Packers in key clash with Dolphins
GREEN BAY, Wis., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Brett Favre is expected to make his 165th consecutive start Monday night as his Green Bay Packers host the Miami Dolphins, who will have the NFL's second all-time leading receiver in their lineup.
Favre, regarded as the NFL's toughest quarterback, went down with a torn LCL in his left knee in the third quarter against Washington two weeks ago, but the Packers had a bye last week, giving him extra time to heal so he could extend the NFL's longest active games played streak of consecutive starts that dates back to Sept. 20, 1992 against Cincinnati.
Favre's streak is over two times more than his
nearest competitor, Peyton Manning of Indianapolis.
The Dolphins will have an unfamiliar face in their lineup in Cris Carter, who came out of retirement to sign with them on Oct. 21.
Carter, who turns 37 in this month, retired last May after a brilliant 15-year career, including the last 12 with the Minnesota Vikings, and had been working on HBO's "Inside The NFL" with former Dolphins great Dan Marino, Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas.
Carter, a Pro Bowler eight straight seasons from 1993-2000, had the benefit of a bye week to acclimate himself to the offense in practice before he makes his debut in this contest.
Carter and Favre are pretty familiar with each other. While with the Vikings, they faced each other twice a season as NFC Central rivals.
The Dolphins were in need of a veteran receiver after Oronde Gadsden underwent season-ending wrist surgery last week.
While Favre is returning to the lineup, his mobility will be limited and that will provide a test for the Packers to hold speed rushing end Jason Taylor in check.
A healthy Favre is essential for the Packers, who boast a comfortable lead atop the NFC North while having the conference's best record.
After Favre left with his injury against Washington, Doug Pederson led three scoring drives as the Packers rolled to a 30-9 victory.
The Packers, who have won five straight games, are off to their best start since winning eight of their first nine contests in 1996. Green Bay won the Super Bowl that season.
Like the Packers, the Dolphins also are in first place, sitting atop the AFC East. Miami is seeking its fourth straight 6-2 start.
Miami has health concerns of its own at quarterback.
Starter Jay Fiedler is expected to miss a few more weeks with a fractured thumb, leaving the reins to Ray Lucas.
Two weeks ago, he made a disastrous first start, completing just 13-of-33 passes with one touchdown and four interceptions in a 23-10 loss to Buffalo. The erratic Lucas did not practice during the bye week because of a sore hip.
Miami has won nine of the 10 all-time meetings between the teams.
Hinske named top AL rookie
NEW YORK, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Eric Hinske, who was an afterthought among first-year players at the hot corner when the season began, Monday captured American League Rookie of the Year honors.
While most eyes were on the more heralded third base trio of Hank Blaylock of Texas, San Diego's Sean Burroughs and Morgan Ensberg of Houston, Hinske stepped up with a balanced offensive season, and became the first Blue Jay to win the award since Alfredo Griffin in 1979.
Hinske received 19 of 28 first-place votes and nine seconds for a total of 122 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez of the Baltimore Orioles received the other nine first-place votes and finished second with 97 points.
Lopez's teammate, closer Jorge Julio, was a distant third with 14 points.
Hinske, 25, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics last offseason, was the centerpiece of the retooling plan of General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, and Hinske responded, batting .279 with 24 homers, 84 RBI, and 99 runs scored.
He led all AL rookies in runs, homers, RBI, hits (158), and extra-base hits (74). The 24 homers eclipsed the franchise record of Fred McGriff, and after a shaky start defensively, became one of the most surehanded third basemen in the league over the final three months.
His improved play was one of the reasons why the Blue Jays had one of the best records in the AL following the All-Star break.
Lopez, 26, was one of baseball's best stories in 2002, going from minor league free agent to 15-game winner. After earning a spot in the bullpen during spring training, Lopez posted a 3.57 ERA and could have had even better numbers had the Orioles not faltered terribly down the stretch.
Julio, a 23-year-old righthander, stepped into the closer's role for the Orioles and was far better than expected. He was 5-6 with a 1.99 ERA and 25 saves in 31 opportunities.
Julio struck out as many batters (55) as he allowed hits in 68 innings, and blew just one of nine save chances following the All-Star break.
Jennings named top NL rookie
NEW YORK, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Colorado Rockies righthander Jason Jennings, who excelled despite pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the major leagues, Monday was named National League Rookie of the Year.
Jennings fell one win shy of the franchise record shared by Kevin Ritz (1996) and Pedro Astacio (1999), going 16-6 with a 4.52 ERA in 32 starts. He was 9-5 with a 5.65 ERA at Coors Field.
Jennings, 24, had a memorable major league debut on Aug. 23, 2001, when he fired an eight-hitter with eight strikeouts and hit a home run in a 10-0 victory over the New York Mets. He made seven starts in 2001, going 4-1 with a 4.58 ERA.
