DelVaughn Alexander for the season.

Not only do Swan and Hubbard have experience in the offense, they complement each other perfectly, along with Beckum.

"Swan, he's the precision route-runner," Hubbard said. "Me, I've got the speed, so I can open it up, I can blow the top off, give Swan some room to work in traffic. Travis, he's both. He does what he needs to do, to make the play."

Swan's face lit up when told Chryst was talking about featuring him more in the offense.
"That's a great thing to hear," he said. "That means he's got confidence in me, that I can be a playmaker. That gives me confidence to go out and make more plays."

Hubbard, 6-4 and 213 pounds, proved to be a playmaker, too, catching 38 passes for 627 yards and five TDs, but his lack of consistency was maddening at times. He was plagued by drops, a result of inconsistent route running and hands.

He didn't seem to change much in the spring, either. At the end of last season, Mason said Hubbard, in terms of physical talent, could be one of the top receivers in the Big Ten.

"It just hasn't happened yet," Mason said in the spring. "Right now, looking at him, you can pull 25 plays off the spring tape, you watch them and you say, 'He might be top 10 as far as receivers in the country.'

"There's another 20-25 plays where you say, 'I don't see it, it's not there.' He's got to be able to close that gap. He's got too many negative plays."

The other big issue in the spring was the failure of a third receiver to emerge.

Redshirt freshman Maurice Moore made the biggest jump, but he's a converted quarterback who still has a long way to go.

Anderson is a burner who can't seem to stay healthy. Harris left the team in the spring and returned home to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for personal reasons, but he is back and will be ready for camp. However, Mason said Moore has bypassed Harris.

Junior Marcus Randle El could be the favorite for the No. 3 job, but he was limited in the spring after returning from reconstructive knee surgery. The coaches won't know what Randle El can do until camp opens.
Courtesy of Tom Mulhern from today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Injury will keep Morency out at least two weeks

It will be at least two weeks before Vernand Morency returns to the practice field, and when he comes back, the gap could be narrowed between him and the rest of the pack in the competition for the Green Bay Packers' starting running back job.

Morency's injured knee turned out to be worse than originally thought, and although coach Mike McCarthy said surgery wouldn't be needed to repair it, the third-year back will be sidelined "a couple of weeks." McCarthy wouldn't reveal any details about the injury and Morency did not make himself available to reporters in the locker room after practice.

On Sunday, general manager Ted Thompson described the injury as a bruise, but after further examination from the team doctor it was determined to be more than that.

"Pat McKenzie just thinks it's a little more serious than he initially thought," McCarthy said. "It's going to be a couple of weeks."

Morency injured his knee in the first practice Saturday. He's unsure exactly when it occurred, but McCarthy said there were two consecutive plays where Morency put stress on his knee.

"The one where he had the hard cut to the left, he kind of fell a little bit there, and there was a play, I think it was actually prior to that, where he was in a situation where his legs got crossed up on the pass protection that he was blocking on," McCarthy said. "I think it happened on one of those two plays."

Morency's injury raises some flags about his durability. He has never been a full-time starter in the National Football League and has had some injury problems, including a lower back ailment that forced him to miss two games last year and limited him to 11 carries in the three games after that.

If he's out only two weeks, Morency will still have three exhibition games to make his case for the starting job, but if he's out three, he'll be cutting things close. The third exhibition game is always the most important because of the amount of time the starters play, so if anything, he should be shooting for the Jacksonville game Aug. 23.

"I think it's for precautionary reasons," fullback Brandon Miree said. "I don't know what everything is. They just want to make sure he's healthy. We need him for the entire season. It's one of those things we don't want to take any chances with."

In the meantime, the Packers are introducing some added competition to the race. Since Morency went out, rookie Brandon Jackson and second-year pro P.J. Pope have been first in line to audition for the job.

But seventh-round pick DeShawn Wynn is gradually coming back from a stomach virus that caused him to lose 10 pounds and miss the first two days of practice, and rookie free agent Corey White is getting an extended look. Because nothing is settled in a backfield without a clear-cut starter, there will be an opportunity for someone to prove he's more reliable than Morency.

Courtesy of Tom Silverstein from today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Brewers 1 of 3 teams able to trade for Gagne

The Yankees grew discouraged about their chances of landing Rangers closer Eric Gagne on Tuesday morning, an indication that the reliever could be headed to one of three other teams trying to acquire him — the Red Sox, Brewers or Mets — or nowhere at all.

The Mets and Brewers are among the 12 teams that can acquire Gagne without his permission, according to major-league sources. The Red Sox are not.

The Mets, who are unwilling to trade Carlos Gomez, also are pessimistic about their chances. Meanwhile, two of the Rangers' other potential center-field targets — the Red Sox's David Murphy and Brewers' Tony Gwynn Jr. — might not be everyday players.
For the Red Sox, time is running short.

Their chances of landing of White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye are fading, according to sources. And, with the non-waiver deadline fast approaching, the Sox need to not only reach a trade agreement with the Rangers, but also persuade Gagne to waive his no-trade clause to Boston, perhaps by guaranteeing his remaining $3.65 million in potential bonuses for games finished.

Even if they did that, Gagne still might balk at the deal, preferring to close rather than set up for Jonathan Papelbon

Courtesy of Ken Rosenthal from

Monday, July 30, 2007

Woodson returns to form

Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson would rather take the chance he might have to wear a shoulder harness again this season than let a surgeon cut him open.

So, instead of allowing team doctor Patrick McKenzie to explore what it was that was causing Woodson so much pain the second half of the season last year, he decided to treat his right shoulder the same as he treated his ailing left knee.

During the off-season, Woodson went to Houston as he always does and began rehabbing both injuries with the intent of being ready for the start of training camp. So far, he thinks he did the right thing.

"The knee was fine pretty much a month after the season," Woodson said. "It took the shoulder a little longer, I'd say well into June before it was where I wanted it to be. It feels good right now. I have full range of motion. It's not sore at all. I haven't really hit anybody, but it feels good for the most part."

Woodson said he doesn't know if there are floating bone chips around the shoulder or some other ailment that caused him so much pain he had to play with the harness last year. He only knows that he was able to get back to health without having to go under the knife.

"They said the only way to find out was to actually go in," Woodson said. "I wasn't too thrilled about that. I figured I'd just play with it and if anything comes up with it again, I'll put the harness back on and continue to work."

