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Sports in brief

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day full of drug bans

Cowboys DE Randy Gregory, who failed a marijuana test at the NFL combine last year and slid to the draft's second round because of off-field concerns, will miss the first four games next season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the league said Friday. Under the policy, a four-game suspension comes after four failed tests.

• Ravens TE Nick Boyle was suspended for 10 games next season for violating the policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He previously was banned for the final four games last season under the policy. Boyle said on Twitter he was sorry for the "poor choice" he made.

• Packers DT Mike Pennel was suspended for the first four games of 2106 for violating the substance abuse policy. His representatives didn't return emails from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel seeking comment.

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Rams begin cap purge

The Rams released LB James Laurinaitis, DE Chris Long and TE Jared Cook to reduce their salary by nearly $25 million as they relocate from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

Laurinaitis has been one of the NFL's leading tacklers in his seven-year career. Long, son of Hall of Fame DE Howie Long, was the Rams' top pass rusher for most of his eight seasons. Cook set franchise records for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season (671 in 2013) and in a game (141, Sept. 8, 2013, versus Arizona).

Steelers TE Miller retires: Heath Miller, regarded as the best tight end in Steelers history, announced his retirement. Miller, 33, started 167 of a possible 168 regular-season games in the past 11 seasons and is the team's all-time leader for tight ends in receptions (592), receiving yards (6,569) and receiving touchdowns (45). Miller started in three Super Bowls and helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII.

et cetera

College football: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is getting a raise after leading the Spartans to the playoffs last season. Dantonio's annual compensation increases from $3.67 million to $4.3 million, the school said. … Michigan said its spring game will be at night for the first time. The April 1 game will be the 15th and final practice for Jim Harbaugh's second spring with the Wolverines.

Skiing: Lara Gut won a World Cup downhill by a large margin and reclaimed the overall World Cup lead from Lindsey Vonn, who lost a ski, fell and did not finish at La Tuile, Italy. Vonn wasn't hurt.

Soccer: Alex Morgan had a hat trick and the U. S. women secured a spot in this summer's Olympics with a 5-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in the semifinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament at Houston. In the final, the Americans face Canada, which got an Olympic spot with a 3-1 win over Costa Rica.

Tennis: Top seed Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals of the Rio de Janeiro Open after Alexandr Dolgopolov withdrew before their claycourt match with a shoulder injury. No. 5 Dominic Thiem upset No. 2 David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2.

Times wires

Sports in brief 02/19/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2016 11:11pm]
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  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.