Tuesday Sports in Brief

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HOUSTON (AP)J.J. Watt returned to practice with the Houston Texans on Tuesday, clearing the way for the star defensive end to play in the team’s playoff game in two weeks.

Watt has been out since Oct. 27 after tearing a pectoral muscle, an injury which required surgery.

”I feel really good,” Watt said. ”We’ve worked extremely hard at rehab. We’ve had a very smooth process and everything’s been going extremely well. So I’m really, really excited to back in the field with everybody and to get back out there helping my team and playing for this city.”

The Texans will have 21 days from Tuesday to take him off injured reserve and add him to the active roster. If they plan to play him in their first playoff game during the weekend of Jan. 4-5, they’ll have to activate him by 4 p.m. EST the day before the game.

Watt has been working out with the team’s trainers and medical staff away for a while and said he has felt good during those workouts. He said he’s been wearing a harness during those workouts and that he’ll continue to wear that to protect himself during team practices. The harness keeps his arm from being pulled too far backward, but it will not restrict him from moving his arm forward or raising it up.

Watt said that he began thinking he might be able to return for the postseason not long after he was injured.

”When I got hurt I just assumed I was done,” he said. ”I didn’t even know there was a possibility. And then literally a couple days after the surgery I was feeling so good that I asked – `is it remotely possible?’ We left the … door open for a possibility.”

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) – Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will not play in the season finale against Arizona on Sunday because of a knee injury.

Coach Sean McVay said Ramsey is out after he got hurt during Saturday’s 34-31 loss at San Francisco that eliminated the Rams (8-7) from playoff contention.

”He had a Grade 2 sprain of the LCL and will be out for the game,” McVay said.

Ramsey should recover in four to six weeks and is not expected to require surgery, McVay said.

Ramsey had 33 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in nine games with the Rams after being acquired from Jacksonville in a trade on Oct. 15.


NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Mets have reached an agreement with free-agent reliever Dellin Betances on a one-year contract with a player option for 2021.

The Mets announced the deal Tuesday. The four-time All Star is guaranteed $10.5 million under the deal.

The 31-year-old right-hander, who is from New York, is staying in his hometown after spending his first eight seasons in the majors with the Yankees.

Betances missed most of 2019 because of injuries. He tore an Achilles tendon in his first appearance back from a lat injury that had sidelined him since spring training.

Betances was the first reliever in baseball history to have 100 or more strikeouts in five consecutive seasons (2014-2018). The right-hander led all major league relievers in strikeouts in each year from 2014-2016.


DENVER (AP) – The Denver Nuggets have signed coach Michael Malone to a contract extension through the 2022-23 season.

Malone has steadily helped build the Nuggets into a Western Conference contender since taking over in 2015-16. Denver advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season.

”His tireless work ethic and passion are clearly reflected in the continued improvement of our roster,” Nuggets president of of basketball operations Tim Connelly said in a statement. ”We are all extremely excited for him to continue to lead our team as we try to build a championship level organization.”

Malone guided the Nuggets to 33 wins in his first season at the helm. They jumped to 40 wins, then 46 and 54 last season, including the league’s best home record. Denver is off to a 21-8 start this season behind the play of versatile big man Nikola Jokic and point guard Jamal Murray.


HONOLULU (AP) – Cole McDonald capped a stellar Hawaii Bowl performance with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nick Mardner with 1:17 remaining, and Hawaii beat BYU 38-34 for the Warriors’ first 10-win season since 2010.

McDonald threw for 493 yards and four touchdowns against a BYU defense that was allowing an average of 203.8 yards passing per game.

Still, it took a late rally for Hawaii to beat BYU for the first time since 2001 when both were part of the Western Athletic Conference. Hawaii led 31-24 at halftime, but the Cougars (7-6) shut out the Warriors until the final part of the fourth.

McDonald scrambled for 9 yards. He found Mardner behind the defense for a 38-yard pass that at least put Hawaii in range to tie the game. And then he hit Mardner on a post route, and he tumbled into the end zone as Aloha Stadium erupted for its home team, even though the Warriors (10-5) were technically the visiting team.

BYU wasted a solid game by Zach Wilson, whose father grew up in Hawaii. Wilson threw for 274 yards and ran for 72 yards and two short TDs to help the Cougars rally from a 10-point deficit in the first half.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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