Monthly Archives: July 2013

Jeremy Maclin has torn ACL

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin tore his right ACL during Saturday’s practice, the team announced.

According to multiple reports, the injury occurred during 7-on-7 drills. In the early part of camp, players are still practicing in no-contact drills without pads.

Maclin stayed on the ground for several minutes while the club’s medical staff attended to his lower leg.

After getting to his feet, Maclin had to be helped to a motorized cart.

Maclin thanked fans for their support on Twitter.

The oft-injured Maclin, entering the final season of his five-year rookie contract, has played an entire season just once in his career.

After catching a career-high 10 touchdown passes in 2010, Maclin has combined for just 12 scores over his past two campaigns. He had 69 receptions for 857 yards and seven TDs last season.

The Eagles are in their first training camp under new coach Chip Kelly.

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Dennis Pitta done for year

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta underwent surgery Saturday night and will miss the entire 2013 season after dislocating his hip in practice Saturday, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The injury occurred when Pitta collided with safety James Ihedigbo in the back of the end zone vying for a pass from Joe Flacco. Pitta lay prone for several minutes before being carted off the field.

AFC North blog

Hensley ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley writes about all things AFC North in his division blog.

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“Dennis has a dislocated hip. We’ll have to take a look at that and see exactly what it is,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “It’s a serious injury. He is going to be out for a while. He will not be in the Denver game and we’ll just have to play it from there to see how long it goes.”

Late Saturday night, a Ravens official said the club had no update from doctors or Pitta.

The Super Bowl champions begin defense of their title on the road against the Broncos on Sept. 5.

Pitta was preparing for his fourth season with Baltimore. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

In the playoffs, Pitta had 14 catches for 163 yards and three scores.

With Pitta gone, the Ravens are without two of their most productive receivers last year. Pitta’s 61 catches were tied for second with Ray Rice behind Anquan Boldin, who was traded to San Francisco during the offseason.

“Obviously, he was a very, very productive guy for us,” Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said of Pitta. “He made a lot of big plays last year. We’ll see what happens. But somebody is going to have to step up. We do have some capable guys all across the flanks. We do have some weapons. We’re just going to have to have some guys make some plays for us.”

With the Ravens looking for a replacement, an NFL source told ESPN that one option is former Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

“The ball is in his court right now. It’s his decision to make,” the source said.

The Ravens were reportedly considering signing Shiancoe even before the injury to Pitta. Shiancoe played in just four games last season with the Patriots, and did not have any catches.

In his first three NFL seasons, Pitta has 102 receptions for 1,075 yards and 10 touchdowns over 43 regular-season games.

What we learned from NFL training camps Friday

We didn’t expect Bill Belichick to open up Wednesday on the topic of Aaron Hernandez. The New England Patriots coach surprised us by delivering a message that thoughtfully conveyed his disappointment and sadness.

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Watch “Inside Training Camp” this week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on NFL NetworkComplete training camp coverage

We were reminded of Belichick’s candor Friday, when Aaron Rodgers faced the media for the first time at Green Bay Packers camp. The subject of Ryan Braun and his performance-enhancing drug use admission is nowhere near the level of what’s going on with Hernandez. Still, it’s clearly an unpleasant subject for the quarterback, who acknowledged he had been misled by a close friend.

“It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that, and I’m disappointed about the way it all went down,” Rodgers said. “He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true.”

Rodgers continued to answer questions about Braun until a Packers media liaison stepped in and asked reporters to move on. It wasn’t something Rodgers wanted to discuss, but he knew he had to.

Bill Belichick could relate.

Everything else we learned on Friday is below. And we broke down all the biggest stories on the Around the League Podcast Friday evening, coming soon on iTunes. …

Santonio Holmes is a huge question mark

Forget about Week 1. Santonio Holmes told reporters he’s not sure he’ll play at all this season. It’s another reminder of the catastrophic nature of his foot injury, which required two surgeries to correct. It’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be close to the same guy. Only the Jets.

The day in PED news

On the same day Rodgers addressed the mistakes of a friend, we learned that Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins — an ATL Making The Leap nominee — will be suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Jenkins said he was “shocked and confused” by the news. We’ve heard that before.

Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, said he’s certain players are using HGH today. We probably should get a test for that, huh?

Beware of the dreaded ACL monster

New York Jets cornerback Aaron Berry and San Diego Chargers linebacker Jonas Mouton saw their seasons end before they began after they were diagnosed with torn anterior cruciate ligaments. A cruel blow for two players who were clawing for roster spots this summer.

On a more positive note, A.J. Green‘s knee injury turned out to be only a scare.

