– Patriots’ S Brandon Meriweather has been fined $50K for two helmet-to-helmet hits in Week 6. Falcons’ CB Dunta Robinson was fined the same amount for his hit on Eagles’ WR DeSean Jackson, and repeat offender Eagles’ RB James Harrison was fined $75K for hits on Bronws’ WR Mohamed Massaquoi and WR Josh Cribbs. None of the players will be suspended, but the fines are heftier than normal. Starting in Week 7, NFL referees will be enforcing rules already on the books for “devastating hits” and “head shots.” Offenders will be candidates for suspension from here on out.
– Vikings’ coach Brad Childress said this weekend that WR Sidney Rice (hip) “might be about 3 weeks” away from returning. It’s not clear if that’s three weeks from practicing or playing, though SI.com’s Peter King understood that Rice will play in the final eight games of the season. Rice may not be ready to contribute before mid-November, but he could be useful down the stretch. Brett Favre, if he stays healthy and suspension free, will see a spike production in the second half.
– Barring a setback, Packers’ OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring) will return for Sunday’s game against the Vikings, according to NFL.com’s Steve Wyche. Matthews’ return is crucial for the Packers, who failed to pressure Dolphins’ QB Chad Henne in his absence last week. Green Bay’s linebackers have been destroyed by injuries, including Matthews’ backup Brady Poppinga who went down with a knee injury. Brett Favre’s matchup will take a hit with the NFL sacks leader playing.
Ravens’ RB Willis McGahee and Redskins’ DE Albert Haynesworth all stayed put as well. The big feeds for NFL insiders were quiet on Twitter all afternoon, likely because major deals weren’t even being seriously discussed. The Ravens were obviously shopping McGahee, but there weren’t any teams in the market for a high-salaried veteran tailback. The Panthers, as expected, weren’t interested in moving WR Steve Smith or RB DeAngelo Williams. The Chargers had no activity on WR Vincent Jackson. Redskins’ coach Jeff Fisher suggested Tuesday that the Titans did have interest in trading for Haynesworth, but the Redskins’ asking price was prohibitive. Fisher actually said the Redskins clearly weren’t interested in moving Haynesworth. The Skins probably wouldn’t back off an asking price believed to be a 2nd-round pick. Asked if the two teams ever got close, Fisher responded, “That was all you guys talking. It was no different than us having conversations with any other club. We have each other’s phone numbers.”
– The Cowboys have opted to hold onto RB Marion Barber past Tuesday’s 4:00 p.m. deadline. Dallas also hasn’t “received or made” any trade offers Tuesday. MBIII’s bloated salary and poor play made him a prime candidate to be moved. The injury-depleted Packers were believed to be interested. RB Tashard Choice will continue to be ill-used on the bench.
– Canadiens’ D Andrei Markov (knee) doesn’t think he’ll be ready to return to Montreal’s lineup on Thursday. Markov had originally wanted to play on Thursday, but it looks like Saturday’s game is now a more realistic target. That would still be an impressive feat, considering that he was initially projected to miss the first 6-8 weeks of the regular season.
– The Blue Jackets have placed D Mike Commodore (fractured left thumb) on the IR retroactive to October 9. Commodore, 30, suffered the injury in the second game of the season against San Jose in Stockholm. He is listed as day-to-day. In two games this season, he was scoreless with nine penalty minutes.
– Flyers’ D Matt Walker (right hip) will undergo surgery and will miss 10- to-12 weeks. The procedure to repair a boney impingement and a torn labrum will take place in Nashville on Wednesday and be performed by Dr. Thomas Byrd. Walker is believed to have suffered the injury during a fight with Devils’ F Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond in Philly’s first preseason game on September 21.
– Coyotes’ F Martin Hanzal (lower body injury) has been placed on the IR and will miss 1-2 weeks. He sufferd injury during Sunday’s loss in Anaheim.
– Thrashers’ G Ondrej Pavelec (concussion) was on the ice for part of Atlanta’s practice on Tuesday. “I was so excited to go back [on the ice] and see how it would go. It was pretty good. It was only 30 minutes but I felt good.” Pavelec fainted during Atlanta’s game on October 8 and he sustained a concussion as a result of the fall. The doctors still don’t know why he fainted, but he’s been medically cleared. Pavelec is focused on getting back into game shape now and that might take a few practices.
– Oilers’ D Tom Gilbert has been fined $2500 – the maximum allowed under the CBA – for his headshot on Flames’ F Matt Stajan in Calgary’s 5-3 win Saturday night. Gilbert drew an interference penalty on the play, while Stajan was not injured and finished the game.
– The Flames have claimed D Brendan Mikkelson off waivers from the Ducks. Mikkelson, 23, has five assists and 38 penalty minutes in 67 NHL games. He was a second-round draft pick (31st overall) by Anaheim in 2005.
