National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

NASCAR's Stewart hits, kills driver on NY track

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (AP) NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed a sprint car driver who was walking on a dirt track during a race in upstate New York on Saturday night.

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department's investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was "fully cooperative."

Povero would not identify the driver, but said he was pronounced dead Saturday night at a hospital in Canandaigua.

A video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed driver Kevin Ward Jr. walking toward Stewart's car before being hit and hurtled 50 feet.

Povero said the 42-year-old Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion and frequent competitor at local sprint car events, was questioned and released. The sheriff is asking for people who have video of the crash to contact the office so copies can be obtained for review.

"People that witnessed it were horrified," Povero said of the crash. "They were extremely shocked."

Calls to Stewart's representatives were not immediately returned, and he was scheduled to race in in NASCAR's event Sunday at Watkins Glen. There was no word on if Stewart would pull out of the race, which is critical for his championship chances.

Video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed Ward, in the No. 13 car, spin into a wall after contact with Stewart's car. The video showed Ward, wearing a black firesuit and black helmet, climb quickly from his car and briskly walk around it in what appeared to be an attempt to confront Stewart as he passed by in his own car, Stewart's familiar No. 14.

The video showed Ward to the right of Stewart's car, which seemed to kick out from the rear and hit Ward. The driver was hurtled through the air and emergency personnel quickly reached Ward as he lay on the track.

Michael Messerly, a fan who witnessed the crash, said it appeared Stewart - racing there on the eve of a race at Watkins Glen - hit a driver who was walking on the dimly lit track after they had collided on the previous lap.

He said Stewart struck the driver as he tried to speed past him.

"I didn't see (the other driver) anymore," he said. "It just seemed like he was suddenly gone."

The accident came just four days after Stewart marked the one-year anniversary of an accident in a sprint car race in Iowa, where he suffered a compound fracture to his right leg. The injury cost him the second half of the NASCAR season.

The track, about 30 miles southeast of Rochester, canceled the remainder of the race within five minutes and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to "pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families."

It said a statement on the crash would come later Sunday.

Ward's website said he began racing go-karts in 1998 at age 4, but didn't start driving sprint cars until 2010. He was Empire Super Sprint rookie of the year in 2012 and this year was his fifth season racing the Empire Super Sprints.

Stewart was involved in a July 2013 accident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park that seriously injured a 19-year-old driver. He later took responsibility for his car making contact with another and triggering the 15-car accident that left Alysha Ruggles with a compression fracture in her back.

On Saturday, ambulances, fire trucks and police arrived within minutes of the crash, Messerly said. Fans filed out in stunned silence, he said.

Stewart only returned to sprint track racing last month, almost a year after breaking his leg in the crash at an Iowa track. He didn't return to racing in any form until February when preparation for NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500 began.

He refused to stop his extracurricular racing despite the injury and was scheduled to race Sunday.

Stewart was a spectator at the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the accident, and posted on his Twitter account: "Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to get me back to where I'm at today. It's your life, live it!"

Roughly three hours after the accident in New York, Donny Schatz, a sprint car driver for Tony Stewart Racing, won the prestigious Knoxville Nationals in Iowa for an eighth time. Stewart had spent much of the earlier part of the week trackside in Iowa watching his drivers compete.

"I was just told there was an incident involving Tony. I don't know to what extent or what's happening," Schatz said.

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. The four-team Sprint Cup organization fields cars for Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick. He's struggled a bit this year since returning, and heads into Sunday's race winless on the season and ranked 19th in the standings.

Stewart was scheduled to start 13th on Sunday at Watkins Glen International in south central New York state. He has just five races remaining to either score a win or move inside the top 16 in points to grab a valuable spot in NASCAR's championship race.

Manziel solid in debut, Browns fall to Lions 13-12

DETROIT -- Johnny Manziel showed off some of his fancy footwork, and the Cleveland rookie looked sharp with his arm too in his preseason debut, although the Browns lost to the Detroit Lions 13-12 on Saturday night.

Manziel entered the game as a backup in the middle of the second quarter, and although he couldn't take his team to the end zone, he did go 7 of 11 for 63 yards, completing one more pass than starting quarterback Brian Hoyer. Manziel also ran for 27 yards on six carries, including a 16-yard scramble in the third quarter.

Matthew Stafford led the Lions to a field goal on his only drive of the game. Star receiver Calvin Johnson didn't play.

Cleveland receiver Nate Burleson, who played in Detroit the last four seasons, also sat out this game.

Detroit's Kellen Moore threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller with 1:05 remaining in the game, and Giorgio Tavecchio made the long extra point to give the Lions the one-point win.

There was a buzz surrounding this preseason game because of Manziel's debut, and the former Heisman Trophy winner took the field with 7:32 remaining in the first half, drawing a few cheers but also plenty of boos from the Detroit crowd. Amid a fair number of camera flashes at Ford Field, Manziel took the snap and immediately completed a 6-yard pass toward the left sideline to Anthony Armstrong.

But the Lions stuffed the Cleveland quarterback on what looked like a read option on third down, ending that drive.

Billy Cundiff gave Cleveland a 9-6 lead with a 41-yard field goal early in the third quarter. On his next drive, Manziel dropped back on third-and-8, then took off up the middle, finding plenty of open space for a 16-yard run that was the longest by a Cleveland player on the night.

Manziel later outran the Lions to the sideline to pick up a first down on fourth-and-1, but the drive ended when Dion Lewis fumbled inside the Detroit 30.

Cundiff kicked four field goals for the Browns, and rookie Nate Freese made two for the Lions. Detroit was playing its first preseason game under new coach Jim Caldwell, and the offense did little to impress with Stafford barely playing. Backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky went 12 of 23 for 89 yards.

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon played while awaiting word from the NFL on his appeal of a possible suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He caught two passes for 32 yards. Hoyer went 6 of 14 for 92 yards.

Rookie tight end Eric Ebron, Detroit's first-round pick, played after missing some practice time during the week with an injury. He caught one pass.

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

Fowler 2 shots back at PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Rickie Fowler is giving himself so many chances in the majors, he's bound to break through one of these days.

He has been the runner-up in the past two majors and was fifth at the Masters, so it's not shocking that Fowler is within reach of leader Rory McIlory at the PGA Championship.

But winning his first major will again require clearing the world's best player, a tall order considering McIlroy isn't letting up.

Then again neither is the 25-year-old former Oklahoma State star from California. He shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday in the third round at Valhalla and stands alone in third at 11 under, two shots behind McIlroy.