Woodson gutted it out for all 16 games last season despite the knee injury, which he suffered in the St. Louis game Oct. 8, and the shoulder injury, which appeared after the New England game Nov. 19.

He led the Packers with eight interceptions and also was the team's primary punt returner, fielding 41 kicks for an 8.9-yard average.

During the first two days of practice, Woodson has resumed his role as the primary punt returner and seems set on doing it again despite the risk of injury. So far, coach Mike McCarthy has shown no hesitation in allowing Woodson to field punts, although that could change when the games start.

Courtesy of Tom Silverstein from today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Couch Comeback

We haven't seen anything like this since the Jeff George Experiment 2.0, 3.0, & 4.0.

Quarterback Tim Couch, whose career appeared to be over after undergoing two major shoulder surgeries, is scheduled to work out for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, sources said. The Atlanta Falcons also have called to set up a workout with Couch.

Couch, the No. 1 pick of the 1999 draft when he was taken by the Cleveland Browns, is trying to get back into the NFL after three years out of the league. He has been working out near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and recently directed his agents to contact NFL teams to let them know he is healthy and prepared to play again. He turns 30 next Tuesday.

The Browns released Couch after the 2003 season and he developed shoulder problems during training camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2004. The Packers cut him before the 2004 season started and Couch subsequently underwent two shoulder surgeries, the last in July 2006.

Attempts to reach Couch for immediate comment were unsuccessful.

Courtesy of Josh Peter from Yahoo sports

BLEW - ERS..........road woes continue

I really don't even have to go into detail and actually it's too painful after this weekend. Brewers lost both games in a doubleheader and lost miserable game yesterday to the Cardnials. Sadly enough the Brewers were for the most part winning everyone of those games and surrendered 5 runs, 6 runs, and end up losing the lead.

And just on the horizon, the Mets one of the best teams in MLB is up next for the Crew. At least we don't have to worry about Bonds bringing his "juice" to town.

Brewers need some help, need some life, need to start winning again!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brewers send 3 pitchers to Padres for Linebrink

In turnabout in trade philosophy, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired reliever Scott Linebrink from the San Diego Padres for three minor league pitchers on Wednesday, hoping to bolster their unexpected run at the playoffs.

Linebrink will be a setup man for closer Francisco Cordero, who has converted 32 of 35 save chances.

"I wasn't surprised. I knew I was getting close to the deadline and hadn't heard anything," Linebrink said. "It's usually when you don't hear anything that happens. Last year my name was thrown out plenty and nothing happened. When it goes quiet there is usually something in the works."

The Padres acquired right-hander Will Inman, a third-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft; left-hander Steve Garrison, a 10th-round pick in the same draft; and 25-year-old left-hander Joe Thatcher.

The bullpen is one of the Brewers' main concerns, in part because of injuries. Reliever Yovani Gallardo had to move into the starting rotation after Ben Sheets hurt a finger on his pitching hand earlier this month.

The Brewers have been in first place in the NL Central since a 25-11 start. Their 8½-game lead has dwindled to only two in the past week, a slide set up by the team's struggling offense.

The deal was a notable change for the Brewers, who are more accustomed to thinking about who they might trade away in July. Milwaukee hasn't had a winning record since 1992.

"It's a change for us competing for the postseason," General Manager Doug Melvin said. "You get to that point and you have to adjust your philosophy and your thinking."

It might wind up as the Brewers' biggest deal before the trading deadline.

"I'm not sure there's anything else we'd do," Melvin said. "This was one of our No. 1 goals. We have versatile players on the bench. We'd like our players on the offensive side to produce the way they did in the first half, when we got ourselves where we are. If they do that, we'll be fine."
Linebrink has been a dependable setup man for the Padres, going 3-3 with a 3.80 earned run average in 44 games this season. Last year, he led the Padres' bullpen with seven wins and 68 strikeouts. He also led the NL with 36 holds.

He's expected to join the team for a weekend series in St. Louis.

Read More here from Joe Kay of the AP courtesy of the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In-Depth look at the Packers D-Line

Obviously the Green Bay Packers D-Line was a position that Ted Thompson saw as very important. He draft Justin Harrell, DT Tennessee with the #16 pick and shocked pretty much everyone including the experts by taking him. Jason Wilde, Wisconsin sports writer of the year and regular on "The World's Greatest Talk Show", with Steve "The Homer" True, takes an in-depth look at the 2007 Green Bay Packers D-Line.

While it's true Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson did next to nothing during free agency to improve his team — hello, lonely cornerback Frank Walker — let's not forget what could turn out to be the club's most important offseason signing.

Or re-signing, anyway.

If Cullen Jenkins, who signed a four-year contract extension worth $16 million on Feb. 26, can come through with a breakout season the way Aaron Kampman did last year after getting his four-year, $21 million deal, the Packers' defense could go from being a decent outfit in 2006 to an elite group in '07.

Of course, there are other issues — whether Marquand Manuel (or his replacement) can prevent receivers from constantly getting behind him tops the list — but Green Bay has a potentially outstanding front seven and better depth on the line than anywhere on defense.

Jenkins registered a career-high 6.5 sacks (despite missing two games with an ankle injury) last season, replacing high-paid pass-rusher Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila as the primary defensive end opposite Kampman for the final four games, starting three.

The Packers won all four games, and the defense, much-maligned for most of the season, showed significant improvement.

The Packers' plan is for Jenkins to continue to play end on early downs because he is a better run defender than KGB, then move inside to tackle on passing downs to allow the Packers to have their three best rushers on the field simultaneously in Jenkins, Kampman and KGB.

Finding another edge rusher — Jason Hunter, perhaps? — would be a bonus.

"Guys like Cullen are very hard to find," defensive ends coach Carl Hairston said. "He's good for us because we can use him at end or tackle and put someone else in because he can play two spots. That doesn't happen often. You don't usually find a guy who can play both positions effectively, which he can do. Once he's inside, he's pretty disruptive there."

The Packers finished last season with 46 sacks, ranking them fourth in the NFL behind San Diego (61), Baltimore (60) and Miami (47), and if reducing Gbaja-Biamila's snaps allows him to recapture his form from 2001 through '04 (49 sacks), their pass rush could be formidable. But the run defense, which finished ranked 13th at season's end, must improve as well.

