Bears to start McCown at QB in place of struggling Hanie
Chicago quarterback Josh McCown will start an NFL game for the first time in four years Sunday when the Bears play at the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears said Wednesday that McCown will replace the struggling Caleb Hanie. McCown hasn’t started a game since Dec. 23, 2007, for the Oakland Raiders against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was completely out of the NFL last season.
About five weeks ago, McCown was more concerned with coaching high school football than starting an NFL game.
Then quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb against San Diego on Nov. 20, when the Bears owned a 7-3 record. Hanie started four straight games and lost all of them, throwing nine interceptions as the Bears’ offense got into the end zone only four times.
Also: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison said he thinks the Browns should be disciplined by the NFL for how they handled the aftermath of Harrison’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy. Harrison practiced for the first time since being suspended one game for his collision with McCoy on Dec. 8.
Harrison said he understood the hit was illegal but wondered why the Browns let McCoy return to the game so quickly despite the severity of the collision. He said if he was suspended, the Browns should also face penalties from the league.
St. Louis Rams rookie wide receiver Austin Pettis was suspended for four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Pettis, a third-round pick out of Boise State, has made three starts and has 27 catches for 256 yards, a 9.5-yard average. He’ll be eligible to return after the Rams’ second game next season and can participate in offseason and preseason practices and games.
The Arizona Cardinals placed outside linebacker Joey Porter on injured reserve because of a knee injury, ending the season for the four-time Pro Bowler. He has missed eight games this season.
The Baltimore Ravens signed Shayne Graham as a possible replacement for injured kicker Billy Cundiff, who has a sore left calf and has struggled this month. He missed a 36-yard field goal Sunday night in a 34-14 loss to San Diego and is 2-for-5 in December.
The NFL Players Association has given executive director DeMaurice Smith a $1 million bonus, a person with knowledge of the payout said. The bonus was paid solely at the discretion of the union, the person said.
Lakers’ Bryant tears ligament in wrist, might miss opener
Kobe Bryant did not play in the Los Angeles Lakers’ preseason finale against the Clippers on Wednesday because of a torn ligament in his right wrist, and his status for the season opener on Christmas Day is uncertain.
A MRI revealed the extent of the injury, which occurred early in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 114-95 loss to the Clippers on Monday. Bryant was examined by Dr. Steven Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. Depending on the degree of the tear, he could be sidelined for three to four weeks.
Bryant, who shoots right-handed, was sent crashing to the floor by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on a blocked layup and came up holding the wrist. He stayed in the game for another three minutes, then went to the bench for a good stretch and was allowed to return to the floor during the fourth quarter.
Bryant practiced Tuesday but did not participate in Wednesday morning’s shootaround. He did not talk to the media before the game, which the Clippers won, 108-103.
Also: A former Golden State Warriors employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against star guard Monta Ellis, alleging Ellis sent her unwanted texts that included a photo of his genitals.
In her lawsuit, which also names the team, Erika Ross Smith alleges Ellis began sending her several dozen explicit messages, sometimes several times a day, starting in November 2010 through January while she worked for the team’s community relations department. The messages included lines such as, "I want to be with you," and "Hey Sexy," and periodically asked her what she was wearing or doing, according to the lawsuit.
The Warriors deny the allegations, saying Ellis and Smith had a "consensual relationship."
Power forward Kris Humphries re-signed with the New Jersey Nets, getting a one-year deal worth a reported $8 million.
The 26-year-old went through an eventful offseason despite an NBA lockout that kept players away from their jobs longer than expected. Humphries married reality TV star Kim Kardashian, and 72 days later the couple split.
Asked what was different now than when he was last with the Nets in April, Humphries said: "Well, there is a lot less paparazzi here."
Free-agent center Samuel Dalembert agreed to terms with the Houston Rockets. ESPN.com reported the deal is for two years and $13.7 million.
Dalembert averaged 8.1 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Sacramento Kings last season.
Mexico native Gustavo Ayon, a 6-foot-10-inch forward/center in Spain’s top professional league, reportedly has told media in Spain that he will join the New Orleans Hornets. The 26-year-old averaged 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 33 games last season for Fuenlabrada.
Wranglers lose second straight in ECHL contest against Utah
Bryan Cameron and Paul McIlveen each had a goal and an assist for Utah, and Shane Owen stopped 28 shots to lead the Grizzlies to a 4-3 victory over the Wranglers night at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.
Josh Lunden had a goal and an assist for ECHL Pacific Division-leading Las Vegas (16-9-4, 36 points), which never led en route to its second straight loss.
After the teams exchanged goals in the first period, Utah (14-11-3, 31) scored twice in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Cameron beat Mitch O’Keefe (20 saves) at 4:36 to make the score 2-1, and Riley Emmerson scored with 6:45 left.
The Wranglers made it a 3-2 game on Lunden’s goal at 7:54 of the third, but McIlveen restored the Grizzlies’ two-goal advantage with 3:33 left. Judd Blackwater added his 13th goal for Las Vegas with 1:28 remaining.
Also: NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger was hired by Penske Racing to replace Kurt Busch in the No. 22 car.
Contract details weren’t released, but the deal is believed to be for one year. The team also talked to Brian Vickers, David Ragan and David Reutimann, among others, before deciding on Allmendinger.
Allmendinger joined the Cup circuit in 2007 and has shown steady improvement each season. As a rookie, he finished 43rd in points. Since then, he has finished 36th, 24th, 19th and 15th last season, when he posted 10 top-10 finishes.
Busch and Penske mutually decided to part ways two weeks ago after six bumpy seasons.
England captain John Terry will be the first footballer to face a court in Britain on a charge of racially abusing an opponent, the most serious step yet in a crackdown on racism in the sport.
Prosecutors made the decision to charge Terry after studying footage that was broadcast live around the world in October, showing Terry apparently hurling abuse at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match.
On Tuesday, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, a Uruguay international, received an eight-match ban and $62,000 fine from the FA for racially abusing a Manchester United player during another match in October.