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Mack Brown joins ABC studio team

ESPN.com news services

BRISTOL, Conn. — Former Texas coach Mack Brown will serve as a studio analyst for college football games on ABC.

Brown stepped down in December after 16 years with the Longhorns, winning the national title after the 2005 season.

“I’m so excited and grateful to be joining ESPN’s college football coverage team,” Brown said in a news release. “We’ve been talking about it for a few months, and I think it’s a great opportunity to continue to be an active part of a game I love so much. People who know me know I’m a football junkie, so I’m really looking forward to watching and studying teams, sharing thoughts, and talking football with all of the passionate college football fans across the country each and every week.”

Brown will appear on “College Football Countdown” and offer pregame, halftime and postgame commentary for the games on ABC, including “Saturday Night Football.” He will work with host John Saunders and former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell.

ESPN also said Thursday that former Miami and North Carolina coach Butch Davis will serve as an analyst for ESPN2′s studio coverage on Saturdays.

“I’m thrilled with the opportunity to be an analyst on a sport that has been a part of my coaching life at every level,” Davis said in the release.

Davis was fired by the Tar Heels in 2011 during an NCAA investigation. He led the Hurricanes back to national prominence while coaching them from 1995-2000. In between, there was a mostly unsuccessful NFL stint with the Cleveland Browns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Two Texas WRs face felony charge

ESPN.com news services

AUSTIN, Texas — Two Longhorns football players have been charged with felony sexual assault, and their arrests are pending, a University of Texas police spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Cindy Posey says the players charged Thursday are wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander. Sanders also faces a charge of improper photography.

Texas coach Charlie Strong said in a statement that both players have been suspended from the football team.

“We’ve been monitoring and addressing the situation with Kendall (Sanders) and Montrel (Meander) since it was brought to our attention,” Strong said. “It’s been made clear to everyone on our team that treating women with respect is one of our core values, and I’m extremely disappointed that two young men in our program have been accused of not doing that. With the recent charges against them, they have been suspended indefinitely from our football team and will no longer participate in any team functions.”

Sanders, a junior, has played in 23 career games and started seven last year. He has 39 career receptions for 376 yards and one touchdown. Sanders was suspended for the 2013 season opener after a drunken-driving arrest.

Meander is a redshirt freshman who did not play last season.

ESPN.com’s Max Olson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mark Cuban has right hip replaced

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban posted a video to Instagram of him taking his first steps a day after having his right hip replaced.

Mark Cuban @mcuban

24 hours after a total hip replacement taking my first steps. Why did I wait so long to do it !… http://instagram.com/p/q1ohzXO213/
9:59 AM – 24 Jul 2014

This is the second total hip replacement that Cuban, 55, has undergone. He had his left hip replaced in 2007, months before participating in the ABC show “Dancing With the Stars.”

Cuban suffers from osteoarthritis, a painful disease that affects millions. Osteoarthritis causes protective cartilage on the ends of bones to wear down over time. Cuban exercises on a regular basis, routinely conducting interviews from the StairMaster in the Mavericks’ weight room before home games.

Neftali Feliz: Closer today, beyond?

By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

NEW YORK — At least for one day, the Texas Rangers have anointed Neftali Feliz as their closer.

Feliz will be in that role for Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the New York Yankees. Texas traded closer Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night for two pitching prospects.

Feliz was a dominant force as Texas’ closer in 2010 and 2011 before being moved to the starting rotation.

“If there’s an opportunity, I would like to become the closer again,” Feliz said. “I did it for a couple of years, and I will take advantage of the opportunity and do the best that I can.”

Manager Ron Washington said he’s unsure whether Feliz can close on consecutive days. It will depend on the number of pitches he throws in a given appearance, but Washington thinks Feliz is ready to do it.

“I’m going to give him the ball and tell him to do what he feels he needs to do with it,” Washington said. “This is what, Neftali’s fifth year? I can’t motivate Neftali. That [being the closer again] should motivate him enough. You got a chance to close and that’s what it is, a chance.”

Feliz is 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA since he was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on July 4 to work out of the bullpen. After allowing a home run to Melky Cabrera in Sunday’s loss to Toronto, Feliz has retired the past eight hitters he’s faced.

