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Tuesday Sports in Brief

Tuesday Sports in Brief

NEW YORK (AP) Alex Rodriguez was ensnared in a doping investigation once again Tuesday when an alternative weekly newspaper reported baseball's highest-paid star was among a half-dozen players listed in records of a Florida clinic the paper said sold performance-enhancing drugs.

The Miami New Times said the three-time AL MVP bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances during 2009-12 from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Cables, Fla., near Rodriguez's offseason home.

The new public relations firm for the New York Yankees third baseman issued a statement denying the allegations.

The newspaper said it obtained records detailing purchases by Rodriguez, 2012 All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera, 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon and 2011 AL championship series MVP Nelson Cruz of Texas.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Of all the topics Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis wanted to talk about at Super Bowl media day, deer-antler spray probably was not on the list.

He declined to directly address in any detail questions about a Sports Illustrated report that he sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis was the NFL's leading tackler in the playoffs after missing 10 regular-season games with the injury.

The company, Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (SWATS), says its deer-antler substance contains a banned performance-enhancer connected to human growth hormone.

The 37-year-old Lewis, who has announced he will retire after playing against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl, dismissed the report as ``stupidity.''

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Randy Moss used to be a star. Now, he's just an afterthought with the San Francisco 49ers.

It's a role he's still struggling to accept.

Moss spent much of his career as one of the NFL's top receivers. During Super Bowl media day, he called himself ``the greatest receiver ever to do it.'' That's a claim sure to be debated in NFL circles.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco apologized for his word selection in criticizing the NFL's decision to hold next year's Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium at a cold-weather site.

On Monday, Flacco was asked about the game being played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

``I think it's retarded. I probably shouldn't say that. I think it's stupid,'' he said.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Rams have decided not to hire Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator and stepped in a new direction by hiring Frank Bush as linebackers coach.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge will hear oral arguments in about two months on requests to throw out lawsuits by thousands of former NFL players regarding concussions suffered while playing for the league.

U.S. Eastern District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia on Tuesday scheduled an April 9 hearing on motions to dismiss filed by the NFL Inc., NFL Properties Inc. and All American Sports Corp.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Executive director Billy Hunter has fired his daughter and daughter-in-law from the NBA players' association, less than two weeks after a review criticized his hiring practices.

In a letter to the union's special committee of players, dated Jan. 23, Hunter informed them that Robyn Hunter was to be let go as of Jan. 25. Megan Inaba will stay on through the All-Star break to help coordinate activities in Houston before leaving her job on Feb. 17.

Hunter also states in the letter, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, that the NBPA will no longer work with Prim Capital, the banking firm that employs Hunter's son, Todd

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Allen Iverson is taking a pass on the D-League.

Iverson, the 2001 NBA MVP, has turned down an opportunity to return to basketball with the Dallas Mavericks' Development League affiliate. He posted a series of tweets on Tuesday explaining his decision to decline an offer from Texas Legends' co-owner Donnie Nelson to join the team.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o didn't show any signs of being affected by the girlfriend hoax leading up to the BCS title game, but his play indicates it may have taken a toll, coach Brian Kelly said.

``Hindsight is 20-20. I didn't think going into the game he was affected by it. But he didn't play his best. Alabama had something to do with that, clearly. But I really don't know,'' Kelly said.

``It's a lot to weigh on the shoulders of somebody. I think we can make the leap that maybe it did. But I think Manti would know for sure.''

Te'o said in an interview with ESPN after the news of the hoax broke that it did not affect his performance in the title game blowout.

Kelly spoke to reporters Tuesday by conference call for the first time since the Irish were beaten 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7. He said his interview the Philadelphia Eagles was mainly to get more information about coaching in the NFL, and his heart remains in college football. He's also working on a contract extension with Notre Dame.

SOCCER

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - American forward Jozy Altidore was the target of racist chants Tuesday during AZ Alkmaar's 5-0 win over second-tier Den Boscha in the quarterfinals of the Dutch Cup.

Altidore, who is black, said he had never faced such serious abuse from the stands.

HOUSTON (AP) - The United States prepped for its opening game in the final round of World Cup qualifying with a dull 0-0 tie against Canada as defender Omar Gonzalez returned to the American national team lineup after a two-year absence.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann changed all 11 starters from November's 2-2 tie at Russia and is likely to change the entire lineup against for the Feb. 6 qualifier against Honduras at San Pedro Sula.

CYCLING

LONDON (AP) - The World Anti-Doping Agency called the UCI ``deceitful'' Tuesday for shutting down its independent doping panel and said it won't participate in an amnesty commission set up by the cycling governing body.

WADA said the UCI has ``again chosen to ignore its responsibility to the sport'' by disbanding the panel looking into claims that cycling leaders helped cover up Lance Armstrong's suspicious doping tests and accepted $125,000 in donations from him.