Fowler credited McIlroy's driving prowess, especially in recent weeks.

"If he continues to do that, he's not going to back up and we are definitely going to have to go out and show him that we're around," Fowler said. "If someone is going to beat him, they are going to earn it."

Fowler took advantage of soft greens to card four birdies, including one at the par-5 18th hole, to cap his cleanest round this weekend. He'll be paired with buddy Phil Mickelson in the next-to-last group Sunday as both try to deny McIlroy a third straight victory.

Fowler can feel good about earning another shot at a major victory. He has gone 27 straight holes without a bogey, steadiness that briefly put him in a five-way tie for the lead at 10 under before McIlroy broke away with three birdies down the stretch.

What pleased Fowler were tee shots and approaches that mostly landed where he wanted, leaving him with makeable par putts along with those birdies.

Fowler took full advantage of the par-5s and just missed an eagle on 18 when his putt broke left.

"I'm pleased with my round," he said. "I wouldn't exactly ask anything more out of it. Just maybe the putts that didn't go in today, they go in tomorrow."

Fowler would certainly welcome more final-round luck after falling just short in majors.

At last month's British Open, Fowler started the final round six shots behind McIlroy before shooting a 5-under 67 to tie for second with Sergio Garcia, two shots behind. That effort followed his second-place tie at the U.S. Open along with his fifth-place effort at Augusta National.

While Fowler hasn't wondered what might have been in those events, he goes through a pre-major mental checklist of where his game is. Thanks to his work with coach Butch Harmon to improve his play in the marquee events, he has posted top-five showings in all three and is poised again to go over the top.

He doesn't plan any tweaks, even with McIlroy as the target, except maybe the ending.

"I still need to stick with my game plan and what we've established on how we want to play the golf course," he said. "Maybe there's some pins down the stretch where if I need to make some birdies, I'll be able to tighten some things up and maybe try to make some things happen if I have to.

"But I'm not going to change anything. I like where my game is at right now, both physically and on the mental side with where I'm going and through my process before each shot, making sure I'm ready."

Venus Williams tops Serena, reaches Montreal final

MONTREAL -- Venus Williams defeated Serena 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3 Saturday for the first win against her sister in more than five years to advance to the final of the Rogers Cup.

The 34-year-old Venus hadn't beat her 32-year-old sister in five matches going back to Dubai in 2009. Top-ranked Serena still leads the all-time series 15-11.

Unseeded Venus started with strong serving and took a 3-1 lead before Serena tied it 3-3. The younger sibling and defending champion prevailed in the tiebreaker, taking a 4-0 lead.

Venus, who dropped serve only once, served for the match at 5-3 in the third set. Venus won it with a rocket serve that Serena returned into the net.

Serena had 19 aces and nine double-faults, while Venus had six aces and two doubles-faults.

Derek Jeter passes Honus Wagner on career hit list

NEW YORK (AP) Derek Jeter has passed Honus Wagner on the career hits list with 3,431, getting an infield single in the sixth inning Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.

Jeter led off the inning with a soft grounder off Corey Kluber that shortstop Jose Ramirez charged but failed to pick up with his bare hand. Jeter tied Wagner on Friday night with a grounder that Ramirez made a nice play on but the throw went off first baseman Carlos Santana's glove as the Yankees captain crossed the base.

Jeter has said this will be his final season so moving up to fifth will be very difficult. He needs 84 hits to catch Tris Speaker at 3,515.

McIlroy leads PGA by a stroke; it seems like more

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Rory McIlroy goes to the weekend of the PGA Championship with a one-stroke lead.

It seems bigger than that.

Such is the state of McIlroy's game.

"When I'm playing like this, it's obviously very enjoyable," he said after a 4-under 67 on Friday. "I can't wait to get back out on the course again (Saturday) and do the same thing all over again."

Jason Day and Jim Furyk are right on his heels, but the Aussie acknowledged that it will be tough for anyone to beat McIlroy.

"I'm clearly not the favorite," Day said. "This whole year he's been playing great. He looks confident. He's hitting the ball longer and straighter than pretty much everyone in the field. It's going to be tough to beat him."

Here are five things to watch for in the third round of the PGA Championship:

RORY'S QUEST: Tiger Woods was the No. 1 player in the world when he won the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla for his third straight major. McIlroy isn't that far along, though he does have a small slice of history at stake if he can win the Wanamaker Trophy. McIlroy is trying to become only the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year, and the first since Padraig Harrington in 2008. Woods did it twice. It would be McIlroy's fourth major. The only other players to have won four majors before age 26 were Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Willie Anderson and Young Tom Morris.

YOUNG GUNS: Jason Day and Rickie Fowler are not yet among the best players to have never won a major. But they might be the best young players without one. And they keep giving themselves chances. Day won the Match Play Championship in February until a thumb injury derailed his year. The 26-year-old Aussie appears to be in form again after the low score of the second round, a 6-under 65 that put him in the final group. Day has been runner-up three times in a major, most recently at the U.S. Open last year. Fowler shot a 66 and was two shots behind McIlroy. He is no stranger to being in contention at the majors on the weekend. Fowler, 25, played in the final group at the last two majors and was runner-up in both. He is the first player since Woods in 2005 to finish in the top five at the first three majors of the year.

LEFTY'S SURGE: Phil Mickelson has been mired in his longest losing streak since 2003. But it looks as though he has found his game. Mickelson shot a blistering 62 in the final round at Firestone, and it has carried over to his best 36-hole start in a major since winning the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Mickelson opened with a 69 and eagled the final hole Friday for a 67. Lefty is looking for his first victory since capturing the 2013 British Open at Muirfield. Mickelson has several agendas this weekend, one of which includes locking up his spot on another Ryder Cup team. He already holds the record by qualifying nine times in a row, and he doesn't want captain Tom Watson to have to use a wild-card pick this time.

PART-TIME STRICKER: Steve Stricker will be an assistant captain for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But first, he has to take care of some business at the final major of the year. The 47-year-old Stricker, who became a part-time player last year to spend more time with his family, still has plenty of game. He shot 68 Friday and was four strokes off the lead heading to the weekend. He has been a top-10 finisher in the majors 11 times, most notably a runner-up finish to Vijay Singh at the 1998 PGA Championship. He would be one of the oldest major champions in golf history if he comes through at Valhalla.

