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BC-AP Sports Preview Digest,1st Ld-Writethru

BC-AP Sports Preview Digest,1st Ld-Writethru

Eds: Updates.

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

- MELBOURNE, Australia - Novak Djokovic becomes the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles when he beats Andy Murray 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

- SAN DIEGO - Tiger Woods has a two-shot lead and faces a long day in the Farmers Insurance Open. With a day lost to fog, plans call for golf from sunrise to sunset with no winner determined until Monday.

- HONOLULU - The best in the AFC and NFC meet with a mandate that they take the NFL's all-star game more seriously or face the prospect of the game going away. Game starts 7 p.m.

- OWINGS MILLS, Md. - In this age of high-powered offenses, the 49ers and Ravens provide a reminder in the Super Bowl that defense still matters.

- SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Now a backup quarterback for the 49ers, Alex Smith's trip to New Orleans this week is hardly how he envisioned it.

- OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Nothing was going to stop the Ravens' Torrey Smith this season. Beating NFL cornerbacks was nothing compared to coping with the death of his brother in a motorcycle accident.

- NEW YORK - It might be the most interesting TV drama at the Super Bowl. How will Jack and Jackie Harbaugh look as they watch their sons coach in the NFL championship?

- BOSTON - Ray Allen plays in Boston for the first time since signing with the Miami Heat. The Celtics are trying to break a six-game losing streak. Game starts 1 p.m.

- LOS ANGELES - Kevin Durant leads Oklahoma City against a Los Angeles Lakers team that is seven games below .500. The Thunder have the best record in the NBA. Game starts 3:30 p.m.

- CHICAGO - The Blackhawks try to set a franchise record with their sixth straight win to start the season when they play the Detroit Red Wings. Game starts 7 p.m.

- BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Coach Tom Crean squares off against former boss Tom Izzo when No. 7 Indiana faces No. 13 Michigan State in Big Ten basketball. Game starts 1 p.m.

- OMAHA, Neb. - Jeremy Abbott can win his fourth title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but he'll have to hold off Ross Miner and Joshua Farris. Men's free skate starts 1:15 p.m.

- MARIBOR, Slovenia - Slovenia's Tina Maze wins a World Cup slalom before home fans a day after she just missed capturing the giant slalom.

- KITZBUEHEL, Austria - Austria's Marcel Hirscher wins a World Cup slalom, and Croatia's Ivica Kostelic takes the combined for the fourth year.

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.