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Wade Phillips hired as Broncos defensive coordinator
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Wade Phillips is returning to Denver as Gary Kubiak's defensive coordinator.
Phillips, 67, interviewed for the position this week after the Broncos were rebuffed in their attempts to speak with Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph about the position. Joseph, who has a year left on his contract in Cincinnati, had interviewed for the Broncos head coaching vacancy following John Fox's ouster earlier this month.
Phillips was Kubiak's defensive coordinator in Houston from 2011-13 and replaced him as interim coach when Kubiak was fired by the Texans in December 2013.
Phillips has also served as head coach of the Saints, Cowboys, Falcons, Bills and Broncos, where he went 16-16 from 1993-94. He was out of football last season for the first time since 1975.
Under Phillips, the Broncos figure to capitalize on their pass-rushing duo of Pro Bowlers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware by playing more of a 3-4 defense, with three down linemen and four linebackers.
Under Fox the last four seasons they were primarily a 4-3 team.
Taking on an added urgency under such a switch would be the re-signing of soon-to-be free agent nose tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton because the fulcrum of a 3-4 alignment is a stout run-stuffer who can command double teams.
Knighton has said he wants to finish his career in Denver, but he's also said he wants to keep playing for Jack Del Rio, who was hired as Oakland's head coach after the Broncos bowed out of the playoffs. Del Rio drafted Knighton in Jacksonville and was his defensive coordinator in Denver.
Also Wednesday, the Broncos hired tight ends coach Brian Pariani and agreed to terms with Joe Woods to coach their defensive backs. Woods was Oakland's secondary coach in 2014.
Pariani brings 24 years of NFL coaching experience, including 19 as a tight ends coach, to Denver, where he also coached the tight ends from 1995-2004.
His prize pupils then were Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe and Pro Bowler Dwayne Cars well. This time, it could be Pro Bowler Julius Thomas and Virgil Green - providing the Broncos re-sign them. They are among Denver's dozen unrestricted free agents come March and general manager John Elway has said he'd like to keep them in Denver.
Last season Pariani coached the tight ends in Baltimore, where Kubiak was offensive coordinator. He also coached tight ends during Kubiak's entire eight-year tenure with the Texans.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:17:00 +0000
Kobe Bryant has surgery, expected to be out for 9 months
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Kobe Bryant is officially done for the season after having surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Lakers also made it official that their superstar doesn't believe his career is finished.
Bryant is expected to need nine months to recover from his third straight season-ending injury. If Bryant meets that timetable, he could return to basketball shortly before the start of the 2015-16 season - and the Lakers expect to see him in purple and gold again.
Neal ElAttrache and Steve Lombardo performed the two-hour surgery at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
"I expect Kobe to make a full recovery, and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season," ElAttrache said in a statement provided by the Lakers.
The Lakers formally declared Bryant out for the year by acknowledging the expected recovery time from his injury, but also effectively confirmed he won't retire and will attempt to play his 20th season in the fall. Bryant, who will be 37 years old this summer, is the NBA's highest-paid player at $23.5 million this season, and he is under contract for $25 million next year.
"In my mind right now, he's coming back next year, unless he tells me something different," coach Byron Scott said at practice Wednesday.
Scott already had acknowledged Bryant was highly unlikely to play again this season for the flailing Lakers (12-34), who will match their franchise record for futility if they lose their 10th consecutive game when the Chicago Bulls visit Thursday. But if Los Angeles finishes with a top-five draft pick, the club won't have to give its first-round choice to Phoenix until next year to complete its brutal trade for Steve Nash in 2012.
Bryant hurt his right shoulder while dunking last week in New Orleans, deciding on surgery shortly afterward. He is the third-leading scorer in league history and a five-time NBA champion.
Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 35 games, but made a career-worst 37.3 percent of his shots in a wildly inconsistent 19th season. He also passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA's career scoring list, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
Bryant's popularity hasn't waned during his injury-plagued stretch. He was voted to the All-Star game for the 17th time this month, and he is still the Lakers' public face despite his recent prolonged absences from the court.
Bryant missed the 2013 playoffs after tearing his Achilles tendon late in the regular season, and he played in just six games last season before breaking a bone near his left knee. Although he has played through innumerable injuries in the past, the accumulated wear from nearly two decades in the NBA has caught up to him.
Bryant sat out eight games to rest in the past month, and he played under a strict minutes limit. It wasn't enough to protect him from another major injury.
Bryant joins Nash, first-round pick Julius Randle and swingman Xavier Henry with season-ending injuries already for the Lakers.
