NFL players aided by Viagra?

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NFL players aided by Viagra?

From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- The idea that NFL players might use Viagra to gain an edge on the field left Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs practically in tears -- from laughing.He wasn't the only one.Players cracked jokes about it Thursday, a day after Bears star receiver Brandon Marshall said he had heard that some players were using Viagra and hoping it would give them an advantage during games. Punch lines aside, experts say it's unlikely the erectile-dysfunction drug would help."What would that do? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Minnesota Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler said.Bears defensive back D.J. Moore wondered if Marshall was kidding and said: "I've never heard of that."NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Viagra is not a banned substance and declined further comment.Marshall started it all Wednesday when asked about a growing number of suspensions tied to amphetamines, including the ADHD drug Adderall. He said he didn't know much about Adderall, but suggested Viagra could be viewed by players as a way to boost their energy."I know guys, it's such a competitive league, and guys try anything just to get that edge," he said. "I've heard of guys using Viagra, seriously, because the blood, it's supposed to thin. . I don't know. Some crazy stuff. It's kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these things, so you have to be careful."But using Viagra for more touchdowns and tackles?"I didn't even know people could do that," New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett said. And his teammate Justin Tuck added: "I can't imagine why people would take steroids, so I have no comment on Viagra. Besides, my wife would be very upset with me."Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, a 15-year NFL veteran, said some of his teammates were talking about Marshall's Viagra remarks but he had never heard of such a thing himself."I don't understand what good it would do," he said.Dr. Olivier Rabin, science director at the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal, said it is unlikely Viagra does anything to improve football performance in NFL players. He also said there is no evidence the drug might somehow mask the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.Rabin noted that research in high altitudes found the drug helped improve oxygen flow in climbers with impaired lung function. That's because Viagra can dilate blood vessels, and vessels in the lung constrict in high altitudes.Research involving cyclists at high altitudes found similar benefits, but Rabin said studies have shown the drug has no effect on athletic performance at sea level.University of Miami researcher Kevin Jacobs has studied Viagra in simulated high-altitude environments and "didn't find much benefit in young, healthy, active individuals.""No one has really tested it in football players doing exercise. Whatever benefit they think they're getting is probably more psychological than anything," said Jacobs, an associate professor in the kinesiology and sport sciences department.Marshall said he doesn't take medication "of any sort" and noted that the NFL's drug policy is strict."Any time you take anything over the counter, if you don't approve it with your training room, you can get popped," he said. "Some of it's fair, but some of it kind of puts you in a tough spot as a professional athlete. Because the only thing you'll see is getting busted for PEDs, but it could be something over the counter for a little sickness. You just have to be on top of your Ps and Qs."

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Mac Williamson (R) LF
8. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

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Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

The Raiders searched in vain for dynamic receiving production before Amari Cooper came along. Thousand-yard seasons proved elusive even in the golden age of passing stats, with a full decade’s drought after Randy Moss posted a four-digit total in 2005.

Cooper’s made that old hat.

The 2015 first-round pick has two 1,000-yard campaigns in as many seasons. Ditto for Pro Bowl honors. Those feats have become increasingly common, Cooper’s already in rarified air.

Cooper’s career is off to a solid start, but the No. 4 overall pick two years ago believes he can be much better. That especially true later in the season, where production has waned in his first two seasons.

He has nine 100-yard performances in two seasons, with just two coming after week 8. He noticeably struggled with injury at the end of 2015, but wouldn’t make excuses for a production drop last season.

Cooper wants to finish as strong as he starts, and has full confidence that will happen this season.

“Of course it’s been on my mind, but it’s a good thing to me because I feel like I can go nowhere but up,” Cooper said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “I know that I can have a lot more production than I’ve had in the past two seasons, so we’ll just see.”

Cooper has sought counsel from other NFL greats – Calvin Johnson has been in Alamenda this week, offering sage advice – and Raiders coaches have identified ways where he can be even more dynamic working with quarterback Derek Carr.

“Certainly there are things that we think we can do to help,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Also, for him, I think he has a much greater understanding. I thought last year was a step forward. I know he wants to continue to push. It’s great when you have a young, talented player that’s really eager to be special, wants to make a mark in this league. The way he’s working at it right now is outstanding. That’s all we want of our guys.

Cooper is a versatile presence, able to do most everything well. His route running was luaded out of college, though he can be a good deep-ball receiver and can create big plays after the catch. Cooper knows his hands much be more consistent, but the Raiders want to exract more from his natural talents.

“There are a lot of different facets to him,” Del Rio said. “Where his speed is really one of his greatest strengths, obviously, his route running ability was pretty doggone polished when he got here, but even that can continue to improve and the timing with Derek. We think he’ll continue to ascend.”

That’s the goal heading into his third NFL season now armed with greater knowledge of how he’s being covered and muscle memory of what went wrong at times later in the year.

Cooper believes detail work will help him this fall and winter, and that starts in earnest during the offseason program.

“It’s easy to forget the small things like high-pointing the ball, looking the ball all the way through and not trying to run before you actually catch the ball,” Cooper said. “Overall, I’m just working hard in the offseason so that you can come back and you can be dominant.

“I want to be the best Amari Cooper that I could possibly be. I want to be better than every other year that I’ve played football, so that’s how I am looking at this year.”