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Claiborne Leaves Lions for Vikings

From Wire Reports

The Minnesota Vikings made their biggest free-agent acquisition of the off-season Monday night, signing former Detroit linebacker Chris Claiborne to a two-year deal.

Terms of the deal weren’t immediately released.

Claiborne, who’s started 58 games in the last four seasons, is expected to bolster a linebacker corps led by veteran middle linebacker Greg Biekert. Claiborne has spent most of the last two seasons at the middle linebacker spot but can play both inside and outside.

In his four NFL seasons, the former USC standout has 391 tackles, 10.5 sacks and six interceptions. Last year, he led the Lions with 102 tackles. He also had 4.5 sacks and three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

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Free-agent running back Tyrone Wheatley signed a multiyear contract extension to remain with the Oakland Raiders.... Restricted free-agent linebacker Na’il Diggs has signed an offer sheet to leave the Green Bay Packers and join the Detroit Lions. Lion spokesman Matt Barnhart said that the Lions signed Diggs to an offer sheet for a four-year deal. The Packers have a week to match the offer.... The New England Patriots signed free-agent fullback Fred McCrary and re-signed linebacker Maugaula Tuitele.... Free agents Tod McBride and Twan Russell signed with the Atlanta Falcons. McBride, a former UCLA standout from Walnut, had spent his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers.... Buffalo acquired restricted free-agent kicker Rian Lindell after the Seattle Seahawks did not match the offer sheet he signed with the Bills last week.... The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will visit Philadelphia again on the opening Monday night of the 2003 NFL season in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game.

Skiing

Bode Miller settled for silver in the giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Lake Placid, N.Y., beaten by his friend and roommate Erik Schlopy.

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The result stopped Miller’s bid to become the first skier in 44 years with four titles at nationals.

Schlopy finished in 2 minutes 24.64 seconds in temperatures in the 40s, which contributed to the deteriorating snow conditions at Whiteface Mountain.

Miller finished 0.31 behind, capping a week in which he won the super giant slalom, slalom and combined. Buddy Werner won four events at the 1959 nationals.

Miscellany

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Kirby Puckett’s sexual assault trial began Monday in Minneapolis, with the Hall of Famer accused of dragging a woman into a restaurant men’s room and groping her.

Puckett is charged with false imprisonment, criminal sexual conduct and assault. As proceedings began, he pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor assault charge, which prosecutors added last week.

Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, Olympic gold-medal figure skater Sarah Hughes and the U.S. women’s bobsled team of Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers were honored by the U.S. Olympic Committee with its 2002 awards.


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