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49ers Sign Rugby Star Jarryd Hayne

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thinking outside the box, the San Francisco 49ers have signed Australian National Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne to a futures/reserves contract.

Other than rugby, Hayne has no football experience.

Hayne, who was the NRL's Player of the Year in 2014, turned down deals with the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions to sign with the 49ers.

The 49ers guaranteed Hayne $100,000 whether he ever makes the field or not.

He has been training since October in the United States with former NFL receiver Tim Dwight.

"He's going to have to come in and play special teams. He's going to have to learn how to rush the punt and then get back and block for a return," Dwight told last week. "He's going to have to learn how to cover a punt, but that should be pretty instinctive to him. We were trying to look at what positions he would play on the field, either offensively or defensively. Rugby, especially being a forward, you're pretty much an offensive-minded guy."

At his Pro Day, Hayne measured in at 6-foot-2, 226 pounds.

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Report: Clippers' Blake Griffin Set to Return Next Week

NBA via Los Angeles Clippers(NEW YORK) -- As the Los Angeles Clippers begin to climb the standings in the Western Conference, they're bracing for the return of forward Blake Griffin.

According to ESPN's Arash Markazi, Griffin is expected back as soon as next week.

Griffin has missed the last ten games after undergoing surgery to treat a staph infection in his right elbow. Despite his absence, the Clippers have gone 7-3.

The timeline for Griffin's return was initially in the 4-6 week range. He last played on Feb. 6.

Markazi also reports that Griffin's conditioning and cardio is back to normal and he's expected to start shooting this week.

Even though DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul have been carrying the Clippers the last month, Griffin is still one of the team's best players. Now in his fifth NBA season, the 25-year-old is averaging 22.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Entering Tuesday, the Clippers sit at 40-21, fifth in the Western Conference.

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Titans Release Safety Bernard Pollard

NFL via Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Coming off an injury-riddled 2015 season, the Tennessee Titans have released veteran safety Bernard Pollard.

"Nashville it's been so much fun. Thank you to all the fans and people I've been blessed meet. Great city, fans and food! #31 is out" Pollard tweeted.

Pollard told The Tennessean that he asked the team to release him, and his request was granted.

"I am a little ticked off to be honest because we didn't do as well as anyone wanted," Pollard told the newspaper. "I wish we could have won more games and made the playoffs. When I came here, I wanted to be a part of a turnaround, so it is a letdown. But I don't have that much time left, and for the time I do have left, I want to go out with a bang."

The 30-year-old Pollard suffered an Achilles injury during the fifth game of the season in 2014, and missed the remainder of the season. He spent two seasons in all in Nashville.

A nine-year veteran, Pollard has played for the Chiefs, Texans, Ravens, and Titans during his career.

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Kurt Busch Agrees to NASCAR Reinstatement Terms

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- After an extremely heated court battle with an ex-girlfriend, Kurt Busch was suspended indefinitely from the NASCAR circuit.

NASCAR has put forth a set of terms that Busch must complete in order to compete for the chase once again. According to NASCAR spokesman David Higdon, Busch has agreed to the stipulations.

Busch was suspended on Feb. 20 after a Delaware Judge ruled that Busch must cease all contact with his former paramour, Patricia Driscoll and undergo psychiatric counseling. 

Stewart Haas Racing, Busch's employer, released the following statement:

"We understand Kurt Busch has begun the process for reinstatement as a NASCAR member. NASCAR has laid out its expectations for Kurt, and while there is no timetable to meet those expectations, Kurt's willingness to embrace the conditions set forth by NASCAR is a positive step that we support." 

The timetable for Busch's return is currently unknown.

