Heisman Trophy favorite attacked for no reason

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Heisman Trophy favorite attacked for no reason

From Comcast SportsNet
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Five men roughed up star Wisconsin running back Montee Ball near campus early Wednesday, inflicting head injuries serious enough to send him to the hospital, authorities said. Ball was walking down a street around 2:15 a.m. after "socializing" with friends, police spokesman Joel DeSpain said. Two friends walking ahead of him turned around and saw Ball on the ground. The men had surrounded him and were kicking him in the head and chest, DeSpain said. One of his friends and a man across the street moved to help Ball and the attackers fled, DeSpain said. No other Badger players were with Ball, he said. Witnesses said Ball may have exchanged words with the men before they attacked him, DeSpain said. The motive for the attack remains a mystery. Ball told investigators his cellphone is missing, but it's unclear whether the attackers stole it or someone just happened to pick it up, DeSpain said. "We're going to take a look at whether the victim was targeted for who he is," DeSpain said. Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season as a junior, was taken to a hospital with head injuries, police said. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Ball was released and under the care of the school's sports medicine staff. The Badgers open practice Monday. The season opener is Sept. 1 at home against Northern Iowa. Bielema said his staff will evaluate Ball in the coming days but he expects the senior will make a full recovery. Wisconsin spokesman Brian Lucas said Ball was resting at home Wednesday. Ball, a 21-year-old native of Wentzville, Mo., posted Twitter entries reassuring his fans he'll be all right. "I appreciate the support and thank you for the concerns," Ball wrote. "I will be okay! See you guys in September!" Ball had a stellar season last year, scoring 39 touchdowns to tie Barry Sanders' NCAA record. He finished the year with 1,923 yards rushing and 2,229 all-purpose yards, second in Wisconsin history only to Ron Dayne's 2,242 yards in 1996. Ball capped the season by rushing for 164 yards and a touchdown in the Badgers' 45-38 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl. He announced days after the bowl game he would return for his senior season after NFL evaluators told him he would have likely been a third-round pick. Wisconsin has been hyping his return heavily, creating a website entitled "This Fall Belongs to Ball." The site notes he needs 18 touchdowns to become the NCAA's all-time leader, features a new personal logo for Ball, an "M" and a "B" with his number 28 superimposed over the letters, and a video clip of Ball inches from the camera declaring, "I'm back" followed by his scoring highlights. Police issued Ball a trespassing ticket in May after he stepped unwanted onto a Madison porch during an annual end-of-the-year student street party. The area where Ball was attacked is on the edge of the Wisconsin campus and features multiple bars. Police have been dealing with what they say are combative crowds in the vicinity all summer. Three people were hurt in a May shooting outside two bars about a block from where Ball was assaulted. Two men mugged a 17-year-old boy in the same block as the shooting during the early morning hours of July 21. That same day, a 35-year-old man reported to police that someone had been stabbed after leaving a bar in the same block. The next morning, again in that same block, multiple fights broke out on the sidewalks, forcing a police officer to use pepper spray to break up three brawls. Police deployed extra patrols in the area last weekend.

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Cousins on contract: 'Don't think we really did' get close to a deal

Cousins on contract: 'Don't think we really did' get close to a deal

In his first time speaking out since officially being franchise tagged on July 15, Kirk Cousins confirmed what most who followed his negotiations thought to be true: He and the Redskins weren't exactly on the same page.

"I don't think we really did," the quarterback said on 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny show Wednesday when asked if the two sides ever got close to a deal. As he talked more about his contract situation, however, he made it clear that he's harboring no hard feelings against his team despite the fact he didn't receive a new extension.

"I always said going back to the end of last season that I wanted to play where I’m wanted," Cousins explained. "The franchise tag shows that I am wanted. Now, maybe not beyond this year, but I am wanted."

That relaxed outlook is something the 27-year-old has maintained all offseason. He pointed out that a few other players around the league were tagged as well, and thinks it's something that can easily be handled in the future. But don't let Cousins' steady demeanor totally fool you.

