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Ohio State: Injured QB Miller done for the season

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the 2014 season, dealing a severe blow to the fifth-ranked Buckeyes' national title hopes.

Ohio State confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that Miller reinjured his throwing shoulder and will need surgery. The two-time Big Ten player of the year left practice in pain Monday after making a short throw.

"My goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever," Miller said in a statement.

It's a huge blow to a team considered to be one of the best in the Big Ten and the country, one which already has several major holes to fill on offense.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. "This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program."

The senior and three-year starter partially tore the labrum in his right shoulder in a loss to Clemson at the Orange Bowl. He had surgery, did not face contact in spring practice and was held out of several practices this month due to soreness.

Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is Miller's top backup and will likely be the starter in the Aug. 30 opener against Navy in Baltimore.

Miller said he was on schedule to graduate with a degree in Communications in December and that he also wanted to attend graduate school, "and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season."

Miller's options would include taking a medical redshirt and returning to Ohio State for one more season in 2015, or rehabbing the injury and making himself available for the NFL draft in the spring. He toyed with the idea of turning pro last spring but decided against it because of the shoulder surgery might hurt him with pro teams.

With a schedule that includes games at defending Big Ten champion Michigan State on Nov. 8, at Penn State on Oct. 25 and a Sept. 6 date at home against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes are suddenly confronted by a lot of question marks.

Miller's injury in Monday's practice, first reported by The Columbus Dispatch, came on a routine, unrushed rollout pass. Miller reportedly left the field after screaming in pain but was upbeat later while getting his shoulder iced. He had his arm in a sling on Monday night.

Miller is one of the Big Ten's most decorated quarterbacks, and the falloff in experience compared to his backups is huge.

He has thrown 666 passes in his glittering three-year career, starting as a freshman. Barrett has never played in a game, and sophomore Cardale Jones threw his only two collegiate passes during a 56-0 rout of Purdue.

Miller has also run for 32 touchdowns and passed for 52, putting him in reach of many of Ohio State's career records at his position.

Barrett was an acclaimed four-star recruit out of Wichita Falls, Texas, who watched with Jones last year as Miller took most of the snaps in the Buckeyes' 12-2 season. When Miller was hurt for most of the San Diego State, California and Florida A&M games with a sprained knee, senior Kenny Guiton had big games while leading Ohio State to victories.

The Buckeyes are also replacing four of their five starting offensive linemen, their leading receiver (Corey Brown) and 1,500-yard rusher Carlos Hyde from last year's 11-2 team.

Barrett completed 17 of 33 passes for 151 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns in Ohio State's annual spring intrasquad scrimmage. Because of Miller's problems with his shoulder, Barrett has gotten a lot of practice time with the Buckeyes' first-team offense in the spring and in recent weeks.

Miller hurt originally hurt his shoulder on the first possession against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but played the rest of the way in the 40-35 loss. Soon after the injury was discovered, he had surgery in February.

Ohio State said at the time that Miller had "minor, outpatient surgery." But he has had problems with the shoulder since.

Still, he has repeatedly said he would be ready to go in the opener, and did so again between practices on Monday. His workload had been reduced to avoid any ongoing soreness in the arm.

At the Buckeyes' media day, Miller said his arm felt good and he was able to throw as much as he liked.

The injury is perhaps the most crippling at Ohio State since tailback Keith Byars was second to Doug Flutie in the Heisman Trophy race in 1985 but then missed almost all of the following season with a broken bone in his foot.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:06:00 +0000
Browns not ready to name starting quarterback

CLEVELAND (AP) This summer saga, packed with drama, celebrity and clumsiness, isn't quite over for the Browns.

Hoyer vs. Manziel marches on.

Cleveland first-year coach Mike Pettine still hasn't chosen his Week 1 starting quarterback, and that's not his fault. Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel haven't convinced him - or anyone, really - that they deserve the job.

Pettine had been expected to announce during a teleconference on Tuesday whether Hoyer, the inexperienced veteran and hometown hero coming back from knee surgery, or Manziel, the hyped rookie and former Heisman Trophy winner, would start the Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh.

But the decision has been delayed and it could carry through Cleveland's third preseason game on Saturday.

Pettine said Cleveland's coaching staff will meet Wednesday night and could then choose a starter. Maybe.

"We're not in position to make it at this point in time," Pettine said of an announcement many Browns fans have been anxiously awaiting for months. "We'll decide later if we're ready to name a starter. We could have one named, and I'm not ruling that out. That's something we're going to discuss. And if we do have to wait until after the next game, so be it.

"We're going to weigh everybody's opinion. I'm very clearly on record: I would like to make a decision, and that's still very much a possibility."

Pettine reiterated that "all options are on the table," meaning he could name Hoyer or Manziel or push a decision back until after the Browns host the St. Louis Rams in their third exhibition.