Instead, the UCI announced Monday plans to set up a separate amnesty-style ``truth and reconciliation commission'' (TRC) that it claimed was supported by WADA President John Fahey.

AUTO RACING

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti are separating after 11 years of marriage.

Judd's spokeswoman confirmed a Tuesday report from People magazine that the 44-year-old actress and 39-year-old Scottish IndyCar driver are ending their marriage.

WINTER SPORTS

DENVER (AP) - Snowmobiler Caleb Moore was in critical condition in a Colorado hospital after a dramatic crash at the Winter X Games in Aspen, and a relative said the family wasn't hopeful about the 25-year-old's chances for survival.

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NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

The annual NFL Combine kicks of Wednesday in Indianapolis. Whatever happens there -- receivers run fast, quarterbacks flash arm strength, defenders lack pop -- projections will change and in some cases significantly. Therefore here's my last look at the situation before all the sprints and lifts via mock draft 4.0 plus some other thoughts below.

* League sources offered up names of several prospects currently ranked all over the big boards with the chance to make a big splash during the combine. They include:

Alabama TE O.J. Howard -- Everybody already knows the 6-foot-6 Howard is a two-way monster. His Senior Bowl dominance certainly confirmed that. Rocking the Combine could alter his mid-to-late first round projection into 10-13 range where teams like New Orleans, Cleveland and Arizona have TE needs. Call me crazy, but if Howard is there when the Redskins pick at 17, I can imagine Washington thinkng long and hard about two-TE sets wth Jordan Reed. 

Oklahoma DT Charles Walker -- The Redskins have shown interest in Walker, according to a league source, though his draft range is all over the map. The interior force's redshirt junior season ended early due to a concussion followed by a decision to leave the Sooners early with draft preparation in mind. Was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a junior thanks to six sacks. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Walker ninth among defensive tackles while WalterFootball.com projects the 304-pounder as a Day 2 pick.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

Pittsburgh OT Adam Bisnowaty -- Considered underrated despite starting four seasons for the Panthers. The left tackle helped key a resurgent season for the Panthers. Lack of wow prospects at the position means the order outside of Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Garrett Bolles (Utah) is in flux.

Ashland TE Adam Shaheen -- The D2 prospect is early candidate for the "Who is that guy?" award. Expect raves about Shaheen's size and athleticism. CBS Sports already has Day 2 projection on the 6-foot-6, 277-pounder who can run routes like a wide receiever. Could he move all the way into round 1?

Tulsa WR Keevan Lucas -- What the 5-foot-10 receiver lacks in height he makes up for with speed and production. Caught 81 passes for 1,180 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season with the Golden Hurricanes. Certain analytics show Lucas' production stood out  and put him in the same statistical company as future NFL receivers Stefon Diggs and Marqise Lee. Day 3 sleeper.

Other to watch: QB Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), TE David Nkoju (Miami, Fl.), DT Ryan Glasgow (Michigan), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)

* Look at Scot McCloughan's draft history and one theme emerges: The man likes seniors, especially in round one. Brandon Scherff and Josh Doctson were both four-year players. The bulk of first round selections during his time at Seattle and San Francisco. That doesn't mean McCloughan will go that way with the 17th overall pick; Of the top 19 ranked prospects according to ESPN analyst Todd McShay, 14 are underclassmen. But keep a close on seniors with early round projections like Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Temple inside linebacker Haason Reddick, Indiana guard Dan Feeney, LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White, Washington wide receiver John Ross and Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

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Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

A decision on whether to cut or keep Dennis Pitta is one of many issues facing the Ravens this offseason.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Ravens “may balk” at the $5.5 million salary Pitta is due next season. That makes sense, considering Pitta was just 28th in the NFL among tight ends in yards per catch (8.5) despite leading all tight ends with 86 catches. Pitta only had two touchdown catches, and there is concern he no longer has the speed to make explosive plays after two major hip surgeries.

Free agency begins March 9, but cutting Pitta with a June 1 designation would create the most cap space for the Ravens - $5.5 million.

However, if the Ravens release Pitta, they would turn the tight end position over to a question-filled group that includes:

Ben Watson – He is 36 years old, and missed all of the 2016 season with an Achilles injury. Cutting Watson and saving $3 million in cap space might make more sense than cutting Pitta. Especially if Pitta agrees to a pay reduction, as he did before last season.

Nick Boyle – He missed 10 games last season due to his second suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Another suspension could lead to the end of Boyle’s career.

Crockett Gillmore – He must prove he can still healthy after missing seven games in 2016, and 15 games over the past two seasons.

Darren Waller – He was suspended four games in 2016 for his first PED violation, and he has caught just 12 passes in his first two seasons.

Maxx Williams – He is coming off major knee surgery.

Pitta remains a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco, and even if Pitta struggles to make splash plays, he is still a chain-mover as a possession receiver. You can make a case for cutting or keeping Pitta. The Ravens will soon make their verdict.

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