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Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Nevin Shapiro's attorney said Thursday that she did nothing wrong during the former Miami booster's bankruptcy proceedings, instead insisting that the NCAA's problems during an investigation of the Hurricanes' athletic department were self-inflicted.

Further, attorney Maria Elena Perez said she's one of the victims of the NCAA's mistakes.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Perez said that the NCAA had representation present during two depositions in the bankruptcy case of her client, who is currently serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme. The NCAA said Wednesday that it has ordered an outside review of the Miami investigation after finding ``a very severe issue of improper conduct'' by former investigators working the Miami case.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - The person Manti Te'o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker ``I love you'' in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.

Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te'o claims were left for him last year. Te'o said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for online but never met face-to-face.

After the first message was played, Te'o said: ``It sounds like a girl, doesn't it?''

``It does,'' said Couric, who suggested the person who left those messages might have been Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, a 22-year-old man from California, who Te'o said has apologized to him for pulling the hoax.

The interview was the All-American's first on camera since his tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September unraveled as a bizarre hoax in an expose by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.

Couric addressed speculation that the tale was concocted by Te'o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay, Te'o said ``no'' with a laugh. ``Far from it. Faaaar from that.''

PRO FOOTBALL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - John Idzik was introduced as the New York Jets' new general manager, replacing the fired Mike Tannenbaum.

The 52-year-old Idzik, formerly the Seahawks' vice president of football administration, insists that the Jets will ``explore every measure to bring in talent and to compete.'' He adds that the NFL draft will be the team's ``lifeline.''

Neither Idzik nor owner Woody Johnson would definitively answer questions about a report that the Jets will explore trading star cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is recovering from a serious knee injury.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans Saints fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo after one season - a record-setting year in the wrong way.

New Orleans ranked last in the NFL in total defense and run defense, yielding the most yards (7,042) ever in a single season. The Saints went 7-9 this season and allowed 454 points; only Tennessee gave up more.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - Ravens safety Ed Reed isn't planning on joining teammate Ray Lewis in retirement after the Super Bowl.

``I'll be playing next year,'' Reed said before Baltimore hit the practice field in preparation for their Feb. 3 Super Bowl matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

There had been speculation that the 34-year-old Reed might retire after this season.

BASEBALL

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The entrance to the Cathedral Basilica looked more like that of a St. Louis Cardinals game on Thursday, just the way Stan Musial would have liked it.

Thousands of fans turned out for Musial's public visitation at the ornate Roman Catholic church, many of them bundled up against the bitter cold in red Cardinals jackets. Musial, a 24-time All-Star who remained a beloved figure in his adopted hometown a half-century after his playing career ended, died Saturday after years of declining health. He was 92.

Family, close friends and perhaps some of baseball's biggest names will be back at the cathedral for a funeral on Saturday.

PHOENIX (AP) - Justin Upton is having a family reunion in Atlanta.

Arizona traded its star right fielder to the Braves in a seven-player deal that sent former All-Star infielder Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks.

For the first time since he was a high school freshman, Upton will have older brother B.J. Upton as a teammate.

The brothers combine with Jason Heyward, who won a Gold Glove in 2012, in an outfield potentially packed with power and speed.

The Braves, who also get third baseman Chris Johnson, are giving up one of their top pitching prospects, Randall Delgado, and three minor leaguers in the deal.

They are right-hander Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury.

BOSTON (AP) - Pedro Martinez is returning to the Boston Red Sox.

Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, who spent seven seasons in Boston, was brought back to the franchise as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Brandt Snedeker ended another round at Torrey Pines atop the leaderboard. Only this time he had company, and still a long way to go.

Snedeker had a flawless start to his title defense in the Farmers Insurance Open by playing bogey-free on the North Course for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with K.J. Choi. The advantage after one day goes to Choi, who birdied three of his last four holes on the tougher South Course for his 65.

Tiger Woods, a seven-time champion at Torrey Pines as a pro, looked as if he might join them. Woods was one shot off the lead with five holes to play on the South until he stumbled in the final hour of a cloudy day with two bogeys and had to scramble to save par on the par-5 18th for a 68.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - European Ryder Cup players Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia were among four players tied for the lead after the second round of the Qatar Masters.

Kaymer shot a 5-under 67, and Garcia had a 66 to match Ricardo Santos (70) and Marcus Fraser (67) at 9-under 135. Michael Campbell (68) topped the group at 8 under. Justin Rose was 5 under after a 71, and Louis Oosthuizen was 4 under after a 69. Jason Dufner shot a 70 to reach 3 under.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Tim Duncan was selected to his 14th All-Star game, Spurs teammate Tony Parker is joining him, and the Chicago Bulls also had two reserves chosen for next month's game in Houston.