TIGER'S FUTURE: Tiger Woods won't be at Valhalla this weekend - he missed the cut at a major championship for only the fourth time in his professional career - but there are plenty of questions about his future. Woods shot back-to-back rounds of 74, leaving him a whopping five shots below the cut line. Woods said his ailing back flared up again, and he conceded that he needs to get stronger. It looks like he'll have plenty of time to work on his game. Unless he plays next week at Greensboro, North Carolina - which he's never done - his season is effectively over. Woods failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and there seems little chance he will be picked for the Ryder Cup by Watson. For Woods, the focus turns to 2015.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

LeBron tells Ohio crowd: "I love you. I'm back."

AKRON, Ohio (AP) On a night packed with emotion and inspiration, LeBron James saved the biggest moment for last.

Surrounded by family, friends and fans in a city welcoming him home, James delivered a line he's been waiting to say for four years.

"I love you," he told the crowd of nearly 25,000. "I'm back."

James then dropped the microphone and left the stage as fireworks exploded about InfoCision Stadium, illuminating the Akron sky.

James is home, and he's not leaving again.

The NBA superstar, who re-signed with Cleveland last month, said Friday night he intends to play the rest of his career with the Cavaliers, the team he returned to after winning two NBA titles in Miami.

When he signed a two-year, $41 million contract that included an option after one year, there was speculation he would one day test free agency again. The contract made Cleveland fans nervous, but they can now relax.

"I don't plan on going nowhere," James said. "I don't have the energy to do it again."

James, who returned to Northeast Ohio after four seasons with the Heat, was welcomed back with a homecoming event fit for a King.

Fans waited in line for six hours for a prime seat for the event on the University of Akron campus, not far from where the 29-year-old James bounced his first basketball.

There were tributes during the two-hour ceremony, highlighted by recording artist Skylar Grey signing her hit "I'm Coming Home," a song that became the unofficial theme of his return to Cleveland.

"It's almost like she knew I was coming home before I knew I was coming home," he said.

James was back and the city that helped raise him welcomed him with open arms. The welcome-home party coincided with James' annual "I Promise" campaign for area children sponsored by his family foundation.

"It's pretty amazing," said James, joined at his news conference by several kids. "I'm not gonna sit up here and say it's not. To know you can do things for people, give them hope, give them inspiration. It means a lot to me. I understand I'm a role model. I understand to these kids I'm more than a role model. I'm a superhero to them. I'm a father to them. I'm a brother to them, whatever the case they want me to be on that particular day."

Although he was playing for the Heat, James said his heart was always home and he realized it was time to return.

"It just hit me," he said. "Sometimes you just have a feeling. You realize what's going on and what's happening. It just hit me."

During a 15-minute interview session - his first since announcing his return to Ohio - James touched on a number of subjects, including new Cleveland coach David Blatt, the possible addition of All-Star forward Kevin Love, who is expected to join the Cavs in a trade from Minnesota later this month, and winning Cleveland's first championship since 1964 .

James won an Olympic gold medal with Love at the London Games in 2012 and he's eager to be his teammate again.

"I'm going to be very excited to have him," James said. "I don't really care about the 26 (points) and 12 (rebounds). I care about the basketball IQ. His basketball IQ is very, very high. I had an opportunity to spend 32 days with him on the 2012 Olympic team. It's funny. I always told Kevin Love, `You're very good, man.' He always thought I was blowing smoke.

"I always told him he was going to be a reason why we won the gold medal, and he played a huge role for us. So I'm looking forward to it. He's a great piece."

As for Blatt, the former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach hired by Cleveland in June, James did some research on his offense and likes what he's seen.

"I watched all his clips form him coaching Maccabi and I kind of broke them down to see how I fit and obviously I can fit in every position on the floor," he said.

James is looking forward to playing with Love and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, neither of whom have played in an NBA playoff game. James knows what it takes to win a title, and he's going to have to lead the way for a team lacking postseason experience.

"I'm going to have to teach, lead and inspire those guys," he said. "But my No. 1 goal is to win the championship here. I think it would be the greatest achievement in my life as far as on the court. Hopefully it will happen. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Fans arrived before 11 a.m. to get a prime seat to see James.

"I might cry when I see him," said Rodneka Price, who drove seven hours from Muncie, Indiana.

Melissa Rumner and her son, Nick, were first in a long line which wrapped around the stadium on the University of Akron's campus.

"We had to be here to welcome him back," Rumner said as 10-year-old Nick stood by wearing one of the white No. 23 jerseys James popularized during his seven seasons with the Cavs. "We're so happy to have him back."

Nick was confident James would return to Cleveland.

"I knew he was coming back," said the red-head, who was counting down the minutes before the gates opened.

Price packed up a car of six people and drove to Ohio for the first time so she could help welcome back the four-time league MVP. She said James' poignant essay that he was returning home to try and end Cleveland's 50-year championship drought touched her.

"It all makes sense," she said, wearing a "Return Of The King" T-shirt. "He made a promise and he's going to stick to it."

Woods shoots another 74, fails to make cut at PGA

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) For Tiger Woods, there was a familiar complaint.

Yes, his back was hurting again.

His performance at the PGA Championship is becoming more the norm, as well.

Once the game's most dominant player, Woods looked old and tired at Valhalla. He was surely overmatched Friday, shooting his second straight 3-over 74 to miss the cut at one of golf's biggest events for only the fourth time in his professional career.

Not that this was a big surprise.

Woods was playing in only his fourth tournament since back surgery in late March, and he hasn't been a factor in any of them. He failed to make the cut at the Quicken Loans National. He had his worst 72-hole showing in a major at the British Open. He had to withdraw on the final day of the World Golf Championship at Firestone after taking an awkward swing and hurting his back again. He showed up Wednesday at Valhalla, proclaimed himself fit - and flopped again.

"I tried as hard as I could. That's about all I've got," Woods said. "Unfortunately, I just didn't play well. Consequently, a pair of 74s is not very good."

With the cut at 1 over, Woods wasn't even close to playing on the weekend.

He was effectively done after shooting a 4-over 39 on the front nine, including a double bogey at No. 6 - where he three-putted from 18 feet - and a really ugly bogey at the par-5 seventh. He drove into a muddy bog far left of the fairway and had to punch out. He sailed his third shot over the green, and a sloppy chip came up short.

Woods played better on the back side - a couple of birdies, a single bogey - but he was all done at that point.

He said his chances effectively ended when the same problem that left him barely able to bend over at Firestone cropped up again on the driving range at Valhalla.

"I was sore," Woods said. "There was no doubt I was sore. It went out on me on me on the range. I just had to play through it."

