Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adrian Peterson a game-time call

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are willing to wait until game time to determine whether running back Adrian Peterson plays in the season opener against Jacksonville.
Coach Leslie Frazier said after Friday's practice there is no reason to decide before the active list must be declared 90 minutes ahead of kickoff on Sunday. This was a back track from Thursday, when Frazier said the Vikings would figure out Peterson's status on Friday night or Saturday morning.

"We'll definitely have an answer on Sunday, one way or another," Frazier said, innocently stating the obvious.
Peterson was listed as questionable to play the Jaguars on the injury report, which by definition gives him a 50-50 chance. The 27-year-old two-time All-Pro pick is recovering from reconstructive surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee last Christmas Eve. He's had no setbacks during his rehabilitation, and all signs have pointed to his participation.
Frazier has repeatedly refused to grant Peterson, arguably the franchise's most important player, clearance ahead of time. The coaches and trainers will discuss Peterson's status further this weekend, Frazier said, before reaching their decision. But the Vikings have already acknowledged their plan to limit Peterson's carries, with Toby Gerhart getting the majority of the work, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said on Thursday he doesn't have much doubt that Peterson will be able to play.
Peterson, of course, has been the one pushing the conversation. As fiercely determined as any player in the NFL, he has steadfastly assured his readiness for the start of the 2012 season since he began working out in the spring.
The Vikings ruled three backups and special teams players out of Sunday's game: linebacker Marvin Mitchell, safety Andrew Sendejo and wide receiver Jarius Wright. They all have sprained ankles; the team hasn't specified on which legs. Backup cornerback Marcus Sherels, the primary punt returner and alternate kickoff returner when Percy Harvin is given a break, has recovered from his sprained ankle, however, and was listed as probable.
Four other players who were fighting injuries at the end of training camp have healed and are probable for Sunday as well: safety Robert Blanton, tight end John Carlson, defensive tackle Letroy Guion and guard Geoff Schwartz. Guion and Carlson are starters. They each suffered sprained right knees earlier in the preseason.
Frazier also said the Vikings likely will use both rookie Josh Robinson and second-year player Brandon Burton as their third cornerback in the nickel defense, when middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley comes out of the game. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson and offensive tackle Mark Asper, both acquired last weekend, will probably be inactive for Sunday's game, Frazier said.

Jaguars activate Maurice Jones-Drew

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have activated running back Maurice Jones-Drew and waived second-year running back Keith Toston.

The Jaguars had a roster exemption for Jones-Drew, who ended a 38-day holdout last Sunday. He is expected to play in Sunday's season opener at Minnesota.
Toston, a four-year letterman at Oklahoma State, spent the 2010 season with St. Louis. He signed with Jacksonville in August, carrying 22 times for 171 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.
He had been competing with Jalen Parmele for a roster spot. Both made the 53-man roster, but only because Jones-Drew had not reported.
The Jaguars ended up keeping Parmele over Toston mostly because of special teams.

Mark Teixeira rips umps.

BALTIMORE -- New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira reinjured his left calf sprinting to first base on a game-ending double play that left the tying run at third in the Yankees' 5-4 loss to the Orioles on Friday.
After watching replays that clearly showed his head-first slide beat the relay, Teixeira questioned the umpire crews' integrity.

"Sometimes you wonder if the umpires are just trying to get out of there," said Teixeira, who had argued a strike three call in the eighth. "They don't want you to make a comeback. They want to go home because those were terrible calls. It is what it is. We are out there fighting. I'm out there playing on one leg. I wish it had gone my way."
Teixeira already had argued with home-plate umpire Cory Blaser in the eighth when he thought a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch was "five or six inches outside."
After first-base umpire Jerry Meals called him out to end the game, Teixeira said he told him, "You got me again."
"I'm probably going to get fined," Teixeira said. "But I don't care, really. I'm out there fighting. We are out there fighting. When you are battling like we are battling and they can't get a call right, that pisses you off. It really does."
Teixeira had missed the previous 10 games before returning Saturday from his calf strain. He said he is "most likely" out of Sunday's game. Teixeira estimated he is not "even close" to 100 percent and did not know how much time he would miss. The Yankees are off on Monday.
"I don't want to make any predictions," he said. "I probably won't be in there (Sunday)."
He said he only slid head-first because he was forced to go all out to try to beat the relay.
"I don't think I've ever dove into first base in my life," Teixeira said. "I couldn't get there running. I did my best. I got there, but the call didn't go our way."