Jennings allowed 201 hits, walked 70, and struck out 127 in 185 1/3 innings in 2002. He also batted .306 (19-for-62) with 11 RBI.
He received 27 first-place and five seconds for a total of 150 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He is the first member of the Rockies to win the award.
Montreal Expos outfielder Brad Wilkerson was second after receiving two firsts and a total of 57 points.
Wilkerson led all NL rookies in games, runs, hits, triples and home runs. He provided a spark with a .370 on-base percentage, and likely solved Montreal's revolving door in both the leadoff spot and center field.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Austin Kearns also picked up two first-place votes and was 17 points behind Wilkerson.
Kearns, 22, batted .315 with 13 homers and 56 RBI in just 372 at-bats. He was limited by injuries and spent part of the season in the minors.
Los Angeles Dodgers lefthander Kazuhisa Ishii, who was the leading candidate at the All-Star break, received the other first-place vote, and a total of 16 points.
The 29-year-old Japanese native went 14-10 with a 4.27 ERA. His season ended prematurely when he suffered a fractured skull on a line drive back through the box on Sept. 8.
Seattle loses Brown to broken foot
SEATTLE, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Veteran linebacker Chad Brown of the Seattle Seahawks, who leads the team in sacks, suffered a broken right foot in Sunday's loss 14-3 to Washington. He was expected to undergo surgery on Monday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler who joined the Seahawks from the Pittsburgh Steelers, had been one of the Seahawks' few bright spots this season. He had a team-high seven sacks in eight games, and has 70 sacks for his career.
"It's the top of the foot, and he's going to have some hardware put in there to hold it together," said Coach Mike Holmgren.
"It's a huge loss," said safety Reggie Tongue. "He makes a lot of plays. It hurts, but what can you do? It's part of the game."
Brown played for Pittsburgh from 1993-96 before joining Seattle.
The Seahawks, who are only 2-6, have been hit hard by injuries to key players in skill positions.
No. 1 quarterback Trent Dilfer is done for the year because of a right torn Achilles tendon, wide receiver Darrell Jackson is recovering from a concussion and seizure on Oct. 27 in the Dallas game, and starting linebacker Anthony Simmons has not played since a season-opening loss to the Oakland Raiders because of a sprained knee.
Arizona loses Jenkins to shoulder injury
PHOENIX, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Arizona Cardinals, who have scored two or fewer offensive touchdowns in seven of eight games, Sunday took a hit on their anemic offense as wide receiver MarTay Jenkins suffered a broken shoulder blade in the first quarter of a 27-14 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Jenkins, who also is the team's kickoff returner, likely will miss 4-5 weeks. Ironically, he was injured on a kickoff return.
"I could make it back for the last two games and then for the playoffs," Jenkins said. "That's what I'm shooting for now."
This season, Jenkins has 21 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown.
Jenkins was replaced by Jason McAddley, who had two catches for 30 yards in the contest.
Badger running back victim of stabbing EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Anthony Davis, the star running back at Wisconsin, was stabbed in the left leg early Sunday morning in a domestic altercation at his apartment.
Davis suffered a puncture wound to the middle of his left thigh, and was transported to the University of Wisconsin Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment and observation.
According to the school, he may be released as early as Monday.
"I have spoken with Anthony and my concern right now is for his health," said Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez. "I don't know whether or not he will play against Illinois on Saturday. As for the altercation, we are in a position of waiting until the incident has been investigated."
Police in Madison arrested Tiffany L. Spears, 22, at the scene, and booked her into the District County jail. The case is still under investigation.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the injury occurred during an altercation, and was charged with second degree recklessly endangering safety.
Davis leads the Badgers with 1,023 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 10 games this season.
The incident adds to the woes of the Badgers, who have lost four of their last five games after opening the season with five straight wins.
Alvarez already had to deal with the legal problems of injured wide receiver Lee Evans, who was stopped for speeding over the weekend. While the incident took place, a quantity of marijuana was found by police in the car he was driving.
It was not clear if the marijuana was found on his person.
Smoker has substance abuse problem
EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Officials ay Michigan State Sunday announced that quarterback Jeff Smoker has a substance abuse problem. The school also dismissed arrested running back Dawan Moss from the football team.
Both the school and the Smoker family released statements revealing Smoker has a substance abuse problem. Neither release indicated the nature of the problem.
"We had hoped to keep this matter private until Jeff was well and ready to speak about it, but it appears that we cannot have that luxury," the family's statement said. "Jeff apparently has been fighting this battle for some time. When (Coach) Bobby Williams and the rest of the staff became aware of Jeff's problem, they responded immediately, and for this we are grateful. We're also thankful that Jeff requested help in overcoming his struggle. We certainly know that he's in good hands, receiving the best care available."
