Rich Cirminiello / Broncos lose running back Devontae Booker to wrist injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Broncos coach Vance Joseph’s first training camp got off to a rough start Thursday with word that Devontae Booker, who was pushing to unseat C.J. Anderson as the Denver Broncos’ starting running back, will undergo wrist surgery Friday and is expected to miss six weeks.

Booker suffered a hairline fracture during OTAs in June, marring a solid spring for the second-year pro as he bounced back from a rough rookie season that followed two knee surgeries.

The Broncos had been planning to split first-team snaps at training camp between Booker and Anderson, who is returning from a torn meniscus that sidelined him over the last half of last season, while Jamaal Charles slowly worked his way into action.

Charles, coming off two injury-filled seasons that led to his release from the Kansas City Chiefs this spring, has been cleared for full contact but the Broncos are being cautious with the 30-year-old free agent.

”He’s been injured for a year and a half and it’s our job to get Jamaal as healthy as he can be,” Joseph said Wednesday. ”If he gets back to being Jamaal, we’ve got something special there.”

The Broncos were hoping the same for Booker, who led the team with 174 carries for 612 yards and four touchdowns last season after Anderson went on IR after getting hurt in the seventh game.

Veteran Juwan Thompson, rookie De’Angelo Henderson and free agent Bernard Pierce will get more work in Booker’s absence.

If Booker’s recovery goes well, he’ll be back in time for the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 11.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Rich Cirminiello / Packers LB Biegel, CB Goodson placed on PUP list

Packers fans will have to wait a few weeks to see hometown hero Vince Biegel play for Green Bay.

More Packers coverage from FOX Sports Wisconsin

Biegel, along with cornerback Demetri Goodson, were placed on the physically unable to perform list Thursday morning ahead of the first day of training camp.

The former Badgers linebacker is still recovering from foot surgery in May and is expected to miss the first few weeks of training camp. Goodson is healing from an ACL tear he suffered while blocking on a punt return in Week 11 last season. There is no timetable for his return.

“Both of those guys have been here every day that I’ve been here. They’re making progress,” head coach Mike McCarthy said before Thursday’s practice.

Biegel was selected in the fourth round by Green Bay after tallying 21.5 sacks in his collegiate career for the Badgers. Goodson is entering his fourth season with the Packers after he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Sergio Gonzalez / Watch RBC Canadian Open 2017: Live stream online, TV channel, start time

The RBC Canadian Open takes place this week at Glen Abbey which is the site of one of the greatest Tiger Woods shots of all time (and that’s saying something). Woods hit a 6-iron out of the trap over water to a tucked pin for his 9th win of 2000. It remains as unbelievable now as it was then.

Zac Blair took a photo from the bunker on the 18th fairway Woods hit out of on Tuesday from Glen Abbey.

The field this week in Canada is surprisingly strong with Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Tony Finau all making appearances. It should be a nice relaxer compared to last week’s bonkers Open Championship. 

Here’s a look at the schedule of events so you can watch all the action.

All times Eastern; streaming start times approximated

Rounds 1-2 — Thursday and Friday

Round starts: 7 a.m.

Featured groups: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. — PGA Tour Live

Featured holes: 3-6 p.m. — PGA Tour Live

Live TV coverage: 3-6 p.m. on Golf Channel

Radio: 12-6 p.m. on PGA Tour Radio

Round 3-4 — Saturday and Sunday

Round starts: 8 a.m.

Early TV coverage: 1-2:30 p.m. on Golf Channel

Live TV coverage: 3-6 p.m. on CBS

Live simulcast: 3-6 p.m. on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports App

Radio: 1-6 p.m. on PGA Tour Radio

Sergio Gonzalez / Poking holes in Nick Saban’s suggestion for a revamped college football schedule

Alabama coach Nick Saban has provided a lot of suggestions for improving college football over the years, and he isn’t afraid to share them when the opportunity arises.

His latest idea would change the way regular seasons work, and in his opinion, make the sport a lot more appealing to fans.

“We should play all teams in the Power Five conferences,” said Saban in an interview with ESPN. “If we did that, then if we were going to have bowl games, we should do the bowl games just like we do in the NCAA basketball tournament — not by record but by some kind of power rating that gets you in a bowl game. If we did that, people would be a little less interested in maybe bowl games and more interested in expanding the playoff.”

These remarks aren’t the first time Saban has brought up the suggestion of Power Five teams only playing other teams from the Power Five. He’s mentioned that idea a few times in the past, but he gets into some new ground with his idea for bowl games. An idea he would expand upon in greater detail.

Saban wants to get rid of the six-win requirement altogether.

“You eliminate the six wins to get in a bowl game, and now you can have a different kind of scheduling that is more fan interest, more good games, bring out the better quality team,” said Saban. “Whether you expand the playoff or have a system where it’s like now — we take the top 12 teams and decide what bowl game they go to — just take them all.

“In this scenario, there would be more opportunity to play more teams in your league, as well as to have more games that people would be interested in. We all play three or four games a year now that nobody’s really interested in. We’d have more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV.”