The run defense will again rely on blocker-eating nose tackle Ryan Pickett, who came over from St. Louis as a free agent last year and, despite relatively unimpressive numbers (92 tackles, zero sacks, one fumble recovery, no fumbles forced) was a difference-maker.

"I felt like I had a re-start to my career," Pickett said. "It was a great year. Next year will be even better."

Who'll line up alongside him depends on first-round pick Justin Harrell, who did not take a single offseason snap in 11-on-11 drills because of the ruptured biceps tendon he suffered in his final season at Tennessee. Harrell played only three games for the Volunteers but the club expects him to be ready when training camp opens Saturday.

Read More Here from JAson Wilde's article in today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Gallardo pitches a gem on the road

Every now and then, you get away with one.

To hear Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Cordero, he got away with a big no-no - a hanging slider in the ninth inning Tuesday night to Cincinnati slugger Ken Griffey Jr., whose potential game-tying drive was caught at the wall by rightfielder Kevin Mench.

"I don't believe anybody in the ballpark thought that was staying in," said Cordero, who notched his major league-best 32nd save. "I know I didn't. And I looked at Ken Griffey. I know he didn't, either."

With that bit of good fortune, the Brewers hung on for a 5-3 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park, a rewarding turnabout from a tough 12-inning defeat the previous evening.

The victory allowed the Brewers to maintain their three-game lead in the NL Central over Chicago, a 4-3 winner in St. Louis.

"You can't get freaked out (by tough losses)," said manager Ned Yost. "You better stay steady. They have convinced me they have that trait. I don't worry about it anymore."

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, already impressive in so many ways, gave yet another reason for the Brewers to believe he'll hold up to the scrutiny of replacing injured ace Ben Sheets.

Gallardo did not have his Grade A stuff and found himself rushing in the early going, but he made adjustments as if he were a 31-year-old veteran, not a 21-year-old rookie.

"The first three innings, I was in too much of a hurry," said Gallardo (3-1), who nevertheless kept the Reds off the board until the seventh inning. "I was trying to do too much.

"After that, I got back in a rhythm and made quality pitches. By the fourth inning, I kind of settled down, relaxed a little and pitched my game."

Behind 6 2/3 innings of gritty work by Gallardo, the Brewers bolted to a 4-0 lead against Cincinnati starter Matt Belisle. It took a great catch by Griffey in right field in the second inning to hold Damian Miller to a sacrifice fly and the Brewers to one run.

Griffey also made a diving catch in the corner in the third to turn a potential run-scoring, extra-base hit by Craig Counsell into a double play.

"Griffey saved them two or three runs," said Yost. "I mean, they were great catches, not routine catches. You almost catch yourself saying bad words when he makes those catches."

The Brewers scored three times in the fourth to knock Belisle from the game. Ryan Braun led off with a single and scored when Prince Fielder tripled high off the wall in left, a drive that barely eluded leaping Adam Dunn.

Kevin Mench went down swinging, but Geoff Jenkins yanked a double into the right-field corner to collect his first RBI since July 5 in Pittsburgh. Miller walked, Tony Gwynn Jr. bounced into a force at second and Gallardo helped his cause with an RBI single to center, chasing Belisle.

Brian Shouse helped bail Gallardo out in the seventh after Scott Hatteberg put the Reds on the board with a run-scoring double. But Derrick Turnbow found nothing but trouble in the eighth, allowing a two-run homer to Dunn and retiring none of the three hitters he faced.

But Carlos Villanueva, another impressive young right-hander, took over and retired the side, striking out the last two hitters. Villanueva had scuffled of late (11.00 ERA in six outings) but was glad to pick up Turnbow and keep his club on top.

Read More Here from Tom Haudricourt's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Jenkins Enjoying That Winning Feeling

Ken Rosenthal caught up with Milwaukee Brewers OF Geoff Jenkins. Below is the interview on

No member of the Brewers has been with the franchise longer than outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who joined the club in 1998.

In his first nine seasons, the Brewers averaged 91 losses, finishing .500 only once. Yet in 2004, he signed a three-year, $23 million contract extension with a club option for '08.

Jenkins, who turns 33 on Saturday, wanted to experience what it would be like to play in Milwaukee on a competitive team.

It took a while, but the moment finally has arrived.

The Brewers lead the NL Central by 3½ games entering this weekend's series against the Giants at Miller Park (Saturday, 3:55 p.m. ET, MLB on Fox).

In a phone interview Thursday, Jenkins reflected on the Brewers' past, present and future — and the possibility of finally playing in the postseason.

Q: What is different about the atmosphere at the ballpark this year?

A: We're winning ballgames. I've been here for a 10-year period. They (the fans) have seen a lot of losing. There's a lot of excitement around the club with the great season that is going on, the success of the organization, these young guys coming up and producing. When you see people come to the ballpark, they're excited to be there. Obviously it shows in the ticket sales. I just think overall, people are more excited.

Q: Is it louder? Is it a different feel?

A: Yes. You can definitely hear the crowds. Usually in the past, for a weekend series, we'd get maybe two good crowds. Then on that Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday it was just brutal. But now there are good crowds for every game. It's exciting to play in front of big crowds. Not that it makes the other team nervous or play different. But it matters when you have a big crowd out there supporting you. Everyone feeds off of that.

Q: How much have you thought about what it would be like to play in the postseason?

A: I've thought a lot about that. When I re-signed here a few years ago, that was basically the thing I said at my press conference. I knew all these young guys were coming. They were hungry. They were good players. And they had won all the way up through the minor leagues. If we could just get 'em up here and produce the same way we'd have a chance.

Obviously we're not a team that can throw out $150 million or $200 million on the payroll. We had to have that occur to be successful. Definitely we're seeing the reward from these young guys finally coming up here and producing. I don't see that changing. This is a great core group of guys for the future of the franchise.

Q: Was there a single low point when you thought the team might never be competitive?

A: When we lost 106 games in '02. To me, that was the low point. I actually had that ankle injury that year midway through (Jenkins' season ended on June 17 when he suffered torn ligaments and a dislocation of his right ankle).

We just had a roster full of guys ... you know, making it to the big leagues is supposed to be an honor. Definitely you're happy for everyone that makes it. But we just had so many guys here that didn't belong and that were really not major-league talent. You saw it in the loss column. We just got beat up every day. It was a very frustrating year.