Sources: Mavs, PG Nelson near deal

By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

The Dallas Mavericks are closing in on signing former Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, according to sources briefed on the talks.

Sources told ESPN.com that Nelson and the Mavericks, barring an unforeseen snag, are on track to formalize a contract Thursday, when Nelson visits Dallas.

ESPN.com reported Tuesday that the Mavericks had arranged to fly Nelson into town for a face-to-face visit Thursday in the hopes of finalizing a deal via use of their $2.7 million room exception.

Dallas has been in the market for another veteran floor leader all summer to help fill the void created by Jose Calderon’s exit in June. The Mavericks had to part with Calderon to reacquire center Tyson Chandler in a trade with the New York Knicks.

After initially focusing on Mo Williams, who maintains an offseason home in the Dallas area, Mavericks officials have been engaged in serious negotiations with Nelson over the past week to give coach Rick Carlisle another trusted ball handler.

Longtime Maverick Devin Harris is the projected starter at the point after landing a four-year deal worth more than $16 million this month. Newly acquired point guard Raymond Felton and second-year point guard Gal Mekel are also on Dallas’ roster, but the Mavericks have made the signing of another point guard their top remaining priority after securing the services of Chandler Parsons as their new starting small forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Agent: Aminu agrees to deal with Mavericks

Forward Al-Farouq Aminu has agreed to a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks with a player option for the second season, agent Raymond Brothers said.

The Mavs could only offer Aminu, the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, the veteran’s minimum.

The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Aminu, 23, has averaged 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in four seasons for the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds for New Orleans last season, when he was primarily a starter.

Aminu, who has twice had 16-point, 20-rebound performances against the Mavs, will provide depth for Dallas behind small forward Chandler Parsons and power forward Dirk Nowitzki.

Cowboys’ Romo (back) fully cleared for camp

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys believe quarterback Tony Romo has made a complete recovery from December surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back.

Meanwhile, defensive end Anthony Spencer and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye “won’t be ready to go for a while,” coach Jason Garrett said. Spencer, who played in only one game last season, is recovering from microfracture knee surgery. Okoye, who signed with the Cowboys in May, did not play in 2013 due to what has been described as a personal medical issue.

The Cowboys exercised caution with Romo by keeping him out of competitive drills during the offseason, although he resumed his throwing program before the beginning of organized team activities. Romo’s reps will be closely monitored during training camp, but the Cowboys do not believe any extra limitations are necessary.

“He’s been working very hard on his conditioning and his throwing, and we do anticipate him being ready to go for all aspects,” Garrett said. “Like with anybody else coming off of an injury, though, we’ll evaluate him on a day by day basis and just see how he’s doing. In a situation like this, you want to monitor his throws. You want to make sure his reps are quality reps, that he’s not just out there banging balls, so to speak. So we want to make sure we’re very thoughtful about that, really like we would any player who is coming off an injury, and evaluate how he’s handling the work and continue to progress with him or dial it back a little bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Cowboys’ Jones says Garrett not under gun

By Todd Archer | ESPN.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn’t view 2014 as a win-or-else year for his head coach even as Jason Garrett enters the final year of his contract.

“In terms of the record of this team, this is not a make-or-break situation for Jason and members of this staff,” Jones said at the Cowboys’ opening training camp news conference. “We’ve got a job to do. We obviously want to zero in on what we have to do this afternoon and what we do the next day and the next day and the next day.

“I know firsthand that we’ve got a relationship, that I have a relationship (with Garrett) and there’s nobody that has a better feel for me than Jason, in terms of the relationship. We both know where our expectations are and when it’s looking good and when it’s looking dire. And I don’t expect it to be the latter.”

Garrett has a 29-27 record since taking over in the middle of the 2010 season for Wade Phillips but has posted three straight 8-8 records in which the Cowboys have missed out on the playoffs with Week 17 NFC East losses each time.