Saban also once again broached the subject of expanding conference play, even mentioning the idea of the SEC playing 10 conference games per season, and then two nonconference games against teams from other Power Five conferences. His overall point is that if schools don’t need to win six games to qualify for a bowl, they won’t feel the need to schedule easy wins against FCS opponents and certain Group of Five teams.

Now, there is one of Saban’s ideas that I like. I’ve always been a proponent of conferences playing larger conference schedules. The fact that the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 already play nine-game schedules is something I support, and I wish the SEC and ACC would follow suit. I’d be all for expanding that to 10 games.

After that, there are a few things I don’t like, or I’m at least not sure about.

I’m good with conferences expanding schedules, but the idea of only playing other Power Five teams concerns me a bit. I’d love that there would be so many more “big games,” but I also worry about what those games would do to the Group of Five conferences.

I understand that these conferences and schools aren’t as popular as most of the schools in the Power Five, but they’re also one of the aspects of college football that make it special and unique. I think you’d do irreparable damage to those schools if you did not allow them to play Power Five opponents, and I’m not sure they’d be financially solvent in the long run without the ability to do so.

It’s also a reason I’m not really into Saban’s idea of ditching the six-win requirement for bowl games. Yes, an immediate effect of dropping the rule would probably be schools being more willing to schedule tougher games. The not-so-immediate effects could cause a lot of problems, however.

First of all, even if they aren’t as important to the general fan as they used to be, bowl games are still a reward for the players. Some more so than others, sure, but not every team can win a conference or play in the College Football Playoff. Bowl games give teams something for which to strive — a reason to feel they’ve accomplished something. If you go to a full selection committee for bowl games than we’re just going to see a lot of 5-7 and 4-8 Power Five teams chosen over more deserving Group of Five schools. Which, again, would do a lot of damage to football at the Group of Five level. That’s just not something I’m interested in seeing happen.

As for Saban’s idea to expand the playoff, I’m against that as well, and I always will be. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the idea of an eight-team playoff and the games it would create, it’s that we’re already asking these players to play 13 games a season with the bowls. Some teams play 14 if they have a conference championship game, too. Hell, to win a national title, teams have to play 15 games.

I’m not supporting the idea of asking them to play any more games than they already do.

Sergio Gonzalez / Madden gives Tom Brady perfect 99 rating, brings fear to online players everywhere

Thinking about Madden-2004 Michael Vick makes most Madden fans want to curl up into a ball and hide, and now another perfect quarterback is going to grace the virtual gridiron. EA Sports gave Tom Brady a perfect 99 overall rating for Madden NFL 18, putting him above the likes of Aaron Rodgers (98) and regular season MVP Matt Ryan (96). Brady’s fifth Super Bowl ring has put him in contention for the greatest of all time (the G.O.A.T.), and EA isn’t letting anyone forget it.

In their rationale for the rating, EA was perfectly clear about where they think Brady stands.

Wait, do you hear that? That’s the silence of Brady’s critics. He’s the G.O.A.T. You get to be named that after winning five Super Bowl rings, the most recent of which was won after the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. For that, he’s earned his spot in the coveted Club 99. Inside sources here at EA say that this was Brady’s biggest goal all along. I’m basing that on a complete lack of inside sources though, and have zero evidence to support that theory.

The win cemented the Patriots dynasty (as if it wasn’t before) and put Brady over the likes of Joe Montana in terms of Super Bowl wins. Despite his 40th birthday approaching in August, no one seems to think Brady will slow down heading into 2017. Until the Patriots start to sputter, it would be a huge mistake to underestimate him. The real question is: Did Madden give Brady 99 speed? If so, that decision may be a bit questionable. The takeaway: Don’t play online unless you want to see a whole lot of Patriots.

Pete Fiutak / Vikings’ Bridgewater to talk to media following move to PUP list

MANKATO, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have placed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp, with more rehabilitation necessary for his left knee.

The move was made Wednesday, as veteran players reported to the Minnesota State University campus.

The Vikings also announced that Bridgewater would be available to reporters after practice Thursday. He hasn’t granted an interview since Aug. 28, following the team’s first exhibition game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Bridgewater dislocated his knee at practice two days later, causing major ligament damage.

He has gradually begun to increase his activity, joining the Vikings for some drills on the field during spring workouts.

Pete Fiutak / Shortstop Dansby Swanson being sent to Triple-A Gwinnett

The Atlanta Braves’ consensus No. 1 prospect entering the 2017 season will be returning to the minor-league ranks.

Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, will be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett in an attempt to turn around a disappointing rookie season.

Swanson entered the season as one of the top prospects in all of baseball and Atlanta’s everyday starting shortstop, but the former Vanderbilt product and Diamondbacks draft pick has struggled in his first full season at the major-league level.

The 23-year-old has posted sub-replacement level production with a paltry .213/.287/.312 slash line, a rate that sits 48 percent below league average. His 14 errors in the field, the second-worst mark in the National League, have only exacerbated Swanson’s 2017 concerns.

Coupled with Swanson’s struggles, the emergence of fellow 23-year-old infielder Johan Camargo led directly to Braves manager Brian Snitker relegating Dansby Swanson to the bench, sitting him for nine of the past 18 games. (Swanson started Wednesday’s getaway game in Arizona and notched two hits, including a double.) The primary function of this move will be to allow Swanson to receiver consistent at-bats.