Q: There was a lot of talk before the season that you or Kevin Mench might get traded, that there was a logjam that had to be resolved. How bothered were you then by the possibility of being a part-time player? How has it all worked out?

A: It has worked out fine. We're both helping the team out when we're out there. That was pretty much squashed in spring training. Everyone was communicated to. We knew what our roles were going to be. That was the important thing. Everyone is on the same track.

For me, the frustrating part was, I was here throughout all this losing crap, and then all of a sudden I felt like I was going to be gone and not maybe witness what is transpiring right now. I think it definitely was nice to finally stick around and be a part of a team we knew we could be good.

Q: You're about to turn 33. How old do you feel being around Prince, Rickie Weeks, all of those young guys. Is there a big generation gap between the veterans and youngsters?

A: You wouldn't know it all in the clubhouse. We have so much fun together. I've never seen a group of guys from top to bottom hang out and just mess with each other. That's why there are no egos in the clubhouse. If you do anything wrong, someone is going to get on you. It probably will be two or three guys.

It's really a grounded clubhouse. We stick together. Everybody roots for each other. Everybody is in the same direction. I really believe what is going on in that clubhouse — how we get together, how we talk and hang out, mess with each other — I really believe that is transferring on the field and helping us win games.

Read More Here from Ken Rosenthal's interview from

Monday, July 23, 2007

Braun's start a smashing success

Milwaukee Brewers batting coach Jim Skaalen was working as the coordinator for minor league instruction in the Seattle Mariners' organization in 1994 when a phenom named Alex Rodriguez made his major league debut.

It's important to keep that in mind when Skaalen says he's never seen a hitter adapt to the big leagues better than Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun.

"I was with Seattle when Alex Rodriguez came up through the system and got his first callup and he faltered a little bit his first time or two (in the majors)," Skaalen said of Rodriguez, who hit .204 in 17 games in 1994 and .232 in 48 games the next year before becoming a career .300 hitter.

"That's kind of the normal process. Guys come up here, the game is a little quicker, the command (of pitchers) is a little better, you're playing in front of more people. Call it an intimidation factor, if you want, or an adjustment period."

Braun has been so good so fast he has smashed the learning curve, while somehow exceeding already sky-high expectations after spending less than two full years in the minor leagues.

Since being called up from Class AAA Nashville May 24, Braun has hit a robust .337, with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs. He's third on the team in home runs and RBIs, despite playing in only about half the games of the Brewers' leaders in those categories.

It's not supposed to be as easy as Braun has made it look. His .387 on-base percentage leads the team and his slugging percentage of .648 tops even Fielder, the National League's home run leader.

Braun has emerged as a top contender for rookie of the year honors despite missing the first seven weeks of the season.

If Braun was off to this kind of start while playing in a bigger market, he would probably be a national story already. Instead, he's just another of the young colts in the Brewers' stable. Braun looks at it as an ideal situation, learning from players like Fielder, Hardy and Rickie Weeks, who recently went through the same things he's experiencing for the first time.

Read More here about Braun here from Tom Mulhern's article in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Melvin Squashes Trade Rumors

A local sports talk radio station reported before the game that the Brewers had acquired power-hitting outfielder Adam Dunn from the Reds for reliever Matt Wise and possibly two other players, but general manager Doug Melvin squashed that idea.

Melvin said the report was based on an Internet rumor and had no validity.

Well I know it was not from my site.......see 3 stories down!!!!

Selig will be at Giants-Brewers game

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will be in attendance for the Giants-Brewers game tonight at Miller Park as Barry Bonds closes in on Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, reported.

Selig, who is from Milwaukee and whose office is still here, had been non-committal about whether he'd be in the ballpark for Bonds' pursuit of Aaron's record.

Bonds hit two home runs against the Cubs yesterday in Chicago to pull within two of Aaron's total of 755. Lineups for tonight's game aren't out yet, so it's not certain Bonds will be playing.
The sold-out game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. with Jeff Suppan on the mound for the Brewers.

Bonds 2 Away from Tying Aaron, Comes to Milwaukee

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has indicated he wants Bonds to break the record at home, if possible. After the series against the Brewers, San Francisco returns to AT&T Park for a seven-game home stand against Atlanta and Florida.

So, if Bonds hits two homers tonight to catch Aaron, might he sit out the rest of the series?
"They'd probably (sit Bonds down) if that happens," said Yost. "We'll see what happens. I can't worry about that."

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who repeatedly has declined to say if he plans to be on hand when Bonds breaks the record, is in town this weekend. But, reached at his downtown office late Thursday afternoon, Selig would not say whether he'll be at Miller Park for the series.

"I know what I'll do but I just don't want to comment now, for a lot of reasons," said Selig, who maintains a private suite at the ballpark.

Those who know Selig believe he has not committed to being on hand for the record-breaker because of the ongoing grand jury investigation into possible perjury charges against Bonds for his testimony in the BALCO steroids scandal.

Later in the day, news came out of San Francisco that the grand jury term was extended for a second time, meaning Bonds is not in the clear yet.

The chances of Bonds catching Aaron this weekend appeared slim when the day began.

He was in one of the worst slumps of his career - a 0 for 21 skid - and had not homered since July 3 in Cincinnati. Citing sore legs, Bonds did not start the first three games of the series against the Cubs, limiting his action to one pinch-hit appearance.

But the Cubs awakened a sleeping Giant in the series finale. In his first at-bat, Bonds drove a pitch from lefty Ted Lilly over the right-field bleachers and onto Sheffield Ave., despite a breeze blowing in from that direction.

Bonds later added a two-run single off Lilly before completing his six-RBI performance with a three-run homer off reliever Will Ohman in the seventh inning.

It was 31 years ago today that Aaron hit his 755th home run while playing his second season for the Brewers and the last of his career. The shot off California's Dick Drago at County Stadium recently was commemorated with a plaque in the parking lot of Miller Park at the approximate location of its landing.

Bonds, who will turn 43 on Tuesday, began the season 22 home runs shy of passing Aaron, but cooled off after a fast start, and his pace dropped off dramatically. He declined an offer to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in his home park, saying it would take too much out of him at his age.

Then came the 0 for 21 drought, which ended in dramatic fashion at Wrigley.
"It was only a matter of time," said Brewers catcher Damian Miller. "He's not going to stay in a slump forever. It just proves he's still somewhat human."

