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Manziel is back on party circuit – and Browns’ bench

After viewing a video of Johnny Manziel drinking and partying after he had vowed sobriety, Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine said it was “disappointing – very.  . . . When it’s a repeated pattern, it’s a concern.”  So much of a concern that Pettine benched the 22-year-old quarterback for the Monday night game against Baltimore.  When confronted about the video, Manziel pointed out that “videos can be old.”  But this video came with audio featuring a song that was first released in March, after Manziel was released from a rehab center for alcohol and drug abuse.  He’s apparently in violation of his after-care protocol.  Last month he was accused by his girlfriend Colleen Crowley of hitting her, and during the ensuing investigation he admitted to drinking earlier in the day.  Manziel recently has shown improved play on the field, leading to his elevation to No. 1 on the depth chart.  But now his future in Cleveland is in jeopardy.


Kyle Busch comes back from preseason crash to win Cup

The day before the Daytona 500, Kyle Busch crashed into a concrete wall and broke his right leg and left foot.  His injuries were so troubling that NASCAR reconstructed racetracks while he underwent multiple surgeries and missed three months of the racing season.  But Busch was fit enough at the finish to win his first Sprint Cup Championship, at Homestead-Miami on Sunday.  He won the race itself, defeating a field that included the other three finalists – defending champion Kevin Harvick, 4-time champ Jeff Gordon in his final race and the small-team driver Martin Truex Jr“Going through the rehab, it was real hard,” Busch said.  “I was seeing stars.  . . . We just kept powering through and do as much as we could.”  His car owner, Joe Gibbs, the 3-time Super Bowl-winning coach and now 4-time NASCAR king, said Busch, 27, made the most impressive comeback from injury that he’s ever seen.


Elliott ready to leave Ohio State, slams his coach

Following Ohio State’s 17-14 loss at home to a 2-touchdown underdog, Michigan State, running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had been a Heisman Trophy candidate, said he’s played his last game in the Horseshoe.  He could not even wait for the end of the season to announce his farewell – not exactly the way a defending national champion is expected to talk.  And he took some almost-parting shots, saying “the coaching staff didn’t put us in position to win.”  His main complaint was getting only 12 carries.  Head coach Urban Meyer met with the player on Monday and later said, “I couldn’t disagree with him.  He should have gotten the ball more.  In hindsight, feed him.  He’s got a way of making yards.”  That said, Elliott made only 33 yards with his 12 carries against Sparta.  Meyer told Elliott he’d increase his role in play-calling for Saturday’s game at Michigan.  One of the Buckeyes’ problems this season has been that play-calling duties have been split among Meyer, offensive coordinator Ed Warriner and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck.  This arrangement hasn’t filled the void left by the departure of last year’s OC, Tom Herman, who’s now head coach at the University of Houston.


Mathis asks why concussions aren’t called brain injuries

When Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis was placed on season-ending injury reserve because of a severe concussion, the Detroit News reported he had a “brain injury.”  The player’s mother called him in tears.  She was accustomed to seeing “concussion.”  She was accustomed to hearing players say they “got dinged.”  She wasn’t accustomed to seeing this called a “brain injury.”  Which caused Mathis to wonder if the NFL should start referring to concussions as brain injuries, because indeed that’s what they are.  “I guess as the NFL, they might not like it if we do start addressing it as a brain injury.”  There was another incident Sunday of concussion being taken lightly.  In a game in Baltimore, St. Louis Rams QB Case Keenum was knocked to the ground, was shown on camera grabbing his helmet and appearing woozy as he slowly rose to his feet.  Yet he stayed in the game.  The league said it’s investigating.


Cowboys cut backup players for not wearing suit and tie

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has been faulted for not being tough enough.  In an apparent effort to recast his image he cut two backup players for not wearing suit and tie on the recent trip to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers.  Running back Christine Michael and cornerback Corey White were sacrificed to prove that Garrett is a disciplinarian.  But there’s been no punishment reported for star pass rusher Greg Hardy, who’s been late to several team meetings and practices.  Owner Jerry Jones is under fire for lauding Hardy’s “leadership” and promising to try to sign him to a long-term contract.  But the Hardy bandwagon screeched to a halt when photos of his battered girlfriend were released and posted on the internet.  Sort of an echo of Ray Rice, who got away with punching out his fiancée until video came out showing what was already known – that he had punched out his fiancée.


Kaepernick on IR, likely heading out of San Francisco

Colin Kaepernick, the long regressing quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, has said he regrets signing a long-term contract that gave the team too much freedom to not pay him.  His fears were validated last week when he was placed on season-ending injury-reserve for a sore non-throwing shoulder.  His contract stipulates that his $11.9 million salary for 2016 is fully guaranteed for injury only if he’s still on the team as of April 1.  So Kaepernick, 28, a Super Bowl veteran benched in favor of lightly regarded Blaine Gabbert, is expected to be released before April 1.  And that’s no April Fool.

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