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Player impostors don’t always stick out like a sore thumb

Peyton Manning is a phony.

His Twitter account is fake, that is, attracting nearly 10,000 followers evidently unaware an impostor has been posting false observations and updates from the Indianapolis Colts quarterback.

Jay Cutler’s account is bogus too, although the comments attributed to the newly minted Chicago Bears star are over-the-top irreverent. (One reads: “Feels emotionally inferior whenever Ron Turner screams during practice. I wish he would use ‘I’ statements to express his true feelings.”)

As dozens of well-known athletes continue to gravitate to the Internet’s fastest growing phenomenon in social networking, dozens more are learning they’re being impersonated online by dopey doppelgangers.

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Recently, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had to refute rumors he was suffering from skin cancer, because someone posted that on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts supposedly belonging to him.

“I had a bunch of people ask me about it. Obviously, it’s not true,” Roethlisberger told reporters after a recent spring practice. “We had to go on our website and let them know I don’t have an account. There’s nothing going on.”

It isn’t always easy to separate a pro from a faux. Reporters in Dallas were fooled this month when someone posing as defensive end DeMarcus Ware tweeted that he and the Cowboys were “close” on a contract extension. After reading that, Ware sent a beat writer a text message to tell him he’d been duped.

Those types of things probably will continue until Twitter and similar sites come up with a reliable way to ensure people are who they say they are.

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Mike Florio, editor of the popular ProFootballTalk.com, said he’s very careful to check whether a Twitter account is legitimate before he scans it for newsworthy tidbits -- even though those nuggets are few and far between.

“If it’s newsworthy it’s unintentional for the most part,” Florio said. “I don’t think any of these players aspire to post something on their Twitter page that’s going to create a fuss.”

Then, there are those tweets that just seem too goofy to be real.

Terrell Owens -- now playing the familiar but fleeting role of model citizen in Buffalo -- responded on Twitter recently to a follower who wrote: “I was not happy the Cowboys cut you.”

That prompted Owens to thumb out: “neither ws i, blame the OC & romo!! but i’m happy 2 b where i am but i miss the other guys tht were & r true teammates!!”

Although Twitter allows only 140 characters, Owens is undeniably No. 141.

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Ravens put it on line

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Defense is still king in Baltimore, but the Ravens’ offensive line is worth watching.

Rookie Michael Oher has played every snap at right tackle with the No. 1 offense, which should make his transition to the pros easier than if he were assigned to protect Joe Flacco’s blind side. Jared Gaither is a solid left tackle, and Ben Grubbs is a budding star at guard (if there is such a thing). Chris Chester has rounded into a reliable right guard and has the edge on Marshall Yanda, who’s coming back from a knee injury.

Things might have looked much less promising for the line, however, had Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome not acted quickly to replace center Jason Brown, who signed a blockbuster deal with St. Louis.

Instead of wringing his hands, Newsome signed Harvard-educated Matt Birk, the six-time Pro Bowl center from Minnesota who can close out his career bringing along what one day could be the foundation of the franchise.

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Chargers’ stadium mission

The San Diego Chargers faxed a letter last week to yet another developer proposing a new NFL stadium be constructed in Mission Valley, where the current one sits. The Chargers spent about four years trying to come up with such a plan before abandoning the idea.

The interesting thing about the latest missive is that it’s sternly worded, says the Chargers don’t support the idea, and that the club is focused on more realistic concepts.

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This, after years of saying they would listen to any reasonable solution.

“It’s frustrating when we’re so close to the end of this process to have people diverting attention toward ideas that have no chance of success,” said Mark Fabiani, who’s spearheading the team’s pursuit of a new stadium.

The thing is, the team isn’t too much closer on its top locale in San Diego. That’s the bay-front site in Chula Vista, which still has a so-called “must-run” power plant on it. Until the state removes that designation, the Chargers can’t build a stadium there.

The Chargers have consistently said their search in San Diego won’t go on forever. If the Chula Vista site doesn’t work out, don’t be surprised if they seriously explore their Los Angeles options.

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Bye-bye-bye Falcons?

Making the playoffs will be a beast for the Atlanta Falcons this season. Not only do they have the league’s fourth-toughest schedule, but they also face three NFC East opponents -- Washington, New York Giants and Dallas -- a week after those teams get their byes.

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Ram tackles housework

Tackle Jason Smith, No. 2 pick of the Rams, is both A) as big as a house, and B) good around the house. He’s so tidy, he completely washes his dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

“I’m very neat,” he said. “If I threw out some trash, I’d probably have it stacked first. . . . I’m every woman’s dream.”

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Tweets of the week

* shawnemerriman: “so today was the best i felt running and working out since my surgery back in sept. damn i cant wait for the season”

* steverushin: “Battery dying on remote. Can change volume but not channel. How lazy am I? Content to lie here changing volumes. I’m volume surfing.”

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

Follow Sam Farmer’s NFL coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/latimesfarmer.


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