The Brewers already were expecting full houses for all three games, but the atmosphere should be even more electric now that Bonds is close to Aaron's hallowed record. Miller noted the incongruous behavior of fans toward Bonds, booing him when he comes to bat yet jockeying for position in the outfield stands in the event he goes deep.

"The fans boo him, but they're also first in line for his autograph," said Miller. "And they all want that baseball. They're booing him on the way to home plate and as soon as he steps in the box, (camera) flashes go off throughout the stadium. That doesn't really make sense."

For more on Bonds click here for Tom Haudricourt's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Brewer Trade Rumors Heat Up

With the major-league trade dealing just 11 days away, it's a busy time for any general manager.
But Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin is not pleased with the inordinate amount of time he spends explaining what he is not doing.

Thursday, Melvin slammed the "freaking geeks" who spread what he considers unsubstantiated rumors on the Internet and sports radio, the latest of which had the Brewers trading reliever Matt Wise, outfielder Tony Gwynn and a minor league infield prospect to Cincinnati for outfielder Adam Dunn (pictured).

"I've taken more calls deflecting these kind of rumors than I have talking to GMs," Melvin said with a mixture of amusement, exasperation and resignation.

This latest rumor cropped up on a blog sponsored by a Cincinnati sports talk station. The item was picked up by a Milwaukee sports talk station and a variety of Web sites, which created a wave of momentum.

"There's nothing to it," Melvin said. "I haven't talked to anyone from Cincinnati in two weeks."
While the addition of Dunn certainly would add some power to the Brewers' lineup, a deal for the home run hitter (26) who leads the majors in strikeouts (113) is questionable on a number of fronts unless it's just the first trade in a series of deals.

"What would we do with Jenkins and Mench?" Melvin asked about his veteran left-handed hitting and right-handed hitting outfielders who share time in left field.

Melvin also has been very specific about his desires approaching the trade line. He is looking for pitching depth, especially in the bullpen, and trading one of his reliable relievers doesn't exactly fit his needs.

Wise heard about the rumor after pitching three innings for the save and getting an infield hit in the Brewers' 10-1 win over Arizona Thursday at Miller Park. "With my offensive presence, they better be getting a lot for me," he joked.

Gwynn heard from a friend who called him just before game time. "Didn't make a lot of sense to me," he said after going 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in the victory.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, the Cincinnati-based blogger was begging readers to "please stop" calling the Reds about the trade. "Nobody says it has happened or will happen," the blogger wrote.

Courtesy of Vic Feuerherd in today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Leaders not usual suspects

Other than the fact that Jeff Maggert and Brendon de Jonge both have missed the cut five times in their last six starts on the PGA Tour, they have little in common.

Maggert, 43, is a 17-year veteran from Houston with three victories and three Ryder Cup appearances on his résumé. De Jonge, who turned 27 Wednesday, is a native of Zimbabwe and a rookie on the PGA Tour.

But Brown Deer Park has always been an equal-opportunity golf course. Though neither Maggert nor de Jonge had ever played a tournament round at Brown Deer, they fired 7-under-par 63s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the 40th annual U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.

"It felt good to finally play a good, solid round," said de Jonge, who has just one top-40 finish this year. "I'll just hopefully keep on doing what I'm doing. Obviously, it worked today."

Both played in the morning, before the wind picked up and put a damper on the birdie-fest. Of the top 10 players on the leader board, only Jay Williamson (65) played in the afternoon.

Maggert and de Jonge held a one-stroke lead over Garrett Willis, who was alone in third after a bogey-free 64. Williamson and Robert Gamez shot 65s and five others were at 66: Jesper Parnevik, Steve Elkington, Tim Herron, Craig Bowden and Tom Johnson.

The group at 67 included Wisconsin natives J.P. Hayes and Mark Wilson.

Defending champion Corey Pavin opened with a 1-under 69.

Read more here from Gary D'Amato's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the USBC Championship in Brown Deer, WI:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thank You WSSP - AM 1250 & The Doug Russell Show

Want to thank the folks at AM 1250 for the great prize pack. I called in this morning on my way into work to be a contestant on "Are you Smarter than Doug Russell", on the Doug Russell Show. Category was winners of the British Open since 1976.

Doug Russell goes with Tiger an obvious pick. I chose Mark O'Meara for a correct answer, and the other caller gets a wrong answer. Russell gets the next one wrong, choosing Vijay and I win the prize pack saying Justin Leonard.

Prize pack included 2 tickets to Simpson's movie premier, 2 tickets to Hot Rod movie premier, and 2 tickets to Wisconsin State Fair.

Thanks for the prizes and keep up the good work at AM 1250 Wisconsin's Sport's Radio!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trade Dealine Approaching for Brew Crew

With the trade deadline in sight, some wonder if the Milwaukee Brewers will make any moves. Middle relief might be needed, and now with Sheets and Hall down, do they need any help at either one of those positions.

Dayn Perry of writes about each MLB teams needs and possibilities of teams making any moves.

Milwaukee Brewers

What They Need: Nothing

The sum of all Brewer fears has come to pass, as Ben Sheets could miss six weeks or more with a sprained finger. Sheets was having a Cy Young-caliber season, but his penchant for injury has fouled things up. With that said, top prospect Yovanni Gallardo is ready to step in and should thrive in Sheets' stead. No need to panic in Milwaukee.

Read more from Dayn Perry's look at all MLB teams as the trade deadline comes close here:

UW men's basketball: Texas 7-footer commits

The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team made a big addition -- literally -- to its 2008 recruiting class Tuesday night.

That's when Ian Markolf, a 7-foot, 260-pound center from Churchill High School in San Antonio gave an oral commitment to UW coach Bo Ryan, according to Markolf's high school coach Randy Schuster.

Markolf could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

"I know we have a lot of explaining to do over the next couple months in Texas as to how we let a 7-foot kid from Texas get out of the state," Schuster, a Marshfield native, said good-naturedly.

Markolf rounds out the Badgers' four-player recruiting class for 2008, joining 6-1 point guard Jordan Taylor of Benilde-St. Margaret's (Minn.), 6-10 center Jared Berggren of Princeton (Minn.) and 6-4 guard Robert Wilson of Garfield Heights (Ohio).

