From Comcast SportsNetENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- Broncos rookie right tackle Orlando Franklin was excused Wednesday to deal with a family tragedy. On Wednesday night, Franklin tweeted, "Thanks guys for all your prayers for my little brother. Its a shame that he had to die at 20." He didn't provide any other details. Franklin's status for Sunday's game against San Diego is uncertain. Coach John Fox had already addressed the media when Franklin apparently learned of the situation after practice. "Orlando was excused from afternoon meetings to deal with a family matter," team spokesman Patrick Smyth said Wednesday afternoon. Chris Clark and Tony Hills are backup tackles who could replace Franklin in the lineup against the Chargers if he's unable to play. It's not known when Franklin will return to practice. Franklin was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved in with his older brother in Toronto while in high school before going to Florida to gain recruiting attention. He starred at the University of Miami and was selected by the Broncos with the 46th overall draft pick in April. He has started all four games for Denver.
SAN JOSE – It was a spirited, if fairly unstructured practice for the Sharks on Monday as they got back to work following a full weekend off.
Assistant coaches Steve Spott and Johan Hedberg appeared to keep the mood light, as head coach Pete DeBoer was not yet back in the area. The Sharks took Saturday and Sunday off after Friday’s win over Montreal, and host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
“The pace was high, guys were excited to be back on the ice, and we’ll have a more structured practice tomorrow – some system play, and we’ll get ready for Ottawa,” Spott said.
The Sharks coaching staff opted for a two-day break from the rink after San Jose completed a stretch of 10 games in 18 days. The busy schedule resumes with three games in four days starting with Ottawa, and a four-game road trip follows next week, beginning in Toronto on Dec. 13.
The players took advantage of the down time, with several of them catching the Raiders-Bills game in Oakland on Sunday. More importantly, though, they presumably refilled their energy tanks after playing so much hockey and taking so many flights through the first seven-and-a-half weeks of the season.
Spott said: “We thought about a few different scenarios, but we thought having them shut down for two full days and then coming in to have two days of practice would be best for us. I think the players appreciated that.
"One thing we’ve all learned here as a staff, being relatively new to the Western Conference, is the importance of rest and player maintenance. We can’t underestimate how important that is for our hockey club, to make sure they get the maintenance and the rest that they need.”
Sharks forward Logan Couture and defenseman David Schlemko took maintenance days. Schlemko missed a portion of Friday’s game with what looked to be a leg or ankle injury, but he returned in the third period.
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The Sharks reassigned forwards Kevin Labanc and Ryan Carpenter to the Barracuda over the weekend.
Sending Labanc down was a bit of a surprise in that the 20-year-old has averaged 11:58 of ice time in 12 games, with two goals and two assists. In two games with the Barracuda over the weekend in San Antonio, he posted three assists.
Spott was asked what the message was to the Staten Island, NY native.
“Do the same things there that you’ve done here, and that’s compete at both ends of the rink,” Spott said.
“He’s going to get more offensive opportunities, being on the power play with the Barracuda, but [he has to not lose sight] of how good he has to be defensively, as well. That was our message.”
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Sharks goalie Martin Jones was named as the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, going 3-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average and .962 save percentage.
It’s the second time in two weeks that the Sharks have had a player earn third star, as Brent Burns was honored last week.
OAKLAND – Like all elite athletes, Kevin Durant brings a fierce pride to his work. He takes the court each night to make a statement, and some nights are reserved for a very special statement.
Such is the case Monday night.
That’s when Durant and the Warriors face Indiana at Oracle Arena. Though Pacers All-Star Paul George is one of Durant’s good friends, that relationship turns salty when they share the court on opposite sides.
“He’s my favorite player in the league. I’ve been saying that for a while,” Durant said after shootaround Monday morning. “He’s just so smooth, man, and can do it all: can pass, can rebound, can defend, can shoot the J, can post up, handle the ball. He’s my favorite player.
“Just getting to know him over the last few years, it makes the competition even better when we play against each other. I‘ve got nothing but respect for Paul. It’s a mutual respect. We always have battles when we play against each other, so I’m looking forward to it tonight.”
The players, longtime USA teammates in international competition, are similar in some regards. Both are listed at 6-foot-9, though Durant is closer to 7 feet. Both play “small forward,” but also can slide to power forward. Both are excellent scorers but also very capable defenders. And both seem to have found the perfect symmetry between confidence and humility.
“We want the same things on the basketball court,” Durant said. “He’s low-maintenance. He’s a superstar, but he’s a low-maintenance guy, doesn’t need much. It’s the same type of attitude that I bring. Just loves to play the game. Loves to work, too, so we kind of clicked.”
Durant, 28, is averaging 27.3 points per game, which leads the Warriors and ranks seventh in the NBA. He’s also averaging 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
George, 26, is averaging 20.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He has missed seven games due to injuries but played 34 minutes Sunday night in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Durant recalled practicing with George, and also with Rockets star James Harden, during offseason sessions in LA. Three of the NBA’s best, on different teams, coming together to get better.
Which helps explain why Durant is happy for George, and pleased to see his friend back in action – not that it will be visible Monday night.
“When you’re on the court, you act like you don’t really know those guys,” Durant said. “And then, after the game is over, it’s all love. It brings a different level of competition to the game of basketball, and it’s been fun.”