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Friday, 4-Nov-2011 10:18 Email | Share | | Bookmark
David Reutimann Will Not Return to Michael Waltrip Racing: Fan R

On Nov. 3, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that David Reutimann has been released and will not be back for the 2012 NASCAR season with MWR. He will be allowed to finish the 2011 races, but it is rumored that Mark Martin will take over the No. 00 Aaron's Toyota in 2012. Reutimann's future with NASCAR has not been revealed.

Releasing Reutimann

David Reutimann has won the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2010 400 while being signed with Michael Waltrip Racing. The announcement of his release comes after several weeks of rumors that MWR wanted Mark Martin. MWR has retained Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer for the next season.

Mark Martin may take over the No. 00 Aaron's Toyota car, but he may only participate in some races instead of the entire season. There are also rumors that Michael Waltrip wants to return to racing and share the car with Martin. MWR plans on doing a more detailed announcement on Nov. 4 for the press.

Response on Twitter from Waltrip

After the announcement from MWR, Michael Waltrip used his official Twitter account to proclaim his love for David Reutimann. He stated, "I love @DavidReutimann." He did not elaborate on the decision to release the driver while Reutimann has not posted a response on his Twitter account.

David Reutimann's Future

David Reutimann's future with NASCAR remains uncertain. He has not announced his plans with other teams or sponsors. Obtaining a viable sponsorship is a struggle for many drivers, so I anticipate he may have problems with this. His lackluster 2011 season will also make the process difficult. He only placed in the top 10 in two races during 2011.

A Return to the NASCAR Truck Series
Will David Reutimann return to the NASCAR truck series? He was the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Rookie of the Year and won the 2005 Toyota Tundra 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, but he has not participated in these races for several years. Again, he will run into the problem of finding a sponsor and a team if he decides to return to this series.

Friday, 8-Apr-2011 07:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Speaking Fairley, watch film, question skeptics

Nick Fairley probably wishes the NFL Draft had taken place in early January this year.

He might have been the first player taken if that were the case.

In the three months since, the Auburn defensive tackle has taken a reputation beating that might be second only to Charlie Sheen. He has gone from being a potential top pick to likely almost falling out of the top 10, which could mean a potential loss of millions, not to mention cache.

Amazingly, it has happened and he hasn't played a down since.

So what did it?

More on NFL Draft
Clark Judge
Dareus or Fairley: The safer pick or special one? Read More >>
Related links
Mocks: Reuter | Rang | Prisco | Judge
Rang: The Big Board expands to 50
Team needs: NFC team by team | AFC
Rang: Latest news on prospects
Reuter: Draft Risers & Fallers
Fairley is just the latest victim of the paralysis-by-analysis syndrome, an evaluation sickness that takes place in the months leading up to the draft. It's a time where coaches and personnel people who come late to the evaluation process spend hours finding what's wrong with a player instead of what's right.

Here are some of the issues they have with Fairley:

• Attitude problems, or at the very least that perception. More and more scouts and coaches I talk to say he has some problems that are a concern. "You have to wonder if he's worth it," one general manager said. "The stuff you hear about him, that he could be a problem, is a concern. He's a good player, but that stuff brings him down." But what are they? Nobody really says. Is it his reputation for being dirty? He hasn't been arrested. And word is he was a good teammate.

• Small upper body. "He has an upper body like you or me," another general manager said. When you're a defensive tackle, that's not good. He does have a leaner build than most inside players in the NFL, but he can grow into his frame.

• One-year wonder. He starred for just one season at Auburn, which is always a red flag for personnel people. But the reality is he went to junior college for two years before going to Auburn. He then started two games as a sophomore and starred as a junior. Isn't that good enough in the tough Southeastern Conference?

It appears that Fairley has fallen behind Alabama's Marcel Dareus in the defensive-tackle rankings. Some scouts consider Dareus the top defensive tackle in this draft, while Fairley is falling behind.

Dareus, they say, is the cleaner of the two players -- which means less risk.

Maybe so, but the tape I watched of Fairley the past couple of days shows an explosive player with amazing in-line quickness for a player who weighs 297 pounds.

At 6-feet-4 and 297 pounds, Fairley is a little lean by NFL standards for an inside player. But once he gets into a top-notch NFL weight room, the upper body will develop. I can see him as a 315-pound force in a year.

It's that quickness that you can't teach. It's basketball-like, which is interesting since he was a basketball player in high school, and Auburn players raved about his skills.

He is so fast out of his stance at the snap of the ball. There was one play in Auburn's game with LSU last year where the center actually complained to the official that Fairley was offside because of his quick get-off. He split a double by the center and left guard on that play and recorded a sack. He was credited with 2½ in the game, but actually should have been given three, as he spent the afternoon in the LSU backfield.

It was criminal what he did to LSU left guard Josh Dworaczyk, who has started the past two seasons for the Tigers. Fairley made that kid look like he shouldn't be on the field. And when he flopped to the other side, he whipped right guard T-Bob Hebert as well.

On one pass play, Fairley was in a one-on-one battle with Dworaczyk and used his left arm for an up-and-under move to shed him and sack the quarterback. It was the quickness that got him off the ball, but it was the power that led to the sack. He got Dworaczyk for another sack where he just blew past him in man blocking.

Who should Carolina take with the first pick of the draft?
Nick Fairley
Marcell Dareus
Patrick Peterson
Cam Newton
Blaine Gabbert
AJ Green

Hebert didn't do much better. He was whipped badly on several plays, including one running play where Fairley got into Hebert's body, shed him with his strength, threw him aside, and then dropped the runner for a four-yard loss.

"You see him on tape and you see a lot of explosive plays," said one NFC defensive coordinator. "I like him. I like him a lot. But I like Dareus a little better."

Fairley played the same dominant way much of the season for Auburn in 2010. He was tough to handle one-on-one, no matter who was against him.

The thing that showed up more than anything was his quickness. It reminds me of Warren Sapp, although he's taller than Sapp. When Sapp played, he was a handful because he was so fast off the ball. Fairley can do the same.

One other positive I noticed watching the Fairley tape was he doesn't quit when the play goes away from him. Some big-time interior linemen quit when the play goes away from them. I saw Fairley chasing down plays several times on the tape, even late in games.

That isn't to say there aren't negatives. At times, Fairley can play too high. When he does, he gets blocked. But a good NFL defensive line coach, coupled with more experience, will cure that.

Another problem is he dances out of the hole to make a play. He is so quick that in college he could beat his man, jump around him and then get back inside to make the play. That won't happen in the NFL. If he jumps out of his spot to try and make a play, that's called a lack of gap discipline. That often leads to big runs.

You also can't jump around a blocker much and get back and make a play. NFL backs are too good for that.

Then there's the on-field attitude. He plays with a mean streak. That led to a "dirty" reputation. He did knock three quarterbacks out of games briefly last season, one leading to a 15-yard penalty, but that isn't really a major issue for NFL teams.

"You can coach that out of him," said the NFC defensive coordinator.

There was a play in the LSU game where Hebert tried to chop block Fairley on a run that went away from him. Fairley didn't take too kindly to that and got up and shoved Hebert in the back. Verdict: He was within his rights. The chop wasn't necessary, and, oh by the way, could have cost him millions.

So add all this up and the summary on Fairley is that he is a talented player with some overblown issues that are a concern to some NFL teams. He has been compared to Albert Haynesworth, the talented yet troubled, Washington Redskins defensive tackle, which I say is unfair.

Haynesworth has a reputation for being a dirty player, and had a high-profile incident a few years back where he stomped on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. But Fairley seems eager to play the game, while Haynesworth clearly is not.

"Somebody is going to either get a star or a kid you have to worry about constantly," said the general manager. "You have to decide if he's worth the risk."

The tape said he is. Only time will tell.

Thursday, 24-Mar-2011 03:45 Email | Share | | Bookmark
2011 NFL Draft: Latest Draft News and Rumors for Every NFC Team
Chicago Has More Than A Few Needs To Fill At No. 29

The Bears caught a lucky draw hosting a team with a losing record in the postseason, although they did earn the right to play at home, but they have a lot of things to correct if they want be competitive team in that division next season.
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Chicago's offensive line was horrendous last season (despite better play late) and they almost got every quarterback on their roster killed.

They also have needs on the outside at receiver. Devin Hester is a special talent but he's not a true receiver and none of the other three (Earl Bennett, Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox) are true No. 1 threats.
They could use a defensive tackle and a linebacker as well but those needs are not first round priorities.'s Inc. director Todd McShay posed his lasted mock draft and has this to write about the Bears first round selection:

"This is a tough spot for the Bears and I struggled with who to project here. Chicago won't find a solid answer when it comes to upgrading at left offensive tackle or 3-technique on defense, and (Derek) Sherrod is a bit of a reach here but he is the best available tackle and does offer the versatility to move inside to guard if needed. I can see the Bears sensing problems at No. 29 and trading up in an effort to get Pouncey, or they could offer this pick to a team targeting a specific player and looking to trade back into the end of the first round. If they're stuck, though, needs could go out the window and Chicago could simply take the top player on its board."

He brings up a lot of scenarios here and trading up for Florida's Mike Pouncey makes a lot of sense.

There may not be a single elite left tackle prospect in the entire draft but the selection of Sherrod gives them the versatility to move him around the line to find his best possible position.

A first round offensive lineman is their best option unless they really think they can find a receiver worth taking this high. There is talent at the position but the value just is not their for a No. 1 and the Chicago already has too many players not capable of being a No. 1.

The one other position to take note of is cornerback.

Chicago does not have a ton of talent out there and if any position is going to offer good value it is at cornerback.

Colorado's Jimmy Smith, Texas' Aaron Williams and Miami's Brandon Harris could easily all be first round picks and have the type of talent the Bears could use.

Remember, for all your NFL Draft needs be sure to bookmark our NFL Draft Hub.

Tuesday, 15-Mar-2011 06:52 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Not Living Up to Heat of the Hype is Crying Shame
The stage could not have been set more perfect: a basketball prodigy, delivered to the Cavaliers to win a championship. But after seven hypefilled seasons, he stood, along with two other NBA greats, on a different stage, one filled with a new level of hype, excitement and celebration – all before NBA tipoff, and all out of Cleveland.
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After seven seasons, the only titles Lebron James owned were his, like King James and Chosen One. But fear of name titles would be his only motivation to do whatever it took to win a real title, even at the risk of betraying his hometown. If he could not win in Cleveland, one name title would be branded on him forever: failure.
As it turns out, James was not the loveable player he seemed to be. As he boarded the easy train to title town, he crossed the state line of Ohio destined to join Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami, but more importantly the line of disappointment to betrayal.
That did not matter; losing was behind James now. It was smooth sailing to a championship and clear skies ahead in the eyes of Miami Heat’s “Big Three,” and they wasted no time counting championships from a stage to crowds of fans looking up to the three joyous smiles. Miami believed everything was going to be as easy as 1, 2, 3 – James, Bosh, Wade.
But fast-forward to March 9, witness the Heat’s intended smooth sail and it has been nothing but a modern day Titanic, sinking in Miami. After Sunday’s 87-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls, Miami fell to 1-9 against the NBA’s top-five teams and remain one loss away from the number of losses James had all season last year with Cleveland.
During an emotional post-game conference, the Heat made it apparent it realizes it is more of a sinking ship than a destined dynasty.
“We haven’t addressed the problem yet,” Bosh said. “We have to find the problem first.”
Fixing the problem will not be easy, though finding it is. How can you fix a lack of mental toughness? How can you coach being clutch players? You can’t. As of right now, the Heat are neither one of those two. It might have something to do with Miami being 1-16 in game-tying or game-winning shots made in the final 10 seconds this season. Might.
But it was only a regular season game; the team is still a top-seed contender in the East. The calendar says March means there is nothing to cry about, right? Wrong.
“This is painful for every single one of us going through this,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There are a couple guys crying in the locker room right now.”
The last time I checked, James and Wade have won enough big games in their careers they should not have to hit the panic button yet. As for Bosh, someone needs to let him know there is a postseason. Crying is a little premature unless the problem is so irreparable it is bringing players to tears.
Between Wade’s childish anger and Bosh’s absolute honesty, James, who sacrificed the most to be in Miami, leaving his hometown and legacy, remained calm, as if he was in deep thought.
Maybe James is beginning to realize that it is not all about the destination, but rather the journey to win a title. The fact that athlete tears are best shed after overcoming struggles to win, and not in frustration – tears he could have shed only if he stayed in Cleveland.
Maybe he realizes that. Maybe not.
But for now, James stands on the high stage he created from his own bare hype along with his props, Bosh and Wade, both wearing shoes they created but have yet to fill. The only difference is James made himself the biggest shoes, clown-sized in comparison to his feet, and he is barely filling them. Now he fears falling off a stage of hype in the spotlight. Only problem is he is already fallen in many of our eyes, and if he listens close enough, he can already hear the world laughing at him.

Wednesday, 2-Mar-2011 02:01 Email | Share | | Bookmark
NFL Scouting Combine: Inside Linebackers
Earlier I wrote about a few of the outside linebackers at the NFL combine. Now I've moved onto the inside linebackers. The Green Bay Packers have too many inside linebackers if everyone is healthy. But last season proved that depth is a good thing, and there should be a roster spot or two available if they want to add someone.

Illinois's Martez Wilson. No inside linebacker was projected to have a first round grade coming into the NFL combine. If anyone has one now, it's Wilson. Wes Bunting noted that he could be an ideal inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. I'd like to see an inside linebacker who's really good in coverage, so that he only had one INT during his career at Illinois is noteworthy. However, he's one of the biggest inside prospects at 6'4", 250 lbs., and he just ran a 4.49 in the 40. That's crazy fast for a guy at his size.
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Michigan State's Greg Jones. He's coming off a fantastic college career, but he got some flak for staying for his senior season. I've read that he had a down year because his tackles decreased from 153 to 105, but he also forced 3 fumbles and had 2 INTs last season. He looked fluid running his drills at the combine, and I expect he'll make a good pro. He'll probably wind up going in the mid to late 2nd round. He's only a possibility for the Packers if they trade out of the 1st round for a later pick in the 2nd round.
Oregon's Casey Matthews. Who hasn't thought about having the Brothers Matthews in the Packers starting lineup? He's only got a 5th round grade, but I'm a believer after watching him closely in the National Championship game. The Packers aren't going to use their 1st or 2nd round pick on him, but they could use the 3rd or 4th round supplemental pick it's expected they'll receive for losing DE Aaron Kampman in free agency. I would have loved to seen him at the combine, but he injured his shoulder during the bench press drill. He'd definitely like to play in Green Bay, but he's not sure about "playing in the shadow" of his brother. He'd be a pick for the future as there would be at least three or four guys ahead of him in 2011.

I don't expect the Packers will use their first round draft choice on a potential middle linebacker, but I certainly didn't expect them to trade up for LB Clay Matthews in 2009 either.

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