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Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Nevin Shapiro's attorney said Thursday that she did nothing wrong during the former Miami booster's bankruptcy proceedings, instead insisting that the NCAA's problems during an investigation of the Hurricanes' athletic department were self-inflicted.

Further, attorney Maria Elena Perez said she's one of the victims of the NCAA's mistakes.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Perez said that the NCAA had representation present during two depositions in the bankruptcy case of her client, who is currently serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme. The NCAA said Wednesday that it has ordered an outside review of the Miami investigation after finding ``a very severe issue of improper conduct'' by former investigators working the Miami case.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - The person Manti Te'o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker ``I love you'' in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.

Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te'o claims were left for him last year. Te'o said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for online but never met face-to-face.

After the first message was played, Te'o said: ``It sounds like a girl, doesn't it?''

``It does,'' said Couric, who suggested the person who left those messages might have been Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, a 22-year-old man from California, who Te'o said has apologized to him for pulling the hoax.

The interview was the All-American's first on camera since his tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September unraveled as a bizarre hoax in an expose by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.

Couric addressed speculation that the tale was concocted by Te'o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay, Te'o said ``no'' with a laugh. ``Far from it. Faaaar from that.''

PRO FOOTBALL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - John Idzik was introduced as the New York Jets' new general manager, replacing the fired Mike Tannenbaum.

The 52-year-old Idzik, formerly the Seahawks' vice president of football administration, insists that the Jets will ``explore every measure to bring in talent and to compete.'' He adds that the NFL draft will be the team's ``lifeline.''

Neither Idzik nor owner Woody Johnson would definitively answer questions about a report that the Jets will explore trading star cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is recovering from a serious knee injury.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans Saints fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo after one season - a record-setting year in the wrong way.

New Orleans ranked last in the NFL in total defense and run defense, yielding the most yards (7,042) ever in a single season. The Saints went 7-9 this season and allowed 454 points; only Tennessee gave up more.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - Ravens safety Ed Reed isn't planning on joining teammate Ray Lewis in retirement after the Super Bowl.

``I'll be playing next year,'' Reed said before Baltimore hit the practice field in preparation for their Feb. 3 Super Bowl matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

There had been speculation that the 34-year-old Reed might retire after this season.

BASEBALL

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The entrance to the Cathedral Basilica looked more like that of a St. Louis Cardinals game on Thursday, just the way Stan Musial would have liked it.

Thousands of fans turned out for Musial's public visitation at the ornate Roman Catholic church, many of them bundled up against the bitter cold in red Cardinals jackets. Musial, a 24-time All-Star who remained a beloved figure in his adopted hometown a half-century after his playing career ended, died Saturday after years of declining health. He was 92.

Family, close friends and perhaps some of baseball's biggest names will be back at the cathedral for a funeral on Saturday.

PHOENIX (AP) - Justin Upton is having a family reunion in Atlanta.

Arizona traded its star right fielder to the Braves in a seven-player deal that sent former All-Star infielder Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks.

For the first time since he was a high school freshman, Upton will have older brother B.J. Upton as a teammate.

The brothers combine with Jason Heyward, who won a Gold Glove in 2012, in an outfield potentially packed with power and speed.

The Braves, who also get third baseman Chris Johnson, are giving up one of their top pitching prospects, Randall Delgado, and three minor leaguers in the deal.

They are right-hander Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury.

BOSTON (AP) - Pedro Martinez is returning to the Boston Red Sox.

Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, who spent seven seasons in Boston, was brought back to the franchise as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Brandt Snedeker ended another round at Torrey Pines atop the leaderboard. Only this time he had company, and still a long way to go.

Snedeker had a flawless start to his title defense in the Farmers Insurance Open by playing bogey-free on the North Course for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with K.J. Choi. The advantage after one day goes to Choi, who birdied three of his last four holes on the tougher South Course for his 65.

Tiger Woods, a seven-time champion at Torrey Pines as a pro, looked as if he might join them. Woods was one shot off the lead with five holes to play on the South until he stumbled in the final hour of a cloudy day with two bogeys and had to scramble to save par on the par-5 18th for a 68.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - European Ryder Cup players Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia were among four players tied for the lead after the second round of the Qatar Masters.