There were no obvious indications of pain on the course, certainly nothing like his tortured departure from last week's tournament. He appeared to reach for his back a little after the errant tee shot on No. 7, but didn't actually touch it. There were plenty of grimaces, but those usually came after he hit another poor shot.

Woods insisted he had the "same feeling, same pain, same spasms" that forced him to drop out at Firestone, though he was encouraged that it wasn't in the same spot as his back surgery.

"It was telling me on the range that it probably wasn't a good idea (to play)," he said, referring to his back. "I couldn't make a back swing. I can't get the club back. I'm coming through fine. I just can't get the club back. That throws everything off. I can't get anywhere near the positions I'm accustomed to getting to. I just can't do it. I have to rely on my timing and my hands, and hope I time it just right."

He'll not have plenty of time to work on his game and build up his strength.

If he doesn't play next week at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, - and he never has - his season is over. Woods needed to win the PGA to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

It also seems highly unlikely that Woods will be one of the wild-card picks by U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, who said over and over that he wanted to see some sign the 14-time major champion was rounding into form.

Instead, Woods can't even beat the 64-year-old captain, finishing behind him at the British Open and three shots worse at the PGA.

"I don't know," Woods said, when asked about his chances of being chosen by Watson. "He hasn't called."

Might be best if he sits out this Ryder Cup.

Woods conceded he needs to get stronger and more fit to have any chance of being close to the player he once was.

"I felt like I wasn't that far away when I came back at the Quicken Loans," Woods said. "But obviously, the more I play, I can't develop my strength while playing a lot. I need to get back in the gym and get stronger."

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

US basketball team adds Rudy Gay to roster

The U.S. national basketball team has added Rudy Gay, who helped them win a gold medal four years ago and asked to rejoin the team following a series of player withdrawals.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo received a call Thursday night, shortly after Kevin Durant pulled out, and was told that Gay was available if he and coach Mike Krzyzewski were interested.

"We both felt he would be a valuable addition because of his outstanding skills and the fact that he is so familiar with USA Basketball and our national team program," Colangelo said Friday in a statement. "Rudy has been an integral member of USA Basketball since 2005 and was a tremendous contributor to our 2010 world championship team. He has a lot of equity in the USA Basketball national team."

Gay, the Sacramento Kings forward, appeared in all nine games for the Americans in the 2010 world championship, averaging 7.0 points off the bench. He also was one of the last cuts made by the 2012 Olympic team.

The U.S. roster is back at 16 players. The Americans resume practice Thursday in Chicago, with the World Cup of Basketball set to begin on Aug. 30 in Spain. They will have to cut to 12 before then.

"I am extremely excited to once again be part of Team USA and its rich tradition," Gay said. "I can't wait to join my teammates in Chicago and work hard to make certain the USA takes home the gold in Spain."

The 6-foot-8 Gay averaged 20 points last season for Toronto and Sacramento. He is a good fit for the Americans because he can swing between both forward spots, which would have been filled by Durant and Paul George, who broke his right leg last week.

Favre looks forward, no regrets about career

MILWAUKEE (AP) Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre says it's unfortunate the way things ended in Green Bay six years ago, but that he's proud of his 16 years with the Packers and has no regrets.

Favre, interviewed on WTMJ-AM on Friday, talked about his departure from Green Bay and recent efforts to soothe any sour feelings. The team has announced the three-time MVP quarterback will be inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and have his number retired during the 2015 season.

Favre said he has no regrets about his football career.

"And that goes from Day 1 to the end," he said.

Fans know he played as hard as he could, Favre added.

"I laid it on the field every time," he said.

Favre retired at a tearful news conference in March 2008, only to change his mind and decide later that year that he still wanted to play, setting up an awkward showdown between him and the team he helped resurrect and lead to a Super Bowl title. He was traded to the New York Jets for what would end up being a third-round draft pick and after one year with the Jets, Favre retired a second time, only to join the rival Minnesota Vikings, for whom he played two seasons.

In 2010, the Packers beat Favre and the Vikings twice on their way to a Super Bowl title, led by Favre's successor, Aaron Rodgers. Favre retired for good following the 2010 season, while Rodgers went on to win the NFL MVP award in 2011.

Favre said he has returned to Wisconsin since leaving Green Bay, coming back about two years ago to hunt with two friends in Clintonville, which is about 40 miles west of Green Bay. He said he hunted for eight days, and wasn't recognized when he visited a local laundry.

Favre said he won't coach high school football near his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, this year in order to watch his youngest daughter play volleyball at the school. And he expects to return to Green Bay with his wife, Deanna, before next season.

"I think you will see us more in Green Bay. The ice has been broken," Favre said.

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Information from: WTMJ-AM, http://www.620wtmj.com

Former top pick Oden released after battery arrest

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Police arrested former NBA No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden on battery charges early Thursday, alleging that he punched his ex-girlfriend in the face during a fight.

The free agent center, who played for the Miami Heat last season, was arrested early Thursday at his mother's suburban home in Lawrence on two preliminary counts of misdemeanor battery.

Oden, 26, was released from custody Thursday evening. Online Marion County Jail records show Oden was released on a $10,000 bond.

According to a Lawrence police report, officers were called to the home at around 3:30 a.m. and found a 24-year-old woman on a sofa with a swollen, bloody face. A friend of the woman told officers that Oden had "punched her in the face."

The report says the injured woman was uncooperative and told officers she had fallen, but was unable to say when and where that occurred.

Oden told officers he and the woman had dated for about two years but split up two months ago. According to the report, he said he was arguing with his ex-girlfriend when "things got out of control" and he struck her as he swung his arms to try to break free of two people who were trying to hold him back.

One of Oden's relatives, who said she was awoken by the argument, told police that "every time the two visit and go out, there is an argument to follow."

Oden's agent, Michael Conley Sr., directed all questions to Oden's attorney, James Bell. In a statement, Bell said: "It would be inappropriate to comment at such an early stage of this case. The court will schedule a hearing and we will allow that process to play out."

The 7-foot Oden was a star at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis and then played a season at Ohio State before the Portland Trail Blazers made him the top pick in the 2007 NBA draft.

Knee injuries have derailed Oden's professional career, and he didn't play from December 2009 until last season, when he averaged 2.9 points in 23 games for the Heat. He is currently without a team.

Chappell plays bogey-free 66 after invite to PGA

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Kevin Chappell still isn't certain how he got invited to the PGA Championship. He sure made the most of it Thursday.

