Didinger's Mailbag: Would Burress fit with Birds?


Didinger's Mailbag: Would Burress fit with Birds?

Answering your questions and commenting on your comments, here is Thursdays dip into the mailbag.

Q. Do you believe the hype that Plaxico Burress is coming to the Eagles? Do you think he can still be a major contributor or will his role be diminished to that of a situational player?

-- Ed Liberati

A. I spoke to several NFL people recently who made it sound like Burress to the Eagles is a done deal. The buzz is that strong. Personally, I dont see it. I dont think it is a fit for either side.

The Eagles dont need another receiver. They have DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper. At best, Burress would be No. 4. And Im sure whatever contract Burress works out will have incentive clauses based on number of catches. Well, how many balls does he figure to catch in this offense? Not many. So it doesnt make a lot of sense from his side either.

It is a long shot Burress ever regains his big-time status. He will spend this season just getting back into shape and regaining his timing. The fact he wont have much time to assimilate into his new team because of the lockout only complicates matters. And lets say he uses this year to regain his legs: he will be 35 next year. How many rusty 35-year-olds are playing wide receiver in the NFL?

In fairness, I was one of the skeptics who felt the Eagles signing of Michael Vick was folly. Clearly I was wrong. Vick has resurrected his career in ways I never thought possible. Maybe Ill be wrong on Burress, too. I just think his best shot would be with St. Louis, Chicago or Oakland, teams that need a receiver. The Eagles dont.

Q. Kevin Kolb is wanted by quite a few teams. Why not re-sign him and trade Mike Vick instead? I believe Kolb gives the Eagles a better chance to go deep in the playoffs considering Vicks style of play and the injury concerns.

-- D. Bartal

A. Its not going to happen. Vick played so well last season, the Eagles would not even consider trading him. They feel Vick can take them to a Super Bowl although the question remains: Can he make it through an entire season without being injured? Kolb has significant trade value and the long-rumored deal with Arizona still makes sense.

If you saw the quotes from Kolbs recent radio interview, it sounds as though he has resigned himself to playing for the Cardinals. Asked if he could envision any scenario in which he would be an Eagle this season, Kolb said no. He has already turned the page, so bringing him back now really isnt an option.

When the Cardinals chose not to draft a quarterback in April, it was clear their plan was to trade for a veteran. Kolb was the logical choice. If the Eagles can deal their backup quarterback for a starting cornerback (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and a 2012 draft pick, it seems like a fair exchange.

Q. Im getting psyched for Eagles training camp. I know you always have a few sleepers to recommend. Give me the name of a late-round draft pick that I should keep my eye on when I go to Lehigh.

-- John P.Havertown, Pa.

A. Brian Rolle, the linebacker from Ohio State. I thought he would be drafted in the fourth or fifth round, so when the Eagles got him late in the sixth I felt it was a steal. He is small (a shade under 5-10, 225 pounds), but he was a highly productive middle linebacker for the Buckeyes.

Rolle is quick, instinctive and very strong for his size. He did 28 reps in the bench press at the combine. I think the Eagles will play him at weakside linebacker and he could find a home there, but I expect him to make an immediate impact on special teams.

Q. When the NFL holds its supplemental draft, how high do you think Terrelle Pryor, the Ohio State quarterback, will be selected? Do the Eagles have any interest?

-- Carl G.Allentown, Pa.

A. In my opinion, Pryor is at least two years away from being able to play under center in the NFL. I dont think he will be selected very high. I wouldnt even consider taking him higher than the fourth round, but it wouldnt surprise me if some team took a flier on him in the third. He has size and a serious skill set, but he is very raw.

I doubt the Eagles have interest in Pryor. They already have one young quarterback they are trying to develop (Mike Kafka). If they trade Kolb, what they will need is a veteran to back up Vick. They dont need another project and thats what Pryor is at this point.

Q. Why not keep both David Akers and Alex Henery? Even though Sav Rocca has been an exceptional punter, letting Henery gain some experience as a punter while covering the Eagles kicking game should Akers be injured or begin to show his age seems a viable solution.

-- Rodger Gamber
A. Like Kolb, Akers has mentally moved on. He is ready for a fresh start with a new team and he will have offers. In my opinion, he is still one of the five best kickers in the game. But the Eagles drafted Henery to be their guy. It is his job and while he did the punting at Nebraska, the Eagles wont ask him to do double duty. They want the rookie to focus on one task and thats placekicking.

Q. Do you think Brodrick Bunkley will play better with (Jim) Washburn coaching him or is he what he is at this point in his career?

-- Joe McGauley

A. Washburn is known as a coach who gets a lot out of his players. He did it with Albert Haynesworth (well, some of the time). He did it with journeymen such as Jason Babin (Pro Bowler last season) and Travis LeBoy. It will be interesting to see what he can do with Bunkley, a former first-round pick, who is clearly underachieving. Bunkley lost his starting tackle position to free agent Antonio Dixon last season and the defense improved with Dixon in there.

Bunkley has no injury issues. At 27, he is still young and healthy and he has shown in the past that he can play in the NFL. For whatever reason, he seemed to lose his focus over the past two seasons. Perhaps Washburn with his tough love approach can get him find it.

Q. Not that Im obsessed with it, but is it only me that thinks on the Eagles final offensive play of the season Vicks interception against Green Bay the fault is not only with Vick for throwing a bad pass. I would like to believe that in that situation a veteran receiver would have made a defensive play to break up the interception. Riley Cooper made no such attempt, yet Ive not heard anyone bring that up.

-- Blaine FrescoLambertville, N.J.

A. At the time, some people (mostly talk show callers) criticized Cooper for not doing more to knock the ball away from Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams, but thats a stretch. Williams was in perfect position. The blame lies with Vick. He got greedy and made a low-percentage throw at the worst possible time. Dont blame the rookie. This was on the veteran quarterback. He should have known better.

Q. Does Reggie Bush intrigue you at all? I like him as a receiver and a kick returner, but probably not at the price he would want.

-- Dan Willig

A. Bush has been hurt off and on (he had a broken leg in 2010) and, to me, he looks like a guy who lost his mojo. At this point, he is a role player if anything, a change-of-pace back and return man, but Im sure he will want to be paid like a star and I dont see the Eagles going in that direction. They have enough weapons on offense. Whatever money they have to spend, they should spend it on defense.

A final note: Id like to thank everyone who sent cards or e-mails during my recuperation from heart surgery. I tried to answer every get-well message and I apologize if I missed anyone. I greatly appreciate your concern. It is very nice to be back.

E-mail Ray Didinger at viewfromthehall@comcast.net

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids


Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field


Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

USA Today Images

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.