Giants

Scary injury for a Houston football player

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Scary injury for a Houston football player

From Comcast SportsNetHOUSTON (AP) -- Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden remains hospitalized in "stable, yet critical" condition after tearing a vein in a collision with a teammate during practice.Team physician Dr. Walter Lowe said in a statement from the school Thursday that the senior was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital after the collision late Tuesday afternoon. Hayden was rushed into immediate surgery for a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart.Lowe says that type of injury is fatal "95 percent" of the time. He says such an injury is usually linked to high-speed motor vehicle accidents."This injury has never been seen or reported in association with a football injury," Lowe said.Lowe complimented the quick response by the team's trainers, paramedics, the Memorial Hermann trauma team and operating surgeon Dr. John Holcomb. The statement from the school said Hayden was alert, but still recovering in the intensive-care unit."We are very fortunate to have some of the nation's top physicians and medical facilities just minutes away from our campus," first-year coach Tony Levine said, "and I would like to extend our appreciation for their efforts on Tuesday evening."Hayden leads Conference USA with four interceptions and had returns for touchdowns in consecutive games against SMU and UTEP earlier this season. He was named the league's Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 29 after picking off two passes in the 45-35 victory over the Miners."D.J. is a tremendous young man and has been a great asset to our program, both on and off the field," Levine said. "I ask that everyone continue to keep D.J. and his family in their thoughts and prayers."The 6-foot Hayden transferred to Houston after helping Navarro College win the 2010 national championship. In his first season in Houston, Hayden led the team with 11 pass breakups and five forced fumbles, helping the Cougars finish with a school-record 13 victories and a No. 18 national ranking.Case Keenum, that team's record-setting quarterback who now plays for the Houston Texans, was getting updates on his phone from friends on Hayden's condition."Great player, better guy," Keenum said. "I know his family really well. My family got to know his family, just being at the games and sitting together a bunch. We've felt for them and we've been praying for them. It's nothing short of a miracle that he's still around."The Cougars (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) have three games left in their 2012 regular season, starting with Saturday's game against Tulsa (7-2, 5-0).

Reports: Giants dismiss Dave Righetti as pitching coach, reassign others

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USATSI

Reports: Giants dismiss Dave Righetti as pitching coach, reassign others

In a shocking move, the Giants appear to be moving on from longtime pitching coach Dave Righetti and other coaches.

According to FanRag Sports, the Giants will reassign Righetti within the organization, likely to a front office position. Righetti has been with the team since 2000 and has served as Bruce Bochy's right-hand man since he took over as manager in 2007.

Bench coach Ron Wotus and hitting coach Hensley Meulens will also be reassigned, according to FanRag Sports.

Bullpen coach Mark Gardner will also be reassigned within the organization, according to USA Today.

The coaching staff shake-up comes on the heels of the Giants finishing in last place in the NL West with a 64-98 record.

On Thursday, The Mercury News reported that the Giants interviewed current Red Sox hitting coach.

More to come...

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).