Ravens-Steelers game moved from Thanksgiving night to Sunday
UNDATED (AP) — The Thanksgiving night game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has been switched to Sunday because of coronavirus issues with Baltimore.
The NFL announced the move Wednesday and placed the game at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time on NBC. Previously, it was scheduled for NBC’s primetime telecast on Thanksgiving.
Baltimore placed outside linebacker Pernell McPhee on the reserve/COVID-19 list, joining running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. The Ravens also have been doing team work virtually.
Playing the game on Sunday means the Ravens will trade one short week for another. They are scheduled to play Dallas on Thursday, Dec. 3.
This isn't the first time the Steelers have been forced to adjust their schedule because of COVID-19 issues with opponents. Their trip to Nashville on Oct. 4 to face the Titans turned into an unexpected bye week when Tennessee was hit with an outbreak. The tweak forced the Steelers to play 13 straight weeks to end the regular season. They had hoped for at least a mini-break by playing on Thanksgiving — the franchise's first-ever home game in Pittsburgh on the holiday — and then getting the weekend off before starting the home stretch.
In other virus-related NFL news:
— The Cleveland Browns are practicing in shifts and holding players out as a precaution while dealing with a new round of COVID-19 issues. The team temporarily closed its headquarters in Berea, Ohio, after another player tested positive. The Browns are conducting contact tracing to see if other players were exposed to the infected player, who wasn’t identified. In the meantime, coach Kevin Stefanksi said practice ahead of Sunday's game at Jacksonville will be spaced out to reduce the risk of possible spread. Cleveland already had four players, including star defensive end Myles Garrett, on the reserve/COVID list.
— The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without three defensive coaches against Cleveland this weekend because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Coach Doug Marrone says defensive coordinator Todd Wash, defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich and defensive assistant Dwayne Stukes will not be available against the Browns. Rebrovich missed last week’s game against Pittsburgh because of coronavirus protocols.
— The Cincinnati Bengals have added receiver Auden Tate and offensive lineman B.J. Finney to the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Also Wednesday, the team returned cornerback Winston Rose to the practice squad from the COVID-19 list.
— The Atlanta Falcons have activated defensive end Dante Fowler from the COVID-19 list. Fowler was placed on the list Nov. 14 during the team’s bye week and didn’t play last Sunday in a loss to the New Orleans Saints. Receiver Laquon Treadwell is now the only Atlanta player on the COVID-19 list.
— Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins was actived off the reserve/COVID-19(asterisk) list by the Miami Dolphins and practiced Wednesday. Wilkins missed the past two games after playing more than half of the team’s defensive snaps in the first eight games.
Jags bench rookie QB Luton, switch to vet Glennon
UNDATED (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are going with quarterback Mike Glennon against Cleveland, giving the NFL journeyman his first start in more than three years.
Coach Doug Marrone made the announcement Wednesday, three days after he considered benching rookie Jake Luton during a 27-3 loss to unbeaten Pittsburgh. Luton completed 16 of 37 passes for 151 yards and four interceptions against the Steelers.
Luton went winless in three starts for Jacksonville, which has dropped nine in a row. The skid ties the longest single-season losing streak in franchise history.
Luton replaced the injured Gardner Minshew during the team’s bye week and has completed 54.5% of his passes for 624 yards, with two touchdowns and six interceptions. He also was sacked seven times.
In other NFL news:
— The Los Angeles Chargers have demoted special teams coordinator George Stewart. Assistant special teams coach Keith Burns and senior coaching assistant Chris Caminiti will take over. The move comes after a series of breakdowns on special teams nearly cost the Chargers against the New York Jets on Sunday. Punter Ty Long was supposed to run out the clock before taking an intentional safety but went down with one second left in the fourth quarter. The Chargers were able to cover the ensuing free kick and hold on for the 34-28 win.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Saban tests positive for virus, will miss Iron Bowl
UNDATED (AP) — The Iron Bowl will be without its biggest star. Alabama coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Crimson Tide’s game with No. 22 Auburn.
Alabama will face its biggest rival Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium without the 69-year-old, six-time national champion coach. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, a former head coach at USC and Washington, will oversee preparations within the football building and lead the team on game day.
Team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson and head trainer Jeff Allen said in a joint statement that the positive test came Wednesday.
Saban said he has had a runny nose, but no major symptoms. When he tested positive last month before a game with Georgia, he didn’t have any symptoms. Saban ended up being cleared to coach in that game after subsequent tests leading up to the game came back negative.
In other virus-related college football news:
— No. 7 Cincinnati’s game at Temple this weekend was canceled Wednesday because both teams are dealing with COVID-19 issues. The American Athletic Conference said the game scheduled for Saturday could not be made up on Dec. 5, even though both teams have an open date, because the league’s protocols “would not allow for a sufficient number of players to be available for competition on that day.” The unbeaten and conference-leading Bearcats’ next game is scheduled for Dec. 12 at No. 24 Tulsa, which had its game scheduled for Saturday against Houston postponed because the Cougars have been hit by the virus. Tulsa is also unbeaten in conference play and with a victory next week against Navy it would clinch a spot in the AAC championship against Cincinnati.
