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Lions' Suh fined $30,000; says kick not on purpose

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Lions' Suh fined $30,000; says kick not on purpose

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Ndamukong Suh's reputation for being a nasty player was born as an NFL rookie.

Suh slammed two quarterbacks to the ground by grabbing their helmets two years ago, and his image became even more notorious last season when he infamously stomped on an opponent.

Just when the Detroit Lions defensive tackle started to improve his ability to play the game cleanly this season, he had a setback.

But if you think he's contrite, guess again.

The NFL fined Suh $30,000 on Wednesday for unnecessary roughness because he kicked Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin area. The previous day, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league didn't suspend him because it couldn't reach a judgment on his intent.

Schaub shouldn't hold his breath waiting to hear Suh say he's sorry.

``I was dragged to the ground,'' Suh said. ``A lot of things happen to me.

``It's part of the game.''

Suh was on his chest after being taken down by an offensive lineman when his left cleat hit Schaub below the belt in Detroit's loss to Houston last Thursday.

``I just thought it was very Suh-like to give a little extension there at the end,'' Texans linebacker Connor Barwin said.

For the first time, Suh tried to explain what happened.

``It's a crazy play, it's one that unfortunately happened,'' he said. ``I didn't even realize it until the end of the game, when I see my Twitter feed, I see my friends telling me about it. Other than that, I can't do much more about it. I was being dragged to the ground and my foot inadvertently hit the man.

``But it's over with and I am moving forward and getting ready to play the Colts.''

Detroit (4-7) will have Suh on the field when it hosts Indianapolis (7-4) because he dodged another suspension from the NFL. His reputation, though, has taken another hit.

``Certainly the perception in the NFL is he's a very dirty player,'' Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. ``The perception among players is that he's not very well liked. The perception among the fans is starting to be the same.

``It's one thing to play hard and have physical hits in the course of a game or be an aggressive player, but it's another thing to take just blatant cheap shots all the time.''

The NFL suspended Suh for two games last season after he stomped on Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving Day. Suh said sorry to Dietrich-Smith personally for stepping on his right arm on purpose and has shown remorse publicly for what he did a year ago.

``I think I'm always going to be punished some form or fashion for last Thanksgiving,'' Suh said. ``I apologized for it and I will continue to apologize for it. It's something that happened, a mistake that I made. I'm living up to it and I'll continue to move past it. Some people may not, some people will and some people will teeter-totter back and forth depending on whatever the situation is.''

Suh has been fined in previous seasons for roughing up QBs: Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Chicago's Jay Cutler and Cleveland's Jake Delhomme. He easily cut the checks because he'll make $40 million guaranteed - with a chance to get paid as much as $68 million - in a five-year contract signed after Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2010.

Schaub refused to talk about the play - or Suh - after last week's game and declined to say much about it or him again Wednesday. Schaub insisted it didn't matter to him that Suh avoided a suspension and only got a fine.

``Don't really care,'' Schaub said.

Cutler did choose to chime in on the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh, who has ferociously knocked him down multiple times and once finished off a tackle by twisting and ripping his helmet off.

``It seems like he's always in this predicament every five, six, seven games,'' Cutler said. ``You have to be aware of him when he's playing football. He's a tough competitor. He plays hard.

``Sometimes, he goes overboard.''

Delhomme agreed.

In a preseason game two years ago, Suh grabbed Delhomme's face mask, twisted it, wrapped his arms around his helmet and slammed him to the ground.

``What he did to me as a rookie and how he hit Cutler hard earlier this year were just aggressive plays,'' Delhomme told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, adding that he's likely going to stay retired in Louisiana. ``But there's no place in the game for kicking Schaubie like he did or stomping that guy last year on Thanksgiving.''

Hall of Famer Mean Joe Greene, who was also regarded as a nasty player in the NFL, told the AP last year that he hoped Suh's reputation wouldn't be tarnished forever for what he did last Thanksgiving.

Greene said then that he wanted to talk to Suh about their shared experiences as interior defensive linemen, and they have connected.

``I spoke to him,'' Suh said softly before answering a slew of questions from reporters following Wednesday's practice.

Lions defensive end Lawrence Jackson probably talks to Suh more than anyone else and said his close friend is misunderstood.

``I've heard people call him self-centered and arrogant, but if you take the time to get to know him, you'll see a different side of him and find out that he's a cool guy,'' Jackson said. ``People are going to have perceptions of him because of the way he came into the league with some aggressive plays that nobody saw before.

