National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Dodgers RHP Josh Beckett won't return this season

LOS ANGELES (AP) Josh Beckett won't return to the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, and the injured pitcher is mulling retirement.

He went on the disabled list for the third time Aug. 4 with a left hip impingement after being on the DL in July for the same injury. The 34-year-old right-hander was 6-6 with a 2.88 ERA in 20 starts, including a no-hitter May 25 in Philadelphia.

Beckett's first time on the DL was in March, when he had a bruised right thumb.

He doesn't think he can continue his career without having surgery, and he won't make that decision until the offseason. He also plans to discuss with his wife whether he wants to attempt another comeback next year.

"They're tough decisions, but they are definitely things I'm going to have to think about in the offseason that I've never had to think about," Beckett said.

If he decides not to pitch next year, Beckett said he would likely have surgery in May, giving him the summer to rehab in Texas, where he makes his offseason home.

"One of the reasons I didn't opt to just have the surgery now is that I'm not sure I want to play going forward," he said. "I would have been out for the year one way or another, so why not give it a shot? Also, coming back from the surgery that I just came back from, it just seems it would have been 12 months in physical therapy. I wasn't ready to just go back into just doing rehab."

Beckett was limited to eight starts last season. He had a rib removed in July 2013 during a surgery to alleviate a nerve condition that was affecting his right arm. Neck problems and numbness in his right hand have troubled Beckett for the past few years. It got to the point where he learned how to drive with only his left hand.

Beckett said he'd reached a plateau in his latest rehab and he wasn't getting any better. He would play catch at 50 feet and then be sore the next day.

"I've talked to other teammates who have been through injuries toward the end (of their careers)," he said. "I think most of them leaned toward it helped them make the decision and be at peace with that."

Preparing for each start had become a grind, with Beckett needing to put in four hours' worth of work in order to pitch for two hours in a game.

"That was weighing heavy on me, even when I was pitching good," he said. "The pitching part is not the part that bothers you. I probably felt the best on the days I pitched. It's the in-between days leading up to my start. It's very draining to have to do so many things even before you go to start to warm up."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly credited Beckett for stabilizing the team early in the season when ace Clayton Kershaw and left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu were on the disabled list.

"You forget how good he was pitching earlier in the year," Mattingly said. "Those starts he was giving us early kind of kept us afloat. To see him physically breaking down, I hate to see it happen. He's had a great career to this point. It's unfortunate he wasn't able to finish the year out."

Padres' Cabrera arrested for investigation of DUI

SAN DIEGO (AP) San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, who cried while apologizing last year for taking a banned substance that led to a 50-game suspension, was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence of marijuana, the California Highway Patrol said Friday.

Cabrera was arrested early Wednesday after the CHP dispatch center was notified of a possible DUI driver by the U.S. Border Patrol at a checkpoint in Dulzura, some 25 miles southeast of downtown San Diego. The CHP said Cabrera was determined to be under the influence of marijuana.

After being taken to the CHP El Cajon Area Office, he was not showing signs of still being under the influence of marijuana and was cited and released to the custody of his mother-in-law, the CHP said.

"Mr. Cabrera was cooperative with the CHP Officers. Charges against Mr. Cabrera for DUI will be requested," a press release said.

Cabrera is on the disabled list for the second time this season with a hamstring injury. He did not make the trip to Colorado for this weekend's series but is expected to join the club for a series at the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Monday, when he is to be re-evaluated. Cabrera was hitting .232 with three homers, 20 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

His agent, Scott Boras, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cabrera was suspended for the final 50 games of the 2013 season for his relationship with the Biogenesis of America scandal. Cabrera, who was San Diego's only All-Star in 2013, was leading the NL with 37 stolen bases when his suspension began.

During a news conference on Aug. 5, 2013, he struggled to control his emotions after admitting he took a banned substance.

"My situation I have right now ... I'm very sorry with all my fans in San Diego with this situation," he said. "I'm very sorry with my organization. I'm very sorry with all my teammates, and I'm very sorry about this situation I have right now. It's a tough situation for me. It's a tough situation for the organization, and I'm making all my responsibility is just me."

The suspension cost Cabrera $348,361 of his $1,275,000 salary.

He's making $2.45 million this year.

The Padres said in a statement that they were aware of Cabrera's arrest and were in touch with MLB.

Wozniacki wins US Open semi when Peng retires

NEW YORK (AP) Caroline Wozniacki won her U.S. Open semifinal when Peng Shuai retired because of apparent heat illness.

Wozniacki was up a set and a break Friday on an extremely humid afternoon when Peng stumbled to the wall behind the baseline with what seemed to be severe cramping in her legs.

She was helped off the court and after a 10-minute delay returned to try to keep playing.

Six points later, Peng collapsed to her knees. Wozniacki walked to the other side of the court to pat her on the back before the decision was made that Peng couldn't continue.

Wozniacki watched through tears as Peng was taken off in a wheelchair.

This is Wozniacki's first major final since the 2009 U.S. Open, when she lost to Kim Clijsters.

Michigan-Notre Dame have shot at grand finale

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) The greatest challenge for Michigan and No. 16 Notre Dame on Saturday might be finding a fitting finale to an on-again, off-again rivalry that repeatedly has produced some finishes.

There have been three last-minute victories in the past five seasons alone, all won by the Wolverines. Freshman Tate Forcier threw a five-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds left in a 38-24 victory in 2009. A year later, Denard Robinson scored on a 2-yard run with 27 seconds to go. The teams found a way to top those games in 2011 when they traded leads three times in the final 72 seconds, with the Wolverines winning when on a 16-yard TD pass by Robinson with 2 seconds left,

The Irish have their share of thrilling victories in the series, including linebacker Bob Crable stepping on the back of Michigan center Mike Trgovac and leaping to block a 42-yard field goal with 1 second left to preserve a 12-10 win in 1979.

The game Saturday will mark the 42nd meeting in the series that started in 1887. Michigan leads the series 24-16-1, but holds just a 15-14-1 edge since the series resumed in 1978. Half of the past 24 games have been decided by five points or less.

The schools 150 miles apart rank 1-2 in winning percentage, with Notre Dame holding the lead. But the Wolverines would reclaim the title with a win Saturday. The game features two of the nation's most recognizable fight songs, but had a new tune added to the rivalry last year when Michigan played the "Chicken Dance" after a 41-30 victory. That came in the wake of Michigan coach Brady Hoke saying the Irish were "chickening out" of the series.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he had no problem with the song.

"That's their prerogative. They won the game. They can play whatever they want," he said. "We're going to play the alma mater."

