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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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In a draft deep at CB, taking one early could be Ravens' best move

In a draft deep at CB, taking one early could be Ravens' best move

The Ravens may need to rethink their draft strategy regarding cornerbacks. They haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first three rounds since 2011, when they took Jimmy Smith with the 27th overall pick.

Smith is still the Ravens’ best corner. However, he has been plagued by injuries in recent years, and lack of cornerback depth has become a glaring weakness for the Ravens, in a league that features many explosive wide receivers.

Related: NFL Mock Draft 1.0

According to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., this year’s draft is loaded with talented corners. With the 16th overall pick, the Ravens can address their need at cornerback with someone who might be talented enough to start as a rookie.

“There’s a lot of corners in this draft that are going to go in the first round,” Kiper said during a recent conference call.

Many believe Marshon Lattimore of Ohio St. will be the first cornerback off the board, and will likely be gone before the Ravens can grab him. In his first mock draft, Kiper had Lattimore going No. 6 to the Jets.

However, the list of top-rated corners that could be available for the Ravens at No. 16 includes Marlon Humphrey of Alabama, Sidney Jones of Washington, Jourdan Lewis of Michigan, Teez Tabor of Florida, Cordrea Tankersley of Clemson, and Quincy Wilson of Florida.

The Ravens grabbed a promising corner in the fourth round last year in Tavon Young, who had a strong rookie season. But the Ravens may not have the luxury of waiting to take a cornerback this spring. Instead of taking the best player available at No. 16, the Ravens will have to consider taking the best corner available.

Related: Depth at running back reduces need for Ravens to trade up in draft

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Depth at running back in draft reduces need for Ravens to trade up

Depth at running back in draft reduces need for Ravens to trade up

Should the Ravens trade up from No. 16 to get an impact running back in the draft?  Not according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

The Ravens’ need for more playmakers is obvious, and coach John Harbaugh says the offense could use another back to complement Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West.

In his first mock draft, Kiper had Leonard Fournette of LSU (No. 8, Panthers) and Dalvin Cook of Florida St. (No. 12, Browns) as the first two backs off the board, with the Ravens taking Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers with the 16th pick.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Kiper says the Ravens can get a quality back in the first three rounds, with this year’s draft deep at the position.

“I don’t know that trading up for a running back the grade of Fournette will be high enough to say he’s in that (Ezekiel) Elliott stratosphere,” Kiper said during a recent conference call.

“You have a lot of depth at running back too, with (Christian) McCaffrey, D’Onta Foreman from Texas, and there’s a lot of other backs in this draft that I really like, and of course the Ravens got Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round last year which was a heck of a pick for them. Matthew Dayes from N. C. State, you have Jamaal Williams at BYU, De’Angelo Henderson at Coastal Carolina is an interesting kid. I don’t think there will be a team looking to trade up for the running back this year.”

West led the Ravens with 774 yards rushing in 2016, with Dixon adding 302 yards. However, every other team in the AFC North had a back with more yards than West. Le’Veon Bell (1,268 yards) led the Steelers, Isaiah Crowell (952 yards) led the Browns, and Jeremy Hill (839 yards) led the Bengals.

While the Ravens have other pressing needs like cornerback, wide receiver, and pass rusher, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a running back early.

MORE RAVENS: Ravens' game in London has official date