Kaymer shot a 5-under 67, and Garcia had a 66 to match Ricardo Santos (70) and Marcus Fraser (67) at 9-under 135. Michael Campbell (68) topped the group at 8 under. Justin Rose was 5 under after a 71, and Louis Oosthuizen was 4 under after a 69. Jason Dufner shot a 70 to reach 3 under.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Tim Duncan was selected to his 14th All-Star game, Spurs teammate Tony Parker is joining him, and the Chicago Bulls also had two reserves chosen for next month's game in Houston.

Joakim Noah and Luol Deng were picked from the Bulls, who have stayed in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race despite the season-long absence of point guard Derrick Rose. Noah is one of five first-time All-Stars for the East, along with New York's Tyson Chandler, Indiana's Paul George, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, and Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday.

Miami's Chris Bosh, picked for his eighth All-Star team, rounded out the East squad.

West forwards David Lee (Golden State), LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland) and Zach Randolph (Memphis) all were picked for the second time. Houston's James Harden was chosen for the first time and joins former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook, headed to his third straight All-Star game.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Hornets owner Tom Benson is changing his team's nickname to the Pelicans and said the switch will create a bond with the city that could lead to a championship.

The NBA still has to approve it, but Commissioner David Stern has said he wouldn't object to any name Benson chose. The league is expected to expedite the change at the start of next season.

The new color scheme is blue, gold and red, a departure from the Hornets' teal, purple, gold and white.

CYCLING

MONTREAL (AP) - The World Anti-Doping Agency disputed a claim by former cycling federation leader Hein Verbruggen that discussing suspicious doping samples with athletes was once normal practice in sports.

It highlights the growing gulf between the doping watchdog and the International Cycling Union following the Lance Armstrong case.

``This approach totally contradicts the purpose of an effective anti-doping program,'' WADA said of Verbruggen's claim, adding that a governing body's policy should be ``designed to deter, detect and prevent athletes from doping.''

Verbruggen, the UCI president from 1991-2005, claimed Wednesday it was the governing body's former policy and ``indeed also of other federations.''

MILAN (AP) - Lance Armstrong's disgraced former doctor Michele Ferrari says the American cyclist could have been just as successful without doping.

Armstrong said in last week's interview with Oprah Winfrey that winning seven Tour de France titles would have been impossible without banned drugs.

However, on Ferrari's website Tuesday, the Italian doctor wrote ``I think Lance is wrong.''

Ferrari describes the effects of testosterone, EPO and blood transfusions, and says that had Armstrong taken testosterone in the manner and amount described by his former teammates, it would have simply had a ``placebo effect.''

AUTO RACING

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Kyle Busch has signed a long-term extension to continue driving the No. 18 Toyota Camry.

In addition, JGR will field the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in the Nationwide Series for at least 25 races with Busch as the primary driver. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PRO HOCKEY

DALLAS (AP) - Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars agreed to a $26.25 million, five-year contract.

The All-Star center gets $5.25 million each season, with the first year of the deal pro-rated because of the NHL lockout.

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Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Ravens injuries:

OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).

QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Dolphins injuries:

OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).

DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).

QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).

Five questions you should ask:

1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?

Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.

2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?

Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.

“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.

He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.

3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?

The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.

4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?

This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).

5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.

Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.

Ravens 20, Dolphins 17 

MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North

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CB Jimmy Smith expected to play, listed as questionable for Sunday

CB Jimmy Smith expected to play, listed as questionable for Sunday

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, but it appears Smith will play after missing the past two games with a back problem. Smith practiced all week, and head coach John Harbaugh sounded optimistic following Friday’s practice.

“He looks good,” Harbaugh said. “We weren’t sure early in the week if he was going to be able to go, and he just responded well and he looks good. It will mean a lot. It will help our defense. We’ll be really, pretty much, full strength out there.”

Three Ravens were declared out for Sunday’s game — tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), left guard Alex Lewis (ankle) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

Meanwhile, backup running back Buck Allen was doubtful due to a non-football issue.

“Buck had a personal issue come up,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the most I want to say about it right now. It’s just something that’s a personal issue right now that he’s dealing with. He may not be able to play in the game. We’re just going to have to see about that, where he’s at with it.”

MORE RAVENS: How Baltimore could still win AFC North