AP Sportswatch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

QB Griffin takes full practice for Redskins
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Robert Griffin III has taken part in his first full practice since spraining his right knee.
The Washington Redskins quarterback said he did all of his usual work Wednesday as the team held its first workout ahead of this week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Coach Mike Shanahan said doctors will examine Griffin's knee on Thursday to see if there's any swelling. He could then be cleared to play against the Eagles.
Washington has won five in a row to move into a three-way tie atop the NFC East.
Elsewhere around the league:
-- LeSean McCoy will start at running back for the Eagles against Washington in his first game back after missing four because of a concussion. Rookie Bryce Brown filled in nicely for McCoy, running for 347 yards and four touchdowns in his first two career starts. But Brown had just 40 yards in the next two games and fumbled four times in four games. Michael Vick will be the No. 3 quarterback behind starter Nick Foles and Trent Edwards because of his extended layoff. The Eagles (4-10) are trying to play spoiler against the Redskins (8-6), who are in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East.
-- Rex Ryan had higher expectations for the New York Jets' wildcat-style offense with Tim Tebow, and says things haven't "panned out" the way he or the backup quarterback anticipated. Ryan would not go into detail Wednesday about why he chose Greg McElroy over Tebow to replace the struggling Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback. He says it was his decision to go with the third-stringer, and didn't consult with any players before making the call.
Notre Dame's Kelly wins AP coach of the year
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has been voted Associated Press coach of the year after leading the Fighting Irish to a spot in the BCS championship game.
No. 1 Notre Dame is 12-0 and will play No. 2 Alabama for the national title on Jan. 7 in Miami. The Fighting Irish are playing for their first championship since 1988.
Kelly received 25 votes from the AP college football poll panel. Penn State's Bill O'Brien was second with 14 votes. Stanford's David Shaw (four), Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin (three), Kansas State's Bill Snyder (two) and Alabama's Nick Saban (one) also received votes.
Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to win the award, which started in 1998.
Record-setting prep QB Will Grier chooses Florida
DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) -- Junior quarterback Will Grier, who threw for a national record 837 yards and had 10 TD passes in a 104-80 North Carolina state playoff win last month, will be a Florida Gator.
Chad Grier, Will's father and Davidson Day football coach, said Wednesday his son "feels so strong about it that he is ready to commit now so he can focus on his schoolwork, improving his game and helping his team prepare for a third consecutive state championship."
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound QB trimmed his choice to five schools before choosing the Gators over North Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina State and Oregon.
A 2012 AP All-State selection, Grier threw for 3,785 yards and 49 touchdowns with 12 interceptions this season. He also carried 97 times for 925 yards and 11 TDs.
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Oklahoma City Thunder take an 11-game winning streak and a 20-4 record into their matchup tonight against the Hawks in Atlanta. The Hawks are third in the East at 15-7.
After splitting two games in Brooklyn that went down to the wire, the Knicks and Nets play for the first time this season at Madison Square Garden. New York is hoping Carmelo Anthony returns from a sprained ankle.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Duke debuts its first No. 1 ranking since the 2010-11 season when the Blue Devils play Cornell in their first game since Dec. 8.
No. 5 Louisville hosts Florida International in a game matching Cardinals coach Rick Pitino against his son Richard, the Panthers' first-year coach.
Xavier and No. 11 Cincinnati renew a rivalry that turned ugly last year when they play at a downtown arena instead of a campus site.
Penn State voted AP sports story of year again
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Penn State child sex abuse scandal was selected as the sports story of the year by U.S. editors and news directors in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.
For the first time since the AP began announcing a sports story of the year in 1990, the same issue was selected twice in a row.
The AP announced the vote results Wednesday.
There were 157 ballots submitted from U.S. news organizations. The voters were asked to rank the top 10 sports stories of the year, with the first-place story getting 10 points, the second-place story receiving nine points, and so on.
The Penn State saga received 1,420 points and 109 first-place votes. The No. 2 sports story, Lance Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, had 10 first-place votes and 1,008 points.
Red Sox sign Dempster, Houston gets Ely
BOSTON (AP) -- The Red Sox have signed right-hander Ryan Dempster to a two-year contract.
The team announced the signing on Wednesday, six days after two people familiar with the negotiations said Dempster had agreed to a $26.5 million deal. Dempster, 35, has pitched more than 200 innings in four of the past five seasons. He went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA this year, going 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA for the Chicago Cubs and 7-3 with a 5.03 ERA for the Texas Rangers.
-- The Astros have traded minor league left-hander Rob Rasmussen to the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-hander John Ely. The 26-year-old Ely spent most of last season with Triple-A Albuquerque, where he went 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 27 starts. He is 4-13 with a 5.70 ERA in 19 big league starts and six relief appearances with the Dodgers during the last three seasons.
Cruz: Meeting Pinto family was "toughest by far"
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Victor Cruz hopes meeting with the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shootings has helped them cope with the tragedy.
The New York Giants receiver on Wednesday somberly recounted his hour-long visit with Jack Pinto's family a day earlier, and says he was most affected when asked about their decision to bury their son in his No. 80 jersey.
Cruz stopped for a moment, his eyes becoming watery: "You never go through some circumstances like this. This was definitely the toughest by far."
Pinto's family said Cruz was their son's favorite player. Cruz was one of 20 first-graders and six adults killed in the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Cruz wrote Jack Pinto's name on his cleats and gloves before the Giants' 34-0 loss to the Falcons. He presented them to the family Tuesday.
Ponder marries ESPN reporter Samantha Steele
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and ESPN reporter Samantha Steele have tied the knot.
Ponder confirmed on Wednesday that the two were married at a courthouse in Wisconsin on Monday.
A Minnesota quarterback getting married in Wisconsin? Ponder says he knows some Vikings fans won't be happy that their quarterback decided to get married across the border, but he was just trying to keep it quiet.
He says they wanted to get married before the holidays "and for some other personal reasons" and that it will not distract him from the game against Houston on Sunday. Ponder calls it the biggest game of his career, with the Vikings chasing down a playoff berth.
Coach Leslie Frazier says he's happy for Ponder and not at all concerned about the timing.
AP-WF-12-19-12 2159GMT

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