FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons are bringing back 44-year-old kicker Matt Bryant after failing to find his successor during preseason.
The team has agreed to terms with Bryant, who made 20 of 21 field-goal attempts in 2018. Bryant holds the franchise record with 1,122 points since joining the Falcons in 2009. When injuries shortened his 2018 season, Giorgio Tavecchio emerged as the possible long-term replacement.
Bryant was released in a cost-cutting move after the season. He returned for a workout Friday. Tavecchio and Blair Walsh could not win the job in the preseason.
Bryant has been extremely reliable for Atlanta, including on long-distance kicks. He made four of five attempts from at least 50 yards last season, including a 57-yarder against Tampa Bay.
The University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team started the season by knocking off a nationally ranked team.
Oregon transfer Jolie Rasmussen had a team-high 19 kills as the Rainbow Wahine came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat No. 21 San Diego in five sets in a Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic match Friday night at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
After winning the first set, UH dropped the next two to the Toreros before rallying to the 25-19, 20-25, 16-25, 25-19, 15-10 victory.
Hawaii next plays St. John’s today before wrapping up the tournament against No. 13 Washington on Sunday.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — While outsiders keep speculating when the Oakland Raiders will cut ties with Derek Carr and search for a new franchise quarterback, Carr tunes out all the outside noise.
He ignored all the pre-draft talk whether the Raiders would select his replacement and has paid so little attention to the talk about his long-term security that he has already bought a house in Las Vegas — where his new neighbor when the Raiders arrive in Sin City next year will be coach Jon Gruden.
“We are next-door neighbors,” Carr said. “We will be, yes, but that’s for the future. That’ll be fun. Hopefully a lot of knocks on the door. Maybe we can carpool. That would be good for us.”
Carr might be the only person so confident in his job status with the Raiders. After a promising start to his career that featured a 12-win season and MVP talk in 2016 when Oakland ended a 13-year playoff drought, Carr’s performance has lagged the past two years, thanks in part to switching play callers and diminished talent around him.
If he can’t succeed this season after the Raiders added the NFL’s most prolific receiver in Antonio Brown, a dangerous deep threat in Tyrell Williams, first-round running back Josh Jacobs and elite pass-blocking tackle Trent Brown, Carr might need to look for a real-estate agent. And for a new job as the Raiders can get out of his five-year, $125 million contract three years early with almost no penalty.
“Let’s just get through this year first and then we’ll play that game again,” he said. “I’ll probably have some more fun with it, but I’m not going anywhere. This is my team and it will be for the next however long I want to play.”
Carr is one of several QBs in a prove-it season, along with 2015 top-two picks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, who are playing out their fifth-year options in Tampa Bay and Tennessee without long-term deals; Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton; and Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.
Most of those teams can get out of commitments to players they once had hoped would be franchise quarterbacks without major salary cap implications. Winston and Mariota are set to be unrestricted free agents if they don’t get new deals or franchise tags. Dalton will enter the final year of a $96 million, six-year contract in 2020 with no dead money on his deal. The 49ers can get out of Garoppolo’s with a cap charge of just $4.5 million.
Matthew Stafford could be in a similar situation with the Lions, although making a change in Detroit would come with a hefty dead money charge of $26 million according to overthecap.com, probably giving him security.
Garoppolo was viewed as the savior in San Francisco after winning his first five starts to end the 2017 season following a midseason trade from New England. That led to a $137.5 million, five-year contract in the offseason, but things soured from there. Garoppolo struggled in the first three games last season and then went down with a season-ending knee injury.
He’s back healthy this summer, still trying to prove he’s worthy of that deal and durable enough to make it through an entire season after starting just 10 games and getting hurt twice in five seasons in the NFL.
“It’s crazy what a year can do,” Garoppolo said. “I have so much motivation in myself and I push myself so much that that’s all I need. All the noise on the outside, you kind of just tune it out. … It’s always going to be there.”
The questions about Winston, Mariota and Dalton have taken longer to form. Winston and Mariota came into the league as the top two picks in 2015 but haven’t lived up to that billing.
