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Sports briefs for Sept. 14, 2011

Source: Woodson fined $10K for throwing punch

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Cornerback Charles Woodson was fined $10,000 for throwing a punch in the Green Bay Packers’ season opener against the New Orleans Saints, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person requested anonymity because the fine has not been announced by the league or the team.

Woodson was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter of last Thursday’s game at Lambeau Field after throwing a punch at Saints tight end David Thomas. He was not ejected, and the Packers went on to win 42-34.

After the game, Woodson acknowledged he did it out of frustration.

“Yeah, I threw a punch,” he said. “Just got frustrated, the guy was holding me a little longer than I wanted. Nothing was said about it, referee-wise, quick enough, and I reacted. It is what it is, I guess.”

Woodson said at the time that he expected a fine from the league.

Chris Johnson: “I’ve got to get in my groove”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee running back Chris Johnson says he’s got to get into his groove.

The three-time Pro Bowl running back had only nine carries for 24 yards in the season opener as he works his way back into shape from his holdout that ended Sept. 2. Titans coach Mike Munchak thinks Johnson will be ready for maybe 25 carries against Baltimore on Sunday.

Johnson said Wednesday everyone will have to see how it goes when he’s out on the field.

The Titans (0-1) certainly need Johnson up to speed immediately.

Johnson had the third-worst performance of his career in last week’s 16-14 loss at Jacksonville and has yet to run for 100 yards in two games against the Ravens (1-0). An early injury sidelined him in the last game against Baltimore.

FC Dallas developmental player dies

DALLAS — FC Dallas developmental player Jose Perez has died in a Houston car accident.

A Harris County Sheriff’s Office release says Perez was a passenger in a car that skidded into an intersection while trying to stop at a red light and overturned after being hit by another car. Perez was not wearing a seatbelt.

FC Dallas says the 18-year-old midfielder had just started his freshman year at San Jacinto College and was on his way to practice when the accident happened Tuesday.

The college’s head coach, David Santesteban, says the program is devastated.

Perez played in 30 games for FC Dallas Academy last season, recording six goals. Perez also was a member of the FC Dallas U18 team that defeated Barcelona, 3-1, at this year’s Dallas Cup.

Minor league average attendance rises slightly

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor league baseball’s average attendance went up nearly 1 percent this year while the total declined slightly because of a decrease in teams.

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues said Wednesday that its 15 leagues and 174 teams drew 41.25 million fans for 10,238 dates during the regular season, an average of 4,029 that was up 0.9 percent. The record of 43.26 million, an average of 4,174, was set in 2008.

The total declined 176,090 from last year, when 176 teams drew 41.43 million. Chihuahua and Laredo did not play in the Mexican League because of a lack of suitable stadiums, causing 140 fewer dates.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley led the minors with a total of 628,925 and an average of 9,249.

Frisco topped Double-A at 509,331 and 7,276, while Dayton Dragons led Class A at 571,886 and 8,288. Brooklyn drew the most among short season and rookie teams at 245,087 and 7,002.

The Portland Sea Dogs, Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, totaled 369,424 fans for 67 home games at Hadlock Field in 2011. The Sea Dogs’ average of 5,513 per game was sixth among the 12 Eastern League teams.

Braylon Edwards sues restaurant after altercation

DETROIT — San Francisco 49ers receiver Braylon Edwards has filed a $14 million slander lawsuit, claiming allegations that he was directly involved in a fight at a suburban Detroit restaurant cost him a big guaranteed contract from another NFL team.

Edwards, a former standout at Michigan, makes the claims in a civil suit filed in Oakland County Circuit Court. It accuses the South restaurant and bar in Birmingham and three of its employees of slander, extortion and malicious prosecution.

Edwards claims he had an offer from an NFL team with $15 million guaranteed, the suit says.

“Mr. Edwards’ offer was rescinded before it could be accepted because of the false, misleading, and/or negligent statements” that came out after his name was linked to the Aug. 1 fight at the restaurant.

Edwards “was forced to take a contract with a different NFL team “for only $1 million” in guaranteed money. Last month, Edwards signed a $3.5 million, one-year contract with San Francisco.

“The events of that evening in question, including the false and malicious allegations directed toward Braylon, have damaged his reputation and earnings potential,” Edwards’ agent, David Russell, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Kelly Allen, an attorney for the restaurant, expressed confidence that the the claims will not prevail in court.

“We don’t know anything about Mr. Edwards’ contract negotiations,” Allen said. “I trust the courts will do the right thing.”

Two members of Edwards’ group were arrested after two restaurant bouncers were assaulted at the restaurant, police have said. Edwards was interviewed by police, but was not charged in the case.

According to the suit, Edwards was attending a class reunion at the restaurant, was seated in the VIP section and “paid a South employee consideration for increased security and privacy.”

Patrons at a nearby table began harassing Edwards and his group, and that restaurant employees “swarmed the area” and confronted men at his table, according to the lawsuit.

Edwards said he was directed out of the restaurant through a rear door, but was blocked by an employee wielding a broom handle. Edwards said the man rushed him, causing both to fall to the floor.

The next day, he received text messages indicating that unless he paid that employee and two other South workers “they would go to the press and file a complaint with police,” the suit says.

“Braylon is not going to stand idly by while those responsible for the incident attempt to take advantage of his success and celebrity,” Russell said.

Edwards won the Biletnikoff Award at Michigan as the top receiver in the nation before he was drafted third overall in 2005 by the Cleveland Browns.

In January 2010, Edwards pleaded no contest in Cleveland to aggravated disorderly conduct after being accused of punching a friend of NBA star LeBron James. Edwards was a member of the New York Jets when he arrested last September in Manhattan for drunken driving.

CB Will Allen rejoins Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. — Without Will Allen, the Miami Dolphins’ pass defense was dismal, so they re-signed him Wednesday.

The veteran cornerback rejoined the Dolphins after they gave up a franchise-worst 517 yards passing by New England’s Tom Brady in the season opener Monday.

Allen was back on the practice field 11 days after being cut at the end of training camp.

“This is a business,” he said. “You’ve got to understand. You can’t take anything personal. You take the punch, and you keep rolling. Bitterness doesn’t get me anywhere, so here I am.”

Allen replaces nickel back Benny Sapp, whose contract was terminated Tuesday after the Patriots’ Wes Welker burned him on a 99-yard touchdown pass.

A 38-24 loss to New England prompted the Dolphins to bring back Allen. He was slowed by a hamstring injury at the end of training camp, which contributed to the decision at the time to keep Sapp instead, coach Tony Sparano said.

“One guy was healthy. The other guy really wasn’t,” Sparano said. “Allen’s better right now.”

Allen started 53 games for Miami from 2006 to 2009, then missed last season with a knee injury. Teammates in the secondary said they were glad to have him back.

“It’s huge,” safety Yeremiah Bell said. “He’s a veteran guy who knows the game. He’s a leader back there.”

Besides playing in the nickel package, Allen will back up starting cornerbacks Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. At 33, he’s eager to show he’s not ready for retirement.

“You’ve always got something to prove,” Allen said. “Always. I’ve felt like that since I set foot in this league, probably since I came out of the womb.”

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