Camargo, of course, can play multiple infield positions, but the presence of 36-year-old pending free agent Brandon Phillips, first baseman Matt Adams and position-switching superstar Freddie Freeman makes for a crowded infield at the moment. With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looming, this could be a short-term effort to reestablish Swanson’s confidence and swing against lower-level pitching as the team searches for buyers.

However, for a team sitting nine games back in the wildcard race, allowing promising young players like Swanson to play through struggles is likely the best bet. The franchise is not — or should not be — in win-now mode. Prediction: Expect to see Swanson back at the highest level in the near future.

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Pete Fiutak / Rupp, Nola help Phillies blank Astros 9-0 (Jul 26, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Cameron Rupp hit two home runs and had four RBIs and Aaron Nola set a career high with 10 strikeouts over six innings to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 9-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Maikel Franco homered and doubled and Tommy Joseph had two doubles for the Phillies, who had 14 hits while setting season highs with five doubles and nine extra-base hits.

Nola (8-6) continued his impressive stretch, limiting Houston to four hits and improving to 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA over his last seven starts.

Houston’s Jose Altuve doubled and singled to extend his hitting streak to 18 games. It was the 13th multi-hit game during the streak for Altuve, who is batting .513 over that stretch. At 67-34, the Astros still lead Seattle by 17 games in the AL West.

Mike Fiers (7-5) allowed three runs and five hits in four innings, continuing his struggles against the Phillies. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 10.12 ERA in three career starts against Philadelphia.

Rupp took Fiers deep in the fourth, driving a 1-1, 89-mph fastball into the seats in right to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Nick Williams’ two-out single to right made it 3-0.

After snapping an 0-for-16 skid with a first-inning double, Franco launched a two-run homer just inside the foul pole in left off Michael Feliz in the fifth to give Philadelphia a five-run lead.

The Phillies scored four more in the sixth, highlighted by Rupp’s first career multi-homer game with a two-run shot to left-center.

A night after he failed to run on a dropped third strike, Odubel Herrera was not in the starting lineup. Herrera struck out pinch-hitting in the sixth and was loudly booed.

The loss was in the first in interleague play for the Astros, who are 9-1. It also was just the third time they were shut out.

DOUBLE THE FUN

Altuve and Josh Reddick doubled, giving Houston a two-base hit in 58 straight games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: All-Star left-hander Dallas Keuchel is set to rejoin the Astros’ rotation on Friday at Detroit. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner has not pitched since June 2 due to a neck injury. … Manager A.J. Hinch said before the game that outfielders Alex Bregman (right hamstring) and George Springer (left quadriceps) and reliever Will Harris (right shoulder) could return to the lineup on Friday against Detroit.

Phillies: OF Howie Kendrick was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning due to left hand soreness after being hit by a pitch in the third. … Daniel Nava (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day DL retroactive to Sunday. … Aaron Altherr tripled and singled in his return from the DL. Altherr had been sidelined since July 17 with a right hamstring strain.

UP NEXT

Astros: Keuchel (9-0, 1.67 ERA) will look to pick up where he left off before landing on the DL when the Astros open a three-game series at Detroit on Friday night.

Phillies: After a day off, Philadelphia RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6-5, 4.73) begins a four-game home series versus Atlanta on Friday night. RHP Julio Theran (7-8, 4.67) goes for the Braves.

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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Pete Fiutak / Crusaders unchanged for Super Rugby semifinal vs Chiefs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) The Crusaders have retained an unchanged lineup for Saturday’s Super Rugby home semifinal against the Chiefs.

Coach Scott Robertson has retained the 23 players who beat the Dunedin-based Highlanders 17-0 in last weekend’s quarterfinals to move a step closer to an eighth Super Rugby title.

Flanker Matt Todd and winger Seta Tamanivalu, who were injured last weekend, have been passed fit to play in Christchurch.

There are seven All Blacks in the forward pack announced by Robertson on Thursday, three more in the backline and two on the bench.

Crusaders: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall; Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge.

Sergio Gonzalez / Braves to demote struggling shortstop Dansby Swanson to minors

Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson entered the season as everyone’s favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Formerly the No. 1 overall pick, Swanson had earned additional support by hitting .302/.361/.442 during his 38-game introduction to the majors in 2016.

Unfortunately, Swanson’s first full season in the majors hasn’t gone as swimmingly. He entered Wednesday batting .209/.285/.306, good for a 55 OPS+ that tied for the third-worst in baseball among players with more than 300 plate appearances. The good news: Swanson won’t move down that list. The bad news: That’s because he’s headed to Triple-A:

Swanson’s demotion is presumably so he can play in some low-pressure games and get his confidence back. At that point, he’s likely to return to the Braves lineup.

In the interim, expect the Braves to continue giving burn to rookie Johan Camargo, who is hitting .313/.333/.490 on the season. He’s not going to continue to play that well — but then, it seemed like Swanson wasn’t going to continue playing as poorly as he has. Baseball is weird.

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