Winston has thrown for a franchise-record 88 touchdowns in four seasons, but also has 58 interceptions in 56 career games. He hasn’t shown the consistency needed to thrive in the NFL. Last season, he was suspended for the first three games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, then benched briefly for ineffectiveness after throwing eight interceptions in his first three starts.
Now with a respected, offense-minded head coach in Bruce Arians at the helm, and a talented cast led by star receiver Mike Evans, Winston has no excuses.
“I’ve just got to do my job,” he said. “The better I do my job, the better chance we give this team a chance to win.”
Mariota also has had a difficult time, missing at least one game a season and going through three head coaches and five play callers in his brief career. The Saint Louis School graduate is coming off a season when he threw for a career-worst 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
But with Derrick Henry at running back and an emerging star in Corey Davis at receiver, Mariota has the best offensive talent around him that he’s had in his career. It’s an opportunity to show he’s worthy of a mega-contract.
“Other people’s opinions don’t matter to me,” Mariota said. “I just got to be the best I can be for this team.”
Many thought the Bengals would move on from Dalton after a third straight year without making the playoffs. Cincinnati made the postseason in each of Dalton’s first five seasons but lost in the wild-card round each time — including in 2015 when Dalton was hurt — and now have taken a step back.
Dalton gets the chance to work with an offensive mind in head coach Zac Taylor.
“Andy is a very fine quarterback,” owner Mike Brown said. “He got hurt last year. I don’t know why, but the public perception seems to be that he wasn’t a fine enough quarterback. If we put the right people around him, he’s proven he can make this thing go well. I think that’s where we are, and I think he’ll do well and we’ll do well.”
MONTPELIER , Vt. (AP) — Three hospitals serving Vermont and New Hampshire are considering merging their services.
One of the three, Springfield Hospital, is going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The other two are Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Care in Windsor, Vermont and Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, New Hampshire.
The Valley News reports that Mt. Ascutney CEO Joseph Perras told health care regulators Wednesday the goal is to care for patients in Claremont and southern Windsor County in a more efficient and cost-effective way.
Springfield Hospital Interim CEO Mike Halstead says he was concerned about his hospital’s future, but he feels encouraged by these recent discussions.
Green Mountain Care board member Robin Lunge says she is interested to see where these talks lead.
Vice President Mike Pence weighed in on a First-Amendment lawsuit challenging a Bible on display at a New Hampshire veterans hospital, saying under the current administration, “VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones.”
“We will always respect the freedom of religion of every veteran of every faith,” Pence said in a speech addressing the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis on Wednesday. “And my message to the New Hampshire VA hospital is this: ‘The Bible stays.’”
The military religious freedom foundation that originally objected to the Bible called the president a “repulsive and repellent fundamentalist Christian” bully.
The Bible became part of the missing man table honoring missing veterans and POWS at the entranceway of the Manchester VA Medical Center. The Department of Veterans Affairs said the table was sponsored by a veterans group called the Northeast POW/MIA Network.
A federal lawsuit was filed in Concord in May by U.S. Air Force veteran James Chamberlain against the center’s director, Alfred Montoya, saying the Bible’s inclusion is a violation of the Constitution. The First Amendment stipulates “that the government may not establish any religion. Nor can the government give favoritism to one religious belief at the expense of others,” according to the suit.
Chamberlain, a devout Christian, said in the lawsuit the table should be a memorial to all who have served, regardless of their beliefs. The suit said the original POW/MIA table tradition was started by a group of Vietnam combat pilots and didn’t include a Bible as one of the items.
A missing man table is usually set up near military dining facilities and is in honor of fallen or missing service members. It’s a table set for one person and features a white tablecloth, single rose, a lit candle and more. In some displays, a Bible is also on the table to represent spiritual strength.
Pence, in his speech, said the lawsuit is no surprise because under the last administration, “VA hospitals were removing Bibles” to be “politically correct.”
“But let me be clear: Under this administration, VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones,” he said.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, in a statement called Pence “one of the most repulsive and repellent fundamentalist Christian supremacists and bullies on the scene today” and added that “it is hardly surprising that he is lending his ugly bigotry and pervasive prejudice in support of keeping that Christian bible bolted down on that POW/MIA table at the Manchester, New Hampshire VA Medical Center.”