Chappell and his wife were in a grocery store in Nevada 10 days ago, making plans for how to spend a week off during the final major of the year. That's when his agent forwarded him an email from the PGA of America congratulating him on being part of the field at Valhalla Golf Club.

"I wanted to know how - or why," Chappell said after opening with a 6-under 65 to share the lead with Lee Westwood and Ryan Palmer.

This has been a mediocre year by his standards. His only top-10 finish was at the Colonial (tie for 10th). He was not eligible or did not qualify for any of the majors. The PGA Championship tries to assemble the top 100 players from the world ranking. Chappell was at No. 104.

And he missed the cut at the PGA Championship last year.

"Not having success last year, I didn't expect any favors," he said. "I was grateful for it. All I wanted to do was take advantage of it. But I didn't know how I got in the field until I got here."

Turns out the PGA of America is so determined to get everyone from the top 100 in the world that it left nothing to chance. Chappell was at No. 104 and playing the Barracuda Championship in Nevada last week. With a good finish, he could have squeezed into the top 100 and still not been in the field.

PGA Championship director Kerry Haigh said last week in an email to The Associated Press that Chappell was No. 104 and "it was felt that he, too, was deserving of an invitational to the Championship."

Through various criteria, the PGA wound up with the top 109 players - until it lost Dustin Johnson to a "voluntary leave of absence" and then Matt Kuchar on Thursday to a back injury.

Chappell seized on the invitation he didn't expect.

He hit a hard 8-iron to 6 feet for birdie on the 496-yard second hole - the toughest on the course. He holed a bunker shot from short of the green on the par-5 10th hole.

It was a clean round. The UCLA grad came close to bogey only three times, holing par putts in the 8-foot range.

Chappell still hasn't won on the PGA Tour, though he has a pair of runner-up finishes in his career and he tied for third in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, which Rory McIlroy won in a runaway.

Chappell isn't sure what has held him back this year, except for not making enough putts, and he's not alone there.

He was a 14-year-old in Fresno, California, when he watched Tiger Woods beat Bob May in a playoff to win the 2000 PGA at Valhalla. All he remembers is seeing a lot of putts go in that day, which he figured would be a good formula for success. Chappell had only 26 putts in the first round.

As for the 2008 Ryder Cup? He doesn't remember watching that event at Valhalla.

"It must have been when I was in college," he said. "So I was losing some brain cells."

Westwood, still chasing a major, shares PGA lead

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) There were plenty of reasons to believe the window was fast closing on Lee Westwood's sometimes-heartbreaking campaign to win a major.

But the Englishman cracked it wide open again Thursday at the PGA Championship, piling nine birdies atop a double bogey at the first hole for a 6-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. It was Westwood's lowest round ever at the PGA and matched his best in a major - a third-round 65 at the 2011 U.S. Open.

"I was in a good frame of mind at the second tee," he said, chuckling, afterward.

Instead of dwelling on the bad break at No. 1, where a terrific drive came to rest at the end of an unfilled divot in the fairway, Westwood listened to some soothing words from caddie Billy Foster and drew on the memory of his final-round 63 at Firestone last week.

"I'm just not a patient person and I get frustrated really quickly when I know I can play better than I'm actually doing," Westwood said. "That's where a good caddie comes in, sort of talks to you calmly and says, `Just keep doing what you're doing and it will come.'

"Hate to hear those words from him," Westwood added. "But he's right."

The encouragement helped, but the real key to Westwood's round was the putter. Four of the birdies he rolled in were 15 feet or longer, highlighted by a 35-footer at No. 9. That clutch performance on the greens didn't escape the notice of European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley. Westwood, who has slipped to No. 34 in the world, has played in the last eight matches. But he might need help from McGinley - in the form of a wild-card pick - to extend that streak.

"If you look at the one pillar that has been consistent throughout the Ryder Cup success we have had since the '90s, it has been Lee Westwood," McGinley told Sky Sports. "But you want to see Lee in form. He is not going to get in on his reputation alone. He needs some form. He knows that and it's good to see him playing well today."

Westwood, 41, credited a tougher exercise regimen with helping him cope with the sweltering heat and humidity settling over Valhalla Golf Club, a par-71 course stretched out to 7,458 yards this week. He laughed when the moderator at a news conference after the round complimented Westwood's newly svelte figure.

"Very nice of you to say and notice," he said. "Which part of me?"

But a few extra pounds aren't the only memory from his previous trip to Valhalla that Westwood would like to shed. The last time he set foot on the course, he was part of Europe's losing Ryder Cup side. While qualifying for the team may be a longshot, Westwood hopes his play here will convince McGinley he deserves a chance to be at Gleneagles in Scotland when the matches begin in late September.

"I don't think the team as a whole played particularly well. So that was my overriding thought of that week," Westwood said.

"I've had chats with Paul and he said, `Try and show some form.' I don't know whether he's just looking for a reason to pick me, but I've shot 63 last Sunday and I'm leading a major this week.

"So," he added, "I'm ticking that box for him."

NCAA board hands 5 biggest conferences more power

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The biggest schools in college sports are about to get a chance to make their own rules.

Up first is likely finding a way to spend millions of dollars in new money - either in the form or stipends or fatter scholarships - on athletes across the country.

The NCAA Board of Directors voted 16-2 on Thursday to approve a historic package of changes that allows the five richest football conferences - the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC - to unilaterally change some of the rules that have applied to all Division I schools for years. The 65 universities in those leagues will also benefit from a new, weighted voting system on legislation covering the 350 schools in Division I.

"It does provide degrees of autonomy for the five high-resource conferences," said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, the board chairman and a key architect of the plan. "This is not complete autonomy. We're still part of Division I, but I think it allows us to provide more benefits to student-athletes."

A handful of university presidents who spoke at NCAA headquarters after the vote agreed on one thing: Paying athletes to play is off the table. And it's very unlikely that the five leagues will design their own policies when it comes to infractions.

But there's a good chance the five leagues will take steps to add money to scholarships or craft an athlete stipend intended to help cover the so-called full cost of attending college - costs beyond tuition, room and board and books and supplies. That will be millions more in spending by leagues that are already partners in multimillion-dollar TV contracts to show off their top sports of football and basketball, raising fresh concerns about an arms race in college athletics.

It is certainly a dramatic new start for an organization that has come under increasing criticism.

Already this year, the NCAA has agreed to settle two lawsuits for a combined $90 million and still awaits a judge's decision on a federal lawsuit in which plaintiffs led by Ed O'Bannon have argued college sports' amateurism rules are anti-competitive and allow the organization to operate as an illegal cartel. Also pending is a decision by the National Labor Relations Board on whether Northwestern football players can form what would be the first union for college athletes in U.S. history.

