49ers’ finally get their man, re-sign CB Wright
The San Francisco 49ers bolstered their cornerback corps with the signing of veteran Eric Wright to a one-year deal Thursday. Wright was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month, but the deal was rescinded after Wright failed a physical and the Bucs ultimately released him Jan. 22.
The 49ers did not disclose why Wright failed the physical and clearly believe he’s healthy enough to compete for a roster spot in training camp.
The secondary suffered a significant loss with the season-ending injury to cornerback Chris Culliver, who tore an ACL last week. The 49ers do have starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown among five cornerbacks returning, but the group struggled down the stretch last season.
Wright, a San Francisco native, has played in 85 career NFL games, including 81 starts. Originally a second-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2007, he has 14 career interceptions. After spending his first four seasons with Cleveland, Wright played for the Detroit Lions in 2011 before signing with Tampa Bay last year.
NFL examining preseason schedule, ticket prices
The NFL is watching this month’s preseason games with a close eye to help determine its future format, according to NFL.com.
The league is also looking into lowering ticket prices across the board for exhibition games.
Several options are being examined that would affect the number of preseason and regular season games played per season. Commissioner Roger Goodell has previously discussed lengthening the regular season and many have complained that the preseason is too long.
Those options include having 18 regular season and two preseason games, a 17-and-three split and a 16-and-two division. A change could possibly take effect in 2014.
Many players have opposed adding games to the regular season.
The league will look at how much starters play, how the lineups are constituted and fan reaction, especially in the fourth and final preseason games.
LeBron James excused from jury duty
Miami Heat star LeBron James reported for jury duty in Summit County, Ohio on Thursday but did not make the cut.
James, an Akron resident, tweeted a photo of himself and wrote “time to serve my civic duty” as he headed to court. He also brought a book with him as he prepared for a long wait.
James created a buzz when he arrived at the county courthouse in downtown Akron but was dismissed and left the building at 10:30 a.m., the Akron Beacon-Journal reported.
The two-time NBA champion has been working out in Akron this offseason and recently returned from a promotional tour in the Philippines and China. He is also hosting several charity events in his hometown.
U.S. soccer team cracks FIFA top 20
The U.S. was rewarded for winning last month’s Gold Cup by cracking the FIFA top 20 for the first time in more than two years.
The U.S. moved up three spot to No. 19 in the rankings, which were released Thursday.
The last time the U.S. ranked in the top 20 was in March 2011, also 19th. It replaced No. 20 Mexico as CONCACAF’s highest-ranking team for the first time since 2011.
Spain is still No. 1. The top 10 remained the same as Europe has been inactive for about a month. Germany is second and Columbia third.
Next year’s World Cup host, Brazil, is ninth.
No. 18 Ivory Coast leads the African contingent and No. 37 Japan is Asia’s highest-ranked team.
Cards will be cautious with Molina
When catcher Yadier Molina comes off the 15-day disabled list, presumably on Aug. 15, the St. Louis Cardinals are likely to rest him more than the last time he came off a knee ailment.
Molina started 10 straight games that time, although there was a day off between the third and fourth games and then again after he played the 10th game. Then he got hurt July 30 in the second game of a doubleheader.
“We obviously have to be smart about it,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “I think we decide to go with three catchers (and) we have to be sure to utilize them going forward.”
Molina, who has a right knee sprain, said he was optimistic he would come off the DL on his appointed day.
After an MRI last week, Molina said he was relieved when he was told surgery would not be required.
“It’s getting better,” said Molina, who is undergoing physical therapy orchestrated by the medical staff. “Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go. It was nothing that needed surgery. I just need time to rest.”
Ex-OSU coach a candidate for Akron president
Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel could be the next president of the University of Akron.
Luis Proenza is stepping down as university president in June and Tressel is considered a candidate.
Tressel is Akron’s vice president for strategic engagement.
“He’s probably going to be a candidate, but that’s about all we can say at this point,” Richard Pogue, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, told the Akron-Beacon Journal this week. “We’re not in any rush.”
Tressel, who has a master’s degree from Akron, has been in his current position with the school since February 2012.
League may take over struggling Devils
The NHL is looking into taking over the financially-struggling New Jersey Devils, according to multiple reports.
Forbes reported that the team is $230 million in debt.
The league reportedly may start operating the Devils when teams cut payroll checks next month unless they are bought.
Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek reportedly missed the first payment of a restructured bank loan to pay off the debt. The team’s annual debt payment is about $15 million.
Attorney Andrew Barroway was close to buying the team and the operating rights to the Prudential Center, but recently withdrew his offer.
However, the Philadelphia 76ers’ ownership group is interested in buying the Devils, according to multiple media outlets.
Fox 29 TV and WIP radio in Philadelphia reported that 76ers co-owner Josh Harris met with Vanderbeek a week ago.
The Devils have been successful on the ice and attendance has been strong since moving into the Prudential Center in 2007. Despite that, the team has continued to struggle financially under Vanderbeek.