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McNabb Feels 'Disrespected' But Wants to Return to Redskins

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(Reuters) - Benched quarterback Donovan McNabb feels the Washington Redskins "disrespected" him in demoting him last week, he said Tuesday.

"When you get in that situation, and all of a sudden you get this news a couple days before a game, you know you do feel somewhat disrespected," McNabb said on his radio show.

The comments, reported on the team's website (www.redskins.com), were McNabb's first since the former starter was benched for the remainder of the season last week.

Despite the demotion, McNabb said he would like to return to the team in 2011.

"I definitely hope so and I expressed that," the six-time Pro Bowler said. "I don't want to go anywhere."

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, in announcing McNabb's benching, said he could not guarantee the quarterback would be back in Washington next season.

"I really wasn't looking for a guarantee," McNabb said. "I wanted to hear ... 'What are you thinking?'"

Shanahan said he wanted to take a closer look at quarterbacks Rex Grossman, an eight-year NFL veteran who will now start, and 2007 Miami Dolphins second-round draft pick John Beck.

McNabb, 34, had started every game for the Redskins (5-9) before Sunday's 33-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He had been traded to Washington by the Philadelphia Eagles in April.

He signed a five-year, $78 million extension with Washington last month, but the deal only guaranteed him an extra $3.5 million this year. He could be cut before next season without any additional payment.

McNabb said he expected it would be the offseason before his future with the Redskins was resolved.

(Writing by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by Steve Ginsburg. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

Eagles, Giants Prepare for Round Two of NFC East Battle

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By Larry Fine –

(Reuters) - The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles are getting ready for round two of their NFC East divisional series with first place on the line again Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Giants safety Deon Grant said he and his team mates have been waiting for the rematch from the time they walked off the field in Philadelphia after New York's 27-17 loss in November.

"We were upset going to the locker room," Grant said about squandering a 17-16 fourth-quarter lead. "We couldn't wait to get to play those guys again."

Said Giants offensive lineman David Diehl: "This game has always been about a 60-minute fight."

Eagles coach Andy Reid told reporters in Philadelphia that he expected a high caliber contest.

"Those are always great football games when two rivals have an opportunity to play each other," said Reid, whose team has won five in row against the Giants.

"It's kind of neat that both teams are in a position where the game is important this late in the season. It's a tribute to both teams and how they've played."

The last time the teams played they were tied for the division lead at 6-3. Now the NFC East co-leaders are both 9-4 with Sunday's winner earning the inside track to a possible playoff bye or home field advantage in the first round.

Even stoic Giants coach Tom Coughlin was charged up.

"In the division. For the lead in the division. Mid-December. It's exciting, very exciting," Coughlin said in opening his news conference Wednesday.

Both defenses shined in that first contest.

The Giants limited the scrambling threat posed by Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick by applying disciplined pressure to limit him to 34 yards on 11 runs.

Philadelphia held the Giants to a season-low 208 yards of offense and registered five turnovers on three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, leading coach Coughlin to lament his team's "disregard for the ball."

Since that defeat, the Giants have leaned on the double-barreled running threat of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who expect to play a pivotal role in the game plan with wide receiver Steve Smith lost to injury.

"We've got to get the running game going," said Bradshaw. "That's our primary focus."

Manning said he had to limit turnovers that could fuel the Eagles' explosive attack.

"With their offense, you don't want to give them anything easy. Our defense is playing great football and you don't want to give the opposing team a short field," he said.

Said Vick: "We all know the magnitude of the game. We know it's a big one. Where else would you want to be?

"Come Sunday, it's going to have to be lights out on both sides."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)

Bradford, USC Finish Strong

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Former Colton High star overcomes setbacks to lead Trojans to victory

COMMENTARY

By G. Montgomery, BVN Staff –

The annual battle for LA’s mythical college city championship between UCLA and USC took on an unforeseen new twist this season.

One that most fans are not old enough to have witnessed before. For the first time in three decades the only thing at stake was a one year supply of bragging rights for the winner. It has been thirty years since neither of the two teams were advancing after this game. No Pac-10 title, no Rose Bowl, no anything bowl after Saturday’s game. Just a final team meeting and turn out the lights when you leave the locker room.

UCLA head coach Rick Nueheisel, the master of motivation, looked drained after losing his third consecutive battle to his cross-town rivals 28-14 in front of 71,101 fans. Fortunately for Nueheisel it is not a three strikes and your out situation but those little background noises are getting louder. UCLA (4-8, 2-7) still hasn’t been able to recruit enough of the kinds of athletes that Nueheisel needs to compete with USC and other Pac-10 powers.

Although the Bruins were a very young team this season with only a couple of seniors contributing overall, several underclassmen stars will likely declare for early entry into the NFL draft essentially leaving Nueheisel’s cupboard bare again.

Given UCLA’s poor showing this season, there is very little to build on for next season. When ask about his teams future, Nueheisel said. “I’ve said all along that I’ll have to wait until the end of the season, and it’s the end of the season. I have to trust my instincts on that. I’ve got some great mentors at the University that will help me. I’m looking forward to getting that process started as quickly as possible.”

Interpretation−He has no idea at this point what direction the program will take. Obviously, there will be major changes, likely in personnel and some staff, the pistol offense will likely be back in the holster.

