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With the 4th Pick, Mel Kiper says Browns take Robert Griffin III: “If a team moves ahead of the Browns for Griffin, they also could be in play for Blackmon, or even the guy I have at No. 5, Trent Richardson. However, the questions on Colt McCoy’s ceiling as a starting NFL quarterback are getting louder, and if the Browns don’t go after a solution such asMatt Flynn, a quarterback certainly could be in play here. Griffin made big strides this past season, particularly with his deep accuracy. He is a big-time athlete at the quarterback position but has developed a very good pocket presence and the ability to read the game, and his big arm comes with a nice touch on intermediate throws. He is a leader and has intangibles that should really impress evaluators during the draft process.” [Mel Kiper / ESPN]
Forty Niners blog notes Giants defense is overrated heading into today’s NFC Title game: “The New York defense has been vastly overrated over the past few weeks, and that includes myself. I’ve talked about how good they are, especially considering the fact that hey disrupted the Green Bay Packers. But everyone has an off day, and the Packers were clearly not playing their best football. Then again, everyone has an on day as well, and the Giants do have several playmakers. But they were ranked in the bottom of the league in pass defense (29th), rush defense (19th) and points allowed (25th).
Sure, the Giants can be “on” again and have a great game against the 49ers, but San Francisco should be confident and if the offense continues its rate of progression, Alex Smith will be getting the ball out quickly and, unlike the first contest, Frank Gore is 100 percent healthy and ready to go. About the only thing the Giants do exceedingly well on defense is get to the quarterback, and that’s why the WCO moniker of “put the ball in the hands of the playmakers” is more important now than ever. Smith needs to take a couple steps, find his man, and rocket the pass in there like he did against the New Orleans Saints. [James Brady / Niners Nation]
Protecting Brady key for Patriots in AFC Title Game: “It’s a generally accepted fact on how teams can stop the Patriots offense; send four rushers, get to Brady, tight man coverage down the field. The play has no time to develop and Brady has to make a throw that doesn’t exist. The Ravens have a host of ferocious pass rushers like Terrell Suggs andHaloti Ngata who are all capable of reaching Brady. My opinion? If Sebastian Vollmer is ready to play, have him play right tackle and have Nate Solder on the field to motion towards whatever side Suggs is on. If Vollmer can’t play, I think Marcus Cannon is one of the few offensive linemen in the league with the same weight as Ngata- maybe he can help in protection?
The Patriots offensive line must keep Brady clean and give him the same time they gave him against theBroncos with Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.” [Richard Hill / Pats Pulpit]
Joe Paterno fighting for his life, in serious condition: “After his family denied reports Saturday evening that the 85-year-old former Penn State coach had died, reports surfaced that he was on a respirator and that his family was trying to decide whether he should be removed from it.
Paterno, who became the winningest major-college football coach with his 409th victory on Oct. 29 but was fired less than two weeks later in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his former assistants, has been hospitalized since Jan. 13 for treatment of complications from lung cancer treatments.
On Saturday afternoon, the family released a statement about his deteriorating condition.
“Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications,” spokesman Dan McGinn said in a brief statement to the Associated Press. “His doctors have now characterized his status as serious.”
Approximately 200 students held a somber vigil at a statue of Paterno, the Associated Press reported. There was no chanting or shouting as many people held candles in silence.
Paterno’s son Jay tweeted after driving by the vigil: “Drove by students at the Joe statue [on Penn State’s campus]. Just told my Dad about all the love & support — inspiring him.”‘ [Mike James / LA Times' Sports Now]
Antonetti did note, however, that Indians manager Manny Acta — also a native of the Dominican Republic — has spoken with the accused pitcher.
“Manny’s talked with Fausto directly,” Antonetti said. “We’ve had numerous conversations with his representatives, as well as people in Major League Baseball and other authorities.”
According to the AP report, Carmona was released by Judge Keyla Perez on bail of around $13,000. Carmona was then instructed to check in with prosecutors as Dominican authorities continue to investigate the matter. One allegation is that Carmona is actually 31 years old, not 28, as he has claimed.
Carmona has also been ordered to remain in the Dominican Republic.” [Jordan Bastian / MLB.com]