While NCAA leaders acknowledge the new system may not quash every legal case or argument, those who helped draft this proposal believe it will give prominent schools greater leeway in addressing the amateurism model and other concerns.

"I think we sometimes have to go back to why do people file lawsuits?" said Kansas State President Kirk Schulz, who worked on the plan. "It's because they can't get the action they want. It (autonomy) is going to help with some things, not all."

The power conferences contend they need more flexibility to solve the day's hottest controversies, including recruiting and health insurance, and complained long and loud over the past two years that change was critically important.

If the decision survives a 60-day override period, the transition to the new system could begin in January. Commissioners and school leaders from the power conferences have until Oct. 1 to create a wish list of areas where they want autonomy.

Any items that make the list would require majority approval from three of the five leagues and still will need the OK of at least 12 of the 20 presidents or chancellors on the expanded board of directors. Then, one representative from each of the 65 schools in the power-five leagues and three student-athletes from each conference would vote on each item. Passage would require 48 of the 80 votes and a simple majority of support from schools in at least three of the five conferences or a simple majority of all votes (41) and a simple majority from schools in four of the five leagues to pass.

NCAA President Mark Emmert also said the board could veto an autonomous rule change if it goes too far. He described that situation as "rare."

The No. 1 priority heading into October is expanding scholarships to cover up to the full cost of attendance. Legislation to give athletes an additional $2,000 to cover college expenses was approved by the board in October 2011 but was overridden later after complaints from smaller schools, spurring the effort to pass the autonomy reforms.

South Carolina President Harris Pastides also said he will support limitations on practice times and contact in football workouts. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wants to provide better counseling for athletes who are contemplating turning pro and helping those who do turn pro and later return to school.

The big question now is whether another override movement could derail the changes. If 75 schools sign the override measure, the board must take a second look at the plan. If 125 schools oppose the plan, it would be suspended until the board schedules a vote to reconsider.

"I think the process has been so inclusive and thoughtful that no one will be surprised with this outcome today," Emmert said when asked if he worried about an override. "That doesn't mean everyone agrees with it. But I think as people learn more about it, come to understand it, they will be more supportive. The more you look at it, the better it gets, I think."

The new system gives the five richest leagues nearly twice as much voting power (37.5 percent) as any other group on the new council, where most legislation will be approved or rejected. The five other Football Bowl Subdivision leagues would account for 18.8 percent while the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision and non-football playing schools would split up another 37.5 percent of the vote. Athletes and faculty will account for the rest.

Critics worry that the impact will create an even greater split between wealthy leagues and everyone else in the college athletics' arms race.

"I think it's going to be great for those five conferences and that's about it," said Gerald Gurney, president of The Drake Group, an NCAA watchdog. "I don't think it's going to be a good step for non-revenue sports or for Title IX. We are going to get into a new phase of competition, and there will be no holds barred."

Boise State President Bob Kustra, a most vocal critic, called for an override and said autonomy is a step toward professionalism.

"No president within Division I should be in favor of these changes," he said in a statement.

Even some of those who helped draft the legislation, such as Rice President David Leebron, said they do worry about the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

But they also want a chance to adopt some of the rules from the new NCAA power brokers, too.

"I think that's important to examine," said Wright State President David Hopkins, whose school plays in the Horizon League. "At least we want to have the opportunity to work and choose what we decide (on the autonomous issues)."

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Online:

NCAA reforms: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/board-adopts-new-d...

Kevin Durant withdraws from U.S. national team

Kevin Durant withdrew Thursday from the U.S. national team, the biggest loss yet for a weakening American squad that will go to Spain without the leading scorer on its last two gold medal winners.

The NBA's MVP took part in the Americans' training camp in Las Vegas last week, but then informed team officials that he wasn't going to continue.

"Kevin reached out to Coach K and myself this afternoon and expressed that he is just physically and mentally drained from the NBA season and his attention to his many responsibilities,' USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. "He tried to give it a go at our recent Las Vegas training camp but felt coming out of camp that he was not prepared to fulfill the commitment he made to the team."

Durant was the MVP of the world championship in 2010, leading the Americans to that title for the first time since 1994. The Oklahoma City star also started on their gold medal-winning team in the 2012 Olympics and led the Americans with 19.5 points per game.

His withdrawal comes less than a week after Indiana's Paul George was lost to a broken right leg and follows previous withdrawals by All-Stars Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

"This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country," Durant said. "I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint.

"I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them."

The U.S. roster is down to 15 players. The Americans resume practicing next Thursday in Chicago and have to finalize a 12-man roster before the World Cup of Basketball begins in Spain on Aug. 30.

The Americans may still be the favorites, but are increasingly beatable with the losses of Durant and George, who were expected to fill the two starting forward spots.

Durant carried a young U.S. to the title four years ago in Turkey with a series of sensational performances, averaging 22.8 points and shattering a number of team offensive records. He set the American mark with 38 points in a semifinal victory over Lithuania.

At 6-foot-10, Durant is big enough to play as a power forward internationally, creating a matchup nightmare for opponents who can't defend him on the perimeter. He led the tournament in 3-pointers attempted and made in the 2010 worlds.

He has averaged 19.9 points in 31 games in a U.S. jersey, shooting 48 percent from 3-point range. But Colangelo said the Americans understood his need for time off.

"Coach K and I fully support Kevin," he said. "His well-being is the most important thing to us and we support him taking the time to get ready for next season. He's been part of the national team program for eight years and a big part of the success we have achieved, and we look forward to him being part of our success in the future as well.

"We are excited about the opportunity ahead of us and to getting back to work in Chicago on Aug. 14," Colangelo added. "All 15 players are committed to the USA Basketball standard, which is to come together to win gold medals."

Landon Donovan says he'll retire after season

CARSON, Calif. (AP) A year after Landon Donovan returned to soccer, he realized he had lost his passion for the sport again. This time, the best player in American history decided to walk away for good.

The 32-year-old Donovan announced Thursday he will retire from professional soccer at the end of the MLS season, wrapping up the most prolific career in the league's history with one last run at a championship with the LA Galaxy.

"I think for the last few years, I haven't had the same passion that I had previously in my career," Donovan said at the Galaxy's stadium. "To some extent, I had felt obligated to keep playing. ... It's time to enjoy the rest of the season, and there would be no better way than to go out as a champion, so that's what I want to do."

