Broncos players visit victims in Aurora, Colorado

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Broncos players visit victims in Aurora, Colorado

From Comcast SportsNet
AURORA, Colo. (AP) -- A half dozen Denver Broncos visited with survivors of the Colorado theater shooting on Sunday to try to lift their spirits. The group visited with five patients at the Medical Center of Aurora and also met with the emergency room staff that provided the initial treatment Friday morning for many of the shooting victims of the massacre at a suburban Denver movie theater that left 12 dead, 58 injured and a nation in sorrow. "What we were trying to do was go in there, show support and try to put a smile on these peoples' faces. But the thing is, they put a smile on our faces," linebacker Joe Mays said. "They had such positive attitudes. They knew they were blessed to live and they knew they were going to have another chance to walk about with their families." Mays was joined by linemen Ryan Clady, Chris Kuper and Ben Garland, receiver Eric Decker, tight end Jacob Tamme and former teammate Brian Dawkins, who retired earlier this year. The players gave up their last Sunday before training camp to lend a measure of comfort to the community. "We felt this was the least we could do to help them get through this tragic event," Mays said. "We came out of there with just a different mindset on life as well. They were still able to smile and laugh and have people in their corner and by their side. Just to see that couldn't help but smile a smile on our faces and make us think about our lives and being with our families." Among the patients who received visits from the Broncos was Carey Rottman, 27, a native of Mequon, Wis., who used to play football at Winona State in Minnesota, where he was a running back and faced Kuper's North Dakota teams. Garland, a Colorado native who attended the Air Force Academy and whose family lost their home in the recent wildfires in the state, tweeted over the weekend that he had planned to attend the new Batman movie at the Century 16 theater where the shooting occurred "but changed my mind" shortly before the midnight premiere. Quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday also called four patients who were taken to the Medical Center of Aurora after the shooter unleashed two canisters of gas and opened fire during the Friday midnight premiere of "Dark Knight Rises." The four-time MVP signed with the Broncos this year after missing the 2011 season with a nerve problem in his neck that weakened his throwing arm. The Broncos start training camp on Wednesday.

Crowder on facing Cousins: ‘Step up to the test or you get run over’

Crowder on facing Cousins: ‘Step up to the test or you get run over’

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder.

Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.”

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49ers specialists get drenched in preparations for inclement weather

49ers specialists get drenched in preparations for inclement weather

CHICAGO – The 49ers trained for the expected low-30s temperature and snow at Soldier Field with a week of workouts in the 80-degree heat of Florida.

However, the team’s specialists got some practice handling wet footballs during the 49ers’ final practice in Orlando, Fla.

Special-teams coordinator Derius Swinton and his assistant, Michael Clay, made a game of it. Long-snapper Kyle Nelson had to execute 10 perfect snaps to holder Bradley Pinion for field goals. Then, Pinion moved back to punt formation, where another 10 in a row were required.

But they had to be perfect while Swinton and Clay squirted water on the ball and at the hands of Nelson and Pinion, who also received a blast of water in his ear hole at one point.

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“We always look up to see if there’s a chance of rain or snow, and we go, ‘Wet-ball drill,’ ” Nelson said. “They (Swinton and Clay) get to have fun, squirting water on us and use the water bottles.

“They make it as bad as possible.”

Nelson and Pinion teamed up to execute perfectly on all 20 field goals and punts.

“If I can do this, in a game it’s going to be even easier,” Nelson said. “They make it a lot harder in practice than it is in a game, so when we get to a game, everything is not as fast.”

The weather conditions on Sunday against the Chicago Bears will likely challenge Nelson, Pinion and kicker Phil Dawson as much as anyone. Dawson has been tracking the weather forecasts for more than a week to get mentally prepared for what he might face.

“Soldier Field is notorious for being a tough place to kick because of the wind and the field itself,” Dawson said this week on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “The footing is pretty poor. So when you add snow and moisture to the equation, it’s going to be one of those days.

“You need to have conversations with your coaches and let them know – be honest with them – about the difficulty. But you have to do that without it affecting your confidence to go out and get the job done.”

Said Nelson, “It takes more focus in bad weather. The snaps have to be a little more perfect. Bradley has to focus more on catching the ball, and Phil has to concentrate on the approach and be more cautious.”