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Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Not long before Notre Dame played Michigan State last fall, word spread that Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o had lost his grandmother and girlfriend within hours of each other.

Te'o never missed a practice and made a season-high 12 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in a 20-3 victory against the Spartans. His inspired play became a stirring story line for the Fighting Irish as they made a run to the national championship game behind their humble, charismatic star.

Te'o's grandmother did indeed die. His girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never existed.

In a shocking announcement Wednesday night, Notre Dame said Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose ``death'' from leukemia was faked by perpetrators of an elaborate hoax. The goal of the scam wasn't clear, though Notre Dame said it used an investigative firm to dig into the details after Te'o disclosed them three weeks ago.

The hoax was disclosed hours after Deadspin.com posted a lengthy story, saying it could find no record that Kekua ever existed. The story suggests a friend of Te'o may have carried out the hoax and that the football player may have been in on it - a stunning claim against a widely admired All-American who led the most famed program in college football back to the championship game for the first time since 1988.

CYCLING

All the speculation is about to end. In a matter of hours, viewers can judge for themselves whether Lance Armstrong told the truth this time.

Armstrong's confession to Oprah Winfrey about using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France a record seven times in a row will be televised at 9 p.m. Thursday, the first segment of a two-part special on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Since word of his confession during Monday's taping in Austin, Texas, was first reported by The Associated Press, there has been no shortage of opinions or advice on what Armstrong should say.

``I left it all on the table with her and when it airs the people can decide,'' Armstrong said Wednesday in a text sent to the AP. He dismissed a story earlier in the day that described him as ``not contrite'' when he acknowledged doping while dominating the cycling world.

PRO FOOTBALL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - In the end, Chip Kelly chose the NFL, giving the Eagles their guy.

Philadelphia hired Kelly just 10 days after he decided to stay at Oregon. The 49-year-old Kelly, known as an offensive innovator, becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season.

He'll be introduced at a news conference Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Eagles' practice facility.

CHICAGO (AP) - The Bears hired Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman to replace the fired Lovie Smith.

He has two basic tasks - fix the offense and lead the team to the playoffs on a consistent basis.

How he meshes with quarterback Jay Cutler could go a long way toward determining his success.

It's the first head coaching job in the NFL for Trestman, a longtime assistant in the league who spent the past five seasons coaching the CFL's Alouettes and led them to two Grey Cup titles.

Trestman was an offensive coordinator with Cleveland, San Francisco, Arizona and Oakland.

PRO BASKETBALL

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - LeBron James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 20,000 points and also surpassed 5,000 assists on a milestone night Wednesday, leading the Miami Heat to a 92-75 victory over the undermanned Golden State Warriors.

James eclipsed both marks before halftime, helped Miami go ahead by 34 points in the third quarter and allowed coach Erik Spoelstra to rest his starters.

James already had been the youngest player in NBA history to win rookie of the year, record a triple-double, score 1,000 points, score 10,000 points and win MVP honors at an All-Star game.

BOSTON (AP) - Greivis Vasquez scored 15 points with 11 rebounds and Austin Rivers won his first NBA game against his father as the New Orleans Hornets beat coach Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics 90-78.

Doc and Austin Rivers spoke briefly during pregame warm-ups, and Austin Rivers got a big cheer from the opposing crowd when he checked into the game with 4:19 left in the first half. Doc Rivers leaned back to say something to the assistant coaches sitting behind him and cracked a brief smile.

Rivers was 3 for 6 from the field and 2 for 4 from the line. He also had two fouls and an assist in 23 minutes.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - With the sun setting at the end of a torridly hot day at the Australian Open, Roger Federer made the most of a favorable evening draw, advancing to the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday.

Other championship contenders in the men's and women's draws, including Andy Murray, Serena Williams and defending champion Victoria Azarenka, had to withstand temperatures that reached nearly 106 degrees.

