Long slate of road games doesn't bother Harbaugh
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said his team is ready to tackle one of the NFL's toughest roads ahead. Because of the rescheduling caused by Hurricane Ike, the Ravens' Week 10 bye was taken away and they will have to play five road games in a span of 35 days. "To be honest, we're looking forward to it," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be an opportunity, and it's going to be a challenge. That'll be something we take on with relish and attack it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind." With no bye in the middle of the schedule, Harbaugh said the team would scale back some practices and decrease work for some players to give them additional rest. But he doesn't want his players to focus on the big picture. "We know we are going to play 4:15 Sunday against the Browns in Baltimore," Harbaugh said, "unless anybody has got any news of a hurricane rolling into the Northeast."
Et cetera:: Willie Anderson is expected to play in his first Ravens game Sunday, but Harbaugh wouldn't say whether Anderson would unseat Adam Terry as the starting right tackle. "I don't know," Harbaugh said. "He's in the mix." ... When Harbaugh won his first game as an NFL coach, he received a call from the Atlanta Falcons' Mike Smith, a fellow rookie coach. So, Harbaugh decided to do the same and called Washington's Jim Zorn after the Redskins won Sunday. "That was an honor to be able to call him and do that," Harbaugh said. ... Morton's Steakhouse will host a fundraising event tomorrow night that will feature linebacker Terrell Suggs and running back Ray Rice. It will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The cost is a $25 a person donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Hochuli's grades to suffer after making bad call
Ed Hochuli's acknowledgment that he erred on a call late in Sunday's San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos game will mean lower grades for one of the NFL's highest-profile referees. "Officials are held accountable for their calls. They are graded on every play of every game," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said yesterday. "Ed has been an outstanding official for many years, but he will be marked down for this call. Under our evaluation system, an official's grades impact his status for potentially working the playoffs and ultimately whether or not he is retained." The play occurred with the Broncos at the Chargers' 1-yard-line in the final minute. Denver quarterback Jay Cutler dropped back to pass, and the ball slipped out of his hands, bounced off the grass and landed in the arms of San Diego linebacker Tim Dobbins. Hochuli ruled it an incomplete pass. Replay showed it a fumble, but the ball was spotted at the 10-yard line, where the ball hit the ground, and given to the Broncos because the rules did not permit possession to be awarded to the Chargers because the whistle had blown. Denver went on to score, convert a two-point conversion and win, 39-38. The play also is likely to be reviewed in the offseason by the league's competition committee, which normally reviews all controversial plays.
Titans:: Tennessee is sticking with veteran Kerry Collins as its starting quarterback as long as the team keeps winning. Coach Jeff Fisher said so after the Titans' 24-7 win at Cincinnati. The Titans are 2-0 for the first time since 1999, when they made their lone Super Bowl appearance. The Titans had not given any projection for Vince Young's return from his sprained left knee except to rule him out against Cincinnati. Outside predictions have said Young, 18-11 since taking over as Tennessee's starter, could miss up to four weeks. Now that this move is official, it gives Young time to deal with his off-field issues after the team was given information that resulted in a call to police for help finding the quarterback, prompting a national discussion over his mental attitude.
Redskins:: Tight end Chris Cooley apologized for posting an explicit photo of himself on his Web site. Cooley accidentally revealed more of himself than he wanted when he took a picture Sunday morning while preparing for the game against the Saints. Cooley wanted to show the readers of his popular blog some of the study materials the players were given by coach Jim Zorn. Cooley, however, was studying in the nude, and he didn't examine his photo closely before posting it.
Raiders:: Oakland did little to dampen talk that coach Lane Kiffin's job is in jeopardy. Reports in the Contra Costa Times over the weekend said that owner Al Davis wanted to fire his coach. "There are certain things I can control, there's certain things I can't," Kiffin said. "This happens to be the next one. He has a decision to make. It does me no good to worry about it right now."
Bears:: One day after return specialist Devin Hester suffered a rib injury, coach Lovie Smith offered no timetable for Hester's return. But, Smith said Hester might play against the Buccaneers this weekend.
Browns:: Defensive end Robaire Smith suffered a potentially season-ending injury to his left Achilles tendon during Sunday night's loss to the Steelers.
Oregon QB Roper out at least two weeks
Oregon quarterback Justin Roper will be out two to four weeks because of a partially torn ligament in his left knee. Coach Mike Bellotti said Roper injured his knee late in an overtime victory at Purdue on Saturday. The No. 17 Ducks host Boise State on Saturday. The team is expected to use sophomore Jeremiah Masoli and freshman Chris Harper at quarterback.
East Carolina:: Starting linebacker Quentin Cotton is likely out for the season after injuring his right knee during the weekend win at Tulane. The 15th-ranked Pirates also will be without starting left tackle Stanley Bryant when they travel to in-state rival North Carolina State this weekend.
Witchcraft rumors spur deadly soccer riot
Accusations that a soccer player was using witchcraft during a match in eastern Congo sparked a riot that killed 13 people, a U.N.-funded radio station reported. Most of the victims were between the ages of 11 and 16, Radio Okapi said. They were suffocated as panicked crowds ran for the exits during the mayhem Sunday in Butembo in eastern Congo's North Kivu province.
College basketball: : North Carolina Asheville's Kenny George, at 7-foot-7 the tallest college basketball player, might not play this season because of a foot injury. George had two surgeries on an infected right foot and remains in a Chicago hospital, school officials said.
Horse racing:: Kentucky racing regulators are preparing to impose new restrictions this month on the use of whips in harness racing, and changes could follow at thoroughbred meets after a Kentucky track finishes an experiment on different types of whips. A safety and welfare panel voted yesterday to outlaw certain kinds of whips and riding crops that have a snapper - strands of material at the end that can leave welts on horses. It also recommended that one-handed whipping be banned.