Kelly concedes there is added incentive Saturday.

"It's wanting to be the group that says, `Hey, we were the last team to beat Michigan,"' he said. "But we're not consumed with it."

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner said everyone knows how big the game is.

"I really appreciated it growing up here and seeing all the great games and be able to participate in it was amazing for me," he said. "I get one more shot to do it."

Some things to know about Saturday:

ROAD TROUBLES: The Wolverines are just 6-8 on the road under coach Brady Hoke, going a combined 0-4 at rivals Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Gardner said Michigan coaches have been trying to put the Wolverines under stress in practice to try prepare them for a loud crowd. "That's usually the thing that stops teams from being as successful as they want to be is being able to communicate," he said.

UNPROVEN LINES: The Michigan offensive line struggled last season, averaging just 126 yards a game rushing with two linemen taken in the NFL draft. Mason Cole last week became the first true freshman to start a season opener at left tackle for Michigan and the starters on the right side had combined for one start before this season. They will be going against an Irish starting defensive line that had one player with more than one start before last week.

PRIMARY CONCERN: The Notre Dame secondary struggled with communication last week, leading to several big plays. Jeremy Gallon had career 184 yards receiving and three touchdowns last season against the Irish. He's gone, but the Irish could have trouble matching up against 6-5, 230-pound receiver Devin Funchess, especially with their best cornerback, KeiVarae Russell, out during an academic investigation.

FEARFUL OR FEARLESS: Kelly has said the biggest change for Everett Golson from two years ago is going from fearful to fearless. The Irish need him to play with confidence Michigan, a team he struggled against two years ago before being yanked in the second quarter. He passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns last week against Rice and ran for three more scores.

NIGHT GAMES: Notre Dame is 8-2 at home in night games at home, including 4-0 against Michigan. The two losses are against Miami in 1984 and vs. Southern California in 2011. None of the four wins against Michigan has been by more than seven points.

Mo'ne Davis 'sad' about UConn NCAA violation

NEW YORK (AP) Little League star Mo'ne Davis says she's "sad" Connecticut received a secondary NCAA rules violation for coach Geno Auriemma's congratulatory phone call to her during the Little League World Series.

Davis said they talked last month about her success in the World Series for Philadelphia's Taney Dragons, and there was no recruiting talk.

"I heard about that this morning, and it's sad," Davis said. "There wasn't anything about recruiting in the call, he was just congratulating me."

On Thursday, the NCAA announced the recruiting violation after a complaint was brought to the attention of the American Athletic Conference. Davis mentioned during the World Series she'd like to play basketball for UConn and eventually in the WNBA.

UConn officials said they're not sure whether the NCAA will impose any sanctions. Conference spokeswoman Chevonne Mansfield says the complaint did not come from an AAC member.

The 13-year-old Davis was a guest of the WNBA on Friday at its annual luncheon, which honored retiring player and future San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, retiring Indiana coach Lin Dunn and political strategist Donna Brazile.

It capped a whirlwind week for Davis, who went to the WNBA conference finals in Minnesota to meet players Maya Moore, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.

The Little League star pitcher also flew to Los Angeles to visit the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw. She threw out the first pitch at the game against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

"It was really cool to meet him," Davis said of the Dodgers' ace. "We talked baseball and other things."

Davis, who recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, attended the game with her mother and stepfather.

Davis will head home and return to school, where she hopes life will return to normal.

"I'm happy to be going back home and seeing my friends and just being Mo'ne," she said.

Seahawks dominate Green Bay 36-16 to begin 2014

SEATTLE -- Russell Wilson made sure everyone knew Percy Harvin was healthy. Marshawn Lynchbullied his way to another 100-yard rushing performance.

And Richard Sherman? He was just bored.

The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks opened the same way they finished last season, with a blowout victory.

"We'll always find something that we can do better," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "That's why we're so good."

Lynch ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, Harvin had 100 combined yards rushing and receiving, and the Seahawks dominated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a 36-16 victory to kick off the regular season Thursday night.

The memories of last season were revisited, with the championship banner unveiled celebrating Seattle's first title. But the ceremony was brief, a nod to putting last season behind and beginning the process of trying to become the first team in a decade to repeat.

Their effort against the Packers - a popular pick to contend in the NFC - will only reinforce the belief Seattle is still the favorite.

Wilson was outstanding in the first half, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Lockette. Harvin got touches as a receiver, running back and returner. He was used all over the field in different formations after never being fully healthy in his first season with Seattle.

Wilson finished 19 of 28 for 191 yards, while Lynch was at his best. Pete Carroll said earlier this week that Lynch appeared in the best shape of his career, and it showed. Lynch averaged 5.5 yards per carry and topped 100 yards for the 20th time in the regular season since joining the Seahawks in 2010.

Lynch, who ran for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, barreled through a trio of Packers for a TD with 3:41 left before halftime to give the Seahawks a 17-10 lead and added a second scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

"Obviously, we were the more physical team today, offensively and defensively. I saw supposedly some of the best players in the league not want to tackle Marshawn Lynch," Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said. "Of course, nobody is going to say nothing about that, but I seen a lot of guys whiff on tackles that should have been 2-yard gains and they're supposed to be the best."

Seattle had 207 yards rushing as a team and won for the 18th time in its last 20 regular- season home games. Harvin finished with 11 offensive touches, including four rushes for 41 yards.

"If we already peaked this game we're going to be in trouble," Harvin said. "I hope we can just take this game and build on it."

Rodgers was 23 of 33 for 189 yards and was isolated to one side of the field. He looked almost exclusively for Jordy Nelson matched up against Byron Maxwell and never threw in Sherman's direction. Nelson finished with nine receptions, but Maxwell came up with a third-quarter interception on a pass that deflected off Nelson's hands.

The most action for Sherman came in the first half when he accidently blocked Davon House intoEarl Thomas on a punt return causing a fumble recovered by the Packers.

But Seattle's defenders did their part. They sacked Rodgers three times, taking advantage of a knee injury suffered by right tackle Bryan Bulaga in the second quarter. His replacement, Derek Sherrod, gave up a fourth-down sack to Cliff Avril to end one drive inside Seattle territory.

Following a Seattle punt, Sherrod was beaten by Michael Bennett on Green Bay's next offensive snap. Rodgers was stripped and Sherrod fell on the fumble in the end zone for a safety and a 22-10 lead.

"I think that you get wake up calls and then you get drill sergeant kick you out the bed calls and I think we just got kicked out the bed onto a cement floor, and it hurt," Green Bay defensive lineman Mike Daniels said.