Teixeira wasn't the only Yankee who criticized the umpires Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi didn't hide his feelings, either.
"He was clearly safe," Girardi said. "Jerry missed it. You hate to lose a game that way, but he missed it."
"I didn't feel we lost the game, I feel we got cheated out of it," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. "Once again, it is part of the game of baseball. Umpires are human. They are going to make mistakes."
Yankees president Randy Levine called an impromptu teleconference with reporters, but then canceled. According to a team spokesman, Levine may make a statement or talk with the media Sunday.
With the loss, the Yankees and Orioles are tied again for first place in the AL East.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Houston Rockets have discovered a winning formula for beating the Los Angeles Lakers: Stay close long enough until Andrew Bynum gets himself ejected.
That's been the scenario the past two times the teams have met. On Friday night, Bynum spent most of the fourth quarter in the dressing room while Goran Dragic and Luis Scola helped the Rockets pull out a 112-107 victory.
"It changed a lot," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "Bynum was a guy we had to double-team and focus a lot on the defensive end to try to get the ball out of his hands."

Dragic had 26 points and 11 assists, and Scola scored 10 of his 25 points during a 2:39 span of the fourth.
"If you win against them in L.A., then it's something special," Dragic said. "They've won a lot of titles, and that was huge for us -- especially in our playoff push."
The Lakers were trailing 80-75 when Bynum took exception to a foul by Samuel Dalembert with 1:18 left in the third quarter and had to be restrained by teammates, earning his first technical foul. The enigmatic and moody 7-foot center got another one with 11:17 left in the game after hitting a hook shot and mouthing off to the Houston bench on his way downcourt.
"You talk trash; that's the essence of basketball right there," said teammate and former Rockets forward Metta World Peace, who never had a reputation for being the voice of reason -- not even when he was known as Ron Artest. "You score; you talk trash. That's fun. You got a bunch of street ball players in the NBA."
Etiquette notwithstanding, Bynum hurt the Lakers again with his selfish antics, and his teammates are well aware of it. For someone who was suspended without pay for the first four games of this compacted 66-game season because of a vicious flagrant foul he committed against Dallas guard J.J. Barea in last year's playoffs -- and fined $25,000 for ripping off his jersey while heading to the locker room -- the seven-year veteran apparently hasn't learned anything.
The Lakers, trying to keep the Clippers from catching them for the Pacific Division lead, had a better-than-even chance to win this one. The lead changed hands six times after Bynum left, but they never led again after Matt Barnes tied the score at 99-all on a 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
"We'll never know," Pau Gasol said when asked how the game would have turned out had Bynum controlled his temper. "It would be good to have him on the floor and help us win games. He's just got to find a way to make sure he can help the team any way he can. And to do that, he has to stay in the game. He's a great guy. He's a good person, and he's got a great heart. But I'm not him, I'm not inside him, and I don't know what goes on all the time in his mind."
Bynum finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes after scoring 36 points against the Clippers despite a sprained left ankle.
On March 20 at Houston, he was ejected late in the third quarter, and the Rockets erased a 17-point deficit by scoring a season-high 34 points in the fourth. Houston won it 107-104, with Dragic making the go-ahead 3-pointer with 28 seconds left.
"It's always tough when you lose somebody like Bynum because he's a 20-and-10 type of guy," point guard Ramon Sessions said. "I think he was just starting to get rolling, too, and getting hyped up right before that. We definitely needed him down the stretch."
Marcus Camby, playing with a sprained left wrist, had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame a 15-point deficit en route to a 99-93 road win over the league-leading Chicago Bulls in their previous game Monday night. They have won back-to-back games for the first time since March 13-14 against Oklahoma City and Charlotte.
Rockets leading scorer Kevin Martin missed his 13th straight game because of a right shoulder strain, but they are 8-5 in his absence.
Kobe Bryant, playing with a bruised right shin that kept him out of Friday morning's shootaround, scored 28 points for the Lakers. World Peace had a season-high 23, Gasol had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Barnes had 13 rebounds -- three off his career high.
The Lakers fell to 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers in the Pacific Division. Six of the final 10 games on the Lakers' schedule are on the road, including the next three, against Phoenix, New Orleans and San Antonio -- which the Lakers will face three times. They trail the Spurs by 4 1/2 games for the best record in the conference.
World Peace, who came off the bench in his first 19 games before replacing Barnes in the starting lineup Jan. 29, helped lead Los Angeles to a 59-50 halftime lead with 17 points -- two off his previous high this season. The 13-year veteran reached the 20-point mark for the ninth time in 214 regular-season games with the Lakers.
Game notes
The 40th anniversary of the Lakers' first championship in Los Angeles is coming up May 7, and the organization honored the members of that 1971-72 team in a halftime ceremony by giving them new championship rings. In attendance were coach Bill Sharman and nine of his players, including Jerry West, Pat Riley, Gail Goodrich and Elgin Baylor, who retired nine games into that season -- the same day his teammates began their record 33-game winning streak. ... With the Lakers atop the Pacific Division, the Clippers leading ninth-place Utah by 4 1/2 games in the West with 11 to play and the NHL's Kings having clinched a playoff spot Thursday night, it's shaping up to be the first time all three of Staples Center's major tenants will make the postseason in the same year since the arena opened in 1999-00. ... Bryant needs four steals to surpass Magic Johnson's total of 1,724 for the Lakers' franchise record and take over 15th place on the career NBA list. Johnson led the league twice in that department, something Bryant never has done. ... Houston is 8-6 since Dragic took over as the starting point guard because of Kyle Lowry's bacterial infection.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Former Charger Ryan Leaf arrested

