FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP)The NFL Players Association urged the league Friday to implement changes to its concussion protocol in time to protect players in this weekend’s games.

The players’ union wants to strengthen the protocol to avoid a repeat of what happened to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 3 against Buffalo. Tagovailoa was unstable when he walked off the field following a hit and was evaluated for a concussion, but he quickly returned to the game and the Dolphins said a back injury had caused his wobbly gait.

Tagovailoa subsequently sustained a concussion four days later at Cincinnati and is out indefinitely.

In its own statement, the league said it was working on updates to the protocol but did not commit to implementing them before Sunday’s games.

CLEVELAND (AP) – The Cleveland Browns expect Deshaun Watson to return to their facility Monday as the quarterback continues serving an 11-game NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct.

Watson has been away from his new team since Aug. 30, undergoing counseling and treatment in accordance with a settlement he made with the league.

The 26-year-old QB, acquired in a trade from Houston in March, was accused of being sexually inappropriate with women during massage therapy sessions while he played for the Texans.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Friday that he’s eager to reunite with Watson, who won’t be eligible to practice until next month.

While Watson is suspended, the Browns coaching staff and other members of the organization are not permitted to have contact with him. However, once he returns next week, Watson can attend meetings and work out in the facility.

GOLF

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Mito Pereira of Chile led a parade of players from the International team at the Presidents Cup in the Shriners Children’s Open, making birdie on half of his holes for an 8-under 63 that gave him a one-shot lead.

Pereira took care of the par 5s at the TPC Summerlin and putted for birdie on every hole except the par-4 12th, where he had to save par from a bunker left of the green. His one lapse was on the seventh hole toward the end of his round when he ran a 20-foot birdie putt some 6 feet by the cup and three-putted for bogey.

Pereira was at 12-under 130, a shot ahead of Robby Shelton, who birdied the par-5 ninth on his final hole for a 63. Right behind were 20-year-old Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim, top performers for the International team in their own right two weeks ago at Quail Hollow. Another shot back was Cam Davis of Australia, who also had a solid debut in the Presidents Cup.

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) – Jodi Ewart Shadoff started out as hot as she finished the day before at the LPGA Mediheal Championship. She finally hit a few bumps, but not before expanding her lead with a 3-under 69.

Ewart Shadoff opened with a 64 at The Saticoy Club by making four straight birdies over her last five holes. The 34-year-old from England added three birdies in her opening four holes and looked to be on her way. She sprinkled in enough bogeys to slow her progress and still wound up with a four-shot lead over Paula Reto going into the weekend.

Ewart Shadoff was at 11-under 133. She’s winless over 245 starts that covers 11 years in her LPGA Tour career.

MADRID (AP) – Jon Rahm’s 4-footer for birdie on the final hole just missed the cup, capping a frustrating day for the home favorite at the Spanish Open.

Paul Waring (63) and Stephen Gallacher (65) shared the lead at 12 under, with Rahm two strokes back in a tie for fifth. Seeking a third Spanish Open title to equal Seve Ballestero, followed his opening round of 63 with a 68 at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – Richard Bland, Branden Grace and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra each shot 7-under 65 to share the first-round lead in the LIV Golf Invitational-Bangkok.

The tournament is being played on the new Stonehill Golf Club north of downtown Bangkok.

Dustin Johnson, the money leader with just over $12.5 million in five events, shot 70. British Open champion Cameron Smith, who won the last LIV event in Chicago in mid-September, had a 72.

AUTO RACING

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The most powerful teams in NASCAR warned that the venerable stock car racing series has a ”broken” economic model that is unfair and has little to no chance of long-term stability, a stunning announcement that added to a growing list of woes.

The Cup Series is heading into the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course playoff elimination race Sunday with three full-time drivers sidelined with injuries suffered in NASCAR’s new car and no clear answer as to how to fix the safety concerns.

With just five races left in the championship chase, it got much worse as teams went public with their year-long fight with NASCAR over equitable revenue distribution.

FIGURE SKATING

Bridget Namiotka, a figure skater who accused her late pairs skating partner John Coughlin of sexual abuse, died in July at the age of 32, her parents told USA Today.

Namiotka made her accusations against Coughlin after he took his own life in 2019 following an interim suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport. She said in a Facebook post that Coughlin had abused her for two years. They skated together from 2004-07, beginning when she was 14 and he was four years older.

Namiotka’s parents told USA Today that their daughter died July 25, having ”succumbed to her long struggles with addiction after several very difficult years of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse.”

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) – England’s women’s team beat the world champion United States 2-1 in a friendly in front of 76,893 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway scored to help England beat the U.S. for the first time since 2017 and less than 10 months before the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. England won the European championship in July,

Sophia Smith scored for the Americans. They had won 13 in a row and were unbeaten in 21.

BASEBALL

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Minor league baseball teams combined to draw 30.9 million fans this year, down from 41.5 million in 2019, the last season before COVID-19 and prior to Major League Baseball cutting affiliates.

Teams averaged 3,910 this season for 7,908 games, down from an average of 4,044 for 10,262 games in 2019, MLB said. MLB cut guaranteed affiliations from 160 to 120 ahead of the 2021 season, down from 176 teams in 2019. The 2020 minor league season was canceled because of the pandemic, and the new structure began in 2021.

HOCKEY

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) – The Calgary Flames signed defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to an eight-year, $50 million extension.

Weegar would have become an unrestricted free agent next year. He came to Calgary on July 25 along with Jonathan Huberdeau in a trade that sent Matthew Tkachuk to Florida.