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Professional

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  • Serena starts slow, rolls at Open
    Good as she is, even Serena Williams can find it tough to deal with swirling wind, so much so that she double-faulted three times in her first service game Thursday at the U.S. Open.
  • Williams overcomes 3 early double-faults to win
    NEW YORK – Good as she is, even Serena Williams can find it tough to deal with swirling wind, so much so that she double-faulted three times in her first service game Thursday at the U.S.
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NFL

Ball carriers can’t use head now

– NFL owners passed a player safety rule Wednesday barring ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field.

Several coaches and team executives expressed concern about officiating the new rule, but commissioner Roger Goodell championed it and it passed Wednesday as the owners meetings concluded.

It passed 31-1 and was the second step in protecting defensive players. On Tuesday, the league took the peel-back block out of the game.

The tuck rule, one of the most criticized rules in pro football, was also eliminated. Now, if a quarterback loses control of the ball before he has fully protected it after opting not to throw, it is a fumble.

Other news from the owners meetings:

•The Pro Bowl will return to Honolulu in January and again will be played the week before the Super Bowl.

•The NFL is looking to make the Rooney Rule more effective after eight available coaching jobs and seven spots for general managers did not go to a minority candidate.

Around the league

Indianapolis has signed free agent DT Aubrayo Franklin and G Joe Reitz. … QB Eli Manning will consider reworking his contract if it will help keep WR Victor Cruz with the Giants. … Washington coach