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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Colts acknowledge Manning had 2nd knee surgery

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- One surgery wasn't enough to fix Peyton Manning's left knee.

Colts coach Tony Dungy confirmed Monday, after nearly two months of deflecting questions, that Manning was operated on a second time before returning to the field in late August.

Dungy doesn't believe the second operation -- to fix an infected bursa sac -- was the reason the team had a sluggish start this season.

"I don't think it set him back, it was part of the rehab process," Dungy said Monday. "The time frame we were initially looking at was when he came back."

Manning was not available in the locker room Monday, a day after the Colts routed Baltimore 31-3, in what was easily his best game of the season. Manning typically does interviews only on Wednesdays and after games.

But he told the CBS broadcast team about the second surgery at a pregame meeting, prompting announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to address the issue during Sunday's game.

Manning did not deny having a second surgery, although he had previously referred it to as irrelevant.

The two-time league MVP has said he is continuing to rehabilitate the knee that caused him to miss training camp, all five preseason games and kept him off the field until Aug. 26. Manning wasn't as precise with his passes until Sunday, when he threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns and had his highest quarterback rating of the season (134.7). Earlier this season, Manning acknowledged the knee also had forced him to make more pitches on running plays than straight handoffs.

After Sunday's game Manning indicated the loss of practice time may have affected his early-season play.

"I guess in some ways, this really is like the first week of the season for me," he said. "All I've ever known is taking every rep at every practice and playing in all the preseason games, so I did miss some time there and I've been working through that."

While Manning's knee is no longer a major concern for the Colts, they are looking for reinforcements at running back.

Pro Bowler Joseph Addai left Sunday's game in the first quarter after hurting his hamstring, and Dungy said Monday he wasn't sure whether Addai would play this weekend at Green Bay. Third-string running back Mike Hart could miss much more time after injuring his right knee in the second quarter.

Indianapolis typically does not provide status reports until later in the week.

Dungy said Hart was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday and his prognosis is worse than Addai's, and that could leave the Colts with only one healthy back, former 1,000-yard runner Dominic Rhodes, who took every carry Sunday after Addai and Hart departed.

"It looks like it could be a while on Mike," Dungy said. "There's a good chance we will (sign another running back) and Chad Simpson would be the first guy we'd look at for sure."

Simpson is an undrafted rookie who has spent all season on the Colts' practice squad.

Had Rhodes been injured Sunday, Dungy said the Colts would have moved rookie tight end Tom Santi to running back.

And if they need another back, the Colts will likely seek a player such as Clifton Dawson, who has experience in the Colts' system.

"We're not necessarily looking for a more veteran guy, but we are looking for a guy who knows our system, knows our blocking assignments, knows our audibles," Dungy said.

The Colts also could get two starters back Wednesday. Left guard Ryan Lilja and outside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler have both been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp opened in late July. The Colts now have three weeks to activate Lilja and Hagler or they will miss the rest of the season, and Dungy believes both could start practicing this week.

Hagler said doctors cleared him to practice a couple of weeks ago and he's eager to get on the field, though he doesn't know how long it will take to crack the starting lineup.

"I'm in shape, but game shape and conditioning shape are two different things," Hagler said. "But that's how you get into game shape, you continue to play in games, so we'll see."

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League, AEG in joint venture to develop NBA-style arenas in China

LONDON -- The NBA has formed a joint venture with Anschutz Entertainment Group to design and develop about 12 multipurpose arenas in major Chinese cities.

The project was announced Sunday at the O2 Arena in London, where the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat played a preseason game. AEG runs the O2, and the venture will be equally owned by the two parties.

NBA commissioner David Stern did not say when the plan would be starting, or where the buildings would be located.

"We weren't going to start construction in the next couple of weeks," Stern said at a joint news conference with AEG president and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke. "We anticipate that in a relatively short order we will have laid out a road map of a dozen buildings or so throughout China."

Leiweke said it could take decades to complete the project.

"We think of this over the next 20 years, not the next year or two," he said, adding some would be new arenas and others would be created by renovating existing facilities.

"You're going to see a combination," Leiweke said. "Most of them will be built and designed from the ground up."

Stern said he hoped the venture would not be affected by the global financial meltdown.

"In terms of finances, we will be making investment decisions on a building-by-building basis," the commissioner said, adding they did have some ideas about where to start building.

"We hope there's going to be a rapid determination made over a period of months which cities are the right ones for this venture," Stern said.

Stern has been looking to increase the league's marketability overseas for several years, and teams are touring Europe for the third straight preseason.

On Friday, Stern said the NBA was "an arena closer" to European expansion because of the O2 World in Berlin, which will host a preseason game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

The development of the same type of arenas in China is an indication Stern wants to see more NBA teams playing outside the United States and Canada.

Besides acting as a sports venue, the new facilities will offer other amenities.

"Where feasible, the arenas will be developed in conjunction with surrounding cultural and entertainment districts potentially comprised of restaurants, retail outlets, cinemas, hotels, residential areas, sports training facilities and smaller live entertainment venues," the NBA said in a statement.

Besides numerous restaurants and a movie theater, David Beckham's football academy is near the O2 Arena in London.

In China, the NBA has a huge fan base, and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming was one of the biggest stars of this year's Beijing Olympics.

"The NBA currently has relationships with 51 Chinese telecasters, including a partnership of more than 20 years with national broadcaster CCTV," the NBA says.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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Stairs blast lifts Phillies past Dodgers


By Jahmal Corner

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Matt Stairs belted a pinch-hit two-run homer to lift Philadelphia to a 7-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday and a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.

Stairs's moon shot to right field, the final blow in a fluctuating contest, capped a four-run eighth inning for the Phillies and was his first career homer in the post-season.

Stairs, acquired by the Phillies from the Toronto Blue Jays on August 30 as a reserve player, came through when it mattered despite limited playing time this year.

"It's something I look forward to, to get an opportunity in a situation where it's an important time in the game," Stairs told reporters. "(I was) very fortunate to connect on one tonight."

Stairs's big swing came just three at-bats after Shane Victorino drilled a game-tying two-run homer that just cleared the right-field fence off Dodgers pitcher Cory Wade.

The teams combined to use 13 pitchers with Philadelphia reliever Brad Lidge recording the save after retiring Los Angeles for the final four outs.

Dodgers starter Derek Lowe surrendered two runs during a tough start but settled in to finish five innings.

The post-season veteran was pitching on just three days rest and was replaced after just 74 pitches, a move that came back to hurt Los Angeles.

"He had to work hard every inning -- it just looked like he was fighting his emotions the whole game," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of his starter. "I just decided to make the move there."

TOOK CONTROL

The Dodgers took control of the game by scoring two runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings.

Manny Ramirez, who was 2-for-2 with three walks, had an RBI single in the fifth against Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton, who went five innings and allowed three runs.

Casey hit a solo homer in the sixth in which Los Angeles claimed a 5-3 lead.

"We don't quit, and we keep coming and play all 27 outs," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

Chase Utley was 3-for-5 and had an RBI single in the first, his ninth straight playoff game hitting safely, where Philadelphia scored twice to take an early 2-0 edge.

Game Five in the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

"We can't give up, we're still in this," said Dodgers first baseman James Loney.

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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