The Cowboys have retooled their roster since Garrett took over. Only eight of the 90 players on the current roster remain from when Garrett became Phillips’ replacement. Read the rest of this entry »

Rangers deal closer Soria to Tigers

By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

NEW YORK — The Texas Rangers traded closer Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers for two pitching prospects on Wednesday night.

The deal was pending physicals and sends rookie right-hander Corey Knebel and right-handed minor league prospect Jake Thompson to Texas.

Knebel will be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, with Thompson going to Double-A Frisco.
“Corey Knebel is a big physical right-handed guy with back of the bullpen speed and demeanor,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “A power fastball, curveball combo, a lot of success at (the University of Texas).”

Knebel, 22, made eight relief appearances for the Tigers this season allowing six earned runs in 8 2/3 innings.

He was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a second stint with the Tigers on July 19. His first appearance in the big leagues came against the Rangers on May 24 in Detroit.

Daniels said the fact Thompson, from Rockwall, Texas, was being assigned to Double-A at his age was a positive given the amount of talent at that classification.

Thompson, 20, had gone 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 18 starts for Lakeland (High-A) and Erie (AA) this season. Read the rest of this entry »

Yankees edge Yu Darvish, Rangers in rain-shortened game

A wet field gave the New York Yankees one weird win.

Brett Gardner hit a tiebreaking homer off All-Star ace Yu Darvish, and New York beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 Wednesday night in a rain-shortened game called in the fifth inning under bizarre circumstances.

Once the rain stopped, the grounds crew did its best to dry out the field. But both managers expressed concern about players getting hurt on the soft basepaths, and the game was called after an unusual delay that lasted 1 hour, 49 minutes.

“The field was just not playable,” umpire crew chief Dale Scott told a pool reporter.

During the delay, the last-place Rangers reached an agreement to trade closer Joakim Soria to Detroit for minor league pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel.

David Phelps (5-4) pitched out of a jam just before the storm, and Francisco Cervelli doubled twice to help the Yankees win for the fifth time in six games on a 10-game homestand following the All-Star break.

Chase Headley had a double in his first start for New York after he was acquired in Tuesday’s trade with San Diego. Read the rest of this entry »

Strong offseason fueling Brandon Weeden

By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas – Brandon Weeden’s bid to be the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback in 2014 got a lot easier when the club decided to release Kyle Orton.

Barring something unforeseen, Weeden, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason, will be Tony Romo’s backup. But Weeden does not look at the move as “weight off my shoulders.”

“Given the situation Kyle has been in in previous years in Dallas, he’s been the backup quarterback, so I think if he was there it would be one more obstacle I would have to kind of hurdle,” Weeden said. “But at the same time I can’t really get wrapped up in putting all of my attention on that. I need to do what I did in the [organized team activities] and continue to play well and get better. I think hopefully things will work out that way regardless.”

The Cowboys felt confident enough to jettison Orton, who skipped the entire offseason program and minicamp, in part because of what Weeden did in the spring. With Romo recovering from back surgery and being kept out of competitive drills and Orton missing, Weeden took all of the first-team snaps.

“I think the reps I got in the OTAs were kind of irreplaceable,” Weeden said. “If I was in a situation where God forbid something happened to Tony and I’m asked to play, those are the guys I’m going to battle with, so those reps I got were invaluable. I know I won’t get many of those in [training] camp, but fortunately I had 12 practices where I was able to get out with those guys. Now it’s, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I’m ready to get to California and get things rolling.”

Orton had the same benefit last year of taking all of the offseason snaps in 2013 as Romo recovered from surgery to remove a cyst from his back. When Romo hurt his back in Week 16 against the Washington Redskins, he was able to step into the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles and play well. He completed 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but a late turnover sealed the Cowboys’ loss.

“[Gavin] Escobar and [Jason] Witten are two totally different players. Dez [Bryant] and Terrance [Williams] are two totally different players,” Weeden said. “You kind of learn what certain guys’ strengths are and little nuances of what they do. That’s the thing more than anything. You kind of get a feel for what Dez likes on fades and all that stuff a certain way where Terrance might like it another way. You’ve got to learn what each guy likes. When you’re with so many new guys it takes time. You always want more time, but it’s nice to have the reps I did get there to get a head start.”

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