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was arrested Friday in his Montana hometown of Great Falls on burglary and drug possession charges, police said.
The circumstances surrounding Leaf's arrest were not immediately clear. Great Falls Police Sgt. Dean Bennett, who confirmed Leaf's arrest, said Friday night that he had not seen a report detailing the allegations against the ex-football player.

"I've made some mistakes, and have no excuses," Leaf said Friday night in a statement. "I am using the tools I've learned to move forward rather than backwards, and will be open to talking about the details in the days to come. I am confident that there will be further understanding when the facts are revealed, and feel very blessed for all of the support, especially from my friends and family."
Leaf was booked on felony charges of burglary of a residence and criminal possession of dangerous drugs, plus a first-time charge of misdemeanor theft, Cascade County Detention Center Officer Robert Rivera said.
Leaf was freed on $76,000 bond and is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Monday.
Leaf, a former standout quarterback for Washington State, was the No. 2 pick in the 1998 draft behind Peyton Manning. But Leaf flamed out as quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, gaining a reputation as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
There is no phone listing for Leaf in Great Falls. A message left at his parents' house was not immediately returned Friday night. It was not clear whether he had hired an attorney.
Last year, Leaf had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain stem and later underwent additional radiation treatments.
On March 21, Leaf told an Associated Press reporter in an email exchange that he had struggled through treatments and had an MRI scheduled for the end of the month, but "I'm doing/feeling much better and am excited for the rest of 2012."
Friday's arrest also raises the question of whether his arrest means the 10-year probation plea agreement he negotiated with Texas prosecutors stemming from drug and burglary charges in 2009 will be revoked.
James Farren, the Randall County district attorney who negotiated the 2010 plea agreement, did not immediately return a text message seeking comment on Leaf's arrest in Montana.
In 2008, when Leaf was a quarterbacks coach for Division II West Texas A&M, he was accused of burglarizing a player's home. An investigation turned up that Leaf had obtained nearly 1,000 pain pills from area pharmacies in an eight-month span.
He resigned that year, was indicted in 2009 and the next year pleaded guilty to eight felony drug charges. Besides the 10 years probation, Leaf was fined $20,000.
Last year, he authored a book titled "596 Switch" -- the name of a passing play in the Washington State playbook -- that focused on the 1997 season when he led the Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in six decades.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jim Buss: I won't ever trade Kobe

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has a no-trade clause in his contract, and he won't have to worry about exercising it -- his team has no interest in trading him.
"I think about a lot of things to improve this team, to figure out how to manage the finances of it," said Lakers executive vice president of player personnel, Jim Buss, as a guest on the "Mason & Ireland Show" on 710 ESPN on Friday. "One thing I haven't thought of is Kobe being somewhere else. I don't know why that question has ever come up and I'd like to squish that one."
Bryant, 33, has played all 16 seasons of his career with the Lakers. He is under contract for the next two seasons and is set to make $58.3 million.

