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49ers’ Bryant draws 4-game suspension

From the Associated Press

Receiver Antonio Bryant was suspended for four games Friday for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, dealing a blow to the San Francisco 49ers’ faint playoff hopes.

Bryant has 40 catches for a team-high 733 yards and three touchdowns this season after signing a four-year, $15-million deal as a free agent last summer.

But Bryant was arrested Nov. 19 on suspicion of reckless and drunk driving after his Lamborghini was seen speeding down a freeway. Police said Bryant also was combative with them, refusing to leave his car and eventually forcing officers to use leather restraints to keep him in a patrol car.

Coach Mike Nolan wouldn’t say whether Bryant’s suspension was related to his arrest, and the NFL doesn’t comment on details of such suspensions. Although Nolan expressed disappointment about Bryant’s situation, he also said the 49ers have no plans to release or trade the receiver.

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“We’re not done with Antonio,” Nolan said. “He’s still a part of this football team, and hopefully he gets things in order.”

Although Bryant has fewer catches than Frank Gore and Arnaz Battle, he has been the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver and best deep threat, averaging 18.3 yards a catch.

The 49ers (6-8) would win the NFC West if they win their final two games and the Seattle Seahawks lose their final two.

If the 49ers don’t make the playoffs, Bryant also must sit out their first two games next season. He is eligible to participate in off-season training and 2007 exhibition games.

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Chicago nose tackle Tank Johnson needs court permission to travel outside Illinois, a decision that will become a factor this season only if the Bears make the Super Bowl.

A judge ruled that he must stay home, except to work or travel to work, until it is determined whether his Dec. 14 arrest for having firearms without a gun-owner identification card violated his probation on a 2005 gun charge.

He already is suspended for Sunday’s game at Detroit, the Bears’ regular season ends at home against Green Bay, and Chicago has home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Super Bowl is Feb. 4 in Miami.

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The judge also said Johnson, 25, may not drive, and denied a request to let him travel to Tempe, Ariz., for a holiday trip.

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An agitated Cleveland Browns Coach Romeo Crennel denied reports that quarterback Charlie Frye has a broken right wrist and said he has not been hiding injuries this season.

Crennel was unusually animated on the sensitive subject of injuries, which have plagued the Browns this season and in past years. Following games, the second-year coach is typically vague about injuries, choosing to divulge only the most basic information.

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But Crennel said he is not being deceptive.

“The perception is that we are trying to hide something,” he said. “We aren’t trying to hide anything. Then, you guys don’t believe what we tell you. Maybe you don’t trust us -- maybe you don’t trust me. I tell you it’s a bone bruise and you say, ‘Hey, it’s a fracture.’ One way or another, you look bad or I look bad.”

Derek Anderson will start at quarterback Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be the third start for Anderson in his career.

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San Diego defensive tackle Luis Castillo won’t play Sunday in Seattle when the Chargers try to extend their winning streak to nine games.

Castillo, a Pro Bowl second alternate, aggravated his injured left ankle in Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The same ankle cost him four games this season.

The team said it hoped the second-year pro would be close to 100% for the playoffs.

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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor will sit out Sunday’s game against New England because of a lingering hamstring injury. Rookie Maurice Jones-Drew will start in his place.... Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Joseph Addai has been cleared to play Sunday against the Texans in his hometown of Houston.... St. Louis Rams guard Adam Timmerman, whose streak of 184 consecutive games ended last week because of broken ribs, is expected back for Sunday’s home finale against the Washington Redskins. Rookie defensive end Victor Adeyanju also is expected to be activated.... Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams was downgraded from questionable to doubtful for the game Sunday against Cleveland because of a foot injury.


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