Eddie Lacy was mostly a non-factor with 34 yards rushing on 12 carries and left in the fourth quarter with a concussion. And despite holding the Packers to 255 total yards - the third fewest by Green Bay since the start of 2012 - Sherman felt the job wasn't up to standard.

"It wasn't dominant at all. We have a lot of things to clean up," Sherman said. "We missed some opportunities on some turnovers. We missed some tackles on key drives we could have stopped we had some key penalties. These are all things we need to clean up because we have a really high standard."

Lynch's second TD put Seattle up 29-10. Rodgers threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter, but Wilson closed out the victory with a 13-play drive that ate up 7 minutes and was capped by a 15-yard TD pass to Derrick Coleman on fourth down with 2:31 left.

NOTES: Former Seattle LT Walter Jones was presented his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony that featured fellow Seattle Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Cortez Kennedy. The trio raised the "12th Man Flag" prior to kickoff. ... Wagner tied a career high with 14 tackles. ... Reserve James Starks led Green Bay with 37 yards rushing.

Lawyer: Florida State investigating Jameis Winston

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) An attorney said Florida State is investigating the sexual assault case involving Jameis Winston in an effort to determine if the Seminoles quarterback violated the student code of conduct policy.

Baine Kerr, one of the attorneys for the woman who said Winston sexually assaulted her, said Thursday the university interviewed his client "early last month." He said "an investigation is ongoing."

Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs did not bring charges against Winston in the case, saying last December that there was not enough evidence to win a conviction against him.

The university would not confirm the investigation but said in a release, "While we cannot comment on any individual case, in general, complainants control the timing in our process."

Kerr disagreed with the implication that the interview occurred recently because of actions by his client, saying that the woman has been asking "Florida State to comply with federal law and expeditiously investigate and resolve her complaints."

"I take issue with that statement as it applies to this particular complaint," Kerr said. "She's definitely been asking that this go forward. The timing has not been controlled by her or by us, however. We have for months said that she was willing to be formally interviewed as part of the disciplinary process and made her available.

"She has not been controlling the timing and she has consistently been asking for the investigation to be conducted as promptly as possible."

The university is currently being investigated by the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations after the woman filed a complaint. Florida State announced an initiative aimed at the prevention of sexual violence on Wednesday.

Kerr said the woman was interviewed by a formal Title IX investigator from the Florida State Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities.

"We expect that there will be charges filed and see no reason at this point for delaying those," Kerr said.

Attorney David Cornwell, an adviser to Winston's family, had a different perspective.

"The real story here is that after her Colorado attorneys created a media frenzy alleging that Florida State University failed to comply with its Title IX obligations, (the woman) had to come clean and admit that she previously refused to cooperate with the university's Title IX inquiry," Cornwell said in a statement.

"Now that she has finally done her Title IX interview, this is the fourth time (the woman) has told her story. We anticipate the same conclusion that followed her previous three statements to the Tallahassee Police Department, Florida's State Attorney's Office and in the FSU Code of Student Conduct hearing. Jameis Winston did not sexually assault" the woman.

Winston is expected to play Saturday against The Citadel.

"This team just moves on," coach Jimbo Fisher said after Thursday's practice. "I have no idea how that'll go or what it's about. That's for other people to find out. We're just here playing ball."

Goodell: NFL closely watching McDonald case

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is closely watching San Francisco defensive lineman Ray McDonald's case after the institution of a new policy on domestic violence.

Goodell spoke Wednesday night after attending a youth event the night before Seattle and Green Bay open the season. Goodell said the league is still waiting to get all the facts in McDonald's case and that any discipline under the new policy would not be applied until the legal system had run its course.

McDonald faces felony domestic violence charges for an incident during his 30th birthday party with teammates and friends Sunday, when police say his alleged victim suffered "visible injuries."

"I think the first thing you have to do is let the process play out and get the facts and make sure you understand all the circumstances," Goodell said. "We don't right now. We obviously are following it very closely, but the policy we applied uniformly, players, coaches, executives, commissioners, I think we made that very clear in the policy."

Goodell apologized in his announcement of the new policy last week saying he "didn't get it right" with a two-game suspension of Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Goodell said Wednesday the policy wasn't where It needed to be and took responsibility for its shortcomings.

"It was important for the ownership to understand that and how serious we are taking this issue. The importance of the work that needs to be done," he said. "It's not just about discipline. We're going to step up every aspect of our program, our education, training."

Goodell also touched on the suspensions of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and former Dallas defensive lineman Josh Brent.

Irsay was suspended for the first six games of the season and fined $500,000 for violating its personal conduct policy after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from an embarrassing March traffic stop.

Irsay is barred from team facilities, practices and games and cannot represent the Colts at NFL meetings or events. The fine is the maximum allowed under league rules.

"Whether you're a commissioner or an owner, in the management level, we hold you to a higher standard than the players. This penalty is 10 times financially more than a player would get and there is no discipline from a suspension standpoint for a first-time offended in DUI in the players," Goodell said. "Now we would like to change that, but this is obviously six games and he'll be subject to the same issues of testing and program-related that we would expect others to do."

Brandt retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication manslaughter death of teammate Jerry Brown, a practice squad linebacker for the Cowboys. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.

The league said Brent will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season and can't participate in team activities for the first six weeks. He won't be allowed to visit the team's practice facility for the first six weeks except to meet with people associated with his rehab.

The 26-year-old Brent must have "no further adverse involvement with law enforcement" and faces potential banishment for what the league called "prohibited alcohol-related conduct."

"I met with Josh. We obviously had to go through a great deal of discussions with outside experts also, including representatives of MADD and felt that where he was this was an appropriate way to bring him back into the league," Goodell said. "But he still has to meet a very high standard and he understands that. He can't afford to have any mistakes from here."

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US beats Dominicans 106-71 at basketball worlds

BILBAO, Spain (AP) They were expected to be in Barcelona. They hope to finish their trip in Madrid.

First, they had to take care of Bilbao.

The Americans wrapped up the No. 1 seed in their group Wednesday, improving to 4-0 at the Basketball World Cup with a 106-71 victory over the Dominican Republic.

Kenneth Faried, whose shooting percentage dropped after he missed three shots, scored 16 points for the U.S. DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench and added 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting.

The Americans will finish Group C play in Bilbao on Thursday against Ukraine - when U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski will coach against longtime friend and former NBA coach Mike Fratello - before playing their round of 16 game Saturday night in Barcelona against the fourth-place team from Group D, which is still to be determined.

