National sport digest


Polamalu plans to play

PITTSBURGH — Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has returned to practice after sitting out two days to rest his still-healing left knee.

Polamalu practiced Friday with the Steelers’ starters and is planning to play Sunday against the unbeaten Vikings. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

The five-time Pro Bowl safety tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 10 against Tennessee. He returned last Sunday to make an interception against Cleveland, although he said an additional week or two off would have helped the knee recover faster.


After practicing Friday with a knee brace, Polamalu plans to try to wear it Sunday. He discarded the brace after going through pregame warmups before the Cleveland game, saying it restricted his running.

Packers’ Hawk flies low

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Laura Hawk, wife of Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and sister of Browns quarterback Brady Quinn, may not have much to root for when the two teams meet Sunday in Cleveland.

After Quinn was benched as the Browns’ starter earlier in the season, A.J. Hawk has spent a lot more time on the sideline in a diminished role for the Packers the last two games.

Hawk, who was pegged to be a cornerstone of the Green Bay defense when the team selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in 2006, had a scant nine plays in a shutout win over Detroit last Sunday.

Redskins back Zorn

WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins front office capped a week of high drama Friday with an unexpected vote of confidence in coach Jim Zorn.

"Jim Zorn is the head coach of the Washington Redskins and will be for the rest of this season, and hopefully into the future," executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato, a native of Albert Lea, said on his radio show on ESPN980.


The news follows a week of rampant speculation over Zorn’s job status that began when the coach was asked to give up his play-calling duties following a 14-6 loss to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs. Zorn called the move "uncomfortable" and players expressed general concern over the state of the franchise, yet Cerrato and owner Dan Snyder remained silent and allowed the tension to build until Cerrato finally spoke up Friday.

"The frustration is very high, everywhere around here," Cerrato said. "But the relationships internally within this organization, quite frankly, remain the same."

Browns’ Wright at practice after rollover crash

CLEVELAND — Browns cornerback Eric Wright was back at practice hours after flipping his car on a wet highway entrance ramp. He may play Sunday against Green Bay.

Wright rolled his car early Friday when his vehicle slid on wet pavement. He was examined and released at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The Browns sent him for more tests and Wright was back at the team’s training facility in Berea, Ohio, in time for practice.

Coach Eric Mangini was hopeful Wright would be able to play in Sunday’s home game against the Packers. Mangini did not know if Wright would be cleared to practice.

Wright rode a stationary bike and appeared uninjured during the 30-minute period he was observed by reporters.

Police said Wright’s accident happened at 2:10 a.m. Mangini did not take issue with Wright being out at that time.


Police did not ticket Wright for the crash.


20-year-old charging

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rickie Fowler is making his presence felt in a hurry as a professional golfer.

The 20-year-old former Oklahoma State standout, in his second tournament since turning pro, shared the lead with Englishman Greg Owen halfway through the Open on Friday.

Both shot 6-under 64s in the second round in ideal conditions on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club to reach 11-under 129.

Justin Leonard also shot a 64 and was one behind at 10 under. First-round leader Nick O’Hern (68) and Patrick Moore (65) were 9 under in the third stop of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series.

Heath Slocum was in a group of five at 8 under. Troy Matteson shot a 61 and was in a pack with Tom Lehman (65) and Rocco Mediate (66), among others, at 7 under.

Fowler, who helped the United States beat Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup last month, tied for seventh in his pro debut last week in Las Vegas at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Tough task for Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. — While the Phillies rest and wait for the World Series to begin Wednesday, the two teams hoping to be their opponent have unfinished business.

The Los Angeles Angels stayed alive with Thursday night’s 7-6 comeback win over the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

Trailing the best-of-seven series three games to two, the Angels face the difficult task of winning two games at Yankee Stadium.

No one in either locker room is thinking right now about the Phillies. The Yankees are concerned that they couldn’t put a gritty Angels team away.

It was the Halos’ eighth career comeback playoff win over the Yankees, including both wins in this year’s ALCS.

"You never know what will happen," Angels third baseman Chone Figgins said in the locker room after Thursday’s win. "There is always a chance."

The Angels realize that while they staved off elimination, beating the Yankees twice at their ballpark won’t be easy. The Yankees took the first two games in this series at home.

The Angels’ challenge is even more pronounced in tonight’s 6:57 game, when they will try to beat a pitcher who is tied for the most wins in postseason history.


Rockets waive Barry

HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets have waived guard Brent Barry, a move that trims their roster to the required 15 players.

The 6-foot-7 Barry signed as a free agent with the Rockets before last season and averaged 3.7 points and 1.4 assists in 56 games.

Barry, 37, has played 14 seasons in the NBA. He was selected by Denver in the first round of the 1995 draft, but was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers before his rookie season.

Economy may affect rosters

SAN ANTONIO — The still-scuffling U.S. economy may keep some NBA teams from starting the season with a full, 15-player roster, according to a survey of all 30 franchises by The Associated Press .

With the season opening next week and final rosters due on Monday, the survey found that nearly half the league plans to start with 15 players. But others will carry the minimum 13 or leave one spot empty.

Chief among the reasons was flexibility — having an available spot or two to keep options open for trades or injuries in the long, 82-game season. No teams outright said their decision would be driven by the economy, but the bottom line is clearly an issue.

"NBA teams are businesses like every other in this country," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote in an e-mail to AP. "Times are tough and I expect many if not most teams to carry fewer than 15 players on their rosters."

Denver will start with a 13-player model after going with 14 last season and the full 15 in the two seasons prior.

The minimum NBA salary this season is about $457,000 for rookies.

Pacers make front-office change

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers say Mel Daniels no longer is the team’s director of player personnel.

Daniels has a long history with team president Larry Bird. He was an assistant coach for Indiana State in 1979, when Bird led the Sycamores to the national title game.

Bird said in a statement that Daniels was a "great basketball player who helped make the Pacers a well-known franchise."

Messages left with the Pacers and at Daniels’ home were not immediately returned.

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