Schuster said Markolf, who took an unofficial visit to Madison in June and received a scholarship offer shortly thereafter, chose UW over Kentucky, Iowa State and Baylor.

"I think he felt maybe most at ease with Wisconsin and the approach they had with him," Schuster said. "He felt like Wisconsin was the best fit for him."

Markolf averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots per game and shot 56.7 percent from the field as a junior, according to Schuster.

"He's pretty strong and powerful around the basket," Schuster said. "He runs the floor well, he's got really good lateral movement with his feet, good hands, and good decision-making. He's got a real good savvy for the game."

Markolf's commitment was first reported by

Courtesy of Jesse Osborne in today's Wisconsin State Journal:

Sheets Injury In-Depth Look

Crew rolls to fourth straight; Sheets out longer than expected

Another victory at home. Another tense one-run decision.

Continuing their trend of winning the close ones, especially at home, the Brewers nipped the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2, at Miller Park to claim their fourth consecutive victory.

By winning four in a row by one run, the Brewers tied a club record. And, with the Chicago Cubs finally losing to snap their own four-game winning streak, the Brewers moved to 4 ½ games on top of the NL Central.

"That's the name of the game - score one more run than the opposition," said manager Ned Yost, whose club boosted its home record to 34-14, tying Cleveland for the top mark in the majors.

"That's all that matters."

Closer Francisco Cordero has pitched in all four games of the white-knuckle streak, saving three and holding a tie in the other. He notched his major league-high 30th save against the Diamondbacks, working around a two-out single by Orlando Hudson.

"It's a sign that we're pitching well and playing well," said Cordero. "The way we're playing, there's going to be a lot of save situations."

The bullpen usually plays a key role on nights when Claudio Vargas pitches, and that trend didn't change. Vargas has yet to make it past six innings, and this time he didn't get that far. Finding immediate trouble in a two-run first, Vargas somehow kept Arizona off the board for the next four innings before departing with a 100-pitch count.

Despite Vargas' travails, he has become something of a good-luck charm, in a tantalizing, slow-as-molasses sort of way. The Brewers are 13-3 in his 16 starts, which no manager in the galaxy would complain about.

"I've become accustomed to his style and how he pitches," Yost said. "For a fifth starter, a lot of clubs would jump up and down to get him, with the success he has had."

As for Sheets, a dynamic ultrasound test confirmed what an MRI revealed the previous day. Sheets has a partial tear of the band of tissue that connects the tendon to the bone in the middle finger of his pitching hand.

Sheets was under the impression a partial tear meant he'd have to miss only a couple of weeks. But, after consulting other physicians, the Brewers' medical staff decided Sheets would not throw a baseball again for 10 to 14 days. He then would progress by throwing with a splint on the finger.

Based on that information, assistant general manager Gord Ash said Sheets probably would miss four to six weeks. Sheets, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list after injuring the finger in his outing Saturday night against Colorado, was not counting on an early return.

"I'm going to plan on six (weeks)" he said. "If I come back before that, that's good. But I don't want to set a four-week guideline and then at the end of Week 5, if I can't pitch, I'm all (ticked) off."

Ash admitted the timetable with Sheets was open-ended, with no target date for his return.

Read More here for more on Brewers victory last night courtesy of Tom Hardicourt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

For more on Sheet's injury click here:

The Yi Circus Continues

Chen Haitao, the owner of the Guangdong Tigers, was quoted in Tuesday's Beijing News as saying Yi would "definitely not" play for the Bucks next season.

"This is not - as media reports have said - because Milwaukee, as a city with very few Chinese people, is not good for Yi's commercial development," Chen said. "Rather we want to find a team suitable for Yi's growth. That's the root of the problem."

Chen said he was concerned that that the 7-foot Chinese national team player would have trouble getting into the lineup with the Bucks.

Yi plays as a power forward, a spot where the Bucks struggled with injuries last season and at times had undersized Ruben Patterson playing the position.

Returning at power forward is 6-11 Charlie Villanueva, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Seven-footer Andrew Bogut, the top pick in the 2005 NBA draft, is now firmly entrenched at the center position and plays a much different game than Yi, who is more perimeter-oriented and often faces the basket.

Bucks general manager Larry Harris would not comment directly on Tuesday but indicated Bogut, Villanueva and Yi are versatile players and could be on the floor at the same time.

Harris and coach Larry Krystkowiak met with Yi in Las Vegas earlier this month and tried to assure him he would get plenty of chances to play in the team's young frontcourt.

Now they may have to do more convincing.

"The national team and the Olympic Games are now our key considerations," Chen said. "If Yi goes to a team where he can't compete, that would be being irresponsible to the national team."

The 2008 Olympic Games will be played in China, and Yi and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will play together on the Chinese team's front line in the basketball competition. The Chinese team placed eighth in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

It is important to Chinese officials that Yi receive significant playing time in his first NBA season. Both the Guangdong team and CBA officials would have to approve Yi's release to the NBA.

Yao was the first pick in the 2002 NBA draft and averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds as a league rookie with Houston. He played in all 82 games and averaged 29.0 minutes per game.

Yi's Guangdong team won three straight Chinese Basketball Association championships before being dethroned by the Bayi Rockets this year. During the past CBA season, Yi averaged 24.9 points and 11.5 rebounds, and he was selected sixth overall by the Bucks in the June draft.

An NBA spokesman said the league would have no new comment on the situation. He said NBA Commissioner David Stern was still monitoring the situation with Bucks officials.

I think it's time for Commissioner David Stern to step in and help the Bucks. No player should be able to reject playing for a team. This has visions of Elway, and even most recently Eli Manning. Players do not get to pick where they want to play, and this circus needs to end soon.

Read more here from Charles Gardner and Don Walker's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bucks are close to bringing back Desmond Mason

Desmond Mason felt angry and betrayed when he left Milwaukee less than two years ago. In a radio interview at the time of the deal, Mason called Harris "a snake in the grass" and said he "flat out lied to my face" about the chances of being traded. But that seems like so much ancient history to both sides now.

The 29-year-old free agent isn't harboring resentment against the Bucks any longer and is poised to agree to a multiyear contract with his former team after playing the past two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets.

"We've had some really good talks with Larry (Harris)," said Mason's agent, Roger Montgomery, on Monday. "We're optimistic that Desmond can return."