A few wins there and they would play for gold in Madrid, but nobody was looking past step one.

"Obviously we have to take care of here. Nothing's given," forward Rudy Gay said. "We've worked hard, we've been tested and we've overcome that, and also got some pretty big wins."

The Americans surpassed 100 points for the second time in the tournament - and they were "held" to 98 points in their other two games. Even after having to overcome a halftime deficit in one game, they came in averaging a tournament-best 103.3 points and were winning by 35.7 per game.

All 12 players scored, and the ones who weren't in the game were up cheering when back-of-the-bench centers Mason Plumlee and Andre Drummond hooked up on an alley-oop in the final minutes.

"I believe everybody felt pretty good how they played tonight," Cousins said. "That's what we're going to need to continue this path."

The Americans led by only three points after one quarter but had no trouble extending that as the game went on, as the Dominicans' willingness to push the pace simply played into the Americans' hands.

Faried made 8 of 11 shots, a 73-percent clip that actually lowered his percentage for the tournament to 78.4 percent after the Denver forward came into the game hitting 81 percent.

Victor Liz scored 15 points for the Dominican Republic (2-2), which will face Turkey on Thursday, still in position to advance.

The Dominicans played without Houston Rockets forward Francisco Garcia, who entered the day's play tied for fourth in the tournament with 21 points per game. He appeared to turn an ankle late in the Dominicans' victory over Finland on Tuesday, and though he finished the game, was walking gingerly Wednesday as he went to the bench after his teammates had come out to warm up.

"They were short-handed. We knew that," Krzyzewski said. "I thought we did a good job tonight."

The Americans ended up winning nearly as easily as their 105-62 exhibition victory on Aug. 20 in New York, though the Dominicans hung with them a little longer than that night.

The U.S. lead was just 25-22 as the Dominicans attacked fearlessly but didn't have any answer for the Americans' bigs. Faried had three straight baskets, a couple of them powerful dunks, and Anthony Davis knocked down a jumper to turn a seven-point lead into a 44-29 cushion.

Gay got the final four points of the half, making a pair of free throws after he was clobbered intentionally on a breakaway by Edward Santana, then banking in a jumper that make it 56-41.

A 25-point third quarter was followed by 25 more in the fourth, capped by a series of dunks down the stretch. DeMar DeRozan finished with 11 points, and Davis and James Harden each had 10 as the U.S. shot 56 percent.

Cousins said the Americans were a little sluggish early and still have to start their games better, but nobody was complaining about the finish.

"We felt we were going to win and how you play overall, I thought everyone left the court feeling good about how they played," Krzyzewski said.

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Muschamp rips critics, defends reinstating players

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach Will Muschamp came to his own defense Wednesday, ripping critics who questioned his decision to reinstate three players suspended for a season opener that lasted just 10 seconds.

Muschamp said on the weekly Southeastern Conference coaches call that "it's not just about suspending players for games."

"There are a lot of things that go into discipline," Muschamp said. "It's about altering and changing behavior, which we've done here. I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we've handled our football team, OK? So it's not just about missing games, If it was just about suspensions, you never have an issue, right? So at the end of the day it's more than that, and there are a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know."

Muschamp suspended receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive tackles Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick for last week's season opener against Idaho. But the game was called after the opening kickoff, which was delayed nearly three hours because of lightning and then eventually halted for good because of unsafe playing conditions.

Muschamp said Monday that Robinson, Cummings and Bostwick will play Saturday against Eastern Michigan. He could have kept their suspensions in place against Eastern Michigan or said they would be suspended against Idaho if the game had been rescheduled. He did neither.

"It's very frustrating for me as a coach, or any coach, to have someone being critical and you don't even have all the information," Muschamp said. "So at the end of the day, I make the decisions in this program, I handle the discipline in this program, and it's been handled very well."

Muschamp has seemingly cleaned up a program that had plenty of issues when he took over in 2010.

After replacing Urban Meyer, Muschamp had 11 players suspended a total of 14 times during his first two years on the job. He's had four players involved in five arrests since, including just one in the last 400-plus days.

Sam's 2nd chance comes on Dallas practice squad

IRVING, Texas (AP) Michael Sam waded through a crowd of reporters and was settling in front of yet another bank of cameras when someone asked if this was what it was like in St. Louis.

"The heat?" Sam said, drawing laughter from two dozen or so people surrounding him as he stood in front of a large Dallas Cowboys star on a wall just outside the locker room.

No, the latest version of the circus after the league's first openly gay player signed to the practice squad of America's Team. He's unlikely to get into the opener Sunday against San Francisco and might still face long odds of joining an active roster anytime soon.

But Sam got his second chance to make it in the NFL four days after the Rams released the seventh-round pick when they had to cut the roster to 53 players.

"You guys follow me around like hawks," Sam said after going through his first late-morning workout with the Cowboys. "I've been tired of it since February. I expected it."

The Cowboys, who are seeking help with their pass rush because of injuries and the offseason release of franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware, expected it, too. Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten said coach Jason Garrett addressed the signing with the team.

"I think he does it as good as anybody I've ever been around, of addressing issues and moving forward and putting our focus on what it needs to be and that's a good 49ers football team," Witten said.

Garrett said the move was "about football" and deflected any questions about the impact of bringing in Sam or how it might affect the locker room.

"That's your decision what question you want to ask," Garrett told a larger-than-usual crowd at his daily news conference. "We're focused on football. That's where our attention is, and what people say outside this organization is really up to them."

Owner Jerry Jones said Rams coach Jeff Fisher spoke highly of how Sam fit in with his teammates there.

"He was exemplary," said Jones, speaking at a Texas Lottery news conference in Austin. "He's relentless as a worker. He's relentless as a pass rusher. He is going to have to make up for a little speed. He's going to have to make up for size, but how many times have we seen that? That's what makes football."

Sam went through stretching and individual drills with his fellow defensive linemen during the brief portion of practice that reporters could watch. Dallas made room for him on the 10-player practice squad by releasing rookie linebacker Will Smith.

Any team can sign Sam off the Cowboys' practice squad, but would have to put him on the 53-man roster for a minimum of four weeks.

"I just want to do anything I can," said Sam, who faced long odds to make the St. Louis roster because of the team's depth on the defensive front. "On special teams, left end, right end, whatever. If you want me to hold the ball, I'll do it to perfection."

