Braves break out with 7-4 win over Phillies
ATLANTA (AP) - Rookie Christian Bethancourt had three hits in his return to the major leagues, including a fifth-inning single that helped the Atlanta Braves break out of their scoring slump in a 7-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer in a three-run second as the Braves ended a 25-inning scoreless streak.
Bethancourt, a catcher recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday following a six-week demotion, drove in the Braves' first run with an infield single in the second and put Atlanta ahead 5-4 with an RBI single in the fifth.
Atlanta began the day 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the NL's second wild card.
Ervin Santana (14-7) won despite allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched around a leadoff walk to Cesar Hernandez in the ninth for his major league-leading 42nd save in 46 chances.
Ryan facing different questions after dismal year
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - For Matt Ryan, there are none of those annoying questions about his playoff record.
Now, everyone wants to know if the Atlanta Falcons can recover from their worst season since he was in college.
Ryan and the Falcons went 4-12 a year ago after nearly making the Super Bowl the previous season. With little help around him because of injuries and a leaky offensive line, Matty Ice was saddled with a one-dimensional offense. That was a big reason he had unwanted career highs in pass attempts, interceptions and sacks.
As Ryan heads into Sunday's season opener against the New Orleans Saints, the expectations in Atlanta haven't been this low since his rookie season in 2008.
The Falcons made the playoffs that year.
Ryan is confident they can do it again.
Clemson receiver Priester dismissed from team
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said freshman receiver Kyrin Preister has been dismissed from the team for a poor attitude.
Swinney said Wednesday that Priester had no respect for authority and that he was a good individual who had lost his way, which is why he's no longer on the team.
Priester is a 6-foot-1, 186-pound wideout from Lilburn, Georgia, who had 56 catches for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior year at Brookwood High. Priester enrolled at Clemson this past January and had hoped to make an early impact for the 23rd-ranked Tigers.
He played on special teams in last week's 45-21 loss at Georgia last weekend.
Priester was listed as a third-string receiver on Clemson's depth chart for its game with South Carolina State on Saturday.
SEC lineup of games far from must-see TV this week
(AP) - This weekend's SEC lineup doesn't hold much national appeal, unless the scheduling backfires.
After opening with some made-for-TV games, the Southeastern Conference's Week 2 lineup includes several games that shape up to be lopsided mismatches.
Texas A&M versus Lamar doesn't hold quite the same appeal as the Aggies' inaugural SEC Network game with South Carolina.
The list goes on: Auburn-San Jose State, LSU-Sam Houston State, Arkansas-Nicholls State, Alabama-Florida Atlantic, Mississippi State-UAB. The only league game is No. 15 Mississippi versus Vanderbilt. The top nonconference game is probably South Carolina against East Carolina.
Alabama coach Nick Saban says the challenge shouldn't change whether you're playing Michael Jordan or just some "old basketball player." Saban says he'll be mad if that's not his players' approach.
ACC teams matching up with more nickel defenses
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Defenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference aren't waiting for passing situations to bring on another defensive back.
Instead, they're starting with the nickel package.
It's an effort to cover more ground and avoid mismatches against offenses that keep flooding the field with receivers and attacking from sideline to sideline without substituting.
Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are using a 4-2-5 - four linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs - as their base scheme and the starting point for what they do every week.
Other teams are using the nickel heavily, including reigning national champion Florida State.
Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof says the game has evolved, and now defenses are trying to match up and disguise coverages with the nickel.
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