Football is back! Brees, Saints defeat Cardinals

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Football is back! Brees, Saints defeat Cardinals

From Comcast SportsNet
CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame and see all the bronze busts. Cheer tackle Willie Roaf's induction. Watch Drew Brees produce a touchdown on his only try. Pretty good weekend for the New Orleans Saints. And boy, did they need it. Brees didn't need much time to top off a good visit, smoothly leading a touchdown drive in his only series Sunday night during a 17-10 victory over Arizona in the Hall of Fame game. "Just to be up here and see all those guys get inducted and take a tour of the Hall of Fame, that was really special," said Mark Ingram, who scored the first touchdown on a 1-yard run. "For us to all be here, it puts a lot of things into perspective going into this football season." The game was canceled last year for the first time in 45 years, a casualty of the NFL's lockout of the players. Labor issues also came into play in Sunday night's game -- the seven officials were replacements. It showed. The referee announced the result of the coin flip incorrectly -- Craig Ochoa said the Saints won the toss and deferred, then caught his mistake and said the Cardinals had won the toss. There were some other communication problems as well for the first-time crew. The win completed a good trip for the Saints (No. 9 in the AP Pro32), who needed a few smiles after their offseason dominated by their bounty scandal. Suspended coach Sean Payton got the league's permission to attend a dinner for Roaf and the other five Hall of Fame inductees on Friday night. Payton isn't allowed to have any contact with the team this season as punishment for the team's bounty program. Players got to tour the hall and sat in the back three rows of the stadium for Roaf's induction on Saturday, wearing black t-shirts with his No. 77. It was a proud moment for a franchise that's been overshadowed by the bounty scandal all offseason. "The induction was great," interim coach Joe Vitt said. "Our young players went through the Hall of Fame yesterday and saw a lot of history of the NFL and really took it in. From that standpoint, it was a great weekend." Don't forget that opening drive. Brees was sharp on the 10-play drive, completing 4 of 5 passes for 41 yards with one off-target throw. Brees skipped offseason workouts and minicamp because he was unhappy getting the team's franchise tag. He later agreed to a five-year, 100 million deal. Nothing has changed. "Drew was Drew," Vitt said. "That's the first unit. There's high standards here." The Cardinals (No. 23) are using the preseason to pick a quarterback, with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton competing for the starting job. Kolb got to start the game but had a tough time, throwing an interception on his first pass and leaving after bruising his ribs on the third series. "He has a bruise in his chest and that makes it kind of tough to rotate, move," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I think he'll probably be practicing sometime this week." Skelton took over and completed 4 of 6 for 32 yards. "You never want to have an injury in the preseason, especially an early game like this, having to play that fifth preseason game," Skelton said. "But he will be OK." The Cardinals finished 8-8 last season, Kolb's first in Arizona. He started nine games and threw for nine touchdowns with eight interceptions while learning a new offense on the fly because of the lockout. Skelton filled in when Kolb was hurt and went 5-2 as a starter. After the opening series for each team, the backups got into the game and things got ragged. The fill-in officials had a few rough moments, too. Ochoa, who has eight years of experience with BCS leagues and 16 years at Division III, flipped the ceremonial coin and announced that New Orleans had won and deferred. As he started walking away, he caught his mistake. "Correction," he said. "Arizona won the coin toss." After New Orleans scored on its first possession, several Saints came in to block for the extra point and gestured to the officials to point out that they had reported for the play. Coming out of the 2-minute warning in the first half, Ochoa announced that the previous play was under review, then corrected himself and said it was not. The officials had trouble spotting the ball after a punt that involved a penalty, repeatedly moving the ball after consultations. The league has locked out its officials and hired replacements in case the labor dispute extends into the season. They've trained them for the last two months. The league used replacement officials for the opening week of the 2001 season before reaching agreement with the union. Notes: It was the Saints' fifth appearance in the Hall of Fame game, their first since 2007. The Cardinals made their fourth appearance, their first since 1986. ... Arizona's Dave Zastudil had a 79-yard punt, a record for the Hall of Fame game. ... Saints rookie Laron Scott had a 67-yard kickoff return. ... Arizona LB Paris Lenon limped off with an ankle injury after the opening series and didn't return.