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Scoreboard Roundup - 3/1/15

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Los Angeles Clippers 110 (40-21) - Minnesota Timberwolves 105 (13-46)

Dallas Mavericks 102 (40-22) - New Orleans Pelicans 93 (32-28)

Miami Heat 115 (26-33) - Phoenix Suns 98 (31-30)

Brooklyn Nets 110 (25-33) - Golden State Warriors 108 (46-12)

Toronto Raptors 114 (38-22) - Philadelphia 76ers 103 (13-47)

NHL: New York Rangers 4 (39-17-6, 84 pts) - Nashville Predators 1 (41-16-7, 89 pts)

Chicago Blackhawks 5 (38-21-5, 81 pts) - Carolina Hurricanes 2 (24-31-7, 55 pts)

San Jose Sharks 4 (31-25-8, 70 pts) - Montreal Canadiens 0 (41-17-5, 87 pts)

NCAAM: (2) Virginia 59 (28-1) - Syracuse 42 (18-12)

Texas 61 (18-12) - (14) Baylor 59 (22-8)

(17) Iowa State 77 (21-8) (15) Oklahoma 70 (20-9)


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Harden Suspended One Game for Kick

Al Bello/Getty Images

(HOUSTON, Tx) -- Rockets point guard James Harden has been suspended one game by the NBA after receiving a flagrant foul for kicking LeBron James in the groin.

In a heated game between Houston and Cleveland, Sunday evening, James and Harden entered into a scrum for the ball. Harden fell to the ground and extended his leg into James's "man region."

In all, five technical fouls were issued in the game that saw Houston come away with the 105-103 overtime victory. 

"It was a pretty intense game that started off with a little scrum on the floor in front of our bench with Pat and LeBron," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "It just kind of stayed kind of chippy all game long, which is fine. Some games are chippy like that."

Harden will miss Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

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Report: Texans Grant WR Johnson Permission to Seek Trade

Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images(HOUSTON, Tx) -- The face of the Houston Texans offense wants out.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been granted permission to seek a trade, according to ESPN.  The news was first reported by the Houston Chronicle and KRIV.

Johnson, 33, has also demanded that if a trade partner cannot be found that he be released from the team he has spent all 12 seasons of his career with.

Last year, Johnson threatened to hold out in hopes of being traded or released but played through the 2014 season. With a revolving door at quarterback, that included Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett and Case Keenum, Johnson posted 85 catches for 936 yards and three touchdowns. 

Johnson's impact on the team began to diminish as second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins became the prime target on offense.

The Texans selected Johnson third overall in the 2003 NFL draft out of the University of Miami.

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Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler Out 3-6 Weeks with Elbow Injury

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The hits keep coming for the Chicago Bulls as the team announced that guard Jimmy Butler will miss the next 3-6 weeks with an elbow injury.

Butler suffered the injury on Sunday during the team's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Butler underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed a Grade 2/3 ulnar ligament sprain and small bone impaction injury to his left elbow, the team announced in a statement.

Fortunately for Butler, he will not need to undergo surgery, and is hoping to be back in time for the playoffs.

Now in his fourth NBA season, Butler has emerged as the leading scorer for the Bulls this season. In 55 games this season, Butler is averaging 20.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.

This is yet another tough blow for the Bulls who are already dealing with injuries to Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson.

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Lightning Acquire Defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Flyers

Len Redkoles/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the Tampa Bay Lightning enter the stretch run of the NHL season, the team went out and made their team stronger before the trade deadline as they acquired defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Philadelphia Flyers.


In order to acquire Coburn's services, the Lightning had to give up their 2015 first- and third-round draft picks along with defenseman Radko Gudas.


The Lightning also shipped Brett Connolly to the Boston Bruins for a second-round pick in 2015 and another in 2016.

Coburn led the Flyers this season in average shifts per game at 27.9 and is still a solid defenseman. He had been with the Flyers since the 2006-2007 season. He was also third among Flyers' defensemen in average ice time at 20:14. Coburn has one goal and eight assists in 39 games this season.

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Derrick Rose Begins Rehab on Knee One Day After Surgery

NBA via Chicago Bulls(CHICAGO) -- Just one day after undergoing surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has already began his rehab for the injury.

Rose suffered yet another setback on the court that has derailed his career, but he's determined to remain a key player.

"He's been through two tough ones," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think he's gained confidence from that. The ACL knee is great and he knew [a re-tear] was a possibility going in. He's in a good place and he'll deal with it. He'll get past this."

A former league MVP, Rose is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and both he and the team are optimistic he'll be able to return for the playoffs.

The 26-year-old Rose has appeared in 46 games this season, his most since the 2010-2011 season. Prior to the injury, he was averaging 18.4 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.

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