ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Peyton Manning showed excellent arm
strength while airing it out Monday as the Denver Broncos worked on
deep throws. The league’s only four-time MVP is returning from a nerve injury that caused weakness in his throwing arm, forced him to sit out
last season and led to his release from the Indianapolis Colts.
In the two previous practices that the media were allowed to
watch, Manning looked good on short and intermediate passes but
sometimes lacked oomph on the occasional deep ball.
Not this time. Some of his throws were actually too strong, sailing over
receivers’ heads. In the 2-minute drill at the end, he hit a
sliding Brandon Stokley with a sensational 40-yard pass, then faked
the spike and found Eric Decker in the corner for the 5-yard TD.

NEW YORK (AP) – The NFL will start hiring and training possible
replacement officials with a deal not yet completed with the NFL
Referees Association. The two sides have been negotiating since October and have said they expect a new collective bargaining agreement in time for the upcoming season. A session was held Sunday under the auspices of
the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The league said Monday that regional training sessions for
replacement officials would begin later this month “to ensure that
there is no disruption to NFL games this season.”
The NFL’s search would target retired college officials and
perhaps current ones who would be qualified to work professional
games. In 2001, the league used replacement officials for one
preseason game, then the first weekend of the regular season.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – Blake Nowland, an offensive tackle
from Castle Rock, is the latest Colorado recruit to commit to the
CSU football program. Nowland says the Colorado State University program seems like a good fit and he plans to sign with the Rams in February. Nowland also had offers from the University of Colorado, Air Force, Wyoming and Washington State.

PARIS (AP) – The second seeds posted contrasting victories at
the French Open today. Maria Sharapova (shah-rah-POH’-vah)
struggled past 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova (KLAH’-ruh
za-kop-ah-LOH’-vuh) 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 in the fourth round while Rafael
Nadal (rah-fay-ehl nah-DAHL’) cruised into the quarterfinals with a
6-2, 6-love, 6-love win over 13th-seeded Juan Monaco.

NEW YORK (AP) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (guh-DEHL’) does
have the authority to discipline New Orleans Saints players for
their role in a bounty system. That’s the ruling from an arbitrator
following five days of deliberation. The NFL players’ union says it
expects to appeal.

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Mets are giving Johan Santana two
extra days rest following Saturday’s no-hitter, during which he
threw a career-high 134-pitches. That puts the left-hander on
schedule to pitch the team’s opening game of an interleague series
with the city-rival Yankees on Friday night in the Bronx.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) – The Capitals have traded veteran
goaltender Tomas Vokoun (voh-KOON’) to the Penguins after just one
season in Washington. Pittsburgh gives up a seventh-round draft
pick for the 35-year-old netminder, who sat out the playoffs after
suffering a groin injury late in the regular season.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Game 5 of the NBA’s Western Conference finals
between the Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder is on tap for tonight
in San Antonio. The home team has won each of the first four games
in the best-of-seven showdown.