The medical center initially removed the Bible in January after the foundation objected, saying it got complaints from 14 patients who felt it violated the First Amendment. A variety of religions were represented among the 14.
But the Bible reappeared on the table in February. It was put in a clear case and secured to the table. A Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman said the Bible was put back after the medical center received an outpouring of complaints from veterans and others.
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The son of a police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2006 has graduated from the New Hampshire Police Academy.
Mitchell Briggs is the son of Officer Michael Briggs, of Manchester.
The Manchester Police Department tweeted its congratulations Friday, saying it’s “so proud that Mitchell has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.”
Michael Briggs was shot to death by Michael Addison.
Addison was sentenced to death and is New Hampshire’s only death row inmate.
DETROIT (AP) — C.J. Cron homered and Jorge Polanco had three hits as the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 13-5 on Friday night.
The Twins have won five straight, including the first four of a 10-game road trip, and lead the Cleveland Indians by 4 1/2 games in the AL Central.
Cron hit Minnesota’s 262nd homer in the fourth inning, moving them within five of the major-league record of 267, set last year by the New York Yankees.
John Hicks and Ronny Rodriguez homered for the Tigers, who have lost six in a row. Detroit still needs five wins in its last 16 games at Comerica Park to avoid becoming the first modern major-league team to lose 60 times at home.
Kyle Gibson (13-6) picked up the win despite allowing four runs and 10 hits in five innings.
Tigers starter Edwin Jackson (3-8) allowed eight runs — six earned — with seven hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
The Twins didn’t need a home run to score three runs before Jackson recorded an out. Max Kepler led off with a walk, Polanco singled and Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario hit RBI singles.
Miguel Sano hit what looked like a routine double-play ball, but shortstop Willi Castro misplayed it, allowing the third run to score. Luis Arraez grounded into a force at second, driving in Rosario to make it 4-0, and C.J. Cron hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Tigers came back with two runs in the bottom of the first on Rodriguez’s RBI double off the third-base bag, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single by Dawel Lugo.
Minnesota made it 6-2 in the second on Kepler’s RBI double and Cruz’s sacrifice fly, but Jake Rogers ended a 1-for-36 slump with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
The Twins scored twice more in the third to take an 8-3 lead on a bases-loaded groundout by Jake Cave and Rogers’ seventh passed ball of the season. The rookie is tied for fourth in the American League despite only catching 22 games.
Rosario’s RBI groundout made it 9-3 in the fourth and Cron’s three-run homer off Matt Hall later in the inning put the Twins well into double figures.
Hicks hit a solo homer in the Tigers fourth. Rosario added an RBI single in the eighth, before Rodriguez made it 13-5 with a solo homer in the Tigers eighth.
Tigers: DH Miguel Cabrera took batting practice for the first time since leaving Tuesday’s loss to Cleveland with left biceps tightness.
TAKING THE RECORD EVER FURTHER
The Twins now have 142 homers on the road this season, extending their own major-league record. The 2001 San Francisco Giants hit 138 home runs on the road, including 36 of Barry Bonds’ 73.
With the Tigers holding a cross-over promotion with the Detroit Red Wings, both Tigers homers were greeted by the goal horn from nearby Little Caesars Arena.
GRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota offensive coordinator Danny Freund has spent the offseason trying to describe to fans and the media the offense he’s overhauled for the 2019 season.
Sometimes the Fighting Hawks will huddle and other times they won’t. Sometimes they’ll go fast and other times they’ll go slow. They want to get the ball out in space and also run between the tackles.
Freund certainly hasn’t made it easy to put labels on it, but whatever you want to call the new-look offense, it debuts at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, against Drake at the Alerus Center.
“It’s ready to be tested, no question,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “Our guys really worked hard to learn it. They believe in it. Now, you have to go out and execute it on gameday when it really counts. We’re really looking forward to Saturday.”
En route to a disappointing 6-5 season in 2018, UND’s offense sputtered down the stretch. The Hawks peaked midseason, putting up 536 yards of total offense in a rout of Montana and 604 yards in a rout of Sacramento State.
After that, UND lost three of its next four games and mustered total offense sums of 321 against Weber State, 335 against Idaho, 222 against Portland State and 192 against Northern Arizona.
