CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)The Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule on Monday, ending the former Baylor coach’s tenure five games into his third losing season.
Rhule, the first NFL coach to be fired this season, went 11-27 with Carolina and leaves with roughly $40 million remaining on a seven-year, guaranteed $62 million contract. The Panthers fell to 1-4 on Sunday with a home loss to San Francisco.
Defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach Steve Wilks will serve as interim coach for the rest of the season. He coached Arizona in 2018, going 3-13.
The Panthers also fired two of Rhule’s longtime assistants, defensive coordinator Phil Snow and assistant special teams coach Ed Foley.
Also, quarterback Baker Mayfield has been diagnosed with a high left ankle sprain and is expected to miss several games, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person, who said Mayfield is expected to get a second opinion, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the team has not yet released details of the injury.
P.J. Walker is expected to start Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
CLEVELAND (AP) – Deshaun Watson returned to the Cleveland Browns’ training facility, the quarterback’s next step in his potential return from an NFL suspension.
Watson, banned for 11 games for alleged sexual misconduct after being accused by women in Texas of lewd actions during massage therapy sessions, has been away from the Browns since Aug. 30. He agreed to a suspension, a $5 million fine and to undergo counseling and treatment as part of a settlement with the league.
The three-time Pro Bowler is now permitted to attend team meetings and can participate in Cleveland’s game planning. He’s also free to work out in the weight room, but he’s not eligible to practice until Nov. 14.
As long as he fulfills the settlement’s provisions, Watson will be eligible for full reinstatement on Nov. 28 and can play in his first game on Dec. 4 against the Houston Texans, who drafted him in 2017 and then traded him in March to the Browns amid his legal troubles.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – Miami Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is still showing no concussion symptoms after a hit against the New York Jets on Sunday caused him to leave the game, but he remains in the concussion protocol after the NFL’s revised concussion rules.
Bridgewater has to clear the NFL’s five-step process to return to football activities. Although there is no definitive time frame, coach Mikle McDaniel said the earliest Bridgewater could return to practice would be Thursday. Starter Tua Tagovailoa is still in the concussion protocol and is ”not ready to take the step to do football stuff,” McDaniel said.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) – The Seattle Seahawks will be without running back Rashaad Penny for the rest of the season after he broke his left fibula Sunday in a loss to New Orleans.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said on his radio show on KIRO-AM that Penny and also has a significant high ankle sprain.
ATLANTA (AP) – After guiding the Philadelphia Phillies to their first playoff series victory since 2010, manager Rob Thomson had the interim removed from his title.
The Phillies announced they have signed Thomson to a two-year contract to remain as their manager through 2024, rewarding him for a turnaround that earned Philadelphia a wild-card berth.
The 59-year-old Thomson took over on June 3 when Joe Girardi was fired with the Phillies mired at 22-29. Philadelphia went 65-46 the rest of the regular season, finishing third in the NL East behind Atlanta and the New York Mets but still good enough for the Phillies to land their first postseason berth since 2011.
In the wild-card round, Philadelphia swept the NL Central champion Cardinals in two games in St. Louis. The Phillies advanced to face the Braves in the Division Series that begins Tuesday.
ATLANTA (AP) – The Atlanta Braves signed rookie right-hander Spencer Strider to a $75 million, six-year contract, the latest in a series of long-term deals for their young core.
The signing of Strider, who turns 24 this month, came after just 33 big league appearances. Strider was 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 31 games, including 20 starts.
An oblique injury has kept Strider sidelined since Sept. 18. The Braves have said they are optimistic he can return for the playoffs, either as a starter or perhaps working out of the bullpen while he builds up arm strength.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The San Francisco Giants have hired Houston assistant general manager Pete Putila as their new GM.
President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi announced that Putila will replace Scott Harris, who was hired as GM for the Detroit Tigers last month. The 33-year-old Putila was in his 12th season with the Astros and third as assistant general manager.
Dustin Johnson needed only six events to have a $30 million year, and he still has two events left with Saudi-funded LIV Golf.
Even though he failed to finish in the top 10 for the first time Sunday in LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok, Johnson clinched the inaugural LIV Golf Individual Championship.
The two-time major champion already has earned $12,758,600 – $3 million of that from four team victories in the LIV Golf Invitational series – with one individual title. Winning the season points title comes with an $18 million bonus.
The $30 million is in addition to the signing fee to join LIV Golf, which The Daily Telegraph reported to be about $125 million over four years.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Bronny James, son of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, is one of five high school and college basketball players who have signed endorsement deals with Nike.
The name, image and likeness deals are permissible in college sports and at the high school level in a growing number of states. They allow athletes to make money without compromising their eligibility.
The others signing with Nike are JuJu Watkins, who like James attends Sierra Canyon High in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles; DJ Wagner from Camden High in New Jersey; Caitlan Clark of Iowa; and Haley Jones of Stanford. Wagner is the son of Dajuan Wagner and grandson of Milt Wagner, both of whom played in the NBA.
Financial details of the deals were not announced.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Charlotte Hornets All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of a preseason game against Washington.
Ball was driving the left side of the lane when Washington’s Anthony Gill inadvertently stepped on Ball’s foot, causing the third-year pro’s ankle to twist awkwardly.
CHICAGO (AP) – Players for the Chicago Red Stars have called on owner Arnim Whisler to sell his stake in the team following a disturbing report into misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The players issued a joint statement, a move that comes after the Red Stars’ board of directors voted last week to remove Whisler as chairman and forbid him from participation in team operations.
The NWSL also announced Monda y that it is terminating the contracts of Orlando Pride coach Amanda Cromwell and assistant Sam Greene following a league investigation into verbal abuse, favoritism and retaliation within the club.
Last week, former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates released the report into allegations of abuse in the NWSL. Yates and the law firm King & Spaulding were retained by U.S. Soccer to investigate those claims. The investigation found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct are systemic in the league.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Caleb Porter was fired as coach of the Columbus Crew, a day after the team failed to make the Major League Soccer playoffs.