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Nine Unassisted: Slaton beefs up, Cutler beefs, Tribe dismantles

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Billboard ranks them, we count them down, you discuss them. Here's your batch of linkable freshness, right out of the oven and great for dipping.

Steve Slaton(notes) hit the weights hard in the offseason and came to summer camp thicker (215 pounds) and stronger. Texans running backs coach Chick Harris says Slaton should be more durable and compact at the new weight, and the second-year runner agrees. "I feel the same, I feel fast, and I don't think it's going to slow me down at all," Slaton said. "If anything, it'll help me get better." Ah, the optimism of August. [Hungry For More, Houston Chronicle]

First it was Cliff Lee, then Victor Martinez, and now the Indians have shipped Carl Pavano out of town (perhaps Pavano will throw his cap in the air when he touches down in the Twin Cities). Cleveland fans might be too sad to bang the drum when the Indians return home next week. [Twins add Pavano from Cleveland, MLB.com]

Mike Salfino is at his best when he's in a debunking mode and that's been the case this week. Take a double shot of Salfino as he goes after the Verducci Effect (tied to Joba Chamberlain) and Football Outsiders (while Mark Sanchez(notes) has the early jump in the Jets QB duel, FO's Bill Barnwell tells Jane McManus of LoHud.com that Kellen Clemens(notes) is the play). You get two Salfino links for the price of one, that's our Friday Special (no substitutions, please) The Chamberlain piece was written before Thursday's messy start but it's no less relevant now. [Yanks Shouldn't Shut Joba Down and Can Jets Predict Their Quarterback's Future?, both from SNY]

Sean McAdam is one of the best MLB writers in the business, and the veteran scribe isn't optimistic on the struggling John Smoltz. [Time to pull plug on Smoltz project, Boston Herald]

How do you tell these rookie wideouts apart? One way is to get them into the classroom and see how they do with a No. 2 pencil. Jeremy Maclin(notes) gets a push forward for his brains, but several of his peers scored lower than the Sweathogs average. And say this for the Lions - the got a smart cookie with the No. 1 overall selection. [Georgia's Matthew Stafford stands out with NFL Wonderlic score, Chicago Tribune, h/t Rotowire]

Alfie Crow has some interesting observations over at Jag Nation; we'll start with two items and then send you to the full piece. Goal-line candidate Greg Jones(notes) "looks noticeably thinner and quicker" while Mike Walker(notes) "could possibly be the No. 1 receiver despite Torry Holt's(notes) presence." [Jaguars PM Practice Report, Jag Nation]

Chad Gaudin is back in the AL East and while that's a hit for his fantasy value, Dave Cameron likes the move for the Yankees. [Gaudin On The Move Again, Fangraphs]

Jay Cutler(notes) is never boring, on the field or off it. He took a shot at Broncos fans this week in a radio interview, then later wondered if his house will still be standing when he heads to Denver for a preseason game this month. Not the hardest news around, but I figured a Cutler post might encourage some of the Cutler Camp (looking at you, Three-D) to hang with us in the comments. [Cutler Disses Denver Fans on Radio Show, The Denver Post]

Just what the Patriots need, another playmaker. Defensive end Derrick Burgess(notes), disgruntled in Oakland, now sets up on the East Coast. Take it away, Ian (I'm not) Rapoport. [Patriots Acquire Derrick Burgess to Boost Pass Pressure, Boston Herald]

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