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:16:00 +0000
Millsaps leads Hawks to 17th straight win, 113-102 over Nets
ATLANTA (AP) Paul Millsap had 28 points and 15 rebounds, five other Atlanta players scored in double figures, and the Hawks stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games in a row with a 113-102 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of 33 and leads the Eastern Conference by a commanding seven games. This was a bit tougher than expected against the struggling Nets, who kept it close most of the way.
The Hawks pulled away in the final quarter, leading by as many as 15. Millsap finished off Brooklyn's last run with a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:34 remaining, pushing Atlanta to a 109-98 edge.
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points. It wasn't enough to prevent Brooklyn's 11th loss in 13 games, a slide that has knocked the team out of the top eight in the East.
Al Horford also had a double-double for the Hawks with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 17, connecting on five 3-pointers, while Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder had 13 apiece and DeMarre Carroll 12. Atlanta outrebounded the Nets 45-35.
Brook Lopez scored 18 for Brooklyn off the bench, and Jarrett Jack chipped in with 14 points and 13 assists.
The Hawks got off to a sloppy start, committing six turnovers in the first 7 minutes. But they seized control before the break, closing the second quarter on a 21-9 run that sent them to the locker room with their biggest lead of the half, 64-53.
Millsap played a huge role in the turnaround. He scored 16 points, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, and grabbed 12 rebounds in the opening half.
Atlanta has built a double-digit lead in every game during its winning streak, and improved to 33-1 this season when up by at least 10 points.
Amazingly, the Hawks have already matched their win total for all of last season, when they slipped into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 38-44 record.
And it's not even the All-Star break.
Brooklyn: The bus carrying coach Lionel Hollins got caught in traffic trying to get to Philips Arena and didn't arrive until 6:43 p.m. for the 8 p.m. tipoff. A poultry convention at the adjacent Georgia World Congress Center clogged traffic in downtown Atlanta. ... F Mirza Teletovic traveled home after being hospitalized last week in Los Angeles with blood clots in his lungs. The Bosnian will miss the rest of the season, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Atlanta: Schroder will represent the Hawks in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend in New York. The second-year point guard from Germany is one of the most improved players in the league, playing a key role off the bench as Teague's backup. ... Mike Budenholzer and his staff already earned the right to coach the Eastern Conference team in the All-Star game, and as many as four Hawks players could be selected when the reserves are named Thursday.
Brooklyn: Head home Friday night to face the Toronto Raptors.
Atlanta: Host the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night, the next-to-last game in a seven-game homestand.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:36:00 +0000
Lynch at Media Day: 'I'm here so I don't get fined'
PHOENIX (AP) Marshawn Lynch smiled politely, waved at the crowd and answered every question the same.
"I'm here so I don't get fined," the Seattle Seahawks' star running back constantly repeated for five minutes before leaving the podium at Media Day on Tuesday. It's not clear if his plan will work.
About 200 reporters crowded around Lynch's podium for at least 15 minutes before he arrived. But the media-shy Lynch made it clear right from the start he wasn't saying anything except variations of his scripted answer.
Lynch set a timer on his phone and told everyone he showed up just to avoid a fine. Lynch caught a bag of Skittles tossed from Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson and stopped to pick up a reporter's recorder off the floor before he walked away.
Lynch later spoke to "Entertainment Tonight" about his foundation, the "Fam 1st Family Foundation."
The Professional Football Writers of America was talking to the league about the session and Lynch had been apprised of a potential fine. He is also required to be at media sessions Wednesday and Thursday.
In November, the NFL fined Lynch $50,000 for violations of the league's media policy in addition to collecting the $50,000 fine that was imposed against Lynch for violations last season. The fine from 2013 was held in anticipation of future cooperation from Lynch.
"I'm fine sitting up here, but not everybody is comfortable with it so I don't think he should be forced to do it," All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said.
Lynch has much more to say when the price is right. Insurance company Progressive and candy maker Skittles released commercials featuring Lynch saying a bit more than his usual: "Yeah" and "Nope" and "Thanks for asking."
At Media Day last year, Lynch's reclusiveness became a major story. Lynch appeared for 6 1/2 minutes, left the arena, and then returned to a "mixed zone" the NFL created for players not on podiums or in microphone-equipped speaking areas at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
With the exception of briefly speaking with the NFL Network's Deion Sanders, to the Seahawks' website, and to Armed Forces Network, he did not deal with reporters that day.
Sanders, the Hall of Fame cornerback, tried again to interview Lynch, but got nowhere this time and left laughing.
Teammates defended Lynch's behavior.
"This is who he is. I don't nitpick or judge, so I just accept a person for who they are," All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said. "I just love who he is. He is so random."
