NCAA

Leinart hoping to get 1st start for Raiders

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Leinart hoping to get 1st start for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Matt Leinart is hoping to get one more shot to show what he can do as an NFL starting quarterback.

With Carson Palmer sidelined for Oakland's season finale in San Diego with cracked ribs and a bruised lung, Leinart and third-stringer Terrelle Pryor have been sharing time at practice.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen says he won't pick a starter until after Friday's practice but it seems likely both quarterbacks will get a chance. Leinart has started only two games since 2007 and failed to live up the expectations of winning the Heisman Trophy at Southern California and being a first-round draft pick by Arizona in 2006.

``I still feel I have a lot to prove at this point of my career,'' Leinart said Thursday. ``No matter what the naysayers say, I do feel like I still can play. I do feel like that, and I think I'll play like that until the day I retire. But you're only given so many opportunities in this league. That's why this weekend would be awesome.''

Leinart started 16 games his first two seasons in Arizona before being sidelined by a broken left collarbone in 2007. He was beaten out the next season by Kurt Warner and started one game his final two seasons with the Cardinals.

Leinart then signed with Houston in 2010 and got another chance to start late last season when Matt Schaub went down with a foot injury. But Leinart got hurt in the first half of his first start, missing a chance to take the Texans to the playoffs.

He signed this past offseason with Oakland and had thrown only one pass before replacing Palmer in the first quarter of last week's 17-6 loss at Carolina. Leinart completed 16 of 32 passes for 115 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 45.7 passer rating.

``I felt a little rusty,'' Leinart said. ``I think my footwork, for me, wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, and what I work on. But I think again, that was just kind of getting in there, hadn't played in a while. But it is what it is, moved on and watched the film and been practicing well this week and just trying to correct those mistakes.''

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp acknowledged the difficult situation Leinart went into but was disappointed in his play. Knapp was particularly upset by an interception late in the first half that led to a Panthers touchdown and a ball Leinart threw away on fourth down late in the game.

``He didn't play as well as I would have liked,'' Knapp said. ``I wished his footwork would have been better on a consistent basis. It's hard for any backup quarterback to come in on short notice without any reps, but that comes with the job. You got to know that going in. He struggled a little bit with the footwork and his consistency. He had it sometimes but not all the time.''

The Raiders have an interesting decision this week. Coach Dennis Allen said Pryor wasn't ready to be the backup last week but could start this week after getting more practice time than usual.

Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie have talked about wanting to get a better look at Pryor down the stretch, but whether that's as a part-time player or a starter remains to be seen.

``I think I deserve to play, I deserve to start, not sure what's going to happen, but that's all you can do -- just keep preparing, keep working hard, be here, be accountable and whatever happens, whatever decision is made, that's what's made,'' Leinart said. ``If they want to start Terrelle and evaluate him and see what he can do, then I'll support that and I'll help him this week and help him during the game. But if they make me the starter and stuff, I'm just going to go out there and try to capitalize on that opportunity.''

Palmer won't travel to the game because of the bruised lung but Leinart said he is doing better even though he is moving around slowly.

``He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around,'' Leinart said. ``When he was laying on the ground I knew something was wrong because he's normally up, not matter what. He's the type of guy who will never tell you if something's wrong, and obviously, he took a big shot, but he'll be fine.''

NOTES: The Raiders placed DT Richard Seymour on IR with a hamstring injury. Seymour missed the final eight games of the season with the injury and is eligible for free agency in the offseason. ... G Mike Brisiel has passed the concussion protocol but is still sidelined by an ankle injury which could give rookie Tony Bergstrom a chance to start. ... DBs Tyvon Branch (neck, ankle) and Phillip Adams (groin) and RB Mike Goodson (illness) did not practice.

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

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Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.