– Thrashers’ prospect F Patrice Cormier has been given an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to an assault charge stemming from a junior game last January. He will not have a criminal record, meaning he will be able to travel to the US. Cormier was playing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL last January 17 when he elbowed F Mikael Tam of the Quebec Remparts in the head. Cormier, who originally pleaded not guilty last month, entered the guilty plea when he appeared in court today in Rouyn-Noranda. The judge granted the discharge after a mutual agreement was reached among all parties. The New Brunswick native was suspended for the rest of the 2009-10 QMJHL regular season after the incident, as well as for the playoffs.
– Yankees’ 1B Mark Teixeira (strained right hamstring) exited Game 3 against the Rangers. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI. If the injury is serious enough, the Yankees will be able to replace him on the roster with a position player, but will lose his eligibility for the World Series should they advance.
– Padres’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez (right shoulder) will undergo “clean up” surgery on Wednesday. A-Gone injured the shoulder in May and recently underwent two MRIs in order to decide the proper course of action. The procedure shouldn’t impact his ability to be ready for spring training next season. Gonzalez, who turns 29 next May, is gearing up for his contract season.
– The Dodgers have officially signed LHP Ted Lilly to a 3-year/$33M contract. Lilly, who turns 35 in January, just finished a 4-year/$40M contract. He went 10-12 with a 3.62 ERA in 30 starts between the Cubs and Dodgers this season. Staying in LA should keep him reliable.
– The Red Sox are adding high-definition video screens as they keep refurbishing the nation’s oldest big league ballpark. The team announced on Tuesday that it will be replacing the existing video boards in the Fenway Park outfield. The Red Sox are wrapping up a 10-year project to upgrade Fenway, the home of the Red Sox since 1912. Other improvements slated for the off-season include concrete repair, waterproofing and seat replacements in the right field lower seating bowl. And for fans tired of spilling their drinks on their laps, the team is replacing dugout, field box and loge box seats with new seats that will have cup holders.
– The Blue Jays have spoken with Sandy Alomar Jr., the first-base coach for the Indians, for a third time on Monday. Despite the third interview, the number of finalists for the Jays’ job remains unknown. The club is reportedly considering current team coaches Nick Leyva and Brian Butterfield, along with Red Sox’ bench coach DeMarlo Hale, Rays’ bench coach Dave Martinez (who played with both the Blue Jays and Montreal Expos during his career) and Yankees’ third base coach Rob Thomson.
– The Mets and RHP Francisco Rodriguez have reached a settlement on the right-hander’s contract grievance. Rodriguez filed the grievance after the Mets placed him on the restricted list and refused to pay $3.14M of the remaining $11.5M that he was owed in 2010. That sum will not be paid, but K-Rod’s $11.5M salary for 2011 remains intact. A trade will be difficult to pull off this winter because of that high amount, and it’s possible that Rodriguez will be back to closing games in New York next season. He posted a 2.20 ERA, 67/21 K/BB ratio and 1.15 WHIP over 57 1/3 innings this past year.
– Ryne Sandberg told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that he plans to seek a job within another organization. The Cubs decided to remove the interim tag from Mike Quade and hire him as the team’s next manager on Tuesday morning. Sandberg has paid his dues in the minor league ranks and was disappointed that he was not selected as Lou Piniella’s successor. He’s been linked to a couple of teams with managerial openings this fall, including the Blue Jays, and he could also be an intriguing option for the Mets. Stay tuned.
– The Braves have released RHP Takashi Saito. Turning 41 in February, he posted an impressive 2.83 ERA and 69/17 K/BB ratio over 54 innings with the Braves this past season, but was bothered by shoulder problems. Now, the Braves have an arsenal of capable, young arms. He should generate interest around the league.
– Connecticut Democratic State party spokeswoman Kate Hansen attacked WWE on Tuesday for “Stand Up for WWE” campaign that launched The Democratic party, who are currently campaigning against Linda McMahon’s bid for the United States senate, claim the campaign is an “illegal coordination” to get more people to vote for Linda McMahon. Hansen told CQ Politics:
“Linda McMahon’s $50M (the number is actually $41.5M) attack machine now has corporate reinforcements, thanks to the ‘Stand up for WWE’ campaign launched by her husband Vince McMahon. No coincidence, it looks a lot like her political campaign… except this one is probably against the law,” reads a statement from the state party that refers to federal election law that prohibits corporations from coordinating with political campaigns.
Hansen added, ““Linda McMahon’s claim that her husband’s aggressive public relations campaign is independent of her own political campaign is unbelievable, particularly after Vince McMahon specifically cites the Senate race as the reason for the offensive.”
WWE Spokesperson Robert Zimmerman defended the company’s intention of the Stand Up campaign, saying,
“It had absolutely nothing to do with the Linda McMahon campaign. It’s trying to correct inaccuracies that have been reported. … The attention that’s been put on WWE by Linda’s opponents have focused media attention on the company.”
– Though it was teased last night on Raw that Tyson Kidd could be turning heel following The Hart Dynasty’s latest loss, creative plans as of today were for him to remain babyface.
– WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart was interviewed this week by Brian Fritz of AOL Fanhouse. Here are some highlights of what Bret Hart said about:
His WWE Future: “I have every intention of working with them for the next couple of years. They’ve been pretty good to me and I’ve been pretty happy with how they’re treating me. We’re kind of just waiting for the next step in the steady progression of Bret “The Hitman” Hart returning to the WWE. I’m not quite sure where they go from here but I still expect to be part of things for quite a while.”
Bret Hart Appreciation Night at MSG: “It’s the biggest thing I’ve done since my comeback. I always wanted to wrestle in Madison Square Garden one more time. I used to tell Vince McMahon long before I ever worked with him again, before I came back to the company and buried the hatchet, but I always told him … He wanted me to do WrestleMania in Toronto for example and I think they wanted me to do something else at one of the other WrestleManias after that, it might have been the one in LA and he called me up to be a part of it and I said nah. I’m really just waiting for you to have something at the Garden. If you ever have anything in New York. I always felt that my strongest U.S., American fan base was in New York and that’s where they kind of loved me the most and I almost felt that I owed it to them to come back one time. When they brought it up to me a few months ago that they were going to do something with me in New York, I thought that’s going to be a magical moment for me that I’ll never forget. And it was great. I loved every bit of it. Even now, I still sort of pinch myself and ask myself if it really happened, did I wrestle in New York. I thought I had pretty good match there too. I thought the whole thing was a very special night for me.”
– The ratings are in for Monday’s WWE RAW, the final show before Sunday’s WWE Bragging Rights PPV. The 10/18 episode of WWE RAW drew a a 3.09 cable rating and averaged 4.47 million viewers. This is up from last week’s 2.9 and virtually even with RAW’s 10-week average. The first hour drew a 3.06 rating (with 4.42 million viewers) and the second hour did a 3.12 (4.53 million viewers). Raw’s viewership was up nearly 5% compared to last week, a modest sign of momentum heading into Bragging Rights.
– Daniel Bryan behaving as a “Ladies’ Man” may be integrated into his on-screen persona. The WWE Divas and Bryan celebrated with dancing following their respective scuffles with Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler.
– Yesterday’s media report of Tough Enough being revived is true as those close to the situation indicate it’s a done deal that the reality television show will reemerge on the USA Network. Time slots being discussed include 11:00 p.m. following Raw and Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m.
– HollywoodLife.com’s report earlier this month of Justin Bieber possibly singing “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania XXVII is true, according to a company source. WWE officials are hopeful the land the singer for the event and are currently negotiating with his representatives.
– WWE aired a video package with R-Truth’s new song last night on Raw in an attempt to get fans familiar with its lyrics so they’ll sing along. They feel it’s not nearly as over as his initial one, but are still trying to get it over.
– UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar appeared on ESPN today and was asked what concerns him most about his UFC 121 opponent Cain Velasquez.
“Well, he’s a well-rounded fighter. He’s a former division one athlete and wrestler, so I think he poses some unique strategy in his standup game. He stays busy. We’re just going to try to secure him and corner him and take this fight to wherever we need to take it to win.”
Lesnar was asked what should concern Velasquez most about fighting him.
“Well, I think my size and speed, and obviously I’m the heavyweight champion for a reason. I don’t think Cain Velasquez is going to be the guy to take my title away from me.”
– Former WWE star Gregory “Hurricane” Helms appeared on the Right After Wrestling radio show last night to discuss Matt Hardy’s departure from WWE.
“Me and Matt (Hardy) talk on a daily basis. He’s doing really good and he’s in a good spot in his life.
“He was just ready to go, like myself when I left (WWE), I was just ready to go. I didn’t realize how ready I was to leave until about a month after my release. Back to Matt, he’s in a happier place, he’s got a ton of projects on the shelf, me and him will be doing a ton of stuff together as well.”
– The Nets have exercised the 4th-year option on the contracts of F Brook Lopez and the 3rd-year option on the deal for G Terrence Williams. Lopez started all 82 games for the Nets last season and averaged team highs of 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. His 1.70 blocked shots per game ranked 10th in the NBA.
The Nets selected the 7-foot Stanford product with the 10th overall pick of the 2008 draft. He also appeared in all 82 games during his rookie season of 2008-09 and averaged 13.0 points with 8.1 rebounds. Williams was chosen with the 11th overall pick of the 2009 draft and played 78 games in his rookie season, starting nine. The former Louisville star averaged 8.4 points with 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
– Sixers’ coach Doug Collins (concussion) flew to Philadelphia to see a neurologist about symptoms he’s having related to a concussion he suffered in late May. Team president Rod Thorn said that “for the last few days he’s had like a vertigo, some headaches…Last night, evidently, he got up in the middle of the night and wasn’t feeling well.” We hope for his health that this is a temporary problem.
Marc Valeri – firstname.lastname@example.org
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