Sherman even continued answering questions after the 60-minute session ended.
"I don't think (players) should be obligated any more than the commissioner is obligated to speak to the media," Sherman said. "I think that if players are going to be obligated to speak to the media then every one of the NFL personnel should be obligated to speak to the media weekly, and that's not the case.
"It's unfortunate, but I think that every team should be forced to present certain players, obviously a few of them. Obviously, if someone is uncomfortable in front of the media and uncomfortable answering questions, then you have to find a way to accommodate the NFL. This is a game; you find a way to accommodate everyone else who's uncomfortable."
Lynch was fined $20,000 for making an obscene gesture during Seattle's overtime win over Green Bay in the NFC championship game. The league did not specify what the gesture was, but Lynch grabbed his crotch after scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Lynch was fined $11,000 for a similar gesture in Seattle's win over Arizona on Dec. 21.
Lynch also was told before the last game he could not wear gold shoes because they were a violation of the NFL's on-field dress code, and that he could be ejected from the game if he wore them.
"He's a guy that cares about everyone in that locker room," assistant head coach and offensive line coach Tom Cable said. "Anytime you hand it to him, he's carrying them. He's not carrying the football, he's carrying his team. That's who he is. That's what he does."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 01:17:00 +0000
Brodeur to retire, join St. Louis Blues front office
ST. LOUIS (AP) Martin Brodeur is retiring to take a front office job with the St. Louis Blues. The New Jersey Devils have a spot waiting for one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history whenever he is ready to come back home.
"Absolutely. He is aware of that and has always been aware of that," Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said Tuesday. "He could have come back even now if he wanted to."
The 10-time All-Star and four-time Vezina Trophy winner finished his career with St. Louis after a standout, two-decade run with New Jersey. A news conference was set for Thursday morning before the Blues return from the All-Star break to play Nashville.
"It's kind of sad to see a guy like him hang `em up," said Brian Elliott, the Blues' All-Star goalie. "I'm sure it's a tough decision, but I was grateful to be on the same team with him if only for a little bit."
The 42-year-old Brodeur wrapped up his 22-year career with St. Louis after signing as a free agent on Dec. 2. He was 3-3 with a 2.87 goals-against average and in his final victory became the fifth-oldest goalie to post a shutout in a 3-0 win over Colorado on Dec. 29.
He last played on Jan. 2 in a loss at Anaheim and had not returned since being granted a one-week leave of absence on Jan. 14. Brodeur had dropped to third on the depth chart after Elliott returned from a knee injury, with 24-year-old Jake Allen sharing the position, but teammates are happy he'll still be around to help.
"It's an extremely smart move," forward Alexander Steen said. "All the experience and all that stuff is so valuable to have in an organization. That stuff spreads."
Lamoriello said he's been talking with the Brodeur the last several weeks, so the announcement was not a surprise. Lamoriello said it won't be long before the Devils retire his No. 30 and that there are no hard feelings Brodeur is sticking with St. Louis for now.
"It's something that he feels he would like to try and see," Lamoriello said. "He might even find out whether he likes this business or not. Who knows? There is no issue whatsoever."
Brodeur played his first 21 seasons with the Devils, who did not re-sign him after committing to Cory Schneider as the No. 1 goalie. Schneider said he was a little surprised about the announcement, calling it the end of an iconic career.
"Those kinds of players, like Marty and Jaromir (Jagr), they only come along so often," Schneider said. "The things that Marty did, I don't know if we will ever see again or it probably won't be for a long, long time."
The Montreal native was 691-397-176 with a 2.24 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and 125 shutouts in 1,266 career appearances. He holds regular-season NHL records for wins, games and minutes.
"I don't think he has to worry about losing those anytime soon," Elliott said. "It's just awesome to be able to stand on the same ice as a guy like that, especially when you look at the record books probably 50 years from now and you can be like, `I played with that guy,' so it's cool."
Brodeur also holds postseason records for starts (204) and shutouts (24), and is second in wins (113). He appeared in 70 or more games in 10 consecutive seasons from 1997-98 to 2007-08.
He won three Stanley Cups with the Devils and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist with Team Canada in 2002 and 2010.
Devils center Scott Gomez won two Stanley Cups with Brodeur and remembered a player so handy with the stick it prompted an NHL rule change. Jagr said having Brodeur in goal was like having an extra half defenseman who could start breakouts.
"So many new goaltenders come in the league and it's kind of incredible for him to adjust and stay in that game for such a long time," Jagr said. "I don't think anybody can do that again, in any sport. Maybe (Peyton) Manning if he keeps playing, because quarterback is that type of position."
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed to this report.
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 23:58:00 +0000
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