Broncos’ Wideout Welker Misses More Time With Concussion
Englewood , Colo. — As expected, Denver Broncos slot receiver Wes Welker was officially ruled out of this weekend’s game at Houston.
He’s also expected to be held out of the Broncos’ regular-season finale at Oakland on Dec. 29 as a precaution against a third head injury this month, which would end his season.
The Broncos (11-3) are hoping to gain home-field advantage in the playoffs and a first-round bye that would give Welker more than a month’s rest.
He hasn’t played since leaving the Broncos’ Dec. 8 game against Tennessee shortly before halftime with his second concussion in a three-week span. He was cleared Thursday to resume light workouts.
Welker has a career-high 10 touchdown catches on 73 receptions for 778 yards in his first season in Denver.
Rodgers Out Again
Green Bay, Wis. — The Packers have ruled out Aaron Rodgers for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It will be Green Bay’s seventh straight game without Rodgers since the franchise quarterback fractured his left collarbone during the first series of a 27-20 loss to the Bears on Nov. 4.
Backup Matt Flynn will make a fourth straight start. Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that Rodgers has not received medical clearance yet, and that the organization feels Rodgers is not ready to play.
Green Bay (7-6-1) went winless for five games before rallying for two straight come-from-behind victories with Flynn at quarterback to get back into the NFC North race. The Packers can win the division by beating the Steelers this week and Bears next week.
Rodgers this week said he hasn’t suffered any setbacks. He appears to be improving each week.
Ex-Sox Star Heads East
New York — Kevin Youkilis is leaving the major leagues after an injury plagued season and is heading to Japan.
The three-time All-Star has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League, agent Joe Bick said Friday.
Youkilis, a 34-year-old first baseman and third baseman, will have a $4 million base salary and can earn $1 million bonuses — including some based on walks, a provision not allowed in major league contracts.
After nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Youkilis signed a $12 million, one-year deal with the New York Yankees. But a back injury limited him to 28 games, and his season ended June 13.
No Balfour in Baltimore
Baltimore — The Baltimore Orioles won’t be closing a deal for All-Star closer Grant Balfour.
Days after reaching a preliminary agreement with the free agent pending a physical, the Orioles said Friday that they weren’t satisfied with the results of Balfour’s exam.
“This is a deal that’s not going to come together,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said on a conference call.
Duquette declined to say what specifically concerned him about Balfour, who turns 36 later this month. Balfour had shoulder and elbow surgeries that kept him out of the majors in 2005 and 2006.
Baltimore and Balfour came to a reported two-year $15 million agreement with $1 million deferred on Tuesday, depending on the physical. Duquette said the team would not seek to restructure the agreement.
The Orioles were hoping Balfour, who had 62 saves over the last two years for Oakland, would replace Jim Johnson.
Baltimore traded Johnson, who had 101 saves in 2012 and 2013 to the Athletics on Dec. 2.
U.S. Star Returns To Premier League
London — U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey will be returning to Fulham on loan from the Seattle Sounders.
Cottagers manager Rene Meulensteen said Friday the 30-year-old forward has had a medical test.
Dempsey scored 60 goals in 225 games for Fulham from 2007-12, including 50 goals in 184 Premier League matches. He spent a season at Tottenham before moving to Major League Soccer in August.
Dempsey could spend about two months at Fulham ahead of Seattle’s opener against defending MLS champion Sporting Kansas City.
Svindal Wins Super-G
Val Gardena, Italy — Aksel Lund Svindal increased his overall World Cup lead by winning the Val Gardena super-G for the third time on Friday, while Ted Ligety skied off the course and Bode Miller finished eighth after colliding with the last gate.
Svindal clocked 1 minute, 35.82 seconds in a flawless run on the Saslong course to match his win here last year and in 2009. Jan Hudec of Canada finished second, 0.58 seconds behind, and Adrian Theaux of France was third.
Ligety went wide on the top section of the course and attempted to make the next gate, but pulled up when he realized it was too risky. Miller had trouble with his landing on the final jump, catching his pole on the gate.