Being on the Dallas roster means Sam is returning to his home state. He was a lightly regarded recruit out of Hitchcock, Texas, a town of about 7,000 along the Gulf Coast about 40 miles southeast of Houston. Sam came out to his Missouri teammates before his senior season, when he was the SEC defensive player with 11 1/2 sacks. He told the rest of the world three months before the May draft.

The Cowboys didn't have Sam on their draft board, with Jones saying his size and skill set had him somewhere between defensive end and outside linebacker. Dallas passed on him with three of five seventh-round picks before the Rams got him at pick No. 249 out of 256.

But Dallas heads into the opener with serious questions about its defensive line after giving up the most yards in the NFL last year - and third-most in league history.

Defensive end George Selvie, who has been battling a shoulder injury in recent weeks, is the only Dallas lineman who had more than two sacks last year. Tackle Terrell McClain, one of the key free agent signings, is likely out of the opener with a sprained ankle. The other major free agent pickup, tackle Henry Melton, missed all the preseason games with a groin injury. He hasn't played since tearing a knee ligament with Chicago in Week 3 last year.

Rookie DeMarcus Lawrence, who was drafted in the second round with the hope that he could at least partially fill Ware's void, can't play until after the eighth game. He's on short-term injured reserve with a broken right foot. And while the Cowboys will get defensive tackle Josh Brent back, he faces a 10-game suspension over his conviction in an intoxication manslaughter case involving the 2012 death of teammate Jerry Brown.

"We are looking are looking for pressure, for pressure players and that's his position," Jones said of Sam. "We hope that he can refine his skills. He's not ready to go at all but can he come in and learn?"

If the answer is yes, his teammates are ready to support him.

"It's not a big deal," running back DeMarco Murray said. "If he's here to help us win, treat him like any other guy. Doesn't matter."

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AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

Justin Verlander addresses online photo hacking

CLEVELAND -- Justin Verlander wants to keep his private life just that - private.

The Tigers' star pitcher commented for the first time Tuesday after nude photos of him and model girlfriend Kate Upton were allegedly hacked from an online account and posted on the Internet.

Verlander, who initially declined comment on the situation, spoke to reporters before Detroit played the Indians.

"I'm not going to comment on my personal life," the 31-year-old said. "I never have and I never plan on it. I keep my personal life personal. The focus for me is on the Detroit Tigers. I don't want to take any focus away from this team and what we're trying to accomplish. We're in the middle of a pennant race. We're trying to win a pennant and all of my focus currently is on doing whatever I can to help our team win our division."

Verlander, Upton and other celebrities, including Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, allegedly had photos stolen and posted online. The FBI has launched an investigation.

Verlander knew there was interest in his side of the story and wanted to address the situation.

"I know a couple of guys wanted to get some questions from me yesterday," Verlander said. "Instead of everybody kind of sneaking around and getting questions at specific times, it's just easier to say, `I'm not commenting on that. I'm trying to win a pennant.' I know some guys are probably getting a lot of pressure from other people to get quotes or whatever. I knew I'd be getting a lot of questions. This is it."

The AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner in 2011, Verlander has always been able to block out distractions. He's dealt with a shoulder injury this season and takes a 12-11 record into Wednesday's start against the Indians.

"I've always been good at that," Verlander said of ignoring outside influences. "This is my life. Baseball's my life. You're able to focus on that especially when you're on the mound doing what I've done my whole life."

Verlander did not comment specifically on the photos.

Simpson, Mahan, Bradley complete US Ryder Cup team

NEW YORK (AP) U.S. captain Tom Watson said he wanted to fill out his Ryder Cup team with players who were on form and starting to peak.

The final pick was more about two years ago than what happened the day before.

Watson went with experience - and a gut feeling - when he selected Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson to complete an American team that will try to end two decades of European dominance in the Ryder Cup.

He didn't decide until Tuesday morning to go with Simpson, persuaded by a pair of big wins he had in the last Ryder Cup. That was enough for Watson to take him over Chris Kirk, who went head-to-head with Rory McIlroy over the last 36 holes Monday and won the Deutsche Bank Championship.

"Nobody is going to expect us to win," Watson said Tuesday night from Rockefeller Center. "But I fully expect us to win."

Bradley and Mahan weren't surprising choices.

Bradley wears his Ryder Cup passion proudly, and he made a sterling debut two years ago by winning all three team matches with Phil Mickelson. Even last week, he didn't hide how badly he wanted to be on the team.

Mahan won The Barclays two weeks ago against one of the strongest fields of the year. He is one of only three players on the U.S. team who has experience winning a Ryder Cup, even though he is associated more with being in the decisive match that Graeme McDowell won in Wales to deliver another win to Europe.

Simpson was a small mystery.

In his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah, he teamed with Bubba Watson for a pair of 5-and-4 victories. Simpson also lost two matches, including a singles match to Ian Poulter in a match he never trailed until Poulter won the last two holes for a 2-up victory.

Kirk, who has never played in a Ryder Cup, finished ahead of Simpson in the standings and won a FedEx Cup playoff event.

"People have to realize that's a snapshot," Watson said. "You have to look at the total package, the total picture. That's just one tournament. ... The final decision of Webb, that was the toughest of the decisions because Webb had some good play and he had some bad play. He missed a few cuts recently. But he's shown what he can do.

"The guy can get it done," he said. "He can flat get it done."

Watson bristled when asked whether he contradicted himself by saying he was looking for the hot hand after qualifying had ended at the PGA Championship, and then choosing a hot hand from two years ago.

"Why do you think I said that? Why do you think I put the pressure on them?" he said. "I put the pressure on them to play well to see if they could play well under pressure. It's not a contradiction. Webb played some damn good golf."

Whomever he chose, Watson's message was clear. The Ryder Cup, to be played Sept. 26-28 at Gleneagles, is all about redemption.

The Americans were poised to win at Medinah two years ago when they took a 10-6 lead into the final day, only for Poulter, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer to deliver key putts and big comebacks that allowed Europe to retain the cup.

Europe has won seven of the last nine times, and it will be heavily favored in Scotland.

Earlier Tuesday, at the European Tour headquarters in Wentworth, captain Paul McGinley selected Poulter, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher, who will be 39 when he makes his Ryder Cup debut in his home country.

Bradley said last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship there wasn't a moment that he was not thinking about the Ryder Cup. He feared being left off the team when he finished his round on Monday, and shared an emotional hug with his girlfriend when Watson gave him the good news.

"I made no secret how badly I want to go back and win the Ryder Cup," he said. "This is a redemption year for a lot of guys who were on the team last year."

