Registered: Sep 2014
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. Steven Hauschka Blue Jersey . - Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. doesnt see any reason to lament his lot in life right now. Despite dealing with a torn left ACL that sidelined him for the Super Bowl and probably cost him $1 million in salary next season, the Denver Broncos most versatile cornerback was thrilled to sign his one-year restricted free-agent tender Tuesday. It will pay him $2,187,000 next season ? or more than 1,000 times the $2,000 signing bonus he received four years ago as an undrafted college free agent. "Ill take it," Harris told The Associated Press. "Im definitely happy with it. Im excited to go back out there, get back healthy and lead this team back to the Super Bowl." Had Harris not gotten hurt in the playoffs, the Broncos would have probably had to use the highest tender on him ? a one-year deal worth more than $3.1 million that carried a first-round pick as compensation. Instead, they were able to use the second-highest tender available. With the Broncos able to match any offers, no suitors came calling for Harris, whos been rehabbing at the Broncos facilities since shortly after undergoing surgery in February following Denvers loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl. "Teams were not going to give up a second-round pick. We realized that," Harris said. "We know that next year is a big year for me." Harris ligament in his left knee wasnt completely torn when he got hurt against San Diego in the playoffs and he and the Broncos are optimistic hell be ready by the start of training camp in July and will resume his role as a leader on Denvers defence. If that happens, the Broncos are expected to work toward a longer-term deal for Harris after next season when he hits unrestricted free agency. "I definitely think Ill be close to 100 per cent by the start of training camp," Harris said. "You never know with this type of injury, but the ligament wasnt completely torn and right now Im feeling great. The treatment is going great and Im improving each week." Harris is coming off a monster year in which he posted 65 tackles, 58 of them solo, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups while allowing the fifth-fewest yards receiving (25 a game) and tying for the eighth-fewest completions allowed (35) in the NFL among players targeted at least 60 times. His emergence and versatility playing both the slot and on the outside helped the Broncos decide to bid farewell to star Champ Bailey this off-season after he played sparingly last year. Then, the signing of fellow University of Kansas alum Aqib Talib led to the departure of free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. "Champ and I always talked and we kind of understood this would probably happen. We werent surprised" by Baileys exit, Harris said. "Losing Champ, I feel I can take over his role on the field and also I can take over his leadership role. If you look at it, I was the starting corner pretty much the whole season last year. "You see my production and you see Talib, me and him have played together before, so were familiar with each other communication-wise, chemistry-wise, and thats a big thing." Harris was a freshman at Kansas in 2007 when Talib was an All-American his junior year before being drafted in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that following spring. "Weve always been pretty tight. And friends always joke around saying, What if you and Talib play together now?" Harris said. "Now, its kind of crazy. I was just a freshman. I was young and still learning the game. Now, Im in my fourth season in the NFL and with all Aqibs experience, weve got a pretty solid duo. Its going to be great." ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL ___ Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton K.J. Wright Black Jersey . - The Colorado Rapids say theyve received a first-round 2015 MLS SuperDraft pick, allocation money and a contract buyout from FC Dallas as compensation for coach Oscar Parejas leaving to take the same job with his former club. Kam Chancellor Seahawks Jersey . Agent Mike McCartney confirmed via Twitter on Sunday that Mendenhall had decided to end his playing career after six NFL seasons, all but one of them with the Pittsburgh Steelers. SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Oklahoma Thunder took the fourth quarter off and almost paid for it against the Sacramento Kings. Kevin Durant had 27 points and 11 rebounds and the Thunder withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally to earn their eighth straight win, a 97-95 victory over slumping Sacramento on Tuesday night. The Thunder were outscored 30-19 in the fourth quarter, but hung on to improve to 4-3 on the road this season. "We cant ever take a win for granted," said Durant, who missed three of four shots and scored three points in the fourth quarter. "Its hard to win in this league. We won the game, thats all that matters." Although the Thunder played inspired defence in limiting the Kings to a combined 34 points in the middle two quarters, they had no answer for Kings diminutive reserve guard Isaiah Thomas in the fourth period. The Thunder built a 17-point lead early in the fourth, but had to hold off the Kings and Thomas, who scored 21 of his 24 points in the final period and missed a jumper with 1 second left that would have sent the game to overtime. "I felt like I was passive in the first half and I wasnt really doing anything on offence," said Thomas, who made 8 of 14 shots in the fourth, including a pair of 3s. "When I got in at the end of the third and fourth I wanted to try to make a difference. I was in attack mode and my teammates kept feeding me." Thomas made a 20-foot jumper with 37 seconds left, getting the Kings within 97-95. After Durant misfired on a 3, the Kings got the rebound and set up the final shot for Thomas, but it hit the front rim and Durant secured the rebound. "There are no nights off in the West," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "The West is so good and there are so many good teams and tough places to play." One of those teams and places is Portland, where the Thunder play Wednesday night. "We have to play better tomorrow night," Brooks said. "Were playing one of the hottest teams in the game right now. They have a great home crowd and have a great atmosphere. But our team has always been up for challenges and definitely tomorrow night will be a tough challenge for us. Cliff Avril Jersey. " The Kings played without starting centre DeMarcus Cousins in dropping their fifth straight. He sprained his right ankle against Golden State on Sunday and watched Tuesdays game in street clothes. Cousins, the Kings leading scorer (21.7) and rebounder (10.1), is day to day. The Kings next play Friday at home against the Lakers. Russell Westbrook had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but also committed seven turnovers for the Thunder, who have defeated the Kings seven straight and 13 of 14. Jeremy Lamb scored 14 points, Reggie Jackson had 13, and Serge Ibaka had 13 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City. Rookie Ben McLemore scored 14 points for Sacramento, Derrick Williams added 13, Greivis Vasquez 12 and Jason Thompson had 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Kings have made a habit of getting behind by double digits and making impressive fourth-quarter rallies. "DeMarcus doesnt play tonight, (were) playing against a team thats 12-3, and odds have them one of the favourites to get to the Finals out of the West," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "And we play them tooth and nail, giving ourselves a chance to win. At some point were going to pull these games out." The game was the start of a difficult stretch of road games for Oklahoma City. The Thunder play three games in four nights, then go home to face Indiana on Sunday. Thats followed by two more road games next week at Atlanta and Memphis. The Thunder have been flawless this season at home, winning all nine games and tying Indiana for the best home record. Oklahoma City just concluded a six-game home stand with a convincing victory Sunday against Minnesota. NOTES: The Thunder assigned rookie guard/forward Andre Roberson to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League on Tuesday. He appeared in six games (one start) this season, averaging 1.7 rebounds in 6.5 minutes per game. . The Kings shot 58 per cent in the first quarter, 33 per cent in the second, and 26 per cent in the third. . The Kings had eight turnovers after committing a season-high 24 Sunday against Golden State. ' ' '