Cincinnati-Temple was the 11th game this week to be postponed or canceled across major college football.
Transfers lead No. 4 UVa to rout of Towson in Bubbleville
UNDATED (AP) — Trey Murphy III scored 21 points a day after learning he was cleared to play and fellow transfer Sam Hauser added 19 points as No. 4 Virginia opened the season with an 89-54 rout of Towson. Jay Huff added 14 points for the Cavaliers, who never trailed and led by 23 points at halftime.
Nicolas Timberlake scored 19 points for Towson, which was a late replacement after Maine withdrew from the game Tuesday. The game was the first in an 11-day event dubbed “Bubbleville” at the Mohegan Sun resort casino in Connecticut. Murphy transferred to Virginia from Rice and learned on Tuesday that he'd received an NCAA waiver to play this season.
In other Top 25 games Wednesday:
— Ayo Dosunmu scored a career-high 28 points, freshman Adam Miller also scored 28 and No. 8 Illinois beat North Carolina A&T 122-60 in the season opener for both teams. Kofi Cockburn added 18 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th double-double in 32 games. Dosunmu had 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. Miller shot 10 of 12 from the field, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, as Illinois fell five points short of its record scoring total. Blake Harris scored 12 points to lead the Aggies.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Pandemic leaves opening week of college hoops in disarray
UNDATED (AP) — The Thanksgiving weekend is normally devoted to end-of-season rivalry games in the Pac-12 but — like everything else — it's different this year.
As of Wednesday, it appeared the Big Game between Cal and Stanford was going to go on as planned Friday. The rivalry game between Oregon and Oregon State, formerly known as the Civil War, was also still set for Friday.
But the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State was canceled. The Huskies scrambled to schedule a game with Utah for Saturday night — made possible because the Utes' Sunday meeting against Arizona State was also canceled.
There are also two nonrivalry games set for this weekend, Colorado at USC and Arizona at UCLA, both scheduled for Saturday.
In other virus-related developments in college basketball:
— No. 15 West Virginia will play top-ranked Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis. West Virginia announced the scheduling addition Wednesday, saying it will be the opening game of a men’s basketball doubleheader. No. 2 Baylor will face No. 8 Illinois in the second game. The Mountaineers had been scheduled to host Youngstown State in their home opener on Dec. 2. That game was postponed after the Penguins paused all team activities due to COVID-19.
— The Oklahoma men’s basketball program has paused organized team activities due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. The school made the announcement on its basketball Twitter account today. Oklahoma’s first two games, scheduled for tonight against Texas-San Antonio and tomorrow night against Central Florida, have been postponed.
— The men’s basketball program at Monmouth University in New Jersey has been paused following a positive COVID-19 test result from the program’s Tier One members. It will enter a 14-day quarantine period. Tier One members include athletes, coaches, and support staff. The positive result came from the program’s regularly scheduled testing. The decision caused the Hawks of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to cancel a game Wednesday night against Hofstra. Games against Maryland on Dec. 1 and Saint Francis of New York on Dec. 4 also have been canceled.
— Lipscomb has canceled its men’s basketball season opener with Campbellsville Harrodsburg hours before tipoff. The game will not be made up. School officials said Wednesday the cancellation is because of COVID-19-related issues in the Campbellsville Harrodsburg program. Lipscomb, of the Atlantic Sun Conference, now will open its season Saturday against Lamar in the Tulane Classic.
Islanders' Boychuk retires due to lingering eye injury
UNDATED (AP) — New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk has decided to retire as a result of an eye injury sustained last season.
The Islanders announced Boychuk’s decision to end his 13-year NHL career after the player had numerous and extensive medical exams. The 36-year-old Boychuk required stitches and plastic surgery after being cut across his right eyelid by the skate of Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen on March 3. It was the second injury to the same eye in Boychuk’s career.
Boychuk returned for the playoffs in August before sustaining a head injury in the preliminary round series opener against Florida. He missed six weeks before returning to play in New York’s final two games against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final.
Boychuck has two years left on a seven-year, $42 million contract he signed with the Islanders in March 2015. He spent six seasons with the Islanders.
In other NHL news:
— The Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to a three-year, contract worth about $4.8 million per season. The 22-year-old skated in 70 games last season, scoring a career-high 10 goals and finishing with 34 points. He also led Lightning defensemen with five power-play goals and appeared in 25 playoff games during Tampa Bay's run to the Stanley Cup title.
Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona has died.
Maradona's spokesman, Sebastián Sanchi, said he died Wednesday of a heart attack, two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires following brain surgery.
The office of Argentina's president said it will decree three days of national mourning.
Maradona was among the best players in history and led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity.
One of the most famous moments in the history of the sport, the “Hand of God” goal, came when the diminutive Maradona punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals.
Ahead of his 60th birthday in October, Maradona told France Football magazine that it was his dream to “score another goal against the English, this time with the right hand.”
Although his reputation was tarnished by his addictions and an ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, he remained idolized in soccer-mad Argentina as the “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy.”