Eagles (Tentatively) Set to Begin Regular Season on September 11

Eagles (Tentatively) Set to Begin Regular Season on September 11

Over the past several years, the NFL's
popularity has increased to the point where even the release of the
schedule results in hoopla and ballyhoo. Personally, I've never much
understood the excitement over a list of games that are well over four
months away, and now more than ever it seems meaningless. The very sport
hangs in the balance as a result of the lockout, and with free agency
being delayed and the draft still a week away, it's much harder to
predict which teams will rise and fall in the coming year.

That being said, the league went ahead and produced the schedule
anyway, with the regular season tentatively slated to begin Thursday
night in Green Bay on September 8, when the Super Bowl champs will take
on New Orleans. The Eagles kickoff their 2011 campaign three days later
in St. Louis on Sunday, September 11, and then eventually open the Linc
in Week 3 against the rival New York Giants on September 25. Full schedule and analysis below.

Week 1: @ St. Louis

Week 2: @ Atlanta - Sunday Night

Week 3: v. New York Giants

Week 4: v. San Francisco

Week 5: @ Buffalo

Week 6: @ Washington

Week 7: bye

Week 8: v. Dallas - Sunday Night

Week 9: v. Chicago - Monday Night

Week 10: v. Arizona

Week 11: @ New York Giants

Week 12: v. New England

Week 13: @ Seattle - Thursday Night

Week 14: @ Miami

Week 15: v. New York Jets

Week 16: @ Dallas - 4:15 Saturday (Christmas Eve)

Week 17: v. Washington

Pros: The Eagles drew the NFC West this season. While that division
couldn't possibly be worse than it was last season (could it?), three of
the four teams might feature new starting quarterbacks in 2011, with
only the Rams currently married to sophomore Sam Bradford. Either way,
all four franchises have an upward climb to respectability after a
sub-.500 club was able to secure a division title for the first time
this past season.

In terms of travel, the Birds will only compete further west than
Dallas once, though it is a trip to Qwest Field in Seattle. That's
always an imposing environment.

Cons: The Eagles drew the AFC East this season. Buffalo and Miami
probably don't scare anybody, but New York and New England will almost
certainly be powerhouses once again. If there is anything positive to
take away from those matchups at all, it's the Birds will be home for
both.

However, they also have a pair of road games on short weeks following
those meetings with likely Super Bowl contenders. The Eagles fly to
Seattle for a Thursday nighter after doing battle with the Pats, and
will head to Dallas for a division contest six days after their duel
with the Jets. Both trips are in December, further compounding the
matter.

Of course, as was already mentioned, it's not very constructive
trying to predict which teams will be good in April, particularly in the
wake of the lockout. We'll examine the schedule as--or perhaps more
appropriately, if--we get closer to the regular season, but for
now, which games will you try to pick up tickets for, and which road
trips are the most appealing?

Rookies Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers help Union top Crew

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Rookies Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers help Union top Crew

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Rookies Keegan Rosenberry and Fabian Herbers scored to help the Philadelphia Union beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Rosenberry gave the Union (10-9-7) a 2-1 lead in the 74th minute. Tranquillo Barnetta one-timed a feed to Rosenberry who trapped it with his right foot and blasted a left-footer through a pair of defenders and past goalkeeper Steve Clark.

Herbers, making his fifth start of the season, opened the scoring in the 60th. Chris Pontius tapped it to Herbers who, from the top of the box, had a shot blocked by Hector Jimenez before side-netting the rebound. Both of his two career goals have come against Columbus (4-9-11).

Adam Jahn tied it in the 73rd minute. Tony Tchani's header, off the corner by Federico Higuain, was deflected off the crossbar by goalkeeper Andre Blake and -- after a failed clearance by the Union -- Jahn tapped it in from close range.

It was the Union's third consecutive home win.

Columbus has one win in its last 11 matches.

Source: Phillies have gotten trade 'nibbles' on Carlos Ruiz

Source: Phillies have gotten trade 'nibbles' on Carlos Ruiz

CHICAGO — Another trade deadline arrives next Wednesday.

Could a Phillies veteran such as Ryan Howard or Carlos Ruiz, the lone holdovers from the 2008 World Series championship team, be on the move?

ESPN reports that both players have cleared waivers, which would make them eligible to be dealt. Players traded after Aug. 1 must first clear waivers. They have to be on a new team’s roster by Sept. 1 to gain postseason eligibility. Players traded after Sept. 1 are not eligible for the postseason.

Howard has been available for a trade for a couple of seasons, but there has been no interest. Even now, with him hitting .339 with seven homers, 16 RBIs and a .742 slugging percentage since the All-Star break (entering Wednesday), there remains little interest, according to sources. Howard is still owed about $16 million in the form of salary and a $10 million contract buyout for 2017, but that would not be an impediment to a deal as the Phils would eat that. Still, it’s unlikely he will be traded because most of the American League contenders are set at designated hitter, which would be his optimal role.

So, Howard, 36, is likely to play out the final year of his contract with the Phils, take his well-earned bows and exit either to retirement or a new team next season. He says he wants to keep playing.

Ruiz, 37, is also in the final year of his contract. Like Howard, he has swung the bat well recently, hitting .298 with a .433 on-base percentage in his last 26 games. He’s a backup catcher at this stage of his career, but that could appeal to a team like Cleveland or Boston, contenders who could be in the market for catching depth.

A baseball source said the Phillies have received some recent “nibbles” on Ruiz. It’s unclear if a deal will reach the finish line.

As players with 10 seasons in the majors and five consecutive with the same team, Howard and Ruiz both have the power to block a trade. It’s doubtful that either would because both have stated that their goal is to play in the postseason again.

“I’m still happy here,” Ruiz said. “We’ll see what happens. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'm going to play.”

Howard has taken the same attitude.

“Those are situations where I guess you’ve got to see what presents itself,” he said. “You know me. The last 12 years I’ve just been focused on playing ball. If it presents itself, it presents itself. You handle that situation. Otherwise, I just try to stay in the moment, stay in the now and prepare for the game.”

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley will start at quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions open against Kent State on Sept 3.

Coach James Franklin settled on the sophomore after McSorley battled redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens for the job through the spring and summer.

"We're excited what he brings to our offense," Franklin said Wednesday. "I think the biggest thing is he's been the backup quarterback for two years. He has game experience and there's value in that. You've been able to see it already, you're not projecting as much."

McSorley will make his first career start at home against Kent State.

"It's a lot of weight off my shoulders," McSorley said. "Over the whole offseason, Tommy and I were pushing each other. This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other."

Both quarterbacks are strong runners, but McSorley's experience gave him the edge.

His shiftiness was utilized in practice throughout his tenure as Christian Hackenberg's backup. He usually led the scout team against the top defense, offering a similar look to the opposing running quarterbacks Penn State would play.

Although he's played sparingly on Saturdays in that time, McSorley saw meaningful snaps in Penn State's bowl game in relief of an injured Hackenberg. Then, McSorley completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, ran seven times for 31 yards and nearly led a comeback against Georgia.

Now, McSorley will try and turn around a unit that's ranked 105th and 114th in total offense the last two seasons. He'll do so in a spread-based offense designed for a mobile quarterback and led by new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

"I think the best thing about the way he runs the ball is he's savvy," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "He sets up his cuts. You play a guy who's a statue in the pocket and you cover well, he gets sacked. Now we have another element. Not only do you have to worry about covering guys, but when that four or five seconds is up there's that option of scrambling, another aspect of the play you have to worry about."