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Sports briefs for March 20, 2014

By Staff and Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Patriots’ Vereen at Sea Dogs’ game May 8

PORTLAND — New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen is scheduled to make an appearance at Hadlock Field on Thursday, May 8 when the Portland Sea Dogs take on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at 6 p.m.

Vereen will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and will be available to sign free autographs on photos provided by the Portland Sea Dogs for fans from 6-7 p.m.

Vereen was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2011 draft, out of the University of California-Berkeley, and has been an integral part of the Patriots backfield over the past three seasons.

Game tickets are available online at www.seadogs.com or by calling 207-879-9500.

Incognito hopes to return to Dolphins

Offensive lineman Richie Incognito, who was at the center of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and recently underwent treatment at a mental-health facility, said he wants to return to the team.

“Returning to the Dolphins was my No. 1 goal from the time I got suspended,” Incognito told WSVN-TV in Miami on Wednesday. “I want to return to the community in Miami and resume my playing career as soon as possible.”

Incognito’s contract has expired and the Dolphins have shown no interest to bring him back

The guard confirmed that he entered a private mental-health facility to deal with the stress he was experiencing following his suspension and subsequent release of the Ted Wells report. Incognito admitted himself after smashing his own Ferrari in a fit of rage on Feb. 26.

“I was stressed,” Incognito said. “I believe in post traumatic stress syndrome, and I believe in private mental health care.”

Steelers won’t lose draft pick for Tomlin’s sideline incident

The NFL will not dock the Pittsburgh Steelers of a 2014 Draft pick because of the incident involving coach Mike Tomlin in the Thanksgiving night game against the Ravens in Baltimore, the team announced Thursday.

Tomlin earlier was fined $100,000 for standing on the field and nearly making contact with Baltimore kick returner Jacoby Jones.

At the time, the NFL informed the Steelers that there could be additional punishment in the form of making the team forfeit a pick in this year’s draft.

In the second half of an eventual 22-20 loss to Baltimore, Tomlin strayed toward the sideline during a kickoff return. He eventually had a foot in the field of play as Jones approached. Tomlin flinched and jumped out of the way, and Jones cut to the inside.

Falcons sign Hester to 3-year deal

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms on a three-year deal with record-setting return specialist Devin Hester, according to multiple reports. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Hester, the NFL’s all-time leader with 13 career punt return touchdowns and total kick return touchdowns (18), was not re-signed after eight seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Robert McClain led the Falcons with a 10.2-yard average on 19 punt returns last season, while Jacquizz Rodgers averaged 23 yards as the primary kick returner. By comparison, Hester holds a 12.3-yard career punt return average and 24.8 on kickoffs.

Despite turning 31 last November, Hester enjoyed a strong 2013 season with a 14.2-yard punt return average and 27.6 on kickoffs, both well above his career averages.

Leafs’ Ranger released from hospital

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger has been released from the hospital after being hit from behind with an elbow that sent him off the ice on a stretcher during Wednesday night’s game.

Ranger was assessed by doctors and discharged from hospital in Toronto on Wednesday night, the team announced Thursday.

Ranger left the game after he was checked heavily into the boards by Tampa Bay Lighting forward Alex Killorn near the end of the first period.

During the game, the team announced that Ranger was taken to the hospital as a precaution and was “stable, conscious and alert.”

The Maple Leafs gave no indication on when Ranger can return to action or whether he suffered an injury.


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