Pettine's choice grew much tougher after Hoyer and Manziel both played poorly in a 24-23 exhibition loss at Washington on Monday night.

Hoyer started and missed wide-open receivers and appeared to be buckling under the pressure of not being able to put an end to his competition with Manziel.

Hoyer finished 2 of 6 for 16 yards, hardly the numbers he needed to solidify starting.

"It was embarrassing," Hoyer said.

Manziel's most memorable moment may have been when he made an obscene gesture toward the Redskins' sideline, an act Pettine called "extremely disappointing" and will likely result in a fine from the NFL. When he was only using his right hand to throw, Manziel completed 7 of 16 passes for 65 yards one touchdown, which came against Washington's backups.

Pettine said the quarterbacks weren't the only ones who had unsatisfactory games.

"There were a lot of guys that had some plays they'd want to take back," he said. "I just think it was overall inconsistency on the offense. It's hard for a quarterback to look good when the guys around them aren't playing well."

As for Manziel getting caught on national TV flashing his middle finger at the Redskins, Pettine said that behavior - as well as the 21-year-old's other offseason conduct - will be factored into the decision on a starter.

"We'll take into account all things quarterbacks A to Z," Pettine said. "So it's body of work, it's everything from the time they set foot in the building back in the spring up until today."

Manziel said he was taunted by Redskins players and he responded not realizing the world was watching. Following the game, Manziel acknowledged "I should've been smarter."

Pettine has preached to his players about staying poised and Manziel didn't show any in responding to the trash talk he was hearing from Washington's defenders and bench.

"We talk about `Play like a Brown,"' Pettine said. "We want our guys to act like a Brown and we want this to be a first-class organization. We have hundreds, thousands of kids come to our training camp practices and look up to our players and that type of behavior is unacceptable.

"It's something that's part of football that you have to maintain your poise and your composure, especially at that position and he should know better than anyone that all eyes are on him. I know it's something that will be addressed by the league and will be addressed internally."

Pettine, maybe more than anyone, wants the QB competition - and ceaseless discussion - to end. But he won't stop it until he's certain he's chosen the right quarterback to lead the Browns into Heinz Field in a few weeks. He knows the longer it goes, the harder it will be for Cleveland's struggling offense to build momentum.

"We want to get the decision right so that might be the risk-reward with it," he said. "If we want to make sure that we are diligent with it and do the right thing, then I don't want to rush it and make it for the sake of making it. Then, you're risking the chemistry and the cohesion if you have the wrong guy there.

"There is a decent amount of time left still until Pittsburgh. These were under ideal circumstances that we could name this week, and again, I'm not ruling that out."

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:50:00 +0000
Djokovic, Federer seeded 1-2 at U.S. Open

NEW YORK -- Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is seeded No. 1 for the U.S. Open, and five-time champion Roger Federer is No. 2, meaning they could meet only in the final.

Djokovic beat Federer for the title at Wimbledon last month.

The U.S. Tennis Association followed this week's ATP rankings in announcing the seedings Tuesday.

Federer moved up one spot from his No. 3 ranking because 2013 champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the year's last Grand Slam tournament with an injured right wrist. The 33-year-old Federer is seeded at the U.S. Open for the 14th consecutive year, tied with Ivan Lendl for the longest streak, trailing only Jimmy Connors' record of 18.

Federer won the hard-court tournament every year from 2004-08, part of his record 17 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic has played in the last four finals at Flushing Meadows, winning the title in 2011. He lost to Nadal in 2010 and last year, and to Andy Murray in 2012.

Murray is seeded eighth this year. Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka is No. 3, followed by David Ferrer, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov.

The women's seedings will be announced Wednesday, and the draw is Thursday.

The tournament starts Monday.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:18:00 +0000
Manziel struggles, flips bird in Browns' loss to Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer didn't make Mike Pettine's decision any easier. Good luck picking a starting quarterback after this mess, Coach.

Manziel struggled to hit open receivers and added another gesture to his repertoire - a middle finger apparently aimed at the Washington Redskins' bench - while Hoyer completed only two passes in five series. Neither the hot-shot rookie nor the nondescript sixth-year veteran looked ready to claim a No. 1 NFL gig, failing to live up to the big-time setting of a final audition in the Cleveland Browns' 24-23 Monday night loss to the Washington Redskins.

Pettine has said he plans to announce his regular season starter Tuesday. His choices are Manziel, the No. 22 overall pick in the draft who completed 7 of 16 passes for 65 yards and an touchdown, and Hoyer, who was 2 for 6 for 16 yards.

And those stats were padded by series against the Redskins' backups. In the first quarter - when Washington's starters were in the game - Manziel was 2 for 7 for 29 yards, while Hoyer was 0 for 2. Manziel was even mocked by Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who raised both hands and performed the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner's "money" gesture after a sack by teammate Ryan Kerrigan.