``But look at a guy like Brodrick Bunkley. He kicked a guy in the head and we don't hear much about that.''

The NFL hasn't suspended Bunkley, a New Orleans defensive tackle, for his boot to the back of San Francisco lineman Alex Boone's helmet in the final minutes of a game Sunday.

Since Suh broke into the league in 2010, when he was the only rookie on the All-Pro team, he leads all defensive linemen with nine personal fouls and is tied for fifth with 19 penalties, according to STATS LLC.

He drew most of those flags in his first two years. His only infraction this season has been one encroachment penalty.

The Lions have already lost more games this year than they did in 2011, and for a second straight season, Suh is falling short of his production as a rookie.

When Detroit was winning or Suh was racking up sacks, he was regarded as a talent. Now that the Lions are losing and he's struggling statistically, Suh's rep compounds his problems.

So what's he thinking?

``I can't really fish into that,'' he said. ``Too much energy to even look at it and digest all that.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-

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AP Sports Writers Andrew Seligman in Lake Forest, Ill.; Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio; Kristie Rieken and Chris Duncan in Houston contributed to this story.

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."

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Biggest storylines for Wizards coming out of the All-Star break center around John Wall

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Biggest storylines for Wizards coming out of the All-Star break center around John Wall

The Wizards experienced a wild ride before the All-Star break, but came out of it on solid ground, fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 33-24 record. With 27 games still remaining until the postseason, here is a look at the biggest storylines moving forward...

Who will they sign?

The Wizards are close to signing a new player as they were left with open roster spots following the trade deadline when they dealt guard Sheldon Mac to Atlanta for a second round pick. The Wizards have keyed in on the backup point guard position and are likely to go in that direction with the move. But they could still be in the market for other players, possibly someone at the backup wing position, even if they sign a point guard.

The Wizards only have a few days left to make a move because they need to get their roster to 14 players within 14 days of the Mac trade on Feb. 8. Their next game is on Thursday against the Cavaliers, so they could have someone in the building in time to play in that game.

RELATED: WIZARDS DID WELL IN FIRST HALF DESPITE OBSTACLES

When will Wall return?

Wall had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Jan. 31 and was prescribed a recovery timeline of six-to-eight weeks, meaning he still has about another three weeks to go before a return is possible. It could be another five weeks before he's back on the court. That puts him in the range of missing another 10-to-17 games.

The Wizards have played nine games since he went down and have won seven of them, but they aren't even halfway there yet. They have a long way to go. Because it's Wall and his return will have a domino effect, this is the most important storyline to watch for the Wizards moving forward.

How will Wall fit back in?

Wall's return will of course be a big deal for the Wizards. They will be adding an All-Star back into their lineup with just weeks before the start of the playoffs. But at the moment, they have a good thing going and are playing much better than they were in the last week or two before he was shut down. That, of course, had a lot to do with Wall playing injured.

It will be interesting if the Wizards are still winning at anything close to their current rate when Wall comes back. That would be the ideal scenario because they could ease him back into the lineup and take their time getting him up to speed. But it will also create a complex situation for head coach Scott Brooks, who will need to make adjustments to his rotation. The alternative would be if the Wizards aren't playing well when Wall returns and the concern there would be the urge to rush him back in any capacity.

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Tough schedule

The Wizards have fared quite well for themselves so far with a 33-24 record despite injuries to Wall, Markieff Morris and Otto Porter to varying degrees. But they have done so while enjoying the easiest schedule in the NBA, 30th out of 30 teams. It is about to get a lot tougher coming out of the All-Star break.

All in the next five weeks the Wizards will see the Cavs, Bucks, Warriors, Raptors, Pacers (twice), Timberwolves, Celtics, Spurs (twice) and the Nuggets. Of their next 17 games, 15 will be against teams currently in the playoff picture. They could be without Wall for all of them. That won't be easy.

Can Oubre get back on track?

While Wall has been out, just about everyone on the Wizards has stepped their games up to compensate. Though he still impacts games in other ways, Kelly Oubre, Jr. has been one exception on offense. In his last 11 games, Oubre has averaged 9.4 points and shot just 31.2 percent from the field and 23.2 percent from three. In his previous 46 games, he averaged 12.4 points while shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three.

That is a major difference and the Wizards certainly want to get the early-season version of Oubre back. At his best he is one of their most consistent scorers and an excellent three-point shooter. When he's contributing on both ends of the floor, the Wizards are tough to beat.

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