Wakeup Call: The market for Youk is heating up

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Wakeup Call: The market for Youk is heating up

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, December 3:

BASEBALL
The Kevin Youkilis market appears to be heating up. (CSN Chicago)

Sounds like Ichiro -- or at least his agent -- is irritated with the Yankees. (CSN Baltimore)

Brian Wilson may have wanted to stick it to the Giants by joining their archrivals in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers apparently don't want any part of it. (CSN Bay Area)

From the "Succumbing To The Obvious" file, Brad Lidge has decided to retire. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

What? Edgardo Alfonzo was still playing?? (AP)

Forget the 519,203 someone spent for Ozzie Smith's Gold Gloves. I want to know who'd lay out 75,205 for a 70-plus-year-old bat that belonged to Lou Gehrig. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Saint Louis dedicated Sunday's win over Valparaiso to former coach Rick Majerus, who died of heart failure on Saturday. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Here are some storylines to help you while away the time before Notre Dame and Alabama collide 35 days from now. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Just like we anticipated a few weeks ago, Oregon and Kansas State are going to play each other. Just not for the national title is all. (AP)

C'mon, Louisiana Tech. Haven't you ever heard that old saying about a bird in the hand? (AP)

The Skip Holtz Era at South Florida is over. (AP)

HOCKEY
Donald Fehr's enthusiasm for the players-owners-only meeting on Tuesday may be tempered once he finds out Jeremy Jacobs is one of the owners who'll be attending. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Magic stunned the Lakers in the teams' first meeting since Dwight Howard jumped from Orlando to Los Angeles, and Howard responded with the type of class and dignity we've come to expect. (AP)

A kinder, gentler 'Sheed? Yeah, right. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

But ball don't lie; the Knicks won anyway and remain undefeated at home. (AP)

It's a rip -- in the foot -- for Rip. (CSN Chicago)

PRO FOOTBALL
It was an emotional day in Kansas City, as the Chiefs beat the Panthers slightly more than 24 hours after the murdersuicide involving linebacker Jovan Belcher. (AP)

Romeo Crennel -- understandably -- won't talk about witnessing Belcher commit suicide Saturday morning, but he told SI.com's Peter King that "I wasn't able to reach the young man" as he attempted to prevent Belcher from shooting himself. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Um . . . this Andrew Luck guy is pretty good. (AP)

The AFC North race, and the battle for AFC playoff seeding, got jumbled as Charlie Batch and the Steelers beat Baltimore. (AP)

The real problem for the Ravens is that Flacco was a very ordinary Joe yesterday. (CSN Baltimore)

Uh, oh; Terrell Suggs may be hurt again. (Pro Football Talk)

On the other side of the field, so's Ike Taylor. (Pro Football Talk)

The Colin Kaepernick-to-Canton bus went off the road in St. Louis, though Jim Harbaugh did his best to put the blame on himself. (CSN Bay Area)

So did David Akers . . . and he may have had a point. (CSN Bay Area)

Tony Romo's in the record books, and Dallas is in the win column. (AP)

Whaddya know? The recording -- "Mark Sanchez is our quarterback. This is a recording." -- finally stopped yesterday, and, as a result, the Jets got a win. (Pro Football Talk)

Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

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Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

Back in May, when the Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones in the second round, Patriots director of player personel Nick Caserio made it very clear: Jones' ability to return punts is what made him their favorite player available at pick No. 60.

"I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit," Caserio said at the time, "was his overall versatility -- punt return -- that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability."

Jones broke out with a 60-yard return on Friday against the Panthers, flashing the kind of explosion in the kicking game that the Patriots anticipated when they made him their first selection this year. 

Though Jones has admitted he has had his share of issues securing the football during punt-return periods in practice, he has not dropped a punt in a preseason game. And in a conference call on Saturday, Bill Belichick acknowledged that Jones could be the team's primary punt returner in Week 1 even though the team employs two accomplished players who have performed that well in the past. 

"Yeah, I think that’s a consideration," Belichick said of using Jones as the No. 1 returner. "Obviously, Danny [Amendola] and Julian [Edelman] have a lot of experience returning punts for us as well as kickoffs in the past. We’ll see how it goes, but we have good depth at that position and that’s always a good thing to have.

"We have confidence in all of those guys back there. Last night we even had D.J. [Foster] who got a chance to handle the ball. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but I think we have good competition and good depth at that position."

Saving Edelman and Amendola from further wear-and-tear could help extend the careers of both 30-year-old receivers. Not long after Jones was drafted, we took a look at how many hits Edelman and/or Amendola could be saved on a weekly basis by using Jones in the kicking game.

Belichick: Patriots play to win in preseason...kind of

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Belichick: Patriots play to win in preseason...kind of

When you check out the Patriots-Panthers game notes on Patriots.com, the lead bullet point is one of the least interesting: "The New England Patriots are off to a 3-0 start in the preseason for the sixth time in team history . . . and for the second time under Bill Belichick."

Belichick and the Patriots went undefeated in preseason play back in 2003. One of the best teams in Patriots history, that group went on to win the franchise's second Super Bowl in three years. 

It's the preseason, though, so who cares about wins and losses? Well, Belichick does. During a conference call on Saturday he was asked if it was a big deal for him and his team to be winning these preseason games, and he responded by explaining his approach to exhibition football.

"I think what we tell our players and coaches is that we’re going to coach and play to win," he said. "We’re obviously not going to pull out all the stops in terms of every trick play we’ve ever used or things like that, but whatever the situation calls for, we’re going to play it as competitively as we can play it given the limitations that we have and based on the amount of experience our players have in the game at that certain point and what we’ve been able to cover."

It makes sense. Obviously teams don't want to reveal any surprise sets they may have saved for the regular season. And coaches aren't going to get exotic with their defensive calls or their offensive formations at this time of year. What basic plays they do run, however, they would like to execute successfully.

They want to win the fight, but they're going to try to do it with their jab and straight right. The combinations and the counters will have to wait.

"We haven’t covered every single thing that we would want to cover or hope to cover to start the season, especially situational football," Belichick added. "But as far as competing and playing, we’re doing everything we can to win., but within the context of doing what we’re capable of doing right now. We’re trying to win, we’re trying to do everything as well as we can do it, but not pulling out all the stops in terms of playing time, strategizing and so forth that we would do in the regular season."