Although it's not a surprise, it is now official: Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy will make his NFL debut Sunday for the Cleveland Browns. After two days of practices and with two veteran quarterbacks still ailing, McCoy is "definitely" starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a source told ESPN.com Thursday evening. Barring something "extremely unforeseen" those plans won't change, the source said.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has returned to practice for the Green Bay Packers, a sign of progress in his recovery from a concussion. Rodgers participated in the entire portion of Thursday's practice that was open to the media even though the team did not go through any full-contact team drills while reporters were there. Rodgers sustained a concussion late in Sunday's overtime loss at Washington.
Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes and No. 25 West Virginia held South Florida to a season-low for yards in a 20-6 victory over the Bulls on Thursday night. The Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0 Big East) made the most out of their limited scoring opportunities in a game where neither offense was outstanding.
Michael Vick did not practice today. His status is iffy because of a rib cartilage injury that forced him to miss Philadelphia's win at San Francisco last Sunday. He says he's making progress, and hopes to get a chance to start against his former team, the Falcons. Don't forget, Wednesday Vick said, "I don't need no practice to play. Honestly, I really don't. Not to be arrogant or sound arrogant, but I don't need practice to play. I've made progress every day. Last week I couldn't brush my hair, but now I can brush my hair. So that's a good thing."
Brett Favre returned to practice for the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, one day after sitting out to rest his sore right elbow. Favre has been bothered by tendinitis in his throwing elbow and said earlier this week that he would consider sitting out a game or two to rest it if the condition worsens. Favre has started an NFL-record 289 straight regular season games.
Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch agreed to take a pay cut for the final year of his contract as part of the deal that brought him back to New England from the Seattle Seahawks, according to a source. The restructuring reduces Branch's 2011 base salary from $5.95 million and puts it closer in line with Wes Welker's base salary of $2.15 million in 2011, according to the source. Branch has a chance to earn an additional $2 million in the form of incentives.
The freed Chilean miners are being flooded with invitations to visit leading European and Latin American soccer teams, and even participate in the New York City Marathon. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez invited the 33 miners to visit Santiago Bernabeu stadium, while Manchester United is planning a similar reception. Upon hearing that miner Edison Pena jogged regularly in the tunnels that weren't blocked by the collapse, New York City Marathon officials decided to invite him to participate in next month's race. The last of the miners was freed Wednesday, ending a 69-day ordeal in which they had been trapped more than 2,000 feet underground following a collapse on Aug. 5.
It took seven years, but the University of Mississippi has a substitute for a beloved and reviled mascot who brought the Confederacy to mind. The new guy is still a rebel, only cuddlier. "Rebel Black Bear" won 62 percent of the vote in a final poll, the school announced Thursday. Its athletic programs will keep the Rebels nickname. It has been more than a decade since Ole Miss began stripping away its images of the Old South.
Brewers radio announcer Bob Uecker needs surgery on his heart again after a tear was discovered at the site of his valve replacement. The team says Uecker will have the surgery on Tuesday, performed by the same doctors who did his initial procedure on April 30. Uecker's recovery time is expected to be at least eight weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.