The Bucks have targeted Mason to provide depth at the small forward position, where Bobby Simmons is trying to make a comeback after missing all of last season due to a serious right foot injury.

Mason was traded to the Hornets in exchange for Magloire, the Bucks' 2006 first-round draft pick and cash. In two seasons with the Hornets, the former Oklahoma State star played in 145 games and started 130.

During the past season, Mason started 75 games and might have played in all 82, but he fractured his cheek and nose in a late-season collision with Seattle's Chris Wilcox. Mason averaged 13.7 points, third among the Hornets' regulars, and 4.6 rebounds while playing 34.3 minutes per game.

"We've had good discussions and are optimistic it's heading in the right direction," Harris said on Monday.

The Hornets drafted Kansas small forward Julian Wright in the first round (13th overall) and recently agreed to a contract with free-agent small forward Morris Peterson, so it was clear that Mason would be moving to another team. He spent most of his two seasons with the Hornets playing his home games in Oklahoma City.

"He fits what they're all about," Montgomery said of the Bucks. "It's a blue-collar town, and he's a blue-collar player.

"He fits the Bucks' chemistry, and he is very familiar with the roster and the surroundings. He's good friends with Michael (Redd), and that means a lot."

Montgomery said he thought Mason would have no problem in sharing playing time with Simmons, if the former DePaul star is healthy again.

"They're going to jell real well and play together," Montgomery said. "If the Bucks have their full roster, they're a team to be reckoned with in the East."

Mason played 2 ½ seasons with the Bucks after being acquired in the controversial 2003 trade that sent Ray Allen to Seattle and also brought Gary Payton to Milwaukee for his short and unsatisfying stay.

The 6-foot-5 Mason, nicknamed the "Cowboy" for his time at Oklahoma State, played in 190 games with the Bucks. He delighted the fans with his powerful dunks, and during his last season in Milwaukee in 2004-'05, he averaged a career-best 17.2 points while starting 71 of 80 games.
Mason played in 82 games, starting 31, during the previous season in Milwaukee and averaged 14.4 points.

Courtesy of Charles Gardner from today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Friday, July 6, 2007

Packers miss out on Japanese KR specialist

The Green Bay Packers were 1 of 4 teams to make an offer to Japanese WR and KR apecialist, Noriaki Kinoshita. Along with the Packers, the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons were the 4 teams making offers. Kinoshita just finished up his second straight season earning All-NFL Europa honors as return specialist.

According to Kaz Nagatsuka, of the Japan Times, "Kinoshita's biggest trait is in returning the ball. This season, he gained 175 yards in punt returns and 604 yards in kickoff returns (both second in the league). His punt return average of 15.9 yards ranked No. 1 in the league."

Kinoshita will play along side Joe Horn and Michael Vick in Atlanta this season. The Packers do not play Atlanta this season, but you can catch them on Monday Night Football on October 15th vs. the New York Giants.

Glad to see that the Packers were at least attempting to sign a Free Agent. Green Bay has struggled with their return man since Desmond Howard left the team years ago. Kick and punt returning has never been a strong position for the Pack, but looking to upgrade that position is a step in the right direction. Hopefully a young player will step up and give us that Desmond Howard, Devon Hester, or Donte Hall-like ability.
Courtesy of Green Bay Railbird Central:
Photo credit: Kaz Nagatsuka for the Japan Times

US Senior Open begins at Whistling Straits

The day started out hot and sunny, but play was suspended at 5:05 p.m. because of lightning in the area. The course was buffeted by high winds and rain and the round was postponed at 6:15.
Scoring conditions were ideal in the morning, but the breeze picked up in the afternoon.

Twenty-six groups (78 players), the full afternoon portion of the 156-player field, had not finished when play was called. The first round was to resume at 7 a.m. today with the second round scheduled to start at 8.

Eduardo Romero, fired a 6-under-par 66 at Whistling Straits and took the lead in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday. Romero lives just a few blocks from Angel Cabrera. this years US Open Champion in Cordoba, Argentina.

Read more about Romero and the US Senior Open from Gary D'Amato's article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here:

Bucks still trying to woo Yi

The Milwaukee Bucks surprised everyone, including Yi Jianlian, when they chose him with the 6th pick in the 2007 NBA draft. Yi had said prior to the draft he did not want to play in Milwaukee and even blocked the Bucks brass from watching him work out.

Larry Harris, Milwaukee Bucks GM called their bluff took Yi, and still has yet to have talks with their top pick. Yi and his "handlers" are asking for a trade, and a disappointed Yi waits to see what his future will be. Meanwhile, Yi is in Lss Vegas playing for the Chinese National team in the NBA Summer Leauge. Larry Harris and Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak vwill get a chance to see Yi in action, and are hoping to get a chance to sit down and finally talk with their top pick.

If Yi refuses to play for the Bucks and they do not trade him, he could sit out a full year and not play professionally with his Guangdong Tigers club or anyone else.

Such a move would allow him to re-enter the NBA draft. But that does not seem a desirable option, with the 2008 Beijing Olympics on the horizon and Yi hoping to benefit from a full year of NBA experience prior to next summer.

Yi has had little to say about his National Basketball Association future since being selected by the Bucks with the No. 6 overall pick in the June 28 draft. His representatives, including his Chinese agent, Zhao Gang, have said they hoped the Bucks would consider trading Yi.

On Tuesday, Zhao was quoted in the China Daily newspaper as saying, "We are considering Yi's future at the Bucks and are looking at trade possibilities."

But Harris has repeatedly insisted he does not want to trade Yi and hopes to convince him to join a young Bucks frontcourt that includes third-year center Andrew Bogut and third-year forward Charlie Villanueva.

Read more here from Charles Gardner's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here:

Hall forced out after severely spraining ankle during Brewers' loss

Bill Hall went down yesterday with a severely sprained ankle in the Brewer's loss to Pittsburgh. Some might say that a broken ankle would have been better, since the sprain can linger the entire season. So now what do the Brewers do??? Tony Gywnn Jr. was recently sent back to AAA could come up and fill in. He seemed to fall out of likely with Brewers skipper Ned Yost for whatever reason, but he becomes option 1.
The Crew could look at trading a few players to get help in the Outfield, a position many thought the Brewers had too many players. The platooning seemed to be working fine, but Yost must make a decision, what to do.
Tom Haudricourt's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a look at what happen last night and what the Brewers will do.