USC’s (5-4, 8-5) frustration comes from an entirely different direction. The Reggie Bush fallout has been well chronicled and really warrants no further discussion other than remembering that USC is ineligible to participate in any post season Bowls. USC’s first season with Lane Kiffin as the head Trojan was marginally successful and in a really strange way kind of interesting. We learned more about Kiffin than we did about the team mainly because, USC never played Trojan football or what we have come to identify as Trojan football. Kiffin himself hinted at the possibility that he may have contributed to a couple of the close losses. “If you look back, there were so many games that we should have won. So many games that we just handed away. We finished 3rd in the conference and there is some good to that (but) obviously that’s well below standards”.

What Kiffin didn’t say is why those games were handed away. Maybe he doesn’t know or he’s not willing to say but there were some very questionable coaching decisions during the season. One of the most puzzling to everyone is benching starting tailback Allen Bradford midway through the season in favor of sophomore Marc Tyler and true freshman Di l lon Baxter. After Bradford’s dazzling 212-yard rushing performance on Saturday it is impossible not to look back at last weeks game when the Trojans rushed for a total of 80-yards and handed a winnable game to the Irish at the Coliseum.

Bradford, a former Colton High star fell victim to the coaching paradox that routinely occurs when athletes get caught up in a coaching change. Beginning the season as the heir apparent to the position, Bradford and CJ Gable were expected to handle the bulk of the offense. Bradford rushed for 131-yards against Minnesota in week 3 and got only 7 carries the following week. He rushed for 223-yards on 23 carries against Washington in a losing effort and then had only 28 total carries in the next six games. He did not play at all against Arizona and Notre Dame.

When asked when he had decided to start Bradford, Kiffin said the decision had been made on Friday night. Although there is some inaccuracies in the time line, the positive is that Kiffin finally figured out that he was depriving his team of one of its most potent weapons.

“All I need is someone to tell me that they are counting on me and I am going to give everything I can to get the job done. That’s what I did tonight. Said Bradford after his performance. I am going home now and wait to see what Bowl games I have the opportunity play in”. Bradford’s faith and determination delivered him to a successful end for his college career, one that he deserves but so many of these young men get caught up in coaching changes and have their paths misdirected and can never recover.

Gmontgomery can be reached at gmontgomery@att.net

Rockets Send Lakers to Rare Four-Game Losing Streak

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(Reuters) - The Houston Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 109-99 Wednesday to hand the two-time defending champions their first four-game losing streak since the 2006-07 season.

Kevin Martin had 22 points and the Rockets scored the last nine points of the game to run away from the struggling Lakers (13-6) before a crowd of 18,116 at the Toyota Center.

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points on 10-for-24 shooting and Lamar Odom added 25 points and 11 rebounds but Los Angeles could not turn things around after previous defeats to Utah, Indiana and Memphis.

The Lakers' Pau Gasol appeared limited physically as he made just two of eight shots for eight points.

Los Angeles led Houston 97-94 with 3:10 to go, but Shane Battier made two straight three-pointers and scored 11 of his 17 points in the final three minutes to lift the Rockets (6-12).

"Whatever we're going through is probably good for us. It's humbling," Odom told reporters. "(We have to) understand that we can't win those games if we don't play basketball the right way and do all the little things we need to do as a group."

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Ginsburg)

Magic Hand LeBron, Struggling Heat Another Loss

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(Reuters) - The Orlando Magic beat the Miami Heat 104-95 on Wednesday, the third straight loss for a talent-laden squad that is off to a disappointing start to the NBA season.

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds while Jameer Nelson scored 11 fourth-quarter points to help the Magic avenge a 26-point loss to the Heat earlier this season.

Two-times reigning NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James had 25 points and Chris Bosh shook off a back injury to add 21, but the struggles continued for the Heat, which slipped to 8-7 on the season.

Miami, which signed James and fellow All Star Bosh during the off-season to join Dwyane Wade, have yet to display the look of a contender for an NBA title while dealing with injuries to key reserves Udonis Haslem (foot) and Mike Miller (thumb).

"If we had the answer we wouldn't be sitting at around .500. (It's) something we have to continue to dissect and get better," James told reporters of the reason for the team's woes.

"It's huge pressure (for us) but we knew that. I think this team was ready for it, and still is."

Wade had 18 points but made just 6 of 21 shots one game after he went 1-for-13 from the field on Monday.

Trailing for most of the game, Miami grabbed a one-point lead on Orlando with 6:48 remaining but Nelson tallied six points during an 8-0 run that closed out the game for Orlando(10-4).

Nelson, who finished with 17 points and 14 assists, was ejected during the game's final seconds after picking up a second technical foul for taunting a Miami player.

Orlando guard Jason Williams was also ejected from the game when he threw the ball in the direction of Heat player Jamaal Magloire in the third quarter.

However, the Magic overcame the ill-discipline to win for the fifth time in six games despite also playing without starting guard Vince Carter, who injured his knee in Monday's loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

J.J. Redick started in his place and scored 20 points while Brandon Bass chipped in 18 points off the bench for Orlando, including 16 in the first half where Miami's Bosh headed to the locker room with back spasms before returning.

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Edited by Patrick Johnston)

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