Bradley and Simpson are among seven players who were on that U.S. team that was on the losing end of the "Miracle at Medinah." The others are Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

Mahan knows better than most what it's like to lose. The 2010 matches came down to the final game, and McDowell went 2-up with a birdie on the 16th hole. Mahan stubbed a chip short of the 17th green that all but secured a European victory, and it seemed to him as though all of Wales stormed across the green when it was over.

"Losing lingers," he said. "It's been four years, but it feels like yesterday. I remember walking off the green and everyone was having a big party, and I felt like I was walking by myself for 600 yards to the clubhouse."

Wozniacki returns to Grand Slam semis

NEW YORK -- Caroline Wozniacki knew, as anyone paying attention does, that the woman she played in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, Sara Errani, does not hit booming serves.

And after noticing that Errani's previous opponent, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, tried unsuccessfully to pound those soft serves, Wozniacki decided the best course of action was simply to make sure she put those balls in play.

Getting all 34 of Errani's serves back over the net, and then claiming 26 of those points, Wozniacki parlayed six breaks and a 26-12 total edge in winners into a 6-0, 6-1 victory over the 13th-seeded Errani in a wind-whipped match Tuesday night.

The victory for the 10th-seeded Wozniacki moved her into her first Grand Slam semifinal in three years.

"I learned quite a lot from Lucic the other day. She was going for every return and trying to make winners on every return," Wozniacki said. "For me, that wasn't really the game plan today. It was just putting pressure on her from the start, and kind of start the rally from there."

Italy's Errani averaged only 65 mph (105 kph) on second serves, and 78 mph (126 kph) on first serves, and that was a problem.

"I hoped she would miss something here and there," said Errani, who beat Venus Williams in the third round, "but today she practically never missed."

With the players' towels and spectators' napkins and all sorts of things being tossed around by the stirred-up air, Wozniacki dealt with the conditions far better than Errani. Although not right away.

The match began competitively enough, with a pair of points that lasted more than 20 strokes apiece in the first game. Errani earned four break points before 2009 U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki eventually held despite a double-fault in which one serve didn't come close to reaching the net.

"I have played in some very windy conditions here, but I know how to adapt," said Wozniacki, the runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2009, and a semifinalist in 2011. "It just took me a few serves to kind of get into the rhythm and figure out where to throw the ball and what to aim for."

Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who eliminated five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in three sets in the fourth round, will face unseeded Peng Shuai of China in the semifinals.

Errani was a finalist at the 2012 French Open, and made it to the final four at that year's U.S. Open, too.

She's accustomed to outrunning opponents on court and wearing them down. On this night, Wozniacki - who has been training to run the New York City Marathon in November for charity - did that very thing to Errani.

"Maybe," Errani said with a chuckle, "I need to run the marathon, too."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Broncos WR Welker suspended for 4 games

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos will be without Wes Welker for the first four games of the season after the NFL said the receiver violated the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.

Normally, the league announces such violations on Monday. News of Welker's ban didn't come down until late Tuesday, after the league offices had closed and the Broncos had already finished drawing up blueprints for their opener against Indianapolis, undoubtedly with Welker playing a prominent role.

ESPN first reported Welker's suspension, saying the violation had to do with amphetamines.

Welker told the Denver Post in an email that he was "as shocked as everyone at today's news." He noted he's meticulous about what he puts in his body and would "never knowingly take a substance to gain a competitive advantage in any way."

The 11th-year pro who's been the NFL's top slot receiver over the last decade added that he never concerned himself with the league's drug rules but now realizes those policies "are clearly flawed."

While it takes multiple violations of the league's substance-abuse policies to trigger a suspension, a four-game ban is issued for a single violation of the NFL's ban on performance-enhancing substances.

Welker's suspension will cost him roughly $706,000 in base salary.

"Tonight's news regarding Wes is very disappointing, but we understand the league's authority in this area," coach John Fox said in a statement. "While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the year, I have full confidence in our wide receivers and expect that group to continue playing at a high level."

Welker played a key role in the two greatest statistical offenses in NFL history: the 2007 New England Patriots and last year's Broncos.

He caught 73 passes for 778 yards and a career-high 10 TDs despite missing the last 3 1/2 games of last season. He returned for the playoffs and had 18 catches for 160 yards and a TD.

Without Welker, Peyton Manning will have to lean more on speedy wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who's played in the slot before, or tight end Jacob Tamme, who filled the role at times last year when Welker was out.

Tight end Julius Thomas is also better working the middle of the field. And if Sanders moves inside, that opens up playing time for rookie Cody Latimer or Bubba Caldwell opposite flanker Demaryius Thomas.

"I have no doubt that Wes will remain focused on his preparations for the season and stay in excellent shape during his time away from the team," Fox said.

Even before Welker's ban was issued, the Broncos were facing a daunting first month to open the season. Kicker Matt Prater has been suspended for the first four games for an alcohol-related violation of league rules and leading tackler Danny Trevathan is out for the first three games with a broken left leg.

Welker will miss games against Indianapolis, Kansas City, Seattle and Arizona. All four teams won 10 or more games last season.

The Seahawks and Colts both feature physical defensive backs that roughed up the Broncos' receivers at the line of scrimmage in wins over Denver last season.

Adept at getting open in 1-on-1 coverage and finding the holes in zones, Welker hit it off immediately with Manning last year after spending six seasons in New England with Tom Brady.

Welker was excused from practices for two days last month, apparently to meet with league officials about his pending suspension. He then played in a preseason game against Houston on Aug. 23, when he sustained his third concussion since Nov. 17.

Welker returned to practice Monday but declined comment afterward, saying he had to rush to a team function.

His latest head injury came when he tried to duck following a catch over the middle and absorbed a helmet hit by D.J. Swearinger.

Swearinger's hit knocked Welker from the game and drew a 15-yard penalty and the wrath of Manning. The quarterback raced up to say some choice words to the swaggering safety, drawing his first taunting penalty of his career. He was later fined $8,268.

"Obviously, I'm concerned about Wes," Manning said after the game. "I didn't like seeing him come out of the game with a blow to the head. He had one of those last year that kept him out for a while."

Welker will now be out of action until Oct. 12, when the Broncos visit the Jets.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Healthy Federer back into US Open quarterfinals

NEW YORK (AP) A year ago at this time, Roger Federer was dealing with a bad back. He was experimenting with new rackets. And his nine-year run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open ended with a fourth-round loss.

Things are different these days for the 33-year-old Federer.

Enjoying a new racket with a larger head, healthy enough to train properly and push forward whenever possible, Federer got back to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over 17th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Tuesday night.

