The Baltimore Sun

Steelers' Parker, Hampton out vs. Ravens


The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without Pro Bowl running back Willie Parker and nose tackle Casey Hampton for Monday night's home game against the Ravens. Parker, who had 243 yards in the Steelers' first two games before being held to 20 during a 15-6 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday, has a sprained left knee. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not say yesterday whether Parker might miss more than one game. With Parker out, first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall will make his first NFL start. Hampton, a Pro Bowl defensive lineman the past four seasons and the key to the Steelers' run defense, has a strained groin. He will be replaced by Chris Hoke, who made 10 starts in 2004 after Hampton injured a knee. Defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) is also out. He might be sidelined for a month or more.

Rams: : Marc Bulger is out as the starting quarterback after throwing only two touchdown passes in three games and will be replaced by Trent Green, 38, for Sunday's game against the Bills.

Texans: : Houston plans to play its home opener at hurricane-damaged Reliant Stadium on Oct. 5. "I can't say with absolute certainty," owner Bob McNair said. "But let's put it this way: I'd be shocked if we did not play there."

Ravens: : Quarterback Joe Flacco will be at ESPN Zone tonight as a guest of Baltimore Ravens Fox 45 Playbook. Flacco will join teammates Daniel Wilcox and Haloti Ngata in answering fans' questions and talking football. It starts at 7 and is open to the public. An autograph session will follow.

Et cetera: : Chiefs coach Herm Edwards strongly hinted that veteran quarterback Damon Huard might start Sunday against the Broncos and that Tyler Thigpen would return to the bench after one start. ... Jets quarterback Brett Favre rolled his left ankle during the third quarter of New York's 48-29 loss at San Diego on Monday night, but coach Eric Mangini said he expects him to start Sunday. ... Former Vikings linebacker Wally Hilgenberg, 66, died after a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Hilgenberg spent 16 seasons in the NFL, including 12 with the Vikings from 1968 to 1979. ... Saints guard Jamar Nesbit has been suspended without pay for four games for violating the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances, team officials said.

Reports: Mets, Minaya agree on 4-year extension


General manager Omar Minaya and the New York Mets have agreed on a four-year contract extension through 2013, Newsday, and ESPN reported. Minaya took over after the 2004 season and guided the team into contention. The Mets made the playoffs in 2006, sparked largely by players acquired by Minaya, and led the National League East for much of 2007. The Mets lead the wild-card race. An announcement is expected after the season.

Et cetera: : Spring training is expanding by nearly a week next year because of the World Baseball Classic. Players will start reporting to training camps Feb. 14, under an agreement between the players association and the commissioner's office. Exhibition games will start about Feb. 25. ... A specialist recommended that 2005 National League Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter have surgery for a compressed nerve in his shoulder, a procedure the Cardinals believe could have their ace back by spring training. .. New York police say they arrested more than a dozen people on suspicion of stealing pieces of Yankee Stadium during the 85-year-old ballpark's final game. ... Wally Joyner quit as Padres hitting coach. San Diego entered yesterday with a .250 batting average, 27th in the majors. ... The Red Sox will retire Johnny Pesky's No. 6 on Friday.

Dixon signs deal to return to Wizards


Guard Juan Dixon signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Wizards, returning to the team that drafted him after he led Maryland to an NCAA title. Dixon played his first three NBA seasons with the Wizards, from 2002-03 to 2004-05. He has also been with the Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons, averaging 8.9 points, 1.7 assists and 1.9 rebounds over six seasons. Dixon was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 Final Four for helping Maryland win the title.

More basketball: : Deanna Nolan scored 21 points, and the WNBA's Detroit Shock advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with an 80-61 victory over the visiting Indiana Fever. ... Candace Parker scored 20 points, and the Los Angeles Sparks advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 71-64 victory over the host Seattle Storm. ... Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy has reported to a minimum security federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla., to begin his 15-month sentence in a gambling scandal.

Cycling: : If Lance Armstrong joins the Astana team for his comeback, then 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is ready to leave. "I think I've earned the right to be the leader of a team without having to fight for my place," the Spanish rider said. "And with Armstrong some difficult situations could arise in which the team would put him first and that would hurt me."

Soccer: : A market and economic study ordered by the Maryland Stadium Authority and released yesterday said that working with D.C. United on a soccer-specific stadium would give Prince George's County the ability to attract soccer events to the state on the college, national and international levels. The $75,000 study, conducted by Crossroads Consulting Services, was commissioned at the request of the county after the team approached county officials about relocating there. D.C. United has used RFK Stadium, constructed in 1961 for baseball and football, since its inception in 1996. The team wants to a soccer-specific stadium consistent with other Major League Soccer teams.

College football: : Tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells (right foot) is probable for No. 14 Ohio State's game against Minnesota on Saturday, coach Jim Tressel said. ... Penn State coach Joe Paterno, 81, hopes to be back on the sideline for the No. 12 Nittany Lions' game Saturday. Slowed by a sore right leg, the Hall of Famer moved to the press box after halftime of last week's rout of Temple.

Auto racing:: Lewis Hamilton lost his appeal to overturn his penalty from the Belgian Grand Prix, leaving him with a one-point lead over Felipe Massa in the Formula One standings. Hamilton finished first at Spa this month but was docked 25 seconds and dropped to third place for cutting a chicane. ... AJ Allmendinger lost his NASCAR ride at Red Bull Racing, possibly paving the way for former Formula One driver Scott Speed to replace him next season.

Varsity: : Six football players will serve one-game suspensions after an on-field altercation in a game between Annapolis and Severna Park on Friday.

Sailing: : San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club offered to drop its America's Cup court case if Alinghi of Switzerland agrees to a conventional competition with multiple challengers and rules similar to the ones used in 2007. The club is fighting to regain its status as Challenger of Record, which would give it a say in setting the regatta's rules.

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