He's still going to do whatever he can to show his doubters that he's deserving of a long-term deal — and the massive dollar amount that'll come with it.

"I feel good about having this one season to prove myself and see what I can do," he said. "I do relish the opportunity to prove to people I’m capable of playing well and being here a long time."

The end of that quote makes it sound like Cousins does still envision a future in Washington. His performance in 2016 will go a long way in determining whether that feeling is mutual.

RELATED: SANTANA MOSS SENDS FLOWERS TO CHIEF ZEE'S FUNERAL

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Nats place Stephen Drew on DL, call up infielder Difo

Nats place Stephen Drew on DL, call up infielder Difo

One day after the Nats got two players back from injury, they saw another go down, as infielder Stephen Drew was placed on the 15-day disabled list with vertigo-like symptoms.

Drew's DL stint is retroactive to July 24. The Nats called up infielder Wilmer Difo to take his place on the roster. 

Drew, 33, has only appeared in one game since July 17. That was on July 23 when he led the Nats to victory over the Padres with a walk-off RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth. That followed nearly a week-long battle with what was first described as the flu. He felt dizziness, had trouble sleeping and keeping food down.

An 11-year MLB veteran, Drew has thrived on the Nats' bench this season. Through 103 at-bats he has seven homers, 17 RBI and an .882 OPS. Drew has made the transition from everyday player to the bench look easy.

Difo, 24, debuted with the Nationals last May and has appeared in 15 MLB games. This is his first stint with the Nats this season. A switch-hitter, Difo is batting .255 with five homers and 33 RBI in 96 games with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

[RELATED: Papelbon's struggles continue, Ramos heating up for Nats]

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Grading Capitals' offseason moves: Signing Brett Connolly

Grading Capitals' offseason moves: Signing Brett Connolly

The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign. The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.

Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.

Today's move: Signing Brett Connolly

The Caps entered free agency with very few needs, but one need they did have was for a right wing for the fourth line who could cycle in and out of the lineup.

While teams threw their money around as free agency began, the Caps were very quiet, looking for need and potential. They found it in the form of Brett Connolly.

Selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Connolly was a the sixth overall pick of the 2010 draft. Despite some good early play in his professional career, he was soon overshadowed by the Lightning’s impressive crop of young talent. Injuries further hampered him in Tampa and eventually in Boston.

Despite his struggles, the Caps see the same potential in him that led him to be drafted so high.

“He's got good size, he skates well, he's got good hands, he shoots the puck well, he just hasn't seemed to put it together yet consistently,” MacLellan said.

MacLellan sees more from Tom Wilson going forward which will mean a promotion from the fourth line to the third. That leaves a spot open on the fourth which Connolly will presumably fill. The Caps, however, are prepared to let his play determine that.

“He could play anywhere,” MacLellan said. “I mean it's up to him. We told him, you've got to come in and you've got to earn it. You've got to show the coaches. You've got to gain some respect and we'll see where you fit in. I mean he could play third line, fourth line, it's up to him.”

Grade: A

Whenever a team decides to walk away from a player player, it’s important to replace him with something better. Otherwise, what was the point? The Caps chose not to re-sign Michael Latta, but instead brought in a player with a much higher ceiling in Connolly.

This move is low-risk, high-reward. Seriously, where is the downside here? Connolly is signed for one year at $850,000. Despite his struggles, he is only 24 and when healthy has demonstrated he still has plenty of skill. If he does play well, he becomes a restricted agent at the end of the season and the Caps can easily retain his rights.

If he continues to fail to live up to that potential, it’s not as if the Caps will have a major hole on their top line. The Caps can plug in Stanislav Galiev or any of the several prospects waiting for their shot at the NHL and not miss a beat. Then they can cut Connolly loose at the end of the season.

Let’s be realistic here. Sometimes when fans see where a player was drafted, it’s easy to begin thinking that he will suddenly emerge as that top-tier player. It’s doubtful that Connolly is going to suddenly emerge as a top line winger, but he has the potential to become a solid player.

If he doesn’t, well it was worth a shot.