Ravens QB Will Wear Brace vs. Patriots

Owings Mills, Md. — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will wear a brace on his left knee in Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, a precautionary move in the wake of the injury he sustained last Monday night in Detroit.

Before Justin Tucker sent his 61-yard kick sailing toward the uprights in an 18-16 win, the Ravens collectively held their breath when Flacco’s left knee buckled after being struck by the helmet of oncoming Lions lineman DeAndre Levy.

Flacco recalled it being a “scary” moment because he had no idea of the severity of the injury.

Flacco practiced with the brace Wednesday. He says his knee is “a little stiff,” but does not expect it to be a hindrance against the first-place Patriots.

In his six NFL seasons, Flacco has never missed a start.

Steelers LB Fined

Pittsburgh — Pittsburgh linebacker Terence Garvin was fined $25,000 for his hit on Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber in the Steelers’ victory over the Bengals on Sunday night.

Huber sustained a broken jaw and a cracked vertebrae when Garvin decked him near midfield during Antonio Brown’s 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Garvin was not penalized on the play. Huber lay still on the field for several minutes before walking off under his own power. He was scheduled to have surgery on his jaw Friday and is out for the year.

Officials Ready For Wintry Super Bowl

East Rutherford, n.j. — Standing amid giant piles of snow in the shadow of MetLife Stadium, Super Bowl organizers said Wednesday that they’re prepared to deploy thousands of trucks and tons of salt to prevent snowy weather from interfering with the biggest football game of the year.

Officials held the news conference to assure the public that snow or ice will not hinder the game on Feb. 2, when it will debut as the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl in NFL history.

The stadium has several snow melters on hand that can clear the fields quickly, including one machine that can melt up to 600 tons of snow per hour, said the stadium’s CEO, Brad Mayne. Removable snow chutes can funnel snow out of the seating and concourse areas, he said.

The stadium plans to have up to 1,600 workers on standby for the Super Bowl, which is double the typical amount of personnel used in most storms.

Officials said they would only consider rescheduling the game in extreme circumstances.

Saints Revamp Lineup

Metairie, La. — In addition to bringing in a new kicker for Sunday’s pivotal NFC South clash with Carolina, the Saints will have a rookie who has yet to take a single offensive snap protecting Drew Brees’ blind side.

Sean Payton announced Wednesday that veteran Shayne Graham was New Orleans’ new kicker, and that Terron Armstead would get his first start at left tackle. The coach also asserting that the moves were aimed solely at improving performance at certain positions — not so much to get the attention of his team after a 27-16 upset loss at St. Louis.

Redskins Linebacker Ready to Retire

Ashburn, Va. — Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, one of the most durable players in NFL history, said there’s a “99 percent” chance he’ll retire at the end of the season.

Fletcher announced Wednesday that Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys will almost certainly be his final home game in the NFL.

He held out a one percent chance that he’ll return next year — just in case he has a change of heart.

The 38-year-old undrafted player from Division III John Carroll has never missed a game in the NFL. He has played in 254 consecutive games, the longest streak by a defensive player since the 1970 merger. He’s also started 213 in a row, the all-time mark for a linebacker.

Longhorns Rated Most Valuable

New York — Forbes magazine rates Texas as the most valuable college football team in the country for the fifth straight year.

The magazine valued the Longhorns at $139 million, almost 20 percent more than Notre Dame at No. 2. The Irish are valued at $117 million.

Alabama rose from sixth to third at $110 million, followed by SEC West rival LSU.

Michigan is fifth.

Florida (sixth) and Georgia (eighth) give the Southeastern Conference four of the top 10, the most of any conference but down from last year when it had seven of the first 10.


Sox Deal Reliever to Rockies

Denver — The Colorado Rockies reacquired left-hander Franklin Morales from the Boston Red Sox for versatile infielder Jonathan Herrera.

It was the second trade the Rockies orchestrated on Wednesday. They also picked up outfielder Drew Stubbs from the Cleveland Indians for reliever Josh Outman.

Morales is coming off a season in which he went 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 20 games for the World Series champion Red Sox. He was a member of the Rockies when they made their run to the World Series in 2007, only to be swept by Boston.

Colorado also picked up minor league reliever Chris Martin in the deal.

The 29-year-old Herrera hit .292 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 195 at-bats for Colorado this year. He played second base, third, shortstop and two games in left field.

This has been a busy offseason for the Rockies, who recently acquired lefty Brett Anderson from the Oakland Athletics.

PawSox Name Manager

Pawtucket, r.i. — The Pawtucket Red Sox named the Portland Sea Dogs’ manager as their fifth manager in six years.

The team announced the promotion of Kevin Boles on Wednesday. The 38-year-old has spent the last three seasons leading the Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. He has also managed at the rookie or Single-A level with the Red Sox, Marlins, Royals and Twins organizations.

Boles has a 797-786 career record during his 13 years managing in the minors. The Sea Dogs went 68-73 the last two seasons.

Boles is the son of former Florida Marlins manager John Boles.

He replaces Gary DiSarcina, who led the PawSox for the 2013 season. He left to become the third-base coach of the Los Angeles Angels.

Padres Add Closer

San Diego — The San Diego Padres have agreed with former Detroit Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit on a $15.5 million, two-year contract, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is pending Benoit passing a physical.

In his first season as Tigers closer, Benoit had 24 saves in 26 chances. But in Game 2 of the AL championship series, he allowed a tying grand slam by Boston’s David Ortiz that was a turning point in the series.