Analysis: Hard to know what’s next for Nadal with hip injury
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — This is hardly the first time Rafael Nadal’s body has betrayed him. That much we know. What no one — not even the 22-time Grand Slam champion himself — can possibly pinpoint accurately is what comes next. There are so many questions. How seriously did Nadal injure his hip during a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 loss to 65th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald in the Australian Open’s second round? Was there damage to a muscle, joint or cartilage? What will recovery entail? When might Nadal return to the ATP Tour? And how much more of this sort of thing is he willing to put up with? Nadal turns 37 in 4 1/2 months. His loss Wednesday gave him his earliest exit from a major tournament in seven years.
Purdy, Lawrence, Jones have memorable NFL playoff debuts
A trio of NFL playoff quarterback newcomers provided some memorable playoff moments. Brock Purdy, Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones all won in their first career starts in the postseason with performances for the history books. This marked the first time since the 2017 season that three QBs won in their first playoff starts in the same postseason. Purdy was the first rookie QBs to account for four TDs in a playoff game, Lawrence led the third-biggest playoff comeback and Jones became the first quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 70 in a playoff win.
Mahomes aims to lead Chiefs to 5th straight AFC title game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes has never failed to reach the AFC championship game in four years as an NFL starting quarterback. To make it five straight, Mahomes will have to lead the Kansas City Chiefs past the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round on Saturday. The All-Pro quarterback is coming off perhaps the finest season of his career, breaking his own franchise record for yards passing while leading the league in touchdown throws. And he’s fueled by a frustrating overtime loss to the Bengals the last time he stepped on the field in the postseason in last year’s AFC title game.
Pegula, whose family owns Bills, honors Hamlin in Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tennis player Jessica Pegula has Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on her mind at the Australian Open — and his No. 3 on her outfit. Pegula’s parents own the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. She is wearing a white screen-printed patch with Hamlin’s uniform number on her black skirt while she competes at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field when he collapsed after making a tackle during a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. He spent more than a week in the hospital, part of that time in critical condition. Pegula reached the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday.
Staley to return as Chargers coach; Lombardi fired as OC
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Staley will be back for a third season as the Los Angeles Chargers head coach. The same can not be said for some of his offensive staff. The team on Tuesday announced that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day have been fired after two years. Criticism about Lombardi’s play-calling increased throughout the season. The Chargers were ranked ninth in total offense, but 20th in scrimmage yards per play along with the third-worst rushing attack in the league.
Rodgers says he can play at MVP level in right situation
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers believes he can still produce at an MVP level in the right situation if he opts to play next season. Rodgers discussed the uncertainty of his future plans Tuesday during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on SiriusXM and YouTube. The four-time MVP hasn’t decided whether to return to the Packers, retire or request a trade. Rodgers said he didn’t know whether Green Bay would represent the ideal situation for him and expressed hope the Packers would keep several of their veteran free agents.
In Paris, Bulls and Pistons enjoy sights, culture and opera
PARIS (AP) — The Detroit Pistons are playing a game in Paris on Thursday night. But two nights before the game, the Pistons were the spectators and the City of Lights played for them. The Pistons had a team party at the Paris Opera House to highlight their trip to France’s capital for a game against the Chicago Bulls. It’s been a midseason immersion into French cuisine, wine and culture for both teams. Everybody saw the Eiffel Tower, everybody saw the Champs-Élysées, but both teams decided they couldn’t come to Paris and not make every effort to enjoy the opportunity.
Titans hire 49ers’ Ran Carthon as 14th general manager
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have hired San Francisco director of player personnel Ran Carthon as their general manager. The Titans announced the hiring Wednesday morning, wrapping up a search that formally started Jan. 12. Carthon will be the franchise’s first minority GM. He is tentatively scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Friday. Controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, who ran the search committee that interviewed seven candidates, said in a statement they are excited to add Carthon with his variety of experience as a player, scout and personnel executive.
Flyers’ Provorov cites religion for boycott on Pride night
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason he did not participate in pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. The 26-year-old Provorov did not skate with his teammates before Tuesday night’s game against Anaheim as the Flyers celebrated their annual Pride night in celebration and support of the LGBTQ+ community. Provorov said his choice was to stay true to himself and his religion. He played nearly 23 minutes in Philadelphia’s 5-2 victory.
Excessive speed listed as cause of fatal UGa wreck
Police say Georgia football player Devin Willock wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle in a weekend crash that killed him and a recruiting staff member. Athens-Clarke County police list excessive speed on a road with a 40 mph limit as a primary cause of the crash early Sunday. The wreck occurred in Athens a few hours after a parade and ceremony honoring the team’s second straight national championship. The 20-year-old Willock, an offensive lineman from New Jersey, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 24-year-old recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, died shortly after at a hospital.