Bryant McKinnie was allowed to practice (Yay!)

He didn’t finish. (Boo!)

A few things to watch

» Denver Broncos teammates are confident that linebacker Von Miller‘s four-game suspension will be lifted. An NFL source told The Denver Post that Miller did not test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or recreational drugs this year.

» Perhaps not surprisingly, Tim Tebow looked shaky throwing the ball at Patriots practice. He lined up with the receivers and running backs as well, a possible sign of things to come. “I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team,” Belichick said.

» The Jets and Arizona Cardinals are dealing with “offset” madness with cornerback Dee Milliner and guard Jonathan Cooper, respectively. Both first-round draft picks officially are holdouts.

» The Seattle Seahawks are hopeful wide receiver Percy Harvin can avoid surgery on his hip.

» Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak admitted it was a “little bit of a surprise” running back Arian Foster wasn’t cleared for the start of training camp. Foster strained his calf during a spring workout.

And now, a final word from Jim Harbaugh

“I got some scars,” the San Francisco 49ers coach said when asked about the hardest hit he took as a player. “Sometime I’ll have you over for a barbecue and I’ll strip my sleeves and show my scars. I usually do it about once a year for my neighbors. Feast my neighbors and talk about days gone by. But today’s not the day. You will be included for the yearly barbecue.”

As a guest or as the actual dinner?

Reports: Von Miller ban wasn’t for positive drug test

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As Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller prepares to appeal his four-game suspension for violating league policy, recent reports suggest his punishment wasn’t triggered by a failed drug test.

“He didn’t test positive for anything,” a person with knowledge of Miller’s situation told Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY Sports.

Mike Klis of The Denver Post also reported Friday that the 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year did test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or recreational drugs in 2013, per an NFL source.

There are other ways Von Miller could have triggered a ban. Skipping a counseling session or test, or repeatedly being tardy for tests can result in a suspension. Miller has been a part of the NFL’s substance-abuse program since testing positive for marijuana in 2011, his rookie campaign.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Miller’s appeal is expected to be heard in mid-August, according to a person informed of the timetable. Miller has expressed confidence in that process from the start, saying Wednesday, “I don’t think I let my teammates down.”

“I just believe that what he says is right, and what believes is going to happen.” Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard told Jones. “I have his back 100 percent, no matter what happens. He seems quite faithful that he’s going to be it, and we’re quite faithful he’s going to beat it. There must be something to (his confidence). We don’t know what it is, but we believe in his confidence.”

The Broncos — and their fans — will find out next month if Miller’s appeal nets a reduced punishment. If these reports hold true, it’s easier to understand why Miller argues he’s done nothing wrong, of late, to hamper the locker room. The league’s final decision affects not only Miller, but a Broncos team that believes they’re Super Bowl-ready in 2013.

Tebow in first Pats practice

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Sick to their stomachs over Aaron Hernandez, Patriots fans may find it a relief to start talking about how much Tim Tebow does or doesn’t stink, and whether or not he’ll make the New England Patriots.

Tebow opened camp Friday, and more than one observer was unimpressed.

Curran, of Comcast SportsNet New England, was echoed by the New York Post’s Bart Hubbuch.

But Tebow caught passes from Tom Brady — good sign for a team missing top tight ends Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski — and showed he still could run it.

Tebow also showed he still could duck dangerous questions — about last season’s Jets disaster and the Hernandez case — as well as pray (for the families in the Hernandez case) and say the politically correct thing (though he didn’t mention being excited).

“I’ve got to keep improving every single day,” Tebow told USA Today. “We’ll go watch the film and we’ll get better from it. But I felt good about the practice.”

But coach Bill Belichick didn’t exactly give a vote of confidence to Tebow, who has a non-guaranteed, two-year contract.

“We’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is,” Belichick told CBSBoston.com.

Cesc Fábregas is staying at Barcelona, says new coach Gerardo Martino

ImageLink to video: Cesc Fábregas: new Barcelona coach says he’s not for sale

Barcelona‘s new coach, Gerardo Martino, has said that a third Manchester United bid for Cesc Fábregas – whatever its value – would be rejected, a statement that may leave David Moyes’s summer transfer strategy in crisis. After making the midfielder his prime target, the United manager is close to entering the window’s final month having yet to make a major signing.

If United are to buy Fábregas it may require the former Arsenal captain to make a transfer request to force it through. The champions are convinced he wants to leave but whether Fábregas can face making an official demand to depart his boyhood team remains to be seen, and even then it may not shift Barça’s position.

