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BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Thursday. A full Sports Digest will be sent about 3 p.m. All times EST:

- SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Questions abound regarding Notre Dame star Manti Te'o and his supposed girlfriend and her supposed death. The biggest one is this: Was he part of the hoax or a victim?

- NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt believes the uncertainty surrounding Manti Te'o could affect when he is selected in April by an NFL team.

- Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey in which the cyclist acknowledges doping is broadcast in the first of two installments. Interview at 9 p.m.

- LONDON - Thirteen years after he stood on the podium in Sydney, Lance Armstrong is stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics because of doping.

- SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Frank Gore has carried the 49ers through good times and mostly bad the last eight seasons. He's perfectly happy if he's not getting all the attention heading into Sunday's NFC title game.

- FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - The Atlanta Falcons have good reason to respect the dual-threat skills of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

- FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Patriots Rob Ninkovich defensive end has a knack for finding loose footballs. His next chance comes in the AFC championship game against Baltimore.

- OWINGS MILLS, Md. - If the Ravens need a field goal in the waning seconds, rookie kicker Justin Tucker might be the only one not thinking of Billy Cundiff's miss last year.

- NEW YORK - The NBA announces the results of fan voting for next month's All-Star game in Houston. The game will be loaded with players from Los Angeles, Boston and Miami. Announcement about 7 p.m.

- LONDON - The New York Knicks play the Detroit Pistons in the NBA's second regular-season game in London. Game starts 3 p.m.

- LOS ANGELES - The Lakers face the defending champion Miami Heat, with Pau Gasol expected to return to the Los Angeles lineup after a concussion. Game starts 10:30 p.m.

- GRAPEVINE, Texas - NCAA President Mark Emmert addresses his group's convention, where several reform measures are on the agenda following high-profile scandals. Emmert news conference after 6:30 p.m.

- LA QUINTA, Calif. - Phil Mickelson opens his season in the Humana Challenge, fighting lingering flulike symptoms that limited his practice time. Also in the field is U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson.

- ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Justin Rose and Jamie Donaldson share the first-round lead of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Tiger Woods is five shots back, with Rory McIlroy eight behind.

- MINNEAPOLIS - No. 9 Minnesota plays No. 5 Michigan, the first game at Williams Arena featuring two top 10 teams since 1977. Michigan beat Minnesota that day. Game starts 7 p.m.

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Ravens wanted to bring back wide receiver Torrey Smith this off-season

Ravens wanted to bring back wide receiver Torrey Smith this off-season

BY TYLER BYRUM - @theTylerByrum

For years, Torrey Smith was a fan favorite wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens. He is a local player that not only helped the Ravens win their Super Bowl in 2012, but went to Maryland to play college ball.

This past off-season the Baltimore Ravens were interested in bringing him back. 

On Tuesday morning at the AFC coaches breakfast, John Harbaugh revealed the team's plan of bringing back the wide receiver who accumulated over 3,500 receiving yards in four seasons with the team. Instead, Smith signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for a middle tier contract. 

Last season, the 28-year-old only brought in 267 yards in the 12 games that he played with the San Francisco 49ers. Smith left the Ravens after the 49ers offered him a five-year deal that he could not turn down.

With Steve Smith Sr. retiring at the end of this season, it almost felt like a perfect fit as the Ravens best option at the No. 2 wide receiver position is Breshad Perriman.

RELATED: Harbaugh stands up for Colin Kaepernick 

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh stands up for Colin Kaepernick

Ravens coach John Harbaugh stands up for Colin Kaepernick

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh may be in the minority in this opinion, but he thinks Colin Kaepernick will find himself a starting quarterback job in the NFL. 

Speaking at the annual NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Harbaugh defended the former 49ers QB, who drew scathing criticism last season for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. 

The Ravens coach told assembled media that Kaepernick – who played under Jim Harbaugh in San Franciso – is a good person and has the talent to succeed in the NFL. 

Clearly, Harbaugh doesn't agree with the theory that teams haven't signed Kaep because he's just not that good. But he also panned the idea that the QB is being "blackballed" because of his politics. 

The definition of "blackballed" is obviously at issue here. Have all 32 NFL franchises determined they won't sign Kaepernick under any circumstances? Probably not. 

But just because he's not being "blackballed" per se doesn't mean that his political expressions – or more accurately, public opinion of those expressions – haven't made finding an employer more difficult. 

There's also the fact that, while talented, Kaepernick hasn't won many games the past few seasons. Blame that on his style of play or the team around him, but Kaep didn't show he can be the difference-maker on a struggling team. 

Despite all that, Harbaugh's faith in Kaepernick finding a job isn't just an endorsement of the QB, it's also a statement of faith in the NFL. That teams values players for their talents on the field, and don't begrudge them their political expression off it. 

MORE RAVENS: ALL BUT ONE NFL OWNER APPROVES OF RAIDERS' MOVE