He led the CFL in rushing and was a league all-star in his first season as a starter with the Montreal Alouettes. Carson Palmer Jersey
. But the most vivid memory Brandon Whitaker has about the 2011 campaign was the ball sailing off his fingertips on a third-down gamble that allowed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to earn a 52-44 overtime East Division semifinal road win over Montreal that ended the Alouettes two-year reign as league champions. "My mom, my girlfriend and family reminded me a lot about last year but the only thing I can remember is that dropped ball in the semifinal game," Whitaker said in a telephone interview Thursday from the Alouettes camp. "That was the main thing I used this off-season as motivation to get ready for this year. "I was truly blessed to have a good year last year but I want to do even better." Thats a scary thought considering after serving as veteran Avon Cobournes backup, the five-foot-10, 200-pound Whitaker led the CFL in 2011 in carries (226), yards rushing (1,381) and yards from scrimmage (2,019) as Montreals starting tailback. He also added 72 catches for 638 yards and finished the season scoring 10 touchdowns (four rushing, six passing). And while the 26-year-old native of Edmond, Okla., has a lock on the starting tailback position, hes not leaving anything to chance in training camp. "I have a little bit more confidence coming into this camp but my mentality remains the same," he said. "Theres a lot of good competition out here and Im competing for a job just like every other year." Then again, Whitaker need not look far to understand that success, especially in the CFL, is fleeting. The 33-year-old Cobourne, a two-time Grey Cup champion with seemingly plenty left in the tank, remains unsigned after being released this off-season by Hamilton. But Whitaker, who speaks often with Cobourne, expects to see his former teammate back in the CFL soon. "I feel were going to see him (in CFL) a couple of weeks into the season," Whitaker said. "I dont think hes done with football at all. "He has a lot more to give." And so, it seems, does the Alouettes. Despite finishing finished second in the East Division last season with a 10-8 record, Whitaker believes Montreal is the team to beat in its conference. "Hands down," he said. "When we have AC (quarterback Anthony Calvillo) and the receiving corps we have along with the defence were picking up, Montreal is Montreal. "Last year was unfortunate but I definitely feel like Montreal is still the team to beat in the East." The 2011 campaign marked the first time in four years Montreal hadnt finished atop the East Division. And the loss to Hamilton ended the Alouettes streak of three straight Grey Cup appearances (2008 loss to Calgary, 09 and 2010 wins over Saskatchewan). Montreals Grey Cup aspirations were certainly bolstered when Calvillo announced hed return for a 19th CFL season -- and 15th with Montreal -- in 2012. Last year, the veteran quarterback threw for a league-high 5,251 yards with only eight interceptions in 654 passing attempts, the third straight season of single-digit picks. Whats more, Calvillo surpassed Damon Allen as pro footballs all-time passing leader and enters the season with 73,412 yards. "Its definitely an honour to be out on the field with a Hall of Famer," Whitaker said of Calvillo. "Hes the best quarterback in the league, the best quarterback to play the game. "I feel lucky and definitely want to take advantage of every opportunity I get with him." Calvillo and Whitaker werent the only Alouettes to enjoy outstanding 2011 campaigns as Jamel Richardson was the CFLs leading receiver with 112 catches for 1,777 yards and 11 TDs. But among those missing from Montreals camp are such veterans as receiver Kerry Watkins (retired) as well as defensive linemen Anwar Stewart and Eric Wilson (both released). All signs point to a very tight and close East Division this year. Winnipeg opens the 2012 campaign as the defending conference champion and despite the absence of offensive linemen Brendon LaBatte and Obby Khan and rush end Odell Willis still boasts a solid lineup. Both Toronto and Hamilton both figure to improve after acquiring veteran quarterbacks Ricky Ray and Henry Burris, respectively, this off-season. The Argos also made former Alouettes offensive co-ordinator Scott Milanovich their new head coach while Hamilton GM Bob OBillovich hired veteran CFL assistant George Cortez as his new head coach while also signing former Saskatchewan slotback Andy Fantuz, the top player available in CFL free agency. "Its definitely going to be an interesting run this year," Whitaker said. "There arent going to be any giveaway games and theres definitely going to be tough competition. "But well be ready to go." So will Whitaker, who has set his personal 2012 goals but is keeping them to himself. But theres no hiding whats atop Whitakers wish list: Hoisting the Grey Cup in November at Torontos Rogers Centre to cap a wild 100th anniversary celebration of Lord Earl Greys historic mug. "Oh yeah, thats No. 1," he said. "I can tell you that one." Colt McCoy Jersey
. Since taking over as Poland coach in late 2009, Franciszek Smuda has overhauled the squad and built it anew around the talents of Dortmund teammates Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek. Matt Hasselbeck Jersey
. - There wont be a Beijing repeat in London. Jamaal Charles Jersey
. The third-ranked Englishman was at 12 under after playing with a new set of irons ahead of the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco next week. Sebastian Janikowski Jersey
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. Hopes were high for Canadian Meaghan Benfeito of Montreal in the event, after she placed second in the morning semi-final. But the scores are reset to zero at the start of each round, and the 23-year-old crashed out with her very first dive. She severely over-shot her landing and received marks of just 5. CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chase Utley will miss the entire exhibition schedule for the second straight year and will not be in the Philadelphia Phillies opening-day lineup due to his injured knees. The five-time All-Star, limited to 103 games last year when he didnt play his first game until May 23, said Sunday he will not have season-ending surgery and does not have plans to retire. He says he feels better than he did at this point last year. "Im not going to be ready for opening day," Utley said. "I dont really have a timeline on when I will be available. I will take this process fairly slow because I think its important to get everything around my knees working correctly. And I think its going to take a little bit of time. Im disappointed. Im upset. Im not happy that Im in this situation right now, but Im not going to let that deter me and get me down." After arriving in camp last month positive with his off-season progression, Utley took regular batting practice and participated in light fielding work as spring training got underway. But his workouts slowed and then stopped. Last week, he left camp to see a physical therapist Brett Fischer in Arizona. "I have a better idea now on how my body is supposed to move compared to how its moving at this time, and I think we have something pretty good for the future," Utley said. Ben Roethlisberger Jersey
. "I think there are some misunderstandings. I dont have patellar tendinitis. Its called chondromalacia, which is a roughening of the cartilage underneath the patellar. And its not that bad. Its not bad enough to have microfracture surgery. Its not bad enough to end my career. Its an issue Im going to have to deal with. Theres a lot of wear and tear in this game, and I just have to get things around my knee to move better to take a little pressure off my knee." Utley added that he is not considering a surgery of any type because he hasnt been informed of one that comes with a "100 per cent" success rate. Although he has no timetable, Utley expected to play and contribute this year. "Ive already seen benefits over the last four or five days from doing some new exercises," Utley said. "Im very optimistic this is going to turn out well. But again its going to take a little time and I have to do this right. I think its important, not only for this year, but for the rest of my career. Im 33 years old. I know some people think thats old, but I still feel like I have a lot of baseball left in me." In Utleys absence the Phillies will turn to rookie Freddy Galvis. The 22-year-old Galvis entered Sunday hitting .236 (13-for-55) with two homers, two triples and a team-high 12 RBIs in 20 games. ' ' '