Donovan is the top goal-scorer in MLS history and the top scorer in U.S. national team history, excelling as a forward and a midfielder. He was even named the most valuable player of his 14th MLS All-Star game on Wednesday night in Portland, scoring a goal in the All-Stars' 2-1 win over Bayern Munich, only to make his stunning retirement announcement the next day.

"All I could think is that if everyone only knew," Donovan said with a grin.

Donovan, a five-time MLS champion with the Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes, made his retirement announcement on the same stage where he agreed to a multiyear contract extension with the Galaxy just a year ago, pronouncing himself revitalized after an extended sabbatical.

He took several months off following the Galaxy's second straight MLS Cup title alongside now-retired David Beckham in December 2012. Donovan traveled extensively during his time off, and he plans to see even more of the world after his career ends this fall.

"It gets me excited thinking about it," Donovan said. "For 16 years, almost every decision I've made, every hour of every day, has revolved around, `How is this going to prepare me for tomorrow's training session or tomorrow's game?' Just having the freedom to do whatever you want is exciting, and I'm looking forward to that."

Donovan has been a key component of MLS' impressive growth during his 14 years in the top North American league. After he struggled for playing time at Bayer Leverkusen as a teenager, he chose to pursue a pro career in his native California instead of Europe, adding a marquee attraction to the then-struggling league.

"There is no doubt that Major League Soccer would not be what it is today without Landon Donovan," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "His decision to join MLS in 2001 was a statement to the entire soccer community, at the most crucial time in our history, that MLS could be a league of choice for the best American players. Landon is to MLS what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL and Tiger Woods was to the PGA Tour: a player whose sporting accomplishments and popularity transformed their respective leagues and set a new standard for how the game would be played."

Donovan said his decision wasn't spurred by his omission from his fourth U.S. World Cup team this summer. He was surprised and disappointed by coach Jurgen Klinsmann's decision, feeling he had done enough in training camp to warrant inclusion.

"I certainly wasn't going to allow one person's poor choice this summer to affect a decision like this," Donovan said.

Donovan is the career U.S. leader with 57 international goals over 156 appearances, and he has scored five World Cup goals, including his famed stoppage-time goal against Algeria four years ago to send the Americans to the second round. He watched the American team in Brazil from afar as a television commentator.

"Quite simply the best player ever to wear the USMNT jersey," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati posted on his Twitter account.

Donovan has no concrete plans for his long-term future in soccer, but he is eager to work with young players in the Galaxy's academy training program.

"Landon's legacy is secure with the Galaxy," said Galaxy President Chris Klein, Donovan's former teammate and roommate. "So to be able to celebrate that for the rest of the year in terms of how he goes out will be great. When he decides what it is that he wants to do and where he wants to put his heart and energy next, we'll be there to talk about that."

Donovan has played for the Galaxy since 2005, also going on loan to Everton and Bayern Munich during the Galaxy's offseason. Donovan struggled early in his pro career in Europe, but was popular during his two stints with Everton.

"Congratulations on a great career to (at)landondonovan as he announces he'll retire later this year. Part of EFC fabric," Everton tweeted from its official account.

Donovan has four goals and seven assists in 17 games for the Galaxy this season as a midfielder and a forward. He passed Jeff Cunningham for the career MLS goals record shortly after Klinsmann excluded him from the World Cup team.

His absence creates another hole for the LA club, which couldn't manage a third straight MLS title last season in its first year since Beckham's departure. But Donovan's retirement opens up a designated player spot for the Galaxy alongside leading scorer Robbie Keane and U.S. national team defender Omar Gonzalez.

After a lifetime spent in practices and games, Donovan sees his departure as another step in his personal evolution into whatever person he decides to be outside soccer. His decision to leave the Bundesliga for MLS as an unhappy teenager was unpopular, and Donovan knows many fans won't understand his early retirement.

"Sometimes there's a sense of obligation in people's lives, the sense that you have to do something," Donovan said. "I've never lived that way. I have to live the life I want to live, and that's an important thing to go by."

NBA suspends new Mavs G Felton for 4 games

DALLAS (AP) The NBA suspended new Dallas Mavericks guard Raymond Felton on Thursday for the first four games of the season after his guilty plea in a New York gun case.

"I demonstrated poor judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions," Felton said in a statement released by the Mavericks. "Moving forward I'm eager to get to Dallas, to start fresh and make a positive impact in the Dallas metropolitan area."

The criminal case arose last winter, as Felton dealt with the breakup of his marriage and a struggling season with the New York Knicks.

Felton pleaded guilty July 23 in New York to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. He admitted he knowingly had a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license.

The plea involved Felton admitting to the felony but avoiding jail time. He was immediately sentenced to 500 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

His case will be closed without jail time or probation if he complies with his sentencing. Felton will be allowed to complete his community service outside the state of New York.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Thursday that the team is "working with Raymond and the court to develop a community service program that will have a positive and lasting impact on North Texas."

Dallas acquired Felton, who will not be paid during the suspension, from the Knicks as part of a six-player trade June 25 that brought center Tyson Chandler back to the Mavericks.

That was just two days after prosecutors said Felton would enter a guilty plea in exchange for a no-jail sentence.

About a week after Felton's law student wife filed for divorce, her attorney brought a loaded semi-automatic handgun to a police precinct and said it was Felton's and she wanted it out of the house, authorities said. His lawyer, Jim Walden, has said Felton never threatened anyone with the gun.

It was late February when police contacted Felton, and the then-Knicks guard turned himself in shortly after a game against the Mavericks at Madison Square Garden.

The 30-year-old Felton dealt with injuries and missed 17 games last season, his ninth in the NBA. He averaged a career-low 9.7 points.

Texans owner says he has clean bill of health

HOUSTON (AP) Houston Texans owner Bob McNair says he's gotten a clean bill of health after a 10-month battle with two forms of cancer.

The 77-year-old McNair spoke about his ordeal at a news conference Thursday attended by his doctors and family members.

McNair says he's dealt with skin cancer for about 20 years and was diagnosed about six years ago with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a blood disease that weakens the immune system.

He had surgery last fall to remove an abnormal growth behind his left ear. Doctors told him that they couldn't remove all the cancerous cells and that McNair had an aggressive form of the disease. He underwent six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and CT scans in April and on Monday showed that the cancer cells were virtually gone.

Clowney says he'll start preseason opener vs Cards

HOUSTON (AP) Top overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney says he will start Saturday's preseason opener at Arizona after missing practice time this week with an undisclosed injury. Clowney's proclamation seemed to catch Texans coach Bill O'Brien by surprise.

