Big Ben’s conduct concerns Goodell

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…Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is keeping the faith that the franchise will see better days in the near future. Motivated by the team’s offseason moves to bring in receiver Nate Burleson, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and defensive tackle Corey Williams, Johnson was optimistic last week during offseason workouts with teammates. “You always have to have faith things are going to get better,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “You can't get down and think things won't get better or they definitely won't.” After a 1,300-plus yard, 12-touchdown 2008 campaign, Megatron battled nagging injuries throughout 2009. He hopes to have a healthy 2010 and that his offseason work with quarterback Matthew Stafford will improve their chemistry. As a hopeless Lions fan, I hope for the same thing. I also hope that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan calls for the Fade Route once in awhile to utilize Johnson’s red-zone ability. I don’t care if the defense knows it’s coming every time. Please, still run it.

…League commissioner Roger Goodell established on Monday that he wasn’t too keen on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being under investigation for an alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old college student. Goodell said that he had spoken to the Rooney family — the team owners — and did indeed plan to speak with the quarterback, who has not been charged with any crime. “We take the issue very seriously,” Goodell said at a news conference at the annual NFL owners meetings. “We are concerned Ben continues to put himself in this position.” Big Ben definitely hasn’t had a squeaky-clean off-the-field record. The motorcycle accident in 2006 was one thing, but to even have these new charges directed at him following the 2008 Lake Tahoe rape allegation is certainly another. Would Goodell consider suspending him before any potential conviction, much like he did with Michael Vick?

…Coming off an 11-5 season in 2008, the Miami Dolphins opened up their wallets in free agency to re-sign their own players and lure new ones to South Beach. The result? A 7-9 campaign last season while having the second-highest payroll in the league. So what does team owner Steve Ross want to do for 2010? He wants to make it rain. Despite grabbing only one big-name free agent thus far — linebacker Karlos Dansby for $43 million over five years — Ross maintained that Bill Parcells and the front office will not be handcuffed by a budget despite the club working under its own internal salary cap. So will Dolphins fans be saying hello to more free-agent busts like Ernest Wilford, Eric Green, Gibril Wilson and Chris Crocker? “I'm putting my money with Bill Parcells and that organization. Nobody bats 1.000,” Ross told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “The bottom line, the end result, where we are and what we're spending, the results are in your won-loss record.” Despite the disappointing end to last season, Ross believes in the current regime. “[Teams] don't go from 1-15 to 11-5, making the playoffs,” he said. “Nobody has ever done that before. So, was the money well spent? Maybe if you look at specific players, you might question some of it. But at the same time if you look at the end result, it's been incredible. People feel like something is being done in Miami, and we're on the right path.” I love quarterback Chad Henne and head coach Tony Sparano, and I believe in the Dolphins building through the draft. But it’ll be interesting to see if the Fish could snag one big-time wideout to give Henne a much-needed weapon on offense. At No. 12, if he is still available, Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant has to be the guy.

…Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, as expected, will miss the rest of the NCAA tournament — a crushing blow to the Spartans. The guard ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left foot in the second-round win over Maryland on Sunday. The Spartans will sorely miss the 2009 Big Ten player of the year, but they know preparations for Friday’s Midwest Regional semifinal in St. Louis against Northern Iowa must continue despite the sobering news.

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