The family statement came jointly from parents Jay and Sue and brothers Bob and Craig. It did not indicate whether Jeff Smoker had entered a treatment center.
"Jeff Smoker's health and well-being remain my top priority," said Williams. "I'll provide whatever support I can to help Jeff win his personal battle."
On Oct. 24, Williams suspended Smoker, 21, for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Neither statement indicated whether Smoker's current situation was related to the suspension, and MSU Athletic Director Ron Mason appeared concerned about potential deeper problems in the football program.
"Jeff's situation, we hope, is an isolated one, both in its nature and degree," Mason said. "But as athletics director I have been made aware of rumors from within and outside the football program involving possible related matters. I have carefully pursued these rumors and to methods to assure us all about any possible additional problems. There are, of course, matters I cannot legally discuss publicly, but I can assure everyone that nothing to date -- absolutely nothing -- indicates any NCAA infractions. I am working closely with Bobby Williams on this matter, and I will continue to mandate that the drug-testing program be aggressive, thorough, and as conclusive as possible. There should be no doubt whatsoever about my personal commitment on this."
Smoker, a junior, threw for 1,593 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions before his suspension.
Meanwhile, Moss was dismissed from the team by Williams after his arrest Saturday night on felony and misdemeanor charges.
According to Sgt. Dave Dahlke of the Lansing Police Department, Moss was charged with fleeing and eluding, a felony, operating a vehicle under the influence, and resisting arrest, a pair of misdemeanors. He was jailed, arraigned on the charges Sunday morning, and posted bond.
The alleged incident took place at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Dahlke said Moss had contact with an officer while he was driving and that an officer was injured, although he declined to be more specific.
"This type of behavior will not be tolerated in this football program, regardless of the player's status," Williams said. "I'm disappointed in Dawan's actions because he was seen as one of our team leaders."
Moss, a senior, was MSU's leading rusher with 592 yards and four touchdowns on 125 carries.
There are questions about the amount of control Williams has over his team, which suffered a humiliating 49-3 loss to archrival Michigan
Saturday to drop to 3-6 overall. MSU, one of the most disappointing teams in college football this season, has lost four straight games by an average of more than 28 points and put Williams' job in jeopardy.
Williams is one of four black head coaches in Division I-A football.
Miami still tops in coaches poll
ARLINGTON, Va., Mov. 4 (UPI) -- Virginia Tech and Notre Dame fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and each slipped four spots in the latest college football coaches poll.
Virginia Tech (8-1) went from No. 3 to No. 7 after its 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Notre Dame (8-1), which had earned a first-place vote last week, fell from six to 10 after a 14-7 setback to Boston College.
Georgia (8-1) and North Carolina State (9-1) also dropped in the poll after suffering their first losses of the season. Florida posted a 20-13 victory over Georgia, which slid three spots to No. 8, and Georgia Tech defeated North Carolina State, which plummeted five places to No. 13.
Miami (8-0) remained on top of the poll after rallying for a 42-17 victory over Rutgers on Saturday. The Hurricanes, who set a school record with their 30th straight victory, earned 47 of a possible 61 first-place votes and 1,511 points in a nationwide poll.
But Oklahoma (8-0), which had an impressive 27-11 win over Colorado, moved within 33 points of Miami after collecting 14 first-place votes and 1,478 points.
Ohio State (10-0) remained unbeaten and climbed one spot to No. 3 while Texas (8-1) jumped three spots to No. 4. Washington State (8-1) moved into the top-five, ascending four places. Iowa (9-1) also moved up four spots to No. 6
Michigan (7-2) and Kansas State (7-2) are ranked 11th and 12th, respectively. LSU (6-2) is at No. 14, followed by Oregon (7-2), unbeaten Bowling Green (8-0), Florida (6-3), Florida State (6-3), Penn State (6-3) and Colorado State (8-2).
Colorado (6-3) fell nine spots to No. 21 followed by fellow Big 12 school Iowa State.
Pittsburgh (7-2) enters the poll at No. 23 after its upset of Virginia Tech. Arizona State (7-3) and Maryland (7-2) round out the top-25.
Canucks ink Lindgren
VANCOUVER, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Vancouver Canucks have signed unrestricted free agent left wing Mats Lindgren.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Lindgren, 28, is entering his seventh season, and joining his third team. He attended Vancouver's training camp on a tryout contract, and played in two preseason games before being sent to Manitoba of the American Hockey League, where he played four games.
In 333 career games, Lindgren has 49 goals and 114 points. He was with the New York Islanders for three seasons after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in March of 1999, and had three goals and 15 points in his final season with the Islanders.
The signing of Lindgren comes two days after Vancouver acquired defenseman Marek Malik and left wing Darren Langdon from the Carolina Hurricanes for center Harold Druken and left wing Jan Hlavac.