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Jets teammates defend Sanchez amid heavy criticism: NEW YORK (AP) — The fallout from coach Rex Ryan's Jets failing to make the playoffs is in full swing, with coaches leaving, some players taking shots at quarterback Mark Sanchez and others defending him.

In less than 24 hours, the coaching staff was shaken up with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walking away, former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano replacing him, and a few assistants saying they won't be back. Now the latest controversy involves the shaky status of Sanchez.

Some players say Sanchez lacks the work ethic and leadership skills to ever lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. And with a new offensive coordinator in charge, the window for Sanchez to do so might have gotten a lot smaller. Still, some teammates insist Sanchez is the right guy for the job.


Packers OC Philbin away from team indefinitely: GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Packers coach Mike McCarthy calls it a "punch in the heart," briefly choking up with emotion about the death of Michael Philbin, the son of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

With Sunday's divisional playoff game against the New York Giants to prepare for — and a Super Bowl repeat to strive for — real life has knocked the Packers back.

Philbin wasn't with the team Wednesday, and will be away indefinitely as he and his family deal with the loss of Michael, whose body was recovered from an icy Wisconsin river on Monday.

McCarthy said he and the rest of his offensive assistant coaches are dividing up Philbin's responsibilities and will continue to do so as long as they need to. McCarthy says Philbin is with his family, "where he's supposed to be."


Heisman winner RG3 leaving Baylor early for NFL: WACO, Texas (AP) — Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III is headed to the NFL.

Griffin made it official Wednesday, announcing that he is bypassing his senior season at Baylor to enter the NFL draft after a record-breaking college career.

His announcement comes a month and a day after he became the first Baylor player to win college football's highest individual honor.

Griffin arrived at Baylor along with coach Art Briles before the 2008 season. Briles was at Griffin's side Wednesday.

Griffin set or tied 54 school records while playing 41 games at Baylor over the past four seasons. The fourth-year junior had another season of eligibility remaining because he got a medical redshirt after he tore the ACL in his right knee in the third game of the 2009 season.



Pens coach: Sidney Crosby set to resume skating: WASHINGTON (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is ready to resume skating.

Coach Dan Bylsma said before Pittsburgh's game at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night that Crosby will skate during the team's current road trip, which includes visits to the Florida Panthers on Friday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

Crosby is with the Penguins and was in the press box wearing a jacket and tie on Wednesday.

Out with lingering concussion symptoms, Crosby hasn't played since Dec. 5. He was sidelined for nearly 11 months before that because of a concussion, and returned on Nov. 21 with two goals. Crosby had 12 points in eight games before being sidelined again.

Bylsma said Crosby has been working out in the weight room and riding a bike. Bylsma added: "I'll certainly be glad to see him on the ice."

The coach said Crosby will speak to the media soon.



LA Angels re-sign 1B Morales, avoiding arbitration: ANAHEIM (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels have re-signed Kendrys Morales to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration with the injured first baseman.

The Angels announced the deal Wednesday for Morales, who hasn't played since breaking his left ankle while jumping on home plate to celebrate a game-ending grand slam May 29, 2010.

The Cuban slugger appeared to be on the verge of stardom after batting .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs in 2009, but has undergone several procedures on his injured ankle, including a bone graft and surgery to remove scar tissue last year.

The Angels still don't know whether Morales will be healthy for spring training next month, but they're cautiously optimistic.

The switch-hitter has been cleared to begin certain baseball drills later this week, and general manager Jerry Dipoto hopes Morales will join Albert Pujols in the Angels' lineup this season.