Tuesday's Sports In Brief

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Associated Press

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 12 at 5:02 AM

PRO FOOTBALL

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jonathan Martin is returning to familiar territory, months after he accused a teammate of bullying and left the Miami Dolphins.

The offensive tackle is headed back to the Bay Area to play for Jim Harbaugh — again.

Martin was traded from Miami to the San Francisco 49ers, reuniting the lineman with his college coach at Stanford and a supportive coaching staff he knows so well. In fact, Harbaugh publicly expressed his support of Martin last year and called him a "personal friend."

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys released franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware, a salary cap move that owner Jerry Jones called "extremely difficult" after the worst season of the star pass rusher's career.

Ware broke Harvey Martin's 30-year-old franchise record for sacks in 2013, but got to the quarterback a career-low six times and missed games for the first time in his nine-year career with a thigh injury.

The 31-year-old Ware also had offseason elbow surgery and was set to count $16 million against the salary cup. His release saves about $7.4 million and gives Dallas about $9 million to spend at the moment.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million contract with offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and kept oft-injured running back Darren McFadden on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million.

Oakland and former New York Jets right tackle Austin Howard also agreed to a five-year, $30 million contract, with $15 million guaranteed, according to two people with knowledge of the deal.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos spent the first day of free agency bolstering their defensive backfield, agreeing to a four-year deal with Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward and then hours later reaching an agreement on a six-year contract with cornerback Aqib Talib.

Talib and Ward will play in a secondary that will be without Champ Bailey, who was released last week.

CLEVELAND (AP) — During the furious first few hours of free agency, the Browns agreed to terms with strong safety Donte Whitner, a Cleveland native who can't wait to play in his hometown.

Also, they reportedly struck a deal with inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who revived his career last season in his second stint with Arizona.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers released linebacker LaMarr Woodley, with a post-June 1 designation to save money under the salary cap and signed free agent safety Mike Mitchell from the Carolina Panthers.

HOCKEY

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stars forward Rich Peverley remained hospitalized in Dallas, undergoing heart tests after collapsing on the bench during a game that was postponed a night earlier.

His teammates? They did a fine job concentrating on the business at hand and earned a 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues.

After an eerily quiet flight and a sleepless night all around, the Stars were back on the ice for a morning skate in St. Louis. They were relieved that Peverley's heart condition had stabilized but were clearly shaken by an event that put their playoff push in perspective.

AUTO RACING

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Moving swiftly to address driver safety concerns, NASCAR banned cool-down laps and will start allowing teams to hook up cooling units to their engines on pit road — the first major changes to the popular new knockout qualifying format unveiled this season.

The decisions were made during a conference call with crew chiefs. Several people who participated told The Associated Press that NASCAR initially said teams could use external fans on pit road to cool the engines. But after nearly unanimous objection, NASCAR relented on the use of cooling units as long as they are hooked up through a flap on either side of the car. Teams are barred from lifting the hood of the car.

TENNIS

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Facing an opponent he had never seen play, Novak Djokovic asked around the locker room and got some intel from his coach. Djokovic then went out and beat Alejandro Gonzalez 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in the third round at the BNP Paribas Open.

John Isner, the lone American remaining in the men's draw, defeated Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3 to reach the fourth round.

In the women's draw, top-seeded Li Na defeated Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-1, 6-4, setting up a quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia that will be a rematch of the Australian Open final, which Li won in straight sets.

Also, Jelena Jankovic routed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals in a matchup of former tournament champions and No. 1-ranked players.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — FIU senior Jerica Coley became the 10th female player in NCAA Division I history to eclipse the 3,000-point barrier, doing so with a 20-point showing in FIU's 85-65 win over Rice in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.

She's at 3,012 points for her career, and will get at least one more chance to keeping adding to the total when the Panthers play East Carolina in the tournament's second round.

She passed Maine's Cindy Blodgett (3,005) for ninth place on the Division I career list. USC's Cheryl Miller is eighth on the career list at 3,018 points. Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw is seventh at 3,025. Connecticut's Maya Moore is sixth at 3,036, and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne is sitting in fifth at 3,039.

SKIING

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) — Chip White is stepping down as speed coach of the U.S. women's ski team after this week's World Cup finals.

White was part of the program for 18 years and helped develop skiers such as Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso. Under his tutelage, the Americans finished on the World Cup podium 122 times in speed events and captured six Olympic medals.

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