Joakim Noah and Luol Deng were picked from the Bulls, who have stayed in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race despite the season-long absence of point guard Derrick Rose. Noah is one of five first-time All-Stars for the East, along with New York's Tyson Chandler, Indiana's Paul George, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, and Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday.

Miami's Chris Bosh, picked for his eighth All-Star team, rounded out the East squad.

West forwards David Lee (Golden State), LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland) and Zach Randolph (Memphis) all were picked for the second time. Houston's James Harden was chosen for the first time and joins former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook, headed to his third straight All-Star game.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Hornets owner Tom Benson is changing his team's nickname to the Pelicans and said the switch will create a bond with the city that could lead to a championship.

The NBA still has to approve it, but Commissioner David Stern has said he wouldn't object to any name Benson chose. The league is expected to expedite the change at the start of next season.

The new color scheme is blue, gold and red, a departure from the Hornets' teal, purple, gold and white.

CYCLING

MONTREAL (AP) - The World Anti-Doping Agency disputed a claim by former cycling federation leader Hein Verbruggen that discussing suspicious doping samples with athletes was once normal practice in sports.

It highlights the growing gulf between the doping watchdog and the International Cycling Union following the Lance Armstrong case.

``This approach totally contradicts the purpose of an effective anti-doping program,'' WADA said of Verbruggen's claim, adding that a governing body's policy should be ``designed to deter, detect and prevent athletes from doping.''

Verbruggen, the UCI president from 1991-2005, claimed Wednesday it was the governing body's former policy and ``indeed also of other federations.''

MILAN (AP) - Lance Armstrong's disgraced former doctor Michele Ferrari says the American cyclist could have been just as successful without doping.

Armstrong said in last week's interview with Oprah Winfrey that winning seven Tour de France titles would have been impossible without banned drugs.

However, on Ferrari's website Tuesday, the Italian doctor wrote ``I think Lance is wrong.''

Ferrari describes the effects of testosterone, EPO and blood transfusions, and says that had Armstrong taken testosterone in the manner and amount described by his former teammates, it would have simply had a ``placebo effect.''

AUTO RACING

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Kyle Busch has signed a long-term extension to continue driving the No. 18 Toyota Camry.

In addition, JGR will field the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in the Nationwide Series for at least 25 races with Busch as the primary driver. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PRO HOCKEY

DALLAS (AP) - Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars agreed to a $26.25 million, five-year contract.

The All-Star center gets $5.25 million each season, with the first year of the deal pro-rated because of the NHL lockout.

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Ravens preparing for ‘raucous’ atmosphere in Kansas City on Sunday

Ravens preparing for ‘raucous’ atmosphere in Kansas City on Sunday

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens offense will be able to see Lamar Jackson just fine this Sunday. They just won’t be able to hear him. 

As the Ravens head to Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the NFL, they'll have to adjust some of their offensive calls when facing the Chiefs defense — and their crowd.

“It gets loud there, for sure, so we’ve been working on various cadences starting, really, in the spring,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “And there’ll be a lot of visual communication going on. We’ll mix in some cadence, but we’ll probably use a lot of what we call ‘silent count’. There are a lot of various cadences we have in the silent count, and we’ve been working them for a while.”

The Ravens have some experience playing in front of a crowd commonly known as among the most hostile in sports. They played in Kansas City last season in Week 14, falling in overtime.

“We know it’s going to be louder, so we’re just going to have to bring our volume up,” center Matt Skura said. “Just making sure everyone is on the same page. Whether that’s in the huddle, leaving the huddle or up at the line of scrimmage, if anyone has any doubt, just ask. As long as we’re on the same page, it’ll be good. Nothing really too much changes."

It won’t be the first time the Ravens venture into a hostile crowd this season, as they’ll head to Seattle on Oct. 20 this season. 

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda both stressed the importance of being on the same page as an offensive unit, with communication expected to be limited. 

The important part, however, is making sure nothing changes too much offensively. 

“K.C. is a big stadium, and every seat will be full,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They’re raucous. They do a great job with that, and our offense, especially, is going to have to be on-point with that. So, yes, that’s going to be important. We’re working hard on it; we have been. I really feel like we’ll be good with it, but [there is] nothing like the real thing.”