"Because of the issues I had last year, I had to be unbelievably careful what I did. We had to cut back on a few things I usually would do, but were scared to do. That was not what I wanted to do," he said about his fitness work. "Sometimes if that's what it is and it means don't run on the treadmill or don't do jumps or whatever it is, well, there's other ways you can train that. I'm happy that basically today I can do whatever and I don't have any more setbacks."

And the benefit of that, Federer explained: "Now I have my confidence back. It's as simple as that."

At the 2013 U.S. Open, Federer lost to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, part of a stretch in which the 17-time Grand Slam title winner was bounced before the quarters three times in the span of four majors.

At Wimbledon in July, Federer got to his first Grand Slam final in two years, and even though he lost that match to Novak Djokovic, it signaled a real resurgence.

On a windy evening against Bautista Agut, someone he had never faced, Federer moved well and won the point on 35 of 52 trips to the net.

"Coming to net requires a lot of agility and explosivity and all that stuff - and I have it back," said Federer, a five-time champion at Flushing Meadows. "I'm happy I'm feeling good at net, too, because you've got to anticipate some and read some and it's working really well. So I hope I can keep it up."

Federer was broken only once, part of a three-game run for Bautista Agut that took the score from 5-1 to 5-4 in the first set. But Federer had no trouble the second time he tried to serve out that set, which he ended with a pair of aces.

In all, the second-seeded Federer needed less than two hours to improve to 25-1 in night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium. This was Bautista Agut's first such occasion in the imposing, 23,771-capacity arena.

Federer is 71-9 overall at the U.S. Open, tying Pete Sampras and Bill Tilden for the fifth-most match wins in tournament history behind Jimmy Connors' 98. Federer's .888 winning percentage is second behind the .910 of Tilden, who went 71-7 and won seven championships in the 1920s.

In Thursday's quarterfinals, Federer will play 20th-seeded Gael Monfils of France.

Federer has won seven of their nine past meetings, including at a hard-court tuneup tournament in Mason, Ohio, last month.

"He's one of the most exciting and entertaining players out there," Federer said, "so I think we can get ready for some good points - some good retrieving by him, some attacking by me."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Questions for FSU and Alabama after opening week

Breaking down the ballots for the first regular-season AP Top 25 and wrapping up college football's opening weekend.

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REMAIN CALM! ALL IS WELL!

Overrated or over reactions?

Maybe it's a bit of the former, but probably far more of the latter after the first weekend of the college football season, which is notorious for setting off way-too-early alarms.

No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Alabama held their spots in the AP Top 25 released on Tuesday, though both looked to be less than juggernauts in close victories against heavy underdogs on Saturday.

Florida State struggled to run the ball behind an offensive line with four returning starters and had a difficult time getting Oklahoma State off the field on third down. Still, Jameis Winston was mostly excellent and the Seminoles outgained the Cowboys 476-364. If anything, the 37-31 victory for Florida State in North Texas might tell us more about how good Oklahoma State is than it does about the Seminoles' weaknesses.

Coach Jimbo Fisher said some inconsistent practices led to an inconsistent performance that he hopes helps to get his players' attention.

"And until you lose a game some time like that and you get that bitter taste and understand, and I hope we learned that lesson now," he said Tuesday.

Alabama got into a back-and-forth game against West Virginia before beating the Mountaineers 33-23 in Atlanta. The problems came mostly on the defensive side for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, which had problems with pass coverage.

But let's take a step back: Alabama outgained West Virginia 538-393, and allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown. That troublesome Tide defense allowed one offensive touchdown - though dropped passes by WVU aided Alabama's cause.

So, yes, it was definitely not the best efforts by two of the nation's top teams, but clearly no reason to panic. Openers, especially those away from home, can be tricky as players adjust to new roles.

The Crimson Tide and Seminoles should be credited for at least playing teams that have the ability to pose a threat, but the two lost support from AP voters.

Florida State went from 57 first-place vote to 46. Alabama dropped 44 total points.

Ohio State also took on a challenging opener, and had a tough time shaking free from Navy in Baltimore. The Midshipmen's triple-option offense and overall intensity is often vexing, even to the most talented opponent. Breaking in a new quarterback made the opener all the more challenging for the Buckeyes. J.T. Barrett had one terrible interception but went 12 for 15 for 226 yards and helped Ohio State pull away, 34-17.

"It was what I expected," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said about Braxton Miller's replacement. "He's a very cool, collected guy. ... I thought he handled himself very well."

Still, the Buckeyes dropped from fifth to No. 8.

UCLA also slipped after Brett Hundley and company survived a groggy offensive performance in a 28-20 victory at Virginia that kicked off at noon EDT - or 9 a.m. UCLA time. The Bruins dropped four spots to No. 11.

Florida State and Alabama have easy games next to work out the kinks, rest injured players and get the backups some work. The Seminoles face the Citadel, from FCS, and the Crimson Tide hosts Florida Atlantic. We'll need a few weeks to determine if Florida State and Alabama are, indeed, overrated.

UCLA goes home to play Memphis, giving the Bruins a chance to post confidence-building numbers against an opponent that could at least provide some resistance.

Ohio State gets a chance to make a statement and vault back up the rankings with a home game against Virginia Tech.

By Sunday, when the next Top 25 comes out, we'll have a better idea of whether Ohio State's Navy issues were anything more than that.

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GOING UP

Texas A&M's demolition of South Carolina in Columbia was the statement of the weekend. And because it happened on Thursday it gave the college football world the entire long weekend to toss around potential nicknames for the Aggies' new star quarterback.

Kenny Football? Please, no.

Kenny Pigskin? We see what you did there.

Kenny Thrill. Workable, maybe.

First-time starter Kenny Hill broke Johnny Manziel's school single-game passing record with 511 yards in the 52-28 drubbing of the Gamecocks.

The Aggies' reward was a No. 9 ranking, jumping 12 spots, the biggest leap this week.

The Aggies should be able to ride their top-10 status for a few weeks. Up next: Lamar, Rice and SMU.

As for that statement: On the list of most important people to arrive in College Station over the past few years, coach Kevin Sumlin ranks ahead of Johnny Football.

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GOING DOWN

South Carolina provided the equal and opposite reaction to Texas A&M. The two traded spots in the rankings with the Gamecocks falling to No. 21 from No. 9.

It was a disturbing weekend for the Gamecocks on another front: South Carolina's main rival in the SEC East, Georgia, looked tremendous in beating Clemson 45-21 behind star running back Todd Gurley. The Bulldogs moved up six spots to No. 6.

