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General manager Scott Howson decided not to talk with any of the Blue Jackets' unrestricted free agents until after the playoffs -- a shrewd move considering how the team has performed against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Jackets have a glut of forwards, and with rookies Derick Brassard and Nikita Filatov pushing for playing time, Howson must decide on whether to re-sign Michael Peca, Manny Malhotra and Jason Williams and restricted free agent Jiri Novotny. It seems almost certain that Peca won't be back.

Malhotra had his best season, but his level of play dropped precipitously against the Red Wings. Now, the Jackets might let him go or try to sign him for less money. Malhotra made $1.8 million this season.

Williams also hasn't played as well during the playoffs as he did during the regular season. Whether the Jackets try to re-sign him might depend on his contract demands.

Fresh concerns over Ohio State's Chris quot;Beaniequot; Wells rose among those who follow the NFL draft obsessively after Peter King of SI.com made a one-line mention of some teams being quot;scared off by a sesamoid bone problemquot; in Wells' foot.

Injury rumors are nothing new with Wells. This latest round could be from teams only interested in floating a Wells rumor so he falls to them in the draft.

Wells and his agent, Adam Heller, have said that he was examined by Dr. James Andrews in January and given a clean bill of health. Wells told radio host Jim Rome that quot;no team expressed that concern.quot;

It will be interesting to see what NFL executives believe.

At ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. has Wells going to New Orleans at No. 14 and Todd McShay pegs him at No. 16 to San Diego. But Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com and Adam Caplan of Scout.com have Wells falling to No. 31, with Arizona.

King obviously believes his report. He doesn't have Wells going in the first round.

Maybe it's good that former Crew coach Sigi Schmid went to Seattle. With Major League Soccer rosters down to 24 players (from 28) and the Crew missing several players, it has helped that the team has a coaching staff young and fit enough to play during practice.

With the Crew rotating three groups of eight into practices this week, coach Robert Warzycha, goalkeeper coach Vadim Kirillov and assistants Mike Lapper and Ricardo Iribarren played, too.

Observers noted a change in Warzycha's demeanor when he's on the field. On the sidelines, the coach is relatively calm and quiet; on the field, he was animated and loud, challenging players in his group and others. He almost looks fit enough to still play.

When spring practice ends, it will be interesting to see whether Ohio State cornerback Devon Torrence follows his heart or his head.

Torrence loves baseball, which is why he has spent summers playing in the low minors in the Houston Astros system. But the junior is suddenly challenging for a starting spot with the Buckeyes, and it's clear that coach Jim Tressel believes Torrence has a chance to play a lot in the fall.

Tressel won't tell Torrence that he can't play baseball, but he has said they will discuss the options in May. It seems likely Torrence will be told that if he misses Football work to play baseball in the summer, it could affect his chances of starting in the fall.

Rumors of a trade sending Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Giants have intensified. The New York Post says quot;the smart moneyquot; is on a deal going down Saturday during the draft, especially if the Browns can draft Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree at No. 5 overall.

Meanwhile, the National Football Post Web site reported that an NFL general manager said he expects the Browns to trade quarterback Brady Quinn, partly because they like Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick.

With the Cincinnati Reds batting .229 as a team, it's worth noting that one of their best hitters is on the bench. Pitcher Micah Owings has a career average of .317 with 12 doubles and five home runs in 122 big-league at-bats. It's not luck -- he hit .354 in the minors.

Manager Dusty Baker uses Owings as a pinch-hitter. He's 2 for 7 overall this season. For the record, Owings isn't interested in making a Babe Ruth-style switch to everyday player. He considers himself a pitcher who can hit.

New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev, traded by the Blue Jackets last summer for defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman, told a Russian newspaper that he is startled by the speed and intensity of the postseason. He has no points in his initial four playoff games against Washington, but his offensive problems predate that: He hasn't scored a goal since March 26.

Zherdev, who had 23 goals in the regular season, played only seven minutes in Game 4 Wednesday. One New York writer noted that Zherdev sometimes relapses into quot;ghost mode.quot;

Rafael Perez's problems have been confounding the Cleveland Indians. After posting a 2.76 ERA in 137 innings over two seasons, the left-handed reliever allowed 13 earned runs in his first seven innings this season. Two years ago, he allowed 12 earned runs in 60 2/3 innings.

The focus is on Perez's problems with his slider, although manager Eric Wedge thinks there is more to it than that. He told The Repository of Canton, quot;The ball hasn't been coming out of his hand the same way. It hasn't had the same command or life.quot;

The first thing the Indians did was call up left-hander Tony Sipp from the Clippers. Wedge also decided that Perez won't pitch in any critical late-game situations until he gets in enough work on the side to correct the problem.

Last week, former Cincinnati Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh told the NFL Network, quot;Chad Johnson called me today. Crying. He wonders why everybody can get traded but him.quot;

Widespread speculation has Ocho Cinco (formerly Johnson) getting traded, in part because he hasn't attended offseason workouts, but coach Marvin Lewis said again this week that he won't be dealt.

Lewis did say the Bengals likely would take a receiver with one of their 11 draft picks. That, however, has nothing to do with Ocho Cinco. During Lewis' tenure, the team has drafted nine receivers, taking at least one every year but 2007.

The wives of former Blue Jackets Todd Marchant and Francois Beauchemin, now with Anaheim, both scheduled delivery of babies on the Ducks' off day in the playoffs Monday.

Beauchemin's wife, Marie-Claude, delivered a girl by Cesarean section; Marchant's wife had her labor induced and delivered a boy. Caroline Marchant was at the Ducks' game the next night cradling her newborn son and with the couple's three other children at her side.

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 24, 2009

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Donte' Stallworth Name: Donte' Stallworth
Position: WR
Age: 27
Experience: 7 years
College: Tennessee
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