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A view from the other side: A Q&A with a Kansas City Chiefs columnist

A view from the other side: A Q&A with a Kansas City Chiefs columnist

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ahead of the Ravens and Chiefs game this Sunday, NBC Sports Washington reached out to Sam Mellinger, a columnist for The Kansas City Star. 

Here’s what Mellinger and the Chiefs are saying about this week’s game between two 2-0 opponents in a rematch of last year’s thrilling 27-24 overtime finish. 

Note: Mellinger’s answers were over email.

Q: The Ravens have mentioned that last year's wild overtime finish has been somewhat of a learning experience for them. Have the Chiefs said the same? Or is there no carryover from year-to-year?

A: That game has been talked about a lot here. It's still Patrick Mahomes' only game under 26 points in regulation. There are a dozen different moments that had to go the Chiefs' way to win that one, even beyond the 4th and 9 that everyone talks about. The carryover is probably less of a thing for the defense than offense, just because that side of the ball has been almost completely overhauled.

Q: Lamar Jackson has been one of the league's most impressive quarterbacks so far this season — what have the Chiefs and their coaches said about his progression from year 1 to year 2? 

A: The Chiefs are always complimentary of their opponents. They could play the Dolphins this year and Andy Reid would talk about being excited for the challenge of playing a good football team with good players and good coaches. That's just how they go. But we all have b.s. detecters, right? And the talk is more sincere this week. Jackson and the Ravens do a lot of things well that match up against what the Chiefs don't do well. Jackson is a problem for everyone, but particularly for the Chiefs. Their improved speed at linebacker and rookie safety Juan Thornhill will be especially tested this weekend.

Q: There's been a lot made of Mahomes' progression in his second year, has that been discussed by the Chiefs in what to expect from Jackson this week?

A: The connection with Mahomes hasn't come up specifically, unless I've missed something, but yeah they've talked about Jackson looking more comfortable and advanced this year than last, which I believe was just his fourth start.

Q: In terms of defending the run and pass from Jackson, what have the Chiefs stressed as difficulties in defending both? What are the keys to that? 

A: They don't reveal a lot beyond cliches, but basically the Chiefs are going to need to set the edge, stay disciplined, and perhaps even put one of their faster linebackers or even a safety as a spy against Jackson. The Chiefs have been pretty terrible defending the run for some time now. The Ravens could have a lot of success there.

Q: The Ravens have one of the better secondaries in the NFL, how do you see the matchup between all of the Chiefs weapons and the Ravens secondary playing out?

A: The Chiefs have enough weapons and the right quarterback and a scheme that once allowed Alex Smith to lead the league in passer rating, so the stock answer is that this offense is too much of a problem for any secondary. But the answer this week is a little different, I think, because the Chiefs won't have Tyreek Hill and the Ravens signed Earl Thomas. That matters. A lot. Thomas is a Hall of Famer still relatively close to his peak, and his ability as a sort of center fielder — both his range and mind — could cut the top off some of what the Chiefs want to do. The combination of Mahomes' arm strength and Hill's speed often stretches defenses past the point of recognition, but that part of the game will be in closer balance now.

Q: What's a particular matchup (position or individual) that you're interested in seeing on Sunday?

A: I think we all tend to think of these things through the lens of the team we follow the closest, but the two that come first to mind are Cam Irving and Juan Thornhill. Irving will start at left tackle for the injured Eric Fisher. Irving is a representative lineman — they're not pushing a practice squad guy out there — but he got trucked in the run game last week against the Raiders. The Ravens are tough and physical and disguise their blitzes really well, so that could be a particular problem for a Chiefs team without their starting left tackle and (likely) at least one of their two top running backs.

Thornhill is sort of the Chiefs' version of what we were just talking about with Earl Thomas. Thornhill is obviously not in Thomas' class, I'm not saying that, but he's a similar profile: center fielder type of a safety with length and athleticism. Hollywood Brown with more comfort from Jackson in the pass game will stretch the field more than the last time these teams played. The Chiefs' corners are inconsistent, and can be had. Thornhill will be relied upon.

Q: If you had to put a prediction on the game, what would that be?

A: I did picks before the season, and this is one of three games I had the Chiefs losing. I'll stick with that. The Ravens look like the best team the Chiefs will play this season other than the Patriots, and like I mentioned before, a lot of the things they do well are particular problems for the Chiefs. I know the line is close to a touchdown, and I guess I can understand why, but I'm expecting this to be a really hard game for the Chiefs. The Ravens beat Mahomes up last year more than anyone else has been able to, and now the Chiefs are down a lineman and short on running backs for pass protection. No outcome would be surprising other than a blowout either way, but I think the Ravens can get this one.