With the Catalan club having lost Thiago Alcântara to Bayern Munich, they are loth to allow another of their attacking midfielders to go. United have had bids of £26m and £30m rejected and, it seems, even a club record £35m offer would not make the Spanish champions reconsider.

On Thursday Moyes said that negotiations were “ongoing” for the 26-year-old, suggesting that the pursuit of Fábregas would continue a while longer and could yet have a positive outcome for United. Martino, however, made it clear that in his view Fábregas will remain at Barcelona next season. In a first press conference since succeeding Tito Vilanova as coach, Martino said: “I’m not going to involve myself in the club’s accounts, but considering the club has already rejected two offers, I would guess it will reject a third. In other words, Fábregas will remain here.”

The Argentinian’s stance was reiterated by the Barcelona vice-president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who said: “It’s logical that we’ve had offers for Fábregas because he is a quality player, but he is not for sale. Whatever offer United make, however big, we will say no. Cesc Fábregas will stay a Barcelona player. That United shows interest in Cesc Fábregas is normal. He is a truly great player. It doesn’t annoy us.

“It gives us pride to have such a good player in our team that United want him because they are a great club. But whatever offer arrives from them we are not going to sell Cesc Fábregas. We are counting on him. I think Tata [Martino] was clear that he is counting on him as a player and Andoni Zubizarreta [the director of football] from the first day when we asked him about it saying there was an offer he replied Cesc is not for sale. We are very happy with him.”

United still retain an interest in signing Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, though the current view at the club is that the chances of landing either are remote. Other options for Moyes include Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United. Yet none of these players are the stellar signing the new manager and Ed Woodward, the chief executive, crave to give the Scot the best chance of a successful start to his tenure as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor. Woodward flew back to Europe from Sydney during United’s pre-season tour to try and force through the purchase of Fábregas and is keen to deliver a marquee signing to Moyes in his new role as head of the club’s transfer business.

Following United’s 2-2 draw with Cerezo Osaka in the penultimate match of their tour, Moyes has a fresh injury concern over Jonny Evans that will rule the defender out of Monday’s final game against Kitchee FC in Hong Kong.

He said: “Jonny has a bit of bone bruising in his foot and just felt it’s not really improved that much. We don’t want to take any chance with it.”

Moyes currently has Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, Nani and Antonio Valencia all back at the club’s Carrington training base in recovery from their respective injuries.

Tennis star says ‘treated like a criminal’ with doping ban

A leading tennis player believes he has been “treated like a criminal” after being hit with an 18-month ban for flouting doping regulations and plans to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

World No. 53 Viktor Troicki was suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Thursday after being found guilty of failing to provide a blood sample in a drugs test during April’s Monte Carlo Masters.

But Serbian Troicki has rejected the charge, alleging the doctor conducting the blood test allowed him to miss the procedure and says he will now appeal the decision.

Read: Tennis serves up new doping measures

“The doctor in charge of the testing told me that I looked very pale and ill and that I could skip the test if I wrote an explanation letter to the ITF about it,” he said in a statement.

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“She dictated the letter to me and let me go without giving blood. She was very helpful and understanding.

“Now I’m being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare.

“I put my trust in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, I really hope they will look for the truth and find it.”

The 27-year-old Troicki confirmed that he underwent a test the following day by the same doping control officer with the result coming back negative.

He also revealed that he had never previously missed a test and had undergone several blood and urine examinations during his career.

But the ITF has taken a different stance on the story, insisting that the doping control officer had told Troicki that “she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not providing a blood sample was valid, and that no such assurances were given by her.”

Read: Murray condemns ‘cover up’

“I feel like I’m being treated like a criminal,” added Troicki as he contemplated the 18-month ban.

“I have a fear of the needle and I always have trouble drawing blood. But I always did. I am clean and will always be clean throughout my career.

“I just had the wrong doctor, who didn’t tell me at all that I was risking anything. She showed me a letter of the ITF saying she is in charge of the decisions and I trusted her completely.

“I wish I had recorded the discussion, there would never have been a case if I had.

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“This enormous sanction makes me speechless. It feels like the world that I help building day-by-day has let me down. It is the worst feeling you can imagine.”

Read: Nadal urges tighter drugs control

Troicki reached a career high of 12 in 2011 and has won $4.5 million in prize money during his career.

He is the third tennis player to be hit with a ban for drug violations in 2013.

In May, Brazil’s Fernando Romboli was handed an eight-and-a half-month ban after testing positive for diuretics, furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide.

In February, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic was banned for six months after testing positive for sibutramine, a substance which is often found in weight-loss products.

In March, the ITF confirmed it would introduce biological passports to tackle drug cheats.