The Gamecocks host Georgia on Sept. 13. South Carolina doesn't have long to fix its problems - and Jadeveon Clowney isn't coming back.

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IN AN OUT

It took Bobby Petrino one week to get Louisville into the rankings. The Cardinals' opening 31-13 victory against Miami on Monday pushed them into the No. 25 slot as Petrino starts his second stint as Louisville coach.

Chris Petersen's debut at Washington coach was victorious but not nearly as impressive. The Huskies slogged through a 17-16 victory at Hawaii with backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist and fell out of the rankings. The suspended Cyler Miles will return, and start, this week for Washington against Eastern Washington.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoap

Cowboys' Brent reinstated, suspended for 10 games

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent is being allowed to return to the NFL, though he won't play right away.

The NFL on Tuesday outlined a series of conditions Brent must meet to be eligible to play when the Cowboys return from their bye week in November.

Brent retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication manslaughter death of teammate Jerry Brown, a practice squad linebacker for the Cowboys. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.

The league says Brent will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season and can't participate in team activities for the first six weeks. He won't be allowed to visit the team's practice facility for the first six weeks except to meet with people associated with his rehab.

The 26-year-old Brent must have "no further adverse involvement with law enforcement" and faces potential banishment for what the league called "prohibited alcohol-related conduct."

Brent's agent, Peter Schaffer, said an appeal of the suspension was planned.

Brent can start attending meetings and doing individual workouts in Week 7, but can't practice or travel with the team. He can begin practicing two weeks after that.

If he meets all the conditions, Brent's first possible game is Nov. 23 at the New York Giants.

Brent crashed his Mercedes sedan on a suburban Dallas highway on the way back from a nightclub in December 2012. Brown was in the passenger's seat. Witnesses recalled seeing Brent trying to pull Brown, his former teammate at Illinois and his roommate in Texas, from the wreckage of the vehicle.

Tests later showed Brent to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Texas.

Brent faced up to 20 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter, and prosecutors pressed hard for prison time, saying his case would send a message to other would-be drunken drivers. But Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, testified she had forgiven Brent and that "you can't go on in life holding a grudge."

The Cowboys open the season Sunday at home against San Francisco with many questions about their defense, including the rotation among defensive linemen. They are trying to replace franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware, who was released during the offseason in a salary cap move.

Brent was mostly a backup in three seasons with Dallas, but was starting in place of the injured Jay Ratliff at the time of the crash.

The Cowboys took a step toward replacing Ware by moving up to get defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round of this year's draft, but the rookie will start on the season on short-term injured reserve with a broken right foot.

Lawrence can't start practicing until after the sixth game and can't play until Week 9 against Arizona on Nov. 2. Dallas filled Lawrence's spot by signing defensive end Jack Crawford, cut by Oakland last week, to the active roster.

Offensive tackle John Wetzel and defensive back Jemea Thomas were added to the practice squad.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

Yankees to wear uniform patches celebrating Jeter

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees will celebrate Derek Jeter's career by wearing a special patch on their caps and jerseys during his final few weeks in the majors.

The team announced Tuesday that a logo depicting Jeter's last season will appear on the hats and left sleeves of players' uniforms beginning Sunday, when the club hosts Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium. A pregame ceremony highlighting the star shortstop's career is planned before New York faces the Kansas City Royals.

After that, the Yankees will wear the patches for the rest of the season. Jeter, the longtime Yankees captain, is retiring after this year.

Watt inks 6-year deal with Texans

HOUSTON (AP) J.J. Watt couldn't sleep on Monday night after agreeing to a six-year contract extension with the Houston Texans.

The star defensive end arrived at NRG Stadium about 3:30 a.m. and found the security code on the door had changed, keeping him locked out. A cleaning lady let him in and Watt went straight to the weight room.

"I thought they were pulling a joke on me," Watt said Tuesday. "I'm not even on the team anymore."

Not a chance.

Watt's deal is reportedly worth $100 million, including a $10 million signing bonus and $51.8 million in guaranteed money overall. He's now signed through the 2021 season.

"I hope the people of Houston don't mind me sticking around for a little while longer because I happen to like it here quite a bit," Watt said. "I'm really excited about this and I'm very, very fortunate. I promise to do everything in my power to work extremely hard and give everything that I have to prove that I've earned this."

He certainly has so far.

The 25-year-old Watt was the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year after recording 20 1/2 sacks and batting down 16 passes. He has 74 tackles for loss, 36 1/2 sacks and 27 pass breakups since he joined the league as the 11th overall pick in 2011, and he leads the league in sacks (31) and swatted passes (21) in the past two seasons.

"We normally wouldn't do this at this stage," owner Bob McNair said about the timing of the signing. "We just felt that his performance had been so outstanding, his attitude so great, his work ethic is such a role model for everyone on our team that we felt that he deserves special consideration. That's why we agreed to look at this situation."

Watt talked to his parents after agreeing to the deal on Monday night. His mother asked if Watt felt any differently now that he had a new deal in place. Watt said he didn't.

"Money doesn't motivate me, greatness does," he said. "I'm so fortunate that I don't have to worry about the money, so I can focus on the greatness. At the end of the day, I want to play this game because I want to be the absolute best I can be."

Watt can hardly believe the trajectory of his life from such humble beginnings in a small Midwestern town.

"I'm just a kid from Pewaukee, Wisconsin, you know, a small little town, who had big dreams and who worked extremely hard and had a great support system around him," he said. "So only to do to this so early in my career, to have the team show the faith and appreciation that they have, that's what I'm so grateful and I'm so thankful."

Watt had two years left on his contract that was due to pay him $1.9 million this year and just under $7 million in 2015. He expressed his desire for a new contract last month as the Texans were practicing with the Denver Broncos. He never intended to hold out, though, preferring to focus on practice and left the negotiating to his agent, Tom Condon.

General manager Rick Smith and Condon didn't have much to discuss beyond the money figures.

"I don't think I've ever been in a negotiation where there was so much alignment with how we felt about the player," Smith said. "You have to base your feeling on what the future looks like based on the past. That's a pretty good predictor of what you will have and everything that we've seen from J.J. gives us every confidence that he will continue to work the way that he's worked and continue to be as effective as a player that he's been so far."

Watt says his deal proves how well the combination of big dreams and hard work can pay off.

"Don't ever let anybody tell you why you can't be what you want to be," he said. "Don't ever let anybody crush your dreams. But your dreams don't mean anything if you're not willing to wake up and work for them. So you better be willing to do the second part. You better be willing to work hard, make sacrifices, be disciplined, do all these things that everybody talks about."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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