After the season, Schweigert parted ways with offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph and promoted Freund from wide receivers coach.
Freund, a former UND standout quarterback, will now be calling plays from the press box rather than his old spot on the sideline.
He’s stressed his offense will play into the strengths of his personnel and feature more skill players than the bulkier bodies the Hawks featured in the previous offense.
Freund wants quarterback Nate Ketteringham to make quicker decisions. Ketteringham, who started for two seasons at Sacramento State, is entering his second season as the starter in Grand Forks.
After throwing for a season-high 254 yards and four touchdowns against Montana last year, Ketteringham’s numbers regressed. He threw for less than 160 yards in each of his final three games of the season.
Ketteringham will have experienced receivers to work with to try to revive the offense in 2019. Noah Wanzek, Garett Maag and Travis Toivonen return and all caught more than 20 passes a year ago.
Ketteringham thinks the offense is ready to be unveiled and credits the UND defense for providing good scout looks in practice.
“Going against our guys all fall camp, our defense gives us weird looks and I think that sets us up for the whole season,” Ketteringham said.
UND senior defensive end Mason Bennett thinks the new offense is good for the defense, too.
“We play a lot of teams that are spread, so it’s good to practice against that every day,” Bennett said.
Although the quarterback and receivers bring back plenty of experience, UND will have new blood in the offensive backfield.
John Santiago and Brady Oliveira did most of the heavy lifting for the running backs the past few years but both are with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL now.
That opens the door for 6-foot-1 senior James Johannesson, a former Fargo South star and Minnesota transfer.
Johannesson, who slimmed down 10 pounds to 240 this fall, had limited opportunities a year ago but showcased his ability in a three-game stretch midseason.
MANDAN (AP) — Montana-Dakota Utilities has asked state regulators to consider its plan to build a second natural gas-fired power generator in North Dakota.
The utility company filed an application Thursday with the Public Service Commission seeking a determination that the proposed project north of Mandan is reasonable and prudent.
The utility isn’t required to obtain the distinction, Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said. But if it doesn’t, the company will have to defend the turbine’s projected $73 million cost before the commission.
“This new facility will add to our generation portfolio and provide our customers with a cost-effective capacity resource for many years into the future,” MDU President and CEO Nicole Kivisto said in a statement.
Construction is slated to begin in 2022 and finish in early 2023.
The company announced in February that it would close some of its coal facilities. Building the new gas unit while retiring the coal facilities will allow the utility to avoid a lengthy interconnection process with the region’s grid operator, MDU spokesman Mark Hanson said
The new 88-megawatts generator would run only when the demand for electricity across the grid is high. Such a turbine can fire up within 20 minutes, Hanson added.
The company expects the cost of adding the new turbine and purchasing power off the market to be half of what it would cost to continue operating the two coal power stations.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died from a toxic mix of the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone along with alcohol in an accidental overdose, a medical examiner in Texas said in a report released Friday.
The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office issued a technical report that said Skaggs died as a result of “mixed ethanol, fentanyl, oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents.”
It said simply: “Manner of death: Accident.”
Skaggs’ death laid bare the emotions of manager Brad Ausmus, star outfielder Mike Trout and fellow left-hander Andrew Heaney, his best friend on the team, along with the rest of his teammates and LA staff members.
The first game after Skaggs died was played without music or the usual in-game promotions for the Rangers, who painted his number “45” on the back of the mound at Globe Life Park.
In their first home game after Skaggs died, the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 13-0 on a combined no-hitter from Taylor Cole and Félix Peña. All the LA players were wearing Skaggs’ number and covered the mound with their jerseys after the victory. It was a day before what would have been Skaggs’ 28th birthday.
The day before he died, Skaggs posted a picture on Instagram of him and the Angels in cowboy hats and other western clothing outside their plane. Skaggs organized the effort because the club was stopping in both major league cities in Texas.
The Southern California native was drafted by the Angels in the first round in 2009 and made his big league debut with Arizona three years later after being traded.
Skaggs returned to the Angels in 2014 and missed all of the next season recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left elbow. He also spent more than three months on the disabled list in 2017 with a right oblique muscle strain. Skaggs was 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA in 96 career appearances, all starts.