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NFL teams already being hit with injuries

Nothing can turn a season on its head faster than injuries can. It doesn’t matter if it’s in training camp or in the middle of a playoff run; injuries always come at a terrible time.

There is something about season ending injuries at the start of the season, however, that is always disheartening to teams and fans hoping that this is their year.

Here is a list of players falling to serious injuries or injuries that could threaten players throughout the season:

LeCharles Bentley, C, Cleveland Browns. This is by far the biggest blow to any team unfortunate enough to be suffering from injuries so early into the season. Bentley tore his patellar tendon in his first 11-on-11 drills of training camp and will miss the entire season for the Browns.

Bentley was one of the prized free agents that Cleveland signed this offseason and was called the “face of our free agent class” by general manager Phil Savage. He was signed to bolster the Browns offensive line after anchoring the center position for the New Orleans Saints for five seasons.

Brian Finneran, WR, Atlanta Falcons. Finneran isn’t a widely known player by any means, but at 6’5”, he has been a favorite target of Michael Vick for several seasons now. Finneran uses his height to tower over shorter cornerbacks and is a great option for fade routes on the goal line.

While trying to make a cut in practice late Sunday evening, Finneran’s knee buckled and he went down to the ground in riving pain. An MRI Monday showed that Finneran will indeed be lost for the season. Jerome Pathon is likely to take his place as the Falcons No. 3 wide out.

Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers. Although his injury is not nearly as serious as the one’s Bentley and Finneran suffered, there is no bigger offensive weapon for the Panthers than Smith.

Just two seasons ago, Smith broke his leg in the Panthers season opener, and missed the entire 16-game schedule for Carolina. Now, Smith has been hampered with a left hamstring strain and is day-to-day as far as a return.

Shaun Rogers, DT, Detroit Lions. Another injury that doesn’t appear to be that serious at the onsite is Rogers injuring his shoulder in a practice with the Lions Monday afternoon.

Rogers is the stud on Detroit’s defensive line and what makes everything stout in the run defense. The injury should not keep Rogers out for a lengthy time, but the injuries to him and Steve Smith are the type of nagging pains that can bother players throughout the entire season.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Oh, to be rich!

Sports Illustrated once again compiled its annual list of America’s richest athletes and ranked them from 1-50.

Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods tops the list at #1. Nobody else even comes close to Woods, whose yearly income (which includes each athlete’s salary/winnings plus endorsements) is more than double that of any other athlete on the list. Woods is closing in on $100 million.

At #2 is another professional golfer, Phil Mickelson, totalling almost $46 million a year. The largest jump from last year’s list has to be Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. Not even ranked last year, Palmer lands at #5, thanks to his $119 million contract extension. Albert Pujols made a significant leap as well, jumping to #21 after failing to make the list last year.

After Woods and Mickelson, the rest of the top 10 goes in this order: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Carson Palmer, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and Michael Vick. See SI.com for the rest of the top 50.

Is anybody really surprised?

So the dude who won this year’s Tour de France tested positive for high testosterone levels…?

Big deal.

Okay, so it is a big deal that American Floyd Landis, the first person other than Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France in the last eight years, appears to have cheated his way to a victory, but that doesn’t mean that I nor anyone else should be surprised by the news. I mean, come on, haven’t we been paying attention? No matter the sport, no matter the venue, no matter the stakes, no matter the potential backlash, athletes are doping, and they’ve been doing it for some time. Bill Romanowski, Marion Jones, German triathlete Nina Kraft, punter Todd Sauerbrun and, of course, everyone’s favorite cheater, Barry Bonds. And that’s just the short list, folks. The very short list.

So the fact that Landis may have used performance enhancers (they’re still awaiting the results of the “backup B sample” test) shouldn’t really shock anyone, especially anyone who’s paid any attention to competitive cycling. The ESPN article I linked to above includes a sidebar that details doping scandals involving Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Francisco Mancebo, Roberto Heras, David Millar, Richard Virenque and, in some cases, entire teams.

This is nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, “Nothing to see here,” as South Park’s Sheriff Barbrady would say. Not anymore, it’s not. That’s unfortunate, for sure, but short of someone uncovering hard proof that Lance Armstrong used, we’re past the “shock value” stage. And, hell, even then, would anybody really be all the surprised to learn that Armstrong doped? ESPN’s Pat Forde says that, if Landis is indeed found guilty of cheating, we won’t be able to trust anyone else in sports again.

Sorry Pat, but that boat sailed long ago.

Maybe there’s something to this “Cleveland Sports Curse” after all

I was born in Cleveland (well, 30 minutes south of Cleveland). I’ve been a Cleveland sports fan my entire life. And as much as I have wanted to deny the existence of any sort of hex on the C-Town teams, at this point resistance may be futile:

Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley, one of Cleveland’s biggest free-agent signings this winter, injured his left knee during the Browns’ first 11-on-11 drill of training camp.

Bentley got tangled in a pile of players as he was blocking on a running play for Reuben Droughns.

Bentley screamed, “No,” before remaining on his knees as the Browns moved their scrimmage up the field so the 6-foot-2, 309-pounder could be attended to. He stayed on the ground in a seated position for several minutes before Cleveland’s medical staff immobilized his left knee and carted him to the locker room.

Bentley covered his face with a towel on the short drive to the field house as Browns players and fans looked on in shock.

Well of course they looked on in shock: they’ve seen Kellen Winslow, Sean Jones and Braylon Edwards go down with season-ending injuries the past two years, and now, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, Bentley’s season may be done too:

A source close to Bentley said there is a fear he has a partial or complete tear of the patella tendon in his left knee and would require surgery, sidelining him possibly for the entire 2006 season.

Bentley was to undergo an MRI exam to determine the severity of the injury. Results were expected to be available this afternoon.

I mean, COME ON! Outrageous. Absolutely outrageous. It was the FIRST DAY OF TRAINING CAMP. Nothing is confirmed yet, so I suppose he could come out of this with a sprain or something else less severe than a torn tendon, but it sure as hell doesn’t look good for Browns fans. Then again, when does it ever look good for Browns fans?

Does the Cleveland Sports Curse actually exist? Well, if it doesn’t, this city’s fans and teams have dreadfully bad luck.

Governor Round Mound of Rebound (D)?

Hell, I’d vote for him:

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has changed his political uniform from red to blue and is talking again about running for governor of Alabama, possibly in 2010.

“Alabama, that’s my home. I’m thinking about running for governor; they need the help,” Barkley said.

Barkley, a Leeds native, has been talking about running for governor of his home state since he was playing with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. In 1995, he said he was considering running in 1998 as a Republican but that never materialized.

After that, Barkley continued to identify himself as a Republican until recently, when he switched to the Democratic team.

“I was a Republican until they lost their minds,” he said earlier this month at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada.

“Sir Charles” reinforced that Tuesday while speaking to a convention of public school board members in Destin, Fla.

“What I’ve said is I’m rich like a Republican. But I’m not one,” Barkley said in remarks reported by The Birmingham News.

Can you imagine kids 50 years from now reading about Governor Barkley in their history books?

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