California may use backup QB vs. No. 2 Oregon

California may use backup QB vs. No. 2 Oregon

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Allan Bridgford prepares each week as if he is the starting quarterback for California.

The difference this week is he could likely get that chance for the Golden Bears against No. 2 Oregon because starter Zach Maynard is hampered by an injured left knee.

Bridgford took the majority of practice snaps with the first team Tuesday, according to coach Jeff Tedford, while Maynard just watched with a heavy brace on his left leg.

Tedford has not ruled Maynard out as of yet, but it is very likely the Bears (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) may have to turn to a quarterback who has thrown just 48 passes in four seasons when they host the Ducks (9-0, 7-0) on Saturday night.

``It would be different if it were my first time playing a college football game but it's not,'' Bridgford said after practice Tuesday. ``I've played a number of games. I've thrown a handful of passes. I'm not overly nervous. I'm just ready to have fun and waiting to have my shot.''

Maynard has no ligament damage in his knee and Tedford is just waiting to see how much the injury heals this week before deciding on who will start Saturday.

``It's totally dependent on how he's moving and what he feels like,'' Tedford said. ``Each day it gets a little bit better. It's kind of out of our control. He'll get as much rehab as he can and it's just how he responds to that.''

Bridgford actually started the season opener against Nevada this year, with Maynard being held out for punishment for missing a tutoring session. But Bridgford didn't work with the first team the week leading up to the game and didn't even know he would start until the night before.

He completed just 2 of 9 passes for 6 yards that game. He didn't play again until Maynard hurt his knee Friday night against Washington and went 2 for 7 for 26 yards, failing to lead Cal on a late drive in a 21-13 loss.

Bridgford went 13 for 32 for 184 yards in three games last season and has a 35.4 career completion percentage. But Tedford said he's confident in Bridgford, calling him a studious quarterback who is always well prepared.

The task Saturday will be especially difficult against an Oregon defense that excels at pressuring quarterbacks and causing turnovers.

If Bridgford starts, he will also have to keep up with Oregon's high-powered, fast-break offense that leads the nation in scoring with 54.3 points per game.

``We're going to ask Bridgford to play within himself and let people around him make plays as well,'' Tedford said. ``It's not just him out there. There's enough anxiety for somebody to go in and play the number two team in the nation without putting any more undue anxiety on him. He just has to play within himself, be smart with the football and not turn the ball over.''

Austin Hinder, who has not played a game in his three seasons at Cal, worked with the second team and would back up Bridgford if Maynard can't play.

In other injury news, star receiver Keenan Allen will miss his second straight game with an injured left knee. Tedford would not rule out Allen yet for the season finale at Oregon State on Nov. 17.

Starting tackle Matt Summers-Gavin (knee) and receiver Bryce Treggs (ankle) are day to day with injuries as well.

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.