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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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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP

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Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens deep running back group grew a little thinner – at least temporarily – on Thursday as rookie Kenneth Dixon left the first training camp practice after tweaking his left knee and Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on the preseason physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering foot injury.

Dixon had been very active in the noncontact practice, especially as a pass catcher. But as he caught one pass near the left sideline in an 11-on-11 drill, he was inadvertently bumped out of bounds by linebacker Patrick Onwauasor and fell hard to the ground. Dixon was slow to get up and was ultimately helped off the field by Justin Forsett and a trainer.

Dixon has “a slight thing with the knee,” coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “He should be fine.”

Taliaferro sustained a foot injury last year and had surgery that ultimately ended his season in October.

"Not that there's a big issue with it," Harbaugh said of Taliaferro's foot, "but it's not quite there yet."

Entering his third season, Taliaferro is fighting for a roster spot after missing 16 of 32 games over his first two seasons. Forsett, Buck Allen and Dixon all appear to be locks to make the team, leaving Taliaferro competing for a potential fourth running spot with Terrance West and perhaps Trent Richardson, though he, too, is injured.

Taliaferro joins five other Ravens who had previously been placed on the preseason PUP list – receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and Richardson.

Players can be activated from the PUP list and return to practice at any time during training camp. If they begin the regular season on the PUP list, they must sit out the first six games.

In addition to Taliaferro’s absence, three players sat out Thursday's practice because they haven’t passed the conditioning test: wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Jerraud Powers and newly signed wide receiver Dobson Collins.

RELATED: FLACCO ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT INJURIES AFFECTING HIS POST NFL LIFE