Each player will have an individual electronic biological profile and be tested more regularly to monitor their levels and alert the authorities to possible drug use.

The scheme was welcomed by the world’s top players with Roger Federer telling CNN that it was “naive” to think tennis was free of players who use drugs to enhance their performance.

Read: Tipsarevic says tennis is clean

But Troicki believes he was simply misled and insists he has no problem with the current drug regulations.

“The doping rules are strict and they must remain strict. But this was a clear mistake from the on-site doping control officer who was also a doctor and the person in charge to decide,” added the Serbian.

“She let me go and reassured me. In my opinion, once she found out that she didn’t follow procedures she turned her back on me.

“I am destroyed and exhausted. The whole period I have been thinking about this issue and it’s not over, so I can’t really describe it.

“I am not even angry with the doctor. I believe that maybe she was told her organization that she made a big mistake letting me go. She backed up and tried to save her job.

“I am a fighter and I will try to fight together with my team and my lawyers but I am quite destroyed now. I hope this nightmare will come to a good end. I really want to continue playing. I don’t deserve this.”

New manager Martino lays out his ambitions for Barcelona

Gerardo Martino was unveiled as Barcelona’s new manager Friday — promising not to change their attacking style of play but introducing “new ideas” to help the Catalan giants dominate European club football.

The 50-year-old Martino has replaced Tito Vilanova, who stood down last week to undergo further treatment for throat cancer.

Martino, who took Newell’s Old Boys to the Argentine Clausura Championship, has signed a two-year deal at the Nou Camp.

Read: Martino to succeed Vilanova at Barcelona

He will take charge of a side which romped to the La Liga title last season with a record points tally, but suffered a crushing humiliation in the semifinals of the Champions League, going down 7-0 on aggregate to eventual winners Bayern Munich.

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It led to suggestions that Barcelona needed to make tactical changes, having gone out at the same stage of the competition for the past two years, but Martino believes it will not need a major revamp.

“Every team, even Barcelona which has already attained certain moments of excellence, can always improve, and Barca still has things to win,” he told gathered reporters.

Analysis: Martino who? Is El Tata the right man for Barca?

“We are going to try to recover certain things that we’ve seen when Barca have been at their best, and add a few ideas of our own.”

Martino confirmed that Barca’s talisman and fellow Argentinian Lionel Messi would continue to operate in his current role.

“He will continue to play in exactly the same position. He has to feel comfortable, after that he’ll do the rest.”

Messi will be joined by big-name Brazilian signing Neymar for the new campaign, while Martino appeared to rule out the departure of midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who is the subject of a bid from English Premier League champions Manchester United.

Asked about United’s attempts to sign the Spanish international with a $38 million bid on the table, Martino gave a firm reply.

Read: Vilonava steps down after cancer relapse

“If the club has signaled its refusal twice, then I signal it a third time – and so he (Fabregas) will be staying here,”

Club vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who flanked Martino with president Sandro Rosell, also chipped in.

“We are not thinking of selling Cesc,” he said. “That United are showing interest in Cesc is normal, because he’s a great player.

“That doesn’t upset us, that makes us proud that they want one of our players.

“But whatever the offer, we won’t be selling him. We are relying on him.”

Read: New signing Neymar promises to back Messi

Martino’s appointment Tuesday came as a surprise as he has no managerial experience in Europe.

But his pedigree is clear, winning four championship titles in Paraguay, before guiding their national team to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup.

He has also been a success at Newell’s, a former club of Messi.

Martino is the fourth Argentine to take the helm at Barcelona after Roque Olsen, Helenio Herrera and Cesar Luis Menotti.

Grosjean ends Vettel dominance in final practice

Jermain Defoe scores a hat-trick as Gareth Bale sits out Tottenham’s 6-0 win over South China

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Bale’s future has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent days, with Real Madrid obviously keen to sign the Wales star. But his absence had already been predicted by Andre Villas-Boas yesterday when the manager confirmed Bale was still struggling to shake off a buttock injury.

In his absence, Tottenham cruised home on a pitch that looked more like an aquatics centre at times.

Manchester United have to play here on Monday, although at least there was no rain as the coaching staff, including David Moyes and Ryan Giggs, saw Defoe profit from some woeful defending, Tottenham also netting through a Tse Sean Ka Keung own goal, a close-range effort from Clint Dempsey and Andros Townsend’s late strike.

Prior to this match, it had not been the greatest of trips for Tottenham.

What with the speculation over Bale’s future, the injury to Jan Vertonghen and concerns over the pitch so great Andre Villas-Boas would have been happy for the game to be called off, Spurs will probably be glad to get on the plane home.