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Umenyiora signs with Falcons

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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons have found a replacement for John Abraham by reaching an agreement with free-agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora on a two-year contract.

The Falcons released the 34-year-old Abraham, who led the team with 10 sacks in 2012, on March 1.

With the 31-year-old Umenyiora, the Falcons have a slightly younger replacement at defensive end. Umenyiora had only six sacks for the Giants in 2012.

He had a career-high 141/2 sacks in 2005, but has reached double figures in only one of the last four years -- 111/2 in 2010.

Umenyiora, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was a second-round pick by New York in 2003.

Terms of the deal weren't released. Umenyiora's agent, Tom Condon, couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Former NFLer joins Alouettes

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Alouettes have signed former NFL running back and Super Bowl standout Dominic Rhodes to a two-year deal.

Rhodes spent 10 seasons in the NFL, with one of his best performances coming in Super Bowl 41. He rushed for a game-high 113 yards with a touchdown as the Indianapolis Colts capped the 2006 season with a 29-17 win over Chicago.

Rhodes amassed 3,286 rushing yards on 814 carries with 26 touchdowns over his career with Indianapolis, Oakland and Buffalo. In 2001, Rhodes set an NFL record for rushing yards by an undrafted rookie running back with 1,104.

"Dominic will bring veteran competition to the position," said Alouettes general manager Jim Popp. "We love his attitude, he is playing for the love of the game."

Rhodes played the last two seasons for the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League. The native of Waco, Texas was named the UFL's offensive player of the year in 2011 and he helped guide the Destroyers to a championship that year.

The Alouettes also signed cornerback Jordan Mabin.

Surprise for Gronk fan

LOCKPORT, N.Y. -- Plenty of teenagers have replica jerseys of their favourite NFL player. Tawfiq Baity had his hand-delivered by his football idol.

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski surprised the 17-year-old junior at Lockport High School outside Buffalo by walking into his history class Tuesday morning and handing him a New England jersey with Gronkowski's name and No. 87.

Gronkowski is the teen's favourite player on his favourite team. Gronkowski was accompanied by his brother, Dan, a tight end for the Cleveland Browns. The brothers grew up in the nearby Buffalo suburb of Williamsville.

Baity has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He came to Gronkowski's attention after appearing in a "get-well" video Lockport students produced for the player after he broke his arm late last season.

Diehl takes hefty pay cut

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants put a little more money in the Victor Cruz contract fund this week by cutting the salary of right tackle David Diehl by nearly $3.5 million.

The paycut was revealed when a look at Diehl's salary for this season was listed at $1 million on the NFLPA website Wednesday. The 11-year veteran had been scheduled to make $4.37 million in the final year of his contract.

Diehl started 11 games in 2012, missing five with a knee injury. He moved from the left side after the team decided not to re-sign veteran Kareem McKenzie.

Cruz, who has led the team in receiving the past two years, remains a free agent.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2013 D4

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