Clowney returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out the last three workouts. Clowney had sports hernia surgery on June 12, missed the team's three-day minicamp and has been limited in training camp. He hurt himself late in Saturday's workout, but was back on the field Thursday. He participated in some team drills, chasing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick out of bounds on one play.

"Felt great," Clowney said. "Trying to get back into the groove, practicing again."

Clowney wouldn't say what exactly kept him out this week, saying only that the team was "being very careful." But he said definitively that he would start Saturday's game, although he stopped shy of saying he was 100 percent healthy.

"I'll be fine," he said. "It means a lot, being out there with my teammates, learning what to do. Just getting that first initial contact with another, an opposite team now and just learning what other guys do in this league. It's going to be great for me."

Clowney is listed as a starting linebacker on the depth chart for Saturday's game, but O'Brien was taken aback when told that Clowney told media he was starting.

"He'll start? Really?" O'Brien said. "That's news to me. We'll find out when the game starts."

The former standout defensive end at South Carolina is moving to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's system and says he still has plenty to learn. But he was eager to make an impression in his first NFL game, no matter how sparingly he might play.

"I'm very excited, man, something I've dreamed about, something I've been waiting for for a long time," he said. "It's coming up fast and I'm just looking forward to it."

The Texans envision Clowney lining up with star defensive end J.J. Watt to form a potent pass rush. Watt remembers the high emotion of making his professional debut as a rookie in 2011.

"It was very special," Watt said. "First time you put on a game uniform in the NFL is a pretty big deal. It's a lot of work, it's an entire life of work, it's what every kid growing up playing football dreams about. Regardless if it's preseason, if you play one play or 10 plays, when you put on that uniform, it's something special. It's an accomplishment."

O'Brien also confirmed that running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson would sit out the preseason opener, as expected. The star players have sat out most of training camp.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback, and O'Brien said Case Keenum and rookie fourth-round draft pick Tom Savage will both get reps with Houston's second team.

"These guys have worked extremely hard," O'Brien said of the trio. "We've asked a lot of them, we've put a lot on their plate. To that point, I'm very satisfied with the time they've put in and now, I'd like to see them go out there and play a solid game."

O'Brien will be making his NFL head coaching debut.

"You go into it wanting to make sure that your substitutions are correct, your play calling is smooth, substitutions on special teams are smooth," O'Brien said. "You want the operation of the game to go well. And if it's not, you've got to determine that as a head coach and figure out how much longer certain guys need to be in there. We'll see how the game plays out. It also has to do with how we're playing on both sides of the ball."

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Online:

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

AP sources: Cavs, Wolves set for Love-Wiggins deal

LeBron James and Kevin Love won Olympic gold medals together. They're about to team up again, this time to try and end Cleveland's 50-year championship drought.

Love will soon be on his way from Minnesota to Cleveland after the teams reached an agreement in principle to a trade that will send the All-Star forward to the Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round draft pick, two people with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Thursday.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because no official agreement can be reached until Aug. 23, when Wiggins, this year's No. 1 overall draft pick, becomes eligible to be traded.

By that point, the deal could be expanded to include a third team, according to one of the people familiar with the talks. The Timberwolves have had discussions with the Philadelphia 76ers about acquiring forward Thaddeus Young to help fill Love's shoes. The Wolves could use the first-round pick they get from the Cavaliers to help entice the Sixers to part with the 26-year-old Young, but talks continue on that front, the person said.

For now, the deal will unite Love, James and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving in a new-look "Big 3" in Cleveland and give the city's long-suffering sports fans realistic chance to celebrate a first title since 1964, when the Browns won the NFL title.

The Love-to-Cleveland chatter has been going on for weeks and the teams had been discussing a possible deal long before James announced he was re-signing with the Cavaliers.

In Miami, James won two titles and went to four straight NBA finals with teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They were a power trio, making the Heat both envied and despised by the rest of the league.

James, Irving and Love could be equally devastating.

Now in the prime of his career at 29, James is the best player in the NBA as he returns home to Ohio. Irving is 22, this year's All-Star game MVP, and just beginning to scratch his potential. And the 25-year-old Love is coming off his best season, one in which he averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He's the top "stretch 4" - a power forward who can rebound and shoot 3-pointers - in the game, but all of his offensive gifts haven't been enough to get the Timberwolves into the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference.

That won't be a problem in Cleveland now that James is back.

The Cavs, who haven't been to the playoffs since James left in 2010, are certainly expected to be one of the league's top teams. Although they're giving up Wiggins and Bennett, they have promising role players in Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Mike Miller and Anderson Varejao, giving them more than enough talent to challenge anyone in the Eastern Conference.

Love can opt out of his contract next summer, and the three-time All-Star made it clear to the Timberwolves that he was looking to join a contender after missing the postseason for six seasons in Minnesota.

For the Timberwolves, the departure of Love ends one era. But Wiggins could be the start of something special in Minnesota.

A prep sensation in Canada before spending one season at Kansas, he's a super-athletic wing player scouts deem NBA-ready from a defensive standpoint. He needs to work on his offense, but appears to be a perfect fit to play alongside point guard Ricky Rubio in a new, more up-tempo Wolves offense.

Wiggins' representatives have already begun researching possible endorsement opportunities for him in Minnesota, according to a person with knowledge of those pursuits. That person spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the deals have not been completed.

Bennett, the No. 1 pick in 2013, also has intriguing potential. He struggled last season while recovering from a shoulder injury but looked much improved in the Las Vegas Summer League.

As promising as the deal is for Minnesota, it will be tough replacing Love, who was face of the franchise. He alone gave worn out Timberwolves fans a reason to come to the arena during cold winters after Kevin Garnett was traded to Boston.

In Cleveland, Love gets what he's wanted for so long - a talent-laden roster that expects to compete not just for the postseason, but for a title.

The teams had talked before the draft about a trade involving Love, but his camp made it clear to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Cleveland's front office that he wasn't interested in signing a long-term contract with a young and unproven team that had not made the playoffs since 2010.

Then James left Miami for home, changing everything for Love, who won a gold medal with the four-time MVP at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Wolves and Cavs have been in agreement on Love and Wiggins being the primary pieces of a trade for some time, the people with knowledge of the deal said. One told AP the Cavaliers have not had any discussions on a contract value or length for Love.

Love withdrew from his planned participation with Team USA at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball to avoid an injury that could derail the deal that is now on the fast track.

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