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Sports briefs for Dec. 18, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Penguins’ Engelland banned 5 games for hit to head

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland was suspended five games for an illegal hit to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, the National Hockey League said on Wednesday.

As both players reached for a loose puck late in the first period of Saturday’s game, Engelland’s shoulder landed high on Abdelkader and was ejected with a match penalty. Abdelkader was helped off the ice and has not played since.

“Engelland tucks his shoulder and drives through Abdelkader recklessly, picking his head and making it the main point of contact,” the NHL said in a video on its website.

Engelland, who was also suspended three games in 2011 for an illegal hit to the head, has five points in 27 games this season for the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins.

Gruden would listen to Texas job offer

Jon Gruden is willing to listen if Texas officials approach him about the Longhorns’ head coaching vacancy, according to a report on Wednesday.

Orangebloods.com, which broke the news last week that Mack Brown was stepping down after 16 seasons at Texas, learned through its sources that the former NFL coach is “open to hearing” about what he considers one of the premier job in the country and would seriously consider it.

Gruden, who currently works as an ESPN analyst on Monday Night Football, has been mentioned as a candidate for numerous openings since he was fired as Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach in 2008. He has not coached since then and has not worked in college since 1991 when he was a receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

Franklin, Mora, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and several others are among the coaches mentioned as possible candidates at Texas.

Braves obtain C Doumit in trade

The Atlanta Braves picked up catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit in a trade with the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday for left-handed pitching prospect Sean Gilmartin.

Doumit, 32, bolsters the Braves’ catching depth after Brian McCann left via free agency for the New York Yankees. The versatile Doumit also plays first base and the outfield.

The switch-hitting Doumit batted .247 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs in 135 games for the Twins in 2013. The previous year with Minnesota, Doumit had career highs of 18 homers and 75 RBIs.

In three years in the minors, Gilmartin has a 12-20 record with a 4.23 ERA.

Settlement reached in race crash that killed 8

A nearly $6 million settlement has been agreed to by the families of eight people killed and 12 injured in a 2010 desert off-road race, according to media reports Wednesday.

The $5.8 million settlement was struck Tuesday in a mediation session between federal lawyers and attorneys for the victims of the crash that occurred in the California 200 race in the Mojave Desert.

The agreement must still be approved by both a judge and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Per the agreement, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will pay $4.825 million, while Mojave Desert Racing Inc. and Mojave Desert Racing Productions Inc., which promoted and ran the race, will pay $1 million, attorneys said.

Tar Heels G McDonald reinstated

North Carolina senior guard Leslie McDonald was cleared to play immediately by the NCAA on Wednesday after sitting out nine games because of a suspension for receiving improper benefits.

Teammate PJ Hairston, the team’s leading scorer last season, remains suspended. The NCAA said it had not received any other reinstatement requests from North Carolina outside of Hairston’s.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Hairston, who has not played this season, might leave school and declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft. Earlier this year, Hairston was involved in a series of incidents involving rental cars and improper benefits that connected the junior to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a convicted felon.

Manuel out, Lewis to start at QB for Bills

Backup quarterback Thad Lewis will make his fourth start of the season in place of rookie EJ Manuel on Sunday when the Buffalo Bills face the Miami Dolphins.

Manuel, the Bills’ 2013 first-round draft pick, will sit out after spraining a knee last week. But coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday that Manuel might be able to return for the season finale the following week.

The injury initially was not considered serious, with Marrone saying Monday that Manuel should be OK to play. But Marrone said Manuel’s mobility was limited outside the pocket during practice.

The Bills (5-9) are out of playoff contention, but the Dolphins (8-6) are in the thick of the race for a wild-card berth. They trail the Baltimore Ravens by one game for the final AFC spot.

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