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POSTED March 30, 2012 12:01 a.m.

NFL

FREE AGENT LB PHILIP WHEELER VISITS RAIDERS: ALAMEDA (AP) — Unrestricted free agent Philip Wheeler is visiting the Oakland Raiders to possibly fill their void at starting outside linebacker.

Wheeler will meet with the Raiders on Thursday. He has already visited the Miami Dolphins and said on Twitter that he has a tough career choice to make.

Wheeler played 13 games for Indianapolis last season, making 80 tackles and recording one sack. He played four seasons overall with the Colts with 182 tackles and two sacks.

The Raiders are seeking a starter at strongside linebacker to replace the released Kamerion Wimbley. Wheeler is not the pass rusher that Wimbley is but is considered to be a strong run defender.

LONGTIME RAIDERS TRAINER GEORGE ANDERSON DIES: ALAMEDA (AP) — Longtime Oakland Raiders trainer George Anderson has died. He was 82.

The Raiders said Anderson died Thursday morning. No cause of death was given.

Anderson was the first head trainer for the Raiders and served in that role from 1960-94. He developed a knee brace to help quarterback Ken Stabler play after injuring his MCL that eventually was called the Anderson Knee Stabilizer.

General manager Reggie McKenzie, a former player for the Raiders, said he always knew he was in excellent hands with Anderson as his trainer.

Anderson was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame in 1986.

AP SOURCE: NO DECISION ON APPEAL, SAINTS' COACH: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says decisions are still pending on a possible appeal of Sean Payton's suspension or an interim coach should his season-long punishment be upheld.

The person says Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and their staffs are in meetings at the team's suburban headquarters and focused primarily on preparations for next month's NFL draft. The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity on Thursday because the Saints have not announced their plans,

Payton's suspension in connection with the Saints' bounty scandal is slated to begin on Sunday.

Payton has sought advice on the matter from his friend and retired coach Bill Parcells, who told the New York Daily News he'd consider the interim job if Payton asked him to take over.

NHL

PENS' CROSBY STRUCK BY PUCK IN FACE, LEAVES GAME: UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Sidney Crosby was bloodied after being struck in the face by a puck shot by New York Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese.

The Pittsburgh captain, playing in the ninth game of his second comeback of the season after recovering from concussion symptoms, was hit 1:43 into the second period. Reese was trying to clear the puck out of the lower left corner in the New York end when he hit Crosby, who was standing a few feet away from him.

Crosby stayed down on his stomach for about a minute before gathering himself and getting back up on his skates. He then skated off toward the tunnel leading to the dressing room. He returned to the bench with 10:13 left in the period, and was back on the ice moments later.

SHARKS SIGN COLLEGE D MATT TENNYSON: SAN JOSE (AP) — The San Jose Sharks have signed Western Michigan defenseman Matt Tennyson to an entry-level contract.

The 21-year-old Tennyson was an unrestricted free agent who just finished his junior year in college before signing the deal Thursday.

Tennyson is a native of nearby Pleasanton and is the first player in the San Jose organization who developed as a youth in the Junior Sharks system.

Tennyson led all defensemen in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association last season with 11 goals, 13 assists and 24 points in 41 games.

TENNIS

SHARAPOVA EDGES WOZNIACKI IN KEY BISCAYNE SEMIS: BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Maria Sharapova benefited from a chair umpire's disputed overrule on the final point Thursday and edged Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open.

At 40-30 in the final game, Sharapova hit a second serve that the linesman called long, which would have been a double-fault, but the umpire immediately reversed the ruling and ordered the point replayed. The call couldn't be reviewed because Wozniacki had no challenges left, although TV replays showed the umpire was correct to overrule.

Sharapova was awarded two serves and took advantage with a big first serve to set up an overhead winner for the victory.

An angry Wozniacki declined to shake the umpire's hand and had words with him as she walked to the exit.

TSONGA: UMPIRE GAVE NADAL PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT: KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Jo-Wilfried Tsonga says Rafael Nadal received preferential treatment from the chair umpire during their quarterfinal match at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Nadal says that's not the case.

Nadal continued his bid for his first Key Biscayne title by defeating Tsonga 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in a match that ended shortly after midnight on Friday. Tsonga complained during the match and afterward that umpire Damian Steiner was reluctant to overrule borderline calls.

Many players contend that since the advent of the Hawk-Eye replay review system, which allows players to challenge calls, umpires are less inclined to overrule the linesperson.

Tsonga said he lost concentration because he became so focused on watching the lines in case he needed to challenge a ruling.

GOLF

RAIN CUTS SHORT FIRST ROUND IN HOUSTON: HUMBLE, Texas (AP) — Angel Cabrera and Carl Pettersson each shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday morning to set the pace in the Houston Open before the first round was suspended due to bad weather.

Only 51 players completed their rounds before thunderstorms rolled across Redstone in the afternoon. The tournament had not been delayed by inclement weather since 2009.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples and Ernie Els, who needs a victory to qualify for next week's Masters, were still playing their front nines when play was suspended.

The first round will resume at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Friday.

Stockton native Ricky Barnes and Jeff Maggert completed their rounds and were one shot off the lead. Brian Harman also was 6 under, but had three holes left in his round.

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