NFL

Wednesday's Sports In Brief

SUPER BOWL

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) The Denver Broncos began final preparations for Super Bowl 50 with their two rehabbing starting safeties limited but running freely on the natural grass inside Stanford Stadium.

T.J. Ward only slightly favored his sprained left ankle, and Darian Stewart appeared to be running well on his sprained right knee and without restriction.

Over at San Jose State University, linebacker Thomas Davis was a full participant at the Panthers' practice on grass fields adjacent to Spartan Stadium a little more than a week removed from surgery on his broken right forearm.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Dozens are protesting what they say is the mayor of San Francisco's plan to push homeless people out of the scenic bay-front Embarcadero, where Super Bowl festivities are being held.

Protesters are trying to set up tents next to Super Bowl City, pro football's weeklong theme park near the famed Ferry Building. Demonstrators held the tents in the air Wednesday after police told them they would be arrested if the tents touch the ground.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - NFL security leaders and top law enforcement officials say there is ''no credible threat'' to Super Bowl 50.

Jeffrey Miller, NFL senior vice president of security, planned to walk the perimeter of Levi's Stadium again and he estimates it's approximately three to four miles around the facility in Santa Clara where Sunday's Super Bowl will be played between Carolina and Denver. Miller said he is satisfied with the collaborative effort between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to handle any possible issues, including terrorism of any kind.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Broncos coach Gary Kubiak says he's disappointed he had to send home one of his practice squad players who was caught up in a prostitution sting a few miles from the team hotel.

The Broncos sent safety Ryan Murphy home after he was questioned by authorities during a sting in San Jose on Tuesday. Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. James Jensen said Murphy, 23, was detained and questioned Tuesday and released after investigators determined he was not involved in any criminal activities. The Broncos sent him back to Denver anyway because they said it would be best for the team to prepare for Super Bowl 50 without him.

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HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL barred Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman 20 games on Wednesday for cross-checking a linesman last week, the second-longest suspension in NHL history for abusing an official.

Wideman was suspended for violating the league rule on physical abuse of officials after he knocked down linesman Don Henderson during the Flames' game against Nashville on Jan. 27. The league cited Rule 40 in handing out the harsh penalty.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Semyon Varlamov was back at practice, his mind at ease after winning a civil lawsuit even if his game remains a bit rusty.

A jury sided with Varlamov on Tuesday in a lawsuit filed against him by a former girlfriend who claimed he beat her during an argument in 2013. Jurors awarded Varlamov $126,608 in damages on an abuse of process claim after his attorneys argued the woman was trying to get a payout from the goalie and the evidence did not support her claims of a brutal attack.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Signing day went much like this past season: Alabama dominated and Jim Harbaugh had everybody talking about Michigan.

For a sixth consecutive year, Alabama landed the nation's top signing class according to composite rankings of recruiting websites compiled by 247Sports. The reigning national champions soared to the top of the standings thanks to Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban's customary strong finish.

The biggest announcement of the day came when Rashan Gary, a defensive tackle from Paramus, New Jersey, selected Michigan over Clemson. Gary is the consensus pick as the nation's top No. 1 overall recruit.

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PRO FOOTBALL

BOSTON (AP) - Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, the late NFL MVP and Super Bowl winner who is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has been diagnosed with the brain disease CTE, Boston University researchers said Wednesday.

Stabler, who died of colon cancer at 69 in July, had Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Dr. Ann McKee told The Associated Press. McKee said the disease was widespread throughout his brain, with ''quite severe'' damage to the regions involving learning, memory and regulation of emotion.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Federal court papers state that former NFL star Darren Sharper has renewed plea negotiations with federal prosecutors and is preparing a trial defense - which could indicate that his plea agreement in a drug and sexual assault case is off.

The motions, filed jointly by prosecutors and Sharper's lawyers, seek a delay in a March 7 federal trial date originally set not for Sharper but for his two co-defendants: Brandon Licciardi and Eric Nunez. Attorneys on all sides declined comment.

Sharper had pleaded guilty as part of a deal involving charges in four states, but a federal judge deferred acceptance of the deal last year. He also has pleaded guilty or no-contest to similar charges in state courts in California, Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - The New York Jets have hired former Indianapolis Colts assistant Brant Boyer as their special teams coordinator, replacing the fired Bobby April on Todd Bowles' coaching staff.

Boyer, a former NFL linebacker, was the Colts' assistant special teams coach since 2012. He was also a training camp intern with Cleveland (2009) and the Giants (2010).

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BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Yoenis Cespedes says his first choice was to remain with the New York Mets.

In his first public comments since agreeing to a $75 million, three-year contract, the outfielder maintained his welcome last summer was the key to his decision. Speaking through a translator, he says ''from my first day when I came last season, that very first day, the fans showed incredible support. I just knew I wanted to come back.''

New York, which reached the World Series for the first time since 2000, treated Cespedes as a newly signed player, showing video highlights of his performance last season after he entered the news conference.

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SOCCER

CHICAGO (AP) - The U.S. Soccer Federation sued the union of its world championship women's soccer team, saying it fears players may attempt to strike ahead of this year's Olympics.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Chicago, the USSF said Richard Nichols, who became executive director of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Association in late 2014, has refused to acknowledge a Dec. 31 expiration date contained in a memorandum of understanding agreed to by the governing body and the union in March 2013. The memorandum listed changes agreed to from the previous collective bargaining agreement.

The USSF claimed Nichols informed it on Dec. 23 that the deal will end on Feb. 24 and at a meeting Wednesday refused to agree that the union would not strike before Dec. 31. The USSF asked the court to determine the CBA exists and has an expiration of Dec. 31.

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TENNIS

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) - Roger Federer has had knee surgery and will miss tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai this month.

''Roger Federer underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery today in Switzerland to repair a torn meniscus,'' a statement on his official website. It is a rare injury setback for the 34-year-old Federer, who has had relatively minor back problems in 2008 and 2013.

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