A dancing Azarenka and an ankle-weary Williams played back-to-back matches, both easy straight-set victories. U.S. Open champion Murray also won routinely, beating Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 on Hisense Arena, the second show court at Melbourne Park.

BASEBALL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter says he's been cleared to start baseball activity in his recovery from a broken left ankle.

The 38-year-old team captain reiterated that he is on track to be in New York's starting lineup for the opener on April 1.

Jeter won't take the field for workouts until later this month. The 13-time All-Star said that is his normal pre-spring training routine.

NEW YORK (AP) - Alex Rodriguez had surgery on his left hip and is expected to be sidelined until after the All-Star break.

The New York Yankees said Dr. Bryan Kelly repaired a torn labrum and impingement and the operation at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York ``went as planned and without complication.''

The 37-year-old former All-Star third baseman is expected to be released from the hospital on Thursday and the anticipated time for a full recovery is six months. The Yankees signed free agent Kevin Youkilis this offseason to play third base while Rodriguez is out.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - All-Star pitcher Matt Harrison and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $55 million, five-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The contract includes an option for a sixth season, the person said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hadn't announced the agreement.

SKIING

Bode Miller will skip the rest of the World Cup season to rest his surgically repaired left knee.

The two-time overall champion had microfracture surgery nearly a year ago and has been taking a cautious approach to recovery, not wanting any sort of setback with the Sochi Games just a year away.

And while the 35-year-old has missed some races, he hasn't sat out a full season since his debut in 1997.

Miller called the decision ``tough,'' but ``easy for me when I look at my opportunity next year.''

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Former Arkansas John L. Smith was hired as the head coach at tiny Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., a Division II school coming off an 0-10 season, after being let go as coach at Arkansas.

He will make around $67,000 a season.

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With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

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USA TODAY Sports

With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

With Andre Burakovsky out for the remainder of the first round at least, someone will have to replace him in the top six. Originally, it looked like Jakub Vrana was the man for the job. Based on Game 4, however, it now looks like Chandler Stephenson is the "next man up" for the Caps.

While Vrana may have top-six skill and a high ceiling, it was Stephenson who stepped into the second-line role on Thursday playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Stephenson finished with two shots on goal in 17:28 of ice time. Vrana, meanwhile, played for only 6:40.

On Friday, Barry Trotz praised Stephenson's hockey IQ for allowing him to adjust to the top-six in a complementary role.

"[Stephenson's] an intelligent player," Trotz said. "He played with [Backstrom] a lot [Thursday]. If you talk with the real top-end guys, he has the ability to think like a top-end guy in terms of play with them. He’s a very intelligent player. He skates extremely well. He’s got some strength to his game. He can complement people. I think his ability to play those different roles and his hockey IQ when you play with those skill guys, he plays more of a give-and-go game than an individual game. When you play with those high skill guys, you’re able to compliment them very well."

Stephenson has spent the majority of the season on the fourth line. He was drafted as a natural center, but has played primarily wing since coming to the NHL. The ability to play both positions gives Stephenson more versatility than most forwards which Trotz credits for helping him see the game so well.

"The great thing about Chandler is he’s played multiple positions over the years. I think it’s allowed him to play a fourth-line role and with high-skill guys. At center-ice, you distribute the puck a little more.  He’s turning into a well-rounded player for us."

On the surface, having Stephenson on the fourth line over Vrana makes little sense. Vrana is highly skilled and has great speed, but he is also prone to giving up turnovers and his production can be inconsistent. Trotz has clearly put a premium on responsible play this postseason which gives Stephenson the edge.

But Game 4 was only one game. If you are going to get top-six minutes, Stephenson will be expected to produce offensively as well. Despite the limited ice time he has gotten, Vrana has shown he can have a major impact on games. In Game 1, he set up the team's only 5-on-5 goal and drew a penalty. In Game 3, he drew two penalties in less than two minutes, giving Washington a two-man advantage.

Stephenson had a fantastic game in Game 4 when he was given the chance to play in the top-six. The next step will be finding a way to have a bigger impact on the game.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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