Buss, the son of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, hinted that Bryant will not be retiring when his contract is through. When a caller suggested Bryant only had a short window remaining to try to capture his sixth NBA championship, Buss suggested Bryant could be around for a while longer.
"I might disagree with you that Kobe only has three or four years left, but we'll see," Buss said. "As you see, we make trades and our whole focus isn't to win a sixth (championship). I'm not sure I would stop there for Kobe; I would go to seven or eight if we can. ... I think Kobe is going to be a Laker for life and I'm pretty sure he's not going to hang them up after two years."
While Bryant's security within the franchise couldn't be stronger, Buss wanted to dispel the widespread belief that his personal attachment to center Andrew Bynum would prevent the Lakers from ever trading their 24-year-old All-Star.

"It's just not true," said Buss, who had influence in the Lakers selecting Bynum with the No. 10 pick in the 2005 NBA draft. "It's not like I'm going out shopping Andrew Bynum, just nothing has ever come our way and I don't anticipate anything coming our way where I would want to trade Andrew Bynum. ... There just hasn't been anything for Andrew Bynum. Thank goodness we didn't. The same people that attach me to Andrew Bynum would have traded him six times already, probably for players we wouldn't even have (at this point). It's OK to attach my name to Andrew Bynum because I think he's a perennial All-Star, that's OK with me, but to say that I wouldn't trade him? That's just unfounded."

Bynum is averaging career highs in points (17.8), rebounds (12.6) and minutes (35.9) per game this season and is shooting a league-leading 58.1 percent from the field.
The Lakers plan to pick up the $16.4 million option on Bynum's contract next season. However, Buss warned that under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement that was put into place in December, thus ending the NBA's 161-day lockout, the Lakers are unable to be as free-spending as they were in the past.
"With the new CBA, they put a lot of restrictions on teams that spend a lot of money. They want to make the playing field level and one way of doing it is penalize the teams that are spending a lot of money," Buss said. "We have historically spent a lot of money. That has to change."

The Lakers will try to parse down their hefty payroll of approximately $85 million for this season, which is well above the $70.1 million luxury tax level. While they will owe a dollar-for-dollar penalty to the league office at the end of this season of approximately $15 million, it will be much harsher in two seasons when all the terms of the new CBA kick in. For teams $0-$5 million more than the luxury tax, there will be a $1.50 per dollar penalty; $5 million-$10 million over is $1.75; $10 million-$15 million is $2.50; and $15 million-$20 million is $3.25. If a team finds itself above the luxury tax four years out of any five-year period, it will owe a repeater tax which would apply an extra dollar to every increment (i.e. if a team was $0-$5 million over, it would have to pay $2.50 instead of $1.50 per every dollar above the line).

Apart from the stricter financial penalties, teams operating above the luxury tax will not be privy to the full use of salary cap exceptions, meaning they will only be able to offer a "mini" mid-level exception, rather than a full mid-level exception to attract free agents.
The Lakers also will be affected by the new revenue-sharing model the NBA has adopted. Buss estimated the Lakers, who used to dole out approximately $4 million-$6 million a season in revenue sharing, now will owe anywhere from $50 million-$80 million in revenue sharing each season.
While all of the changes seemed targeted at the Lakers, Buss believes that the league made healthy changes.

"The lockout had to do with what is fair is fair," Buss said. "The percentages weren't correct and teams were losing money. I think what happened with the lockout and the new CBA and the revenue sharing all at one time, it looks like it was pointed towards the Lakers, but nobody actually pointed their finger at the Lakers. We're a very successful organization. We make a good amount of money and the other teams lose money and we're an easy target to try to get that money.
"We fought tooth and nail to keep the flexibility to keep this going. Obviously, we lost to a certain degree because we have lost our flexibility to spend money. The revenue sharing was, in our mind, excessive but to other people it wasn't."
Buss said there are no hard feelings toward commissioner David Stern because of the changes that were made.

"The commissioner is very fair," Buss said. "It doesn't seem like it, but he's doing the job that he's supposed to do. We have a great relationship with David. Personally, I love the guy. I was in those meetings during the CBA negotiations. He was fighting for us, he was fighting for the Lakers and I think it all turned out pretty good."

"Basically, we had a deal and the commissioner didn't think that it was a good deal and he has every right to veto it," Buss said. "It shocked us. I was in (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak's) office when that happened and I was ducking from things that he was throwing against the wall."