Manziel appeared to have a message of his own for the Redskins. He raised the middle finger of his right hand as he jogged away from the Washington sideline after a play late in the third quarter.

To be fair, the first two passes by Hoyer could be classified as drops by his receivers, but he also failed to move the team when an interception gave the Browns the ball at Washington's 15 in the second quarter. After a running play and two incompletions, including a pass high and through the hands of Andrew Hawkins in the end zone, Cleveland had to settle for a field goal.

Looking for a hint as to which way Pettine is leaning? It's worth noting that Hoyer started for the second consecutive game and played mostly with the first-team offense, while Manziel was sent out with the backups to play in the second half. Manziel took advantage by leading a 16-play, 68-yard drive capped by an 8-yard pass to Dion Lewis for Cleveland's first touchdown.

In a sloppy game that included 21 penalties and five turnovers, anyone using a nickname like "Johnny Football" at times seemed like an insult to the sport. The Browns were particularly susceptible to the NFL's new emphasis on hindering receivers: Cleveland's defense was whistled five times for holding or illegal contact in the first quarter alone, including twice on one play.

The Redskins don't have a quarterback competition, but their former Heisman winner - Robert Griffin III - also needs some work to get to regular season form. He finished 6 for 8 for 112 yards, including an unwise off-balance throw that was picked off by Joe Haden. RG3's three drives ended with a fumbled pitch by Alfred Morris, the interception, and a goal-line stuff by the Browns defense when Morris was unable to punch it on four runs from first-and-goal from the 3.

The designed runs are being marginalized under new Redskins coach Jay Gruden, but Griffin was nevertheless hit hard several times as he scrambled four times for 24 yards.

At least the game had an exciting ending. Connor Shaw hit Emmanuel Ogbuehi on a 45-yard Hail Mary at time expired. The Browns' 2-point conversion attempt failed.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 03:28:00 +0000
Oklahoma RB Mixon suspended for season

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma has suspended freshman running back Joe Mixon for the season after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.

Mixon, one of the nation's top recruits and a potential starter, is accused of knocking a woman unconscious with a punch and breaking several bones in her face last month.

A release from the school Monday said university President David Boren accepted the recommendation of athletic director Joe Castiglione and coach Bob Stoops to suspend Mixon. He will be excluded from all team activities and removed from the team roster.

After Monday's practice, Stoops chose not to talk about Mixon.

"That's not something I'm going to delve into right now, because it leads to further questions in that regard, and I'm going to talk about the guys that are eligible to play right now," Stoops said.

The school said with appropriate conditions, Mixon will be permitted to continue as a student, eligible for financial aid.

"As the university has demonstrated in the past, we are committed to winning the right way," the school said in the release. "As an example to others, OU sets the highest possible standards for its student athletes, coaches and staff."

According to a probable cause affidavit released by the Cleveland County District Attorney's office, the alleged victim told police Mixon directed a homosexual slur at her friend and there was an argument. The affidavit said that according to surveillance video, the woman then pushed Mixon and Mixon lunged at her. The woman then slapped Mixon in the face, and he reacted by punching her in the face. She fell onto a table, then to the ground, and Mixon then left the scene. The woman suffered a fractured jaw, broken cheek bone, fractured sinus and `fractured orbit' near her left eye.

Mixon's lawyer, Kevin Finlay, said in a statement last week that he felt the woman should have been charged with assault and battery. He was disappointed that Mixon was charged with the misdemeanor.

"As we have maintained from the beginning, it is our belief that Joe reacted instinctively after being racially slurred and physically assaulted by a highly intoxicated young woman and her male friend," Finlay said. "We strongly disagree with the series of events as portrayed by Norman PD. Justice knows no gender bias, and we do not believe that Joe's actions were criminal in nature."

Stoops wouldn't say why he suggested the one-year ban.

"I'm not going to address the timetable," he said. "It is what it is. We made a decision here today that was announced and that's all I'm going to say about it. I can't say anything else in regard to it."

The decision is important for a team that opens the season ranked No. 4 and has national championship aspirations. The team lost its top two rushers from last season. The coaches say Keith Ford and Alex Ross have been the top two in camp so far, but they combined for just 26 carries last season. Freshman Samaje Perine also is in the picture.

"A lot of those guys are gonna need to play for us," quarterback Trevor Knight said. "Samaje Perine's been a hammer in there, just pounding the football, doing a really good job. Keith Ford's been doing a great job. Alex Ross has been doing a great job and Daniel Brooks and David Smith - they're getting in there and making plays."

Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said he doesn't expect the running back competition to be decided before the season starts.

"Ultimately, on game day, we're going to find out who the guy is," he said. "Hopefully, somebody gets the hot hand and we can ride him that way."

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 01:34:00 +0000

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