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Dec. 27, 2012 at 5:26 PM
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Sanchez back at Jets starting quarterback

FLORHAM PARK, N.J., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Mark Sanchez has been returned to the starting position at quarterback for the New York Jets' final game of 2012, Jets Coach Rex Ryan said Thursday.

Sanchez replaces Greg McElroy, who suffered a concussion in last week's game. McElroy had taken over as the starting quarterback from Sanchez after a Dec. 16 loss that eliminated New York from playoff contention.

Both changes bypassed second-team quarterback Tim Tebow.

Sanchez has completed 229-of-418 passes for 2,678 yards with 13 touchdowns and 17 interceptions this season. However, he had seven interceptions and lost two fumbles while passing for one touchdown in the three games before he was benched.

McElroy was 19-of-31 passing for 214 yards in a 27-17 loss Sunday to San Diego.

The Jets are 6-9 this season and in third place in the AFC East. They close the season Sunday in Buffalo (5-10).

NFL calls off Richard Sherman suspension

SEATTLE, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Thursday his appeal against an NFL doping allegation was upheld and his suspension rescinded.

The Seahawks were informed in November that Sherman and fellow Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner had tested positive for the banned stimulant Adderall and were to be suspended for four games.

Sherman appealed, claiming a leaking cup caused his sample to be contaminated. His suspension was put off during the appeal process.

On Thursday, Sherman, who went to New York last week as part of the appeal process, posted on his Twitter account that he wouldn't be suspended.

"Thank you @nfl for upholding the truth!" the tweet said. "To the 12s Thank you your faith is rewarded! Thank you lord."

Browner accepted the original punishment and the final game of his suspension will be Sunday.

He will be eligible to return in the Seahawks' first playoff game.

Seattle locked up a playoff spot last Sunday with a 42-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks regular-season final game is Sunday in Seattle against the St. Louis Rams.

Southern Cal's Barkley out for Sun Bowl

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley will miss the Trojans' Sun Bowl appearance because of a shoulder injury, Coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday.

Barkley, a senior, was injured during USC's 38-28 loss to UCLA Nov. 17. He missed the Trojans' final regular-season game against Notre Dame, in which the No. 1-ranked Fighting Irish wrapped up a perfect regular season with a 22-13 win.

Freshman Max Wittek replaced Barkley against Notre Dame and Kiffin said Wittek would start at quarterback in the Sun Bowl Monday against Georgia Tech.

"I've worked as hard as I could to get back for this game and nature is not allowing it," Barkley said Thursday.

Barkley is considered one of the top quarterback prospects heading into the 2013 NFL draft.

Nets fire Coach Avery Johnson

NEW YORK, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Avery Johnson was fired Thursday as coach of the Brooklyn Nets, team officials said.

Nets General Manager Billy King said the search for a new coach would begin immediately.

"The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," said Brooklyn Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Johnson was in his third season as the Nets' coach. The team was a combined 46-102 in his first two seasons.

The Nets, in the first season at their new home in New York after 45 years in New Jersey as members of the ABA and then the NBA, are 14-14 overall but 3-7 in their last 10 games.

Johnson previously coached Dallas for more than three seasons, helping the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006. His overall coaching record is 254-186.

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