Scott to fill in for Benson as Bengals' running back
Bernard Scott has waited two years to get this chance.
The shifty running back will be a focus of the Cincinnati Bengals' offense Sunday in Seattle, taking over for suspended starter Cedric Benson. It'll be his first featured appearance since he started two games as a rookie in 2009.
"I'm excited to go out there and get more opportunities," the sixth-round pick said.
There haven't been many of those lately. Benson gets the overwhelming majority of plays in Cincinnati's run offense, carrying 117 times in the first six games. Scott has carried only 30 times for 85 yards.
"It's always difficult when you don't know when you're going to get in," Scott said. "I feel like the more you're in with the offense, the better feeling you get out of the game. Once I get my rhythm, I think I'll be all right."
The question is how much the Bengals (4-2) will change their running game on Sunday in Seattle (2-4), where the crowd is loud and rookie quarterback Andy Dalton will rely on Scott instead of Benson to control the ball.
"I don't know if it's going to change much," Dalton said on Wednesday. "Obviously they're two different style backs, but Bernard is capable of doing a lot of good things. We've got to get him in some space and let him run with it."
Benson is serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy. He spent five days in a Texas prison settling two misdemeanor assault cases before the season started. The Bengals expect him back next week for a game at Tennessee.
■ Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga wore a protective boot on his left ankle Wednesday, an indication he'll be sidelined for a second straight game. He severely sprained the ankle during practice on Oct. 13 and had to miss a win over Indianapolis. He then had a cast on the ankle heading into the team's bye week.
Gronkowski apologizes for picture
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says he didn't intend to hurt the team's reputation when he posed for photographs with an adult film performer. The performer, BiBi Jones, posted two pictures of her and Gronkowski on her Twitter account on Monday. She was wearing Gronkowski's Patriots jersey in both of them. In one, he was shirtless. They were taken during the Patriots bye last week.
Gronkowski, having an outstanding year in his second NFL season, met with team owner Robert Kraft afterward. Gronkowski said Wednesday that being in the pros is a learning process. "I didn't intend anything to hurt the reputation of anyone on the New England Patriots or on behalf of Robert Kraft," he said. "It was just a simple picture and that's all."
■ Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to practice Wednesday on his injured right ankle, although backup Shaun Hill took some snaps with the first team. "It feels OK. It's sore obviously, but it's made progress since Sunday," Stafford said. Coach Jim Schwartz said of Stafford, "If he's able to go on Sunday then he will. He's our starting quarterback, but we have to be prepared in any case."
■ Vikings defensive end Brian Robison was fined $20,000 by the NFL for kicking Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang in the groin during their game Sunday. Robison apologized to Lang, the league and the Vikings via Twitter on Sunday. Lang replied on Twitter that he accepted Robison's apology and did not consider him a dirty player.
Louisville beats Pikeville in exhibition
Sophomore Gorgui Deing had 14 points and 15 rebounds to lead Louisville to a 74-55 win in its exhibition opener over Pikeville at the KFC Yum Center on Wednesday night. Both teams showed early-season rust. Louisville shot 27.8 percent from three-point range (41.2 percent overall), and Pikeville shot 29.2 percent from the field.
Transy men picked to win Heartland
Transylvania was made the front-runner for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship. The Pioneers, who finished fourth in the league last season, received five first-place votes in the coaches' pre-season poll. Transy got 86 points overall, eight more than second-place Hanover College. Transylvania last won the HCAC title in 2008-09.
Sharapova withdraws from tournament
Maria Sharapova pulled out of the WTA Championships with a sore ankle Wednesday after losing her second straight match at the season-ending tournament in Istanbul. Sharapova entered the tournament despite not having played since pulling out of the quarterfinals in Tokyo last month because of an ankle injury. After losing 7-6 (4), 6-4 to Li Na in her second round-robin match on Wednesday, Sharapova said "the ankle didn't recover as well as I had hoped after the first round." Sharapova lost to Sam Stosur in her opening match on Tuesday.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
New Orleans coach going for 500th win
After standing on the sidelines of football fields for 42 years, J.T. Curtis is about to step into new territory. The coach of John Curtis Christian School, the small private school in suburban New Orleans, is one victory away from his 500th victory — something only one other coach in high school, college or professional football has ever achieved. According to the National High School Record Book and others, Curtis, who has a 499-54-6 record, trails only one high school coach and is well ahead of Eddie Robinson and Joe Paterno in the college ranks, each of whom has 408 victories, and 152 victories over former NFL coach Don Shula. Curtis will try to grab the record Thursday night against J.S. Clark High School.
Epstein reunites with former assistant
General Manager Jed Hoyer and assistant Jason McLeod are leaving the San Diego Padres to accept similar positions in the Chicago Cubs' front office. Because Hoyer was still under contract, the Cubs have agreed to send the Padres a player to be named as compensation. Hoyer worked under Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein with the Red Sox.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Tattoo parlor owner gets three years
A federal judge handed down a three-year sentence Wednesday to the Columbus, Ohio, tattoo parlor owner whose purchase of Ohio State football memorabilia triggered a far-reaching football scandal and an ongoing NCAA investigation. But U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost found that Edward Rife didn't have the ability to pay a $10,000 fine following his conviction earlier this year on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Rife, 31, had asked for leniency, saying previous convictions for assault and forgery occurred several years ago and didn't suggest he was likely to commit future crimes. Frost made it clear he didn't care about the Ohio State connection. "This is about drugs. This is not about trinkets," Frost said.
The last word
Comedy writer Jerry Perisho, on the NCAA proposal to pay scholarship athletes an additional $2,000 for expenses beyond books, tuition and housing:
"In other words, it's bail money."