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Harper gets the day off as Nats aim for series win against Padres

Harper gets the day off as Nats aim for series win against Padres

Nationals (58-40) vs. Padres (42-56) at Nationals Park

The Nationals rallied to win Saturday night's game in walkoff fashion on Stephen Drew's RBI triple. On Sunday, they will look to win the rubber match and take their season series against the San Diego Padres.

Top prospect Lucas Giolito (0-0, 4.70) will make his third MLB start for the Nationals. He gave up four earned runs on seven hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings against the Mets his last time out.

Lefty Christian Friedrich (4-6, 4.55) will start for the Padres. He lost to the Nats on June 17 when he gave up six earned in six innings in San Diego.

Bryce Harper gets the day off with Chris Heisey in at right field. Ben Revere is also off with Michael Taylor in center.

First pitch: 1:35 p.m.
TV: CBS-9, MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Lucas Giolito vs. Padres - Christian Friedrich

NATS

2B Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Chris Heisey
CF Michael Taylor
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Lucas Giolito

PADRES

CF Travis Jankowski
1B Wil Myers
RF Matt Kemp
3B Yangervis Solarte
LF Corey Dickerson
2B Ryan Schimpf
SS Alexei Ramirez
C Derek Norris
LHP Christian Friedrich

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Report: Nationals targeting Chapman, Yankees want Ross

Report: Nationals targeting Chapman, Yankees want Ross

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Nationals are looking to gear up for a long playoff run. According to one report, however, their top target may come at a very high price.

It has been widely reported that the Nationals are interested in New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, but the Yankees have set a very high price for him. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are interested in starter Joe Ross. That's a hefty price to pay and it may be too much for the Nationals.

Chapman has 20 saves this season out of 21 save opportunities. Though very good, he is a curious choice considering the Nationals still have Jonathan Papelbon.

Last year, general manager Mike Rizzo made the controversial decision to trade for Papelbon despite Drew Storen pitching well as the team's closer. It would certainly be ironic to see the same thing happen to Papelbon this year.

Then again, if the Yankees don't lower their asking price, Papelbon won't have to worry as Chapman will not be coming to Washington.

RELATED: HOW DUSTY'S HOLY WATER HELPED REVERE VS. PADRES

IOC leaders stop short of complete ban on Russians from Rio

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USA TODAY Sports

IOC leaders stop short of complete ban on Russians from Rio

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- Olympic leaders stopped short Sunday of imposing a complete ban on Russia from the Rio de Janeiro Games, assigning individual global sports federations the responsibility to decide which athletes should be cleared to compete.

The decision, announced after a three-hour meeting via teleconference of the International Olympic Committee's executive board, came just 12 days before the Aug. 5 opening of the games.

"We had to balance the collective responsibility and the individual justice to which every human being and athlete is entitled to," IOC President Thomas Bach said.

The IOC rejected calls from the World Anti-Doping Agency and dozens of other anti-doping bodies to exclude the entire Russian Olympic team following allegations of state-sponsored cheating.

Russia's track and field athletes have already been banned by the IAAF, the sport's governing body, a decision that was upheld Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and was accepted by the IOC again on Sunday.

Calls for a complete ban on Russia intensified after Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer commissioned by WADA, issued a report Monday accusing Russia's sports ministry of overseeing a vast doping program of its Olympic athletes.

McLaren's investigation, based heavily on evidence from former Moscow doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, affirmed allegations of brazen manipulation of Russian urine samples at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, but also found that state-backed doping had involved 28 summer and winter sports from 2011 to 2015.

But the IOC board decided against the ultimate sanction, in line with Bach's recent statements stressing the need to take individual justice into account. The IOC said the McLaren report had made no direct accusations against the Russian Olympic Committee "as an institution."

"An athlete should not suffer and should not be sanctioned for a system in which he was not implicated," Bach told reporters on a conference call after Sunday's meeting.

The IOC also said Russia is barred from entering for the Rio Games any athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping.

In a statement, the IOC said it would accept the entry of only those Russian athletes who meet certain conditions set out for the 28 international federations to apply.

It also rejected the application by Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the 800-meter runner and former doper who helped expose the doping scandal in her homeland, to compete under a neutral flag at the games. However, the IOC added that it would invite her and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, to attend the games.