The Brewers could opt to play a man short in the final series before the all-star break but a more likely scenario would be to call up outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. from Class AAA Nashville.
Gwynn, whose primary position is center field, played for the Brewers until June 18, when he was sent to Nashville to make room on the roster for second baseman Rickie Weeks to come off the disabled list.

Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy suffered a high ankle sprain in a collision at the plate last season and was out for several weeks. When the sprain finally healed, a tendon started snapping out of place and Hardy underwent season-ending surgery.

Hall said he expected to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test at some point to look for any tears in the ankle.

"I guess we'll wait until tomorrow to see how much swelling there is," he said.
"If you look at football players, I hope it's not a high ankle sprain. That's usually four to six weeks (sidelined). Hopefully, it won't take that long. I hope it's just a regular sprain."

Read more here from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Monday, July 2, 2007

Green Bay Railbird Central Special Teams breakdown

Courtesy of, here's an interesting article on the Green Bay Packers Special Teams breakdown with the Pack's 2007 draft picks. Thanks railbird!!!

If you're a regular reader of Railbird Central, you may have heard this before but it bears repeating. It is amazing how much emphasis the Green Bay Packers put on special teams during the 2007 draft.As early as the second day of the draft, Railbird Central noted how general manager Ted Thompson's drafting of special teams standouts was becoming a common thread.

Special teams always seems to be the oft-ignored yet crucial aspect of football that people just take for granted.The Green Bay Packers have finished dead last in the NFL in special teams the past two seasons according to the Dallas Morning News's special teams rankings, which factor in 22 categories including all aspects of kick returns, kick coveage, punt returns, punt coverage, field goals, and extra points.

Is it any wonder the Packers haven't made the playoffs the past two seasons?In the 2007 draft, the Packers first two draft choices were spent on defensive tackle Justin Harrell and running Brandon Jackson. Obviously these are two players who will likely make meaningful contributions to the defensive and offensive side of the ball respectively.

From the Packers' third draft choice onwards, all players look to make an impact on special teams play. Let's take a look...

  • Third round pick, wide receiver James Jones of San Jose St. - New Era Scouting notes that Jones, "Is also able to return punts and averaged 11.5 yards per return." Scott Wright's Draft Countdown says James "can also long snap." The fact that this wide receiver can long snap is amazing in of itself.

  • Third round pick, safety Aaron Rouse of Virginia Tech - Rouse comes from the special teams powerhouse Virginia Tech, which head coach Frank Beamer always makes a priority. Ted Thompson is quoted as saying, "Like most players at Virginia Tech he's a dynamic special teams player, a heavy hitter in our opinion." Being of amazing height for a safety, Rouse blocked a school record eight kicks in high school.

  • Fourth round pick, tackle Allen Barbre of Missouri State Southern - Among the most athletic tackles in the entire draft, Barbre was a gunner on the punt coverage team in college. Let that sink in for moment. An offensive lineman who is a gunner on the punt squad! That's a position normally reserved for speedy receivers and defensive backs. Barbre made seven special teams tackles in his senior season alone. Barbre says of his unusual special teams skills, "I ended up doing pretty good at it. I played gunner the whole year and made a lot of plays. I just really enjoyed it."

  • Fifth round pick David Clowney of Virginia Tech - Clowney also comes from special teams standout Virginia Tech. His best asset is his speed and he could factor into the return game. Clowney averaged 23.8 yards per kick return in college and has already been practicing as a kick returner in the Packers' organized team activities.

  • Sixth round pick, fullback Korey Hall of Boise State - Hall was a two time WAC defensive player of the year, but he is moving to fullback with the Packers. And while he might be a backup fullback, make no doubt about it that Hall was drafted with the intention on playing on nearly every special teams unit. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said Hall "was an extraordinary special teams player in college, and we're counting on him to make an impact on our special teams here in Green Bay." Hall, himself, is quoted as saying, "I play hard between the whistles, and it's the same thing on special teams. A lot of playing special teams is being mentally tough, and I think I am as a special teams player."

  • Sixth round pick, linebacker Desmond Bishop of California - New Era Scouting says, "Bishop should immediately be a force on special teams."

  • Sixth round pick, kicker Mason Crosby of Colorado - Considered by many to be the best kicker in the 2007 draft class, Crosby obviously is a special teams weapon. He is known to have an outstanding leg even outside of the high altitude in Colorado. The thin air obviously helps, but even so "he continued his high touchback rate on kickoffs, finishing his career with 137 in 200 kickoffs," writes Mike Spofford on the Packers official website. He can punt in an emergency too.

  • Seventh round pick, running back DeShawn Wynn of Florida - Wynn is one of the few players drafted with limited special teams experience. Although if he were to make the roster, one would have to assume he'd have to contribute on special teams somewhere if he isn't in the running back rotation. He did record one solo tackle for the Gators in 2005.

  • Seventh round pick, tight end Clark Harris of Rutgers - Harris can long snap. With veteran Rob Davis nearing his retirement age, Harris may be able to do some double duty with the Packers while also playing tight end. Harris told the Packers official website, "I love to snap. It's something I take pride in, and I practice it as much as I would catching the ball or anything else. Hopefully I can come in and be able to do that here."

Even Brandon Jackson and undrafted rookie fullback Ryan Powdrell of USC have worked in kick return unit during the recent organized team activities.
Look for special teams to become more of a priority this season. And look for the Packers to climb out of the basement of the NFL special teams rankings in 2007.

Brewers Send 4 to the ALL-STAR game

Your first place Brewers send 4 to the 2007 All-Star game. Prince Fielder was voted a starter in a tough field that include Albert Pujols, last year's HR king Ryan Howard, and Derek Lee. Fielder's vote total was surpassed only by Cincinnati outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.'s 2,986,818 for the NL squad. JJ Hardy gets the nod, as does Francisco Cordero, and ace Ben Sheets. Hardy got off to an unbelievable start this year and is well deserving. Sheets is tied for 1st for the most wins in the NL with 10, CoCo leads the NL in saves, and Prince leads the NL in HRs. This is the first time the Brewers have sent 4 players since 1983, the glory years. With four representatives, the Brewers tied the New York Mets for most on the NL team.

Read more here from Tom Haudricourt's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here: