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Ginn's getting grief wherever he goes

Josh Alper mentioned it in our Christmas one-liners, and I couldn’t resist shining a light on it tonight.

Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn recently told Edgar Thompson of the Palm Beach Post that 2009 has been Ginn’s “worst season playing football.”

Given that Ginn was named the AFC special teams player of the month for November after pushing the team to a win over the Jets with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game, plenty of guys would love to have such a bad season.  But Ginn has been hearing it not for his success catching and running with kicked balls, but because of his inability to consistently getting and keeping his hands on thrown balls.

“Every time you see somebody [they say], ‘You got to catch the ball,’” Ginn told Thompson.  “I still get it to this day, from little kids to
grown people.”

Ginn also has been criticized for running out of bounds, prompting former Miami guard Bob Kuechenberg to call Ginn “an embarrassment and a coward.”

While Ginn says he wants to stay in Miami, he realizes that his inability to live up to his top-ten draft status could cause the team to not want the former Buckeye to stick around.

“I understand the business,” Ginn said.  “I understand being a
high draft pick you only have so much [time] to show what you can do.

“I don’t think they’re fed up with me . . . but you never know.”

We think the Dolphins realize Ginn still has a role to play, but that he might have to reduce his compensation in order to remain with the team, especially if his best value to the franchise comes from returning kicks — and from not catching passes.

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Florida could pursue Shanahan

As the Florida Gators deal with the unexpected challenge of replacing coach Urban Meyer, there’s an intriguing name to add to the mix.

We’re referring, of course, to the man whose skin tone at times resembles the color of the Gators’ helmet.  (Apparently, Shanahan took his role as a board member for Tanning Technology Company a bit too literally.)

Mike Shanahan widely is expected to become the next coach of the Redskins, but as Chris Low of ESPN.com points out (as spotted by John Taylor of CFT), Shanahan was a candidate for the Florida job after Steve Spurrier left Gainesville for — you guessed it — the Redskins, and Shanahan remains tight with Florida A.D. Jeremy Foley.

From a financial perspective, it’s unlikely that the Gators could come close to matching what the Redskins will pay.  But the mere possibility that the former Broncos coach might look elsewhere than D.C. could be enough to prompt Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to throw in even more money in order to land the tanned man named Shanahan.

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More reports emerge of heart problem for Urban Meyer

Though talk of Urban Meyer becoming an NFL head coach won’t go away until the professional career of Tim Tebow ends, more and more evidence is emerging that the Florida coach will step down due to a problem with his heart.

John Taylor of CFT cites a report from an Orlando television station claiming that Meyer suffered a heart attack during the 2009 college football season.

ESPN reports that Meyer was admitted to a hospital with chest pains after the SEC title game, and that he has a heart muscle defect.

Chris Mortensen reports that Meyer will remain with Florida in a non-coaching role due to the condition, which is not life threatening.

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Two Texans tapped for a total of 10 grand

Two members of the Houston Texans have been slapped with $5,000 fines for conduct during the team’s most recent win against the Rams.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, safety Bernard Pollard was fined $5,000 for getting into a fight with Rams running back Steven Jackson.

The same punishment was levied against cornerback Jacques Reeves for tackling Rams kick returner Danny Amendola by his facemask.

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Zimmer's name surfaces as potential defensive coordinator in D.C.

Despite doing a great job over the past two seasons with the Cincinnati defense, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has yet to generate significant buzz as a potential head-coaching candidate for the upcoming carousel of vacancies.

But with his contract in Cincinnati set to expire after the current season, Zimmer could be in line for a lateral move — and also a healthy raise.

We’re told that Mike Shanahan has targeted Zimmer as the first choice to run the defense, if/when Shanahan resurfaces as head coach of the Redskins.

On Friday night, NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora indicated that one of Mike Shanahan’s first items of business will be to hire former Broncos defensive coordinator Bob Slowik.  As La Canfora explained it, Slowik has been working with Shanahan at Denver-area office space.  And we’re hearing that Slowik will be a member of the Shanahan’s staff even if Shanahan lands Zimmer.

If shouldn’t be hard for the Redskins to succeed, given that owner Daniel Snyder previously has paid big money to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  In early 2006, Williams inked a three-year, $8 million extension to remain with the Redskins.

So it might be a good idea for the Bengals to redouble their efforts to get Zimmer signed for 2010 and beyond.  In November, Zimmer told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com that the team has approached Zimmer regarding a contract extension, but that “nothing came to fruition.”

Possible translation?  “I got lowballed.”

That’s a term that doesn’t exist in the Redskins’ official dictionary.  And one thing of which we’re certain is that, if Mike Shanahan is the head coach of the Redskins, he’ll have a virtually unlimited budget to hire the lieutenants he desires.

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Meyer's resignation at Florida sparks NFL speculation

The shocking news that Florida coach Urban Meyer will be stepping down has prompted immediate speculation that he’ll be jumping to the NFL.

Based on what he’s telling his players, however, it doesn’t look like Meyer will be returning to football in the near future.

As we just posted over at CFT, we’re told that Meyer informed his players that he has a heart problem.

The news came out of the blue on Saturday, rocking the football world just as the bowl season is heating up.  Keep an eye on CFT for more updates and details regarding one of the biggest college football stories of the decade, only six days before the decade ends.

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Colts promote a third quarterback

We’re not sure what Rex Ryan found under his tree on Friday morning, but we do know that his fondest Christmas wish was facing a Colts team without Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and assorted other stars.

The Colts made a roster move Saturday that might make Ryan feel a little better about whether he landed on Santa’s naughty or nice list. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Colts promoted quarterback Drew Willy from the practice squad, a move that gives them three quarterbacks for Sunday’s game with the win-or-else Jets.

Willy was a four-year starter at the University of Buffalo but went undrafted in April. He was with the Ravens in training camp, failed to make the final cut and was signed to the Colts’ practice squad earlier this month.

Colts coach Jim Caldwell hasn’t offered any insight into his specific plans for playing time for starting players on his 14-0 team over the final two weeks. You could read between the lines and decide that Caldwell wants to have a backup for Curtis Painter on the roster because he plans to use Painter against the Jets. Or you could decide that he wants to make use of the emergency quarterback spot in case of, you know, an emergency.
 

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Report: Haynesworth tried to get teammates to come late to practice

According to a report by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune and NFP, Redskins defensive lineman had designs on doing more than just showing up late for Redskins practice on Christmas Day.

Biggs reports that Haynesworth tried to get other members of the Redskins to arrive late to work on Friday as a protest of the early start time for practice. The team wanted to get practice over as early as possible to allow players and staff to spend time with their families on the holiday, but it seems Haynesworth disagreed with that choice.

(Perhaps he was up late enjoying cookies and milk left out for St. Nick at his house.  And at 100 or so others.)

Haynesworth was sent home by the team when he arrived an hour late on Friday. Haynesworth responded by blasting the coaching staff for using him incorrectly and said that the team needed someone to lead them in the right direction.

The Redskins have said that Haynesworth will play on Sunday night against the Cowboys, but it remains to be seen whether additional discipline will be imposed on him in light of his conduct.

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Lions sign Patrick Ramsey

The Lions signed veteran quarterback Patrick Ramsey to fill the roster spot left open when Matthew Stafford was placed on injured reserve.

Ramsey was with the Titans until October when they released him to make room for defensive back Cary Williams. Ramsey subsequently tried out for several teams, including the Giants and Steelers, but remained unemployed until Saturday.

While he doesn’t figure to play for Detroit this season, Ramsey could make himself a contender for a spot as a veteran backup for Stafford in 2010. Or he could just earn a couple of weeks of salary before hopping back on the league’s quarterback carousel.

Ramsey and fellow former first-round pick Daunte Culpepper will back up Drew Stanton when the 2007 second-rounder makes his first career start Sunday against the 49ers.

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Marc Bulger officially out for season

In a move that merely confirmed something most of us thought had already happened, the Rams officially shut down quarterback Marc Bulger for the rest of the season Saturday by placing him on injured reserve.

Bulger hasn’t played since a Week 11 loss to the Cardinals because of a broken shin bone and won’t play again for the rest of the season. That leaves the Rams with a pair of questions to answer about their quarterback position.

The first is whether Kyle Boller returns to the lineup or if they stick with Keith Null for the third straight game. All signs have pointed to another go for Null this week, which might provide a bit of insight into the second question.

Is this the last we’ve seen of Bulger in a Rams uniform? He’s had three mediocre seasons since signing a contract extension before the 2007 season and is still due $38 million over the next four seasons. Assuming 2010 is an uncapped year, the Rams can dispatch him without taking an immediate cap hit something that would fit the rebuilding that began when the team hired general manager Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo before this season.

Null, a sixth-round pick in April, might not be the long-term answer but he hasn’t acquitted himself much worse than Bulger did this season. The Rams will likely be picking first overall in the 2010 Draft and there’s a good chance they’ll look to leverage that pick into their next franchise quarterback.

The Rams promoted Cord Parks from the practice squad to take Bulger’s spot on the roster. An undrafted rookie from Northeastern, Parks played defensive back in college and was switched to wide receiver by the Rams.
 

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Williams travels, remains doubtful for Sunday

The Carolina Panthers have set off for the New York area with running back DeAngelo Williams in tow, but Williams remains doubtful for Sunday’s game with the ankle injury he suffered against the Vikings last weekend.

If Williams isn’t able to play, the Panthers won’t have much behind Jonathan Stewart, questionable himself with an Achilles injury, in the backfield. Tyrell Sutton didn’t make the trip with the team and won’t be in the lineup because of a calf injury. The only other tailback on the Panthers roster is rookie Mike Goodson, who has only four carries on the season and hasn’t played since Week 9. 

The bright side for the Panthers, who are looking to play spoiler to the Giants’ playoff hopes, is that Stewart ran for 109 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Vikes to win the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award. They also got 299 yards passing from Matt Moore and the Giants pass defense was lousy for weeks before Monday night’s beatdown of the Redskins.
 

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Vikings head into Soldier Field showdown with limited injuries

Once presumed to be destined for a first-round playoff bye, the Vikings now find themselves needing to win two games to hold off the hard-charging Eagles, who are perched only one game behind Minnesota.  The Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker, regardless of the outcome of the next two games.

So if the Vikings fail to beat the Bears on Monday night (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET), they won’t be able to blame it on a rash of injuries.

No player on the active roster is out, and none are listed as doubtful.  Defensive tackle Pat Williams is questionable with an elbow injury, a possible consequence of overuse during Christmas dinner.

Guard Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), defensive end Brian Robison (quad), and cornerback Antoine Winfield (foot) are probable. 

For the Bears, defensive end Adeqale Ogunleye (leg) is out, and safety Kevin Payne (ankle) is doubtful.  Defensive end Gaines Adams (ankle), safety Al Afalava (knee), receiver Devin Hester (calf), and punter Brad Maynard (groin) are questionable. 

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee), tackle Orlando Pace (groin), running back Adrian Peterson (illness), and tackle Chris Williams (ankle) are probable.

Minnesota leads the all-time series, 51-43-2.  But after winning at Soldier Field five straight times from 1996 through 2000, the Vikings have prevailed only once in seven tries as the road team in this series.

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Chargers tie NFL mark for consecutive wins in the same month

With last night’s 42-17 win over the Titans, the San Diego Chargers have matched a feat that has been accomplished by only one other NFL franchise since 1970.

The Chargers have now won 18 games in a row in a single month.

Only the Dolphins have previously achieved such a mark, winning 18 straight from 1970 through 1974.

But since next weekend’s game against the Seahawks will be played in January, they’ll have to wait until December 2010 for a chance to break the record.

We wonder whether Mercury Morris will have anything to say about it come Thanksgiving.  Given the Colts’ success this year, it might be the only record the Dolphins of the early 1970s still own by then.

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Keith Null sees similarities between himself and Kurt Warner

Given injuries to Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, Keith Null (who? . . . precisely) has inherited the starting quarterback job in St. Louis.

And Null will get the nod for the third time on Sunday when the Rams face the Cardinals, who are quarterbacked by a man who became a star in a blue helmet with gold/yellow then gold/gold horns.

Null sees similarities between himself and Warner, given that they entered the league as unknowns.

“Yeah, our stories are really similar in that fact,” Null said earlier this week.  “He didn’t get drafted.  We both bagged groceries for a time — mine was only two weeks though.  There are so many things that are very similar so that is cool.”  (Of course, Null bagged groceries for only two weeks because he “couldn’t stand it.”)

For now, however, the similarities end with the superficialities.  In his first two NFL starts, Null hasn’t won a game — and his passer rating is a JaMarcusesque 50.1.

But at least the whole undrafted/grocery store thing gives Null an icebreaker for when he sees on the field a player he has idolized.  When they meet, Null shouldn’t expect Warner’s face to project recognition or admiration.

“I don’t know a lot about him,” Warner said this week in a conference call with St. Louis reporters.  “I can’t say that I’ve really seen him play much.  I guess I’m kind of at a loss.  I don’t know a lot about him at this point in time.”

Told that Null also bagged groceries, Warner said, “He’s going to have a bright career I’m sure, if he was part of that.”

If Warner was being sarcastic, then that was a really good response.

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Hasselbeck thinks Big Show should cough up his big bike

As we continue to clean out the “to-do” list on a slow Saturday bring you the best and most compelling NFL news and information, here’s a recent item from Seattle regarding the unretirement of former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who is now the captain of the Browns’ front office.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck wants a refund.

“We did buy him a motorcycle as a retirement gift,” Hasselbeck recently said, per SeattlePI.com, “so I don’t know if we could get him to sell that and give
us our money back or what
.”

Hasselbeck was kidding, of course.  (We think.)

But he wasn’t kidding six years ago, when he played a postseason game at the site of Sunday’s contest against the Packers.  On that occasion, Hasselbeck declared after winning the toss in sudden-death overtime, “We want the ball and we’re gonna score.”

Hasselbeck explained that he was just trying to stay loose when he offered up the phrase that will ultimately be engraved on the granite slab that marks his eternal resting place.  (And if it’s not chiseled into the stone, it’ll likely eventually be spray-painted there by Packers fans.)

“The first time we’d played them early in the year I didn’t play
well,” Hasselbeck said.  “I was all tight and serious and wasn’t me.  And the second time,
the coach at the time said go have fun, relax.  And that’s what I did
and that’s what it was and we played well, but we still were at the
point where we really hadn’t really turned that corner as a team and
believed in ourselves. . . .

“I don’t regret anything.
It was what it was, a bunch of grown men playing football and acting
like kids.”

And the acting like kids extends to members of the Packers who were on the field that day, including quarterback Brett Favre.  Per Hasselbeck, Favre “has said that to me at every coin toss I’ve seen him at.”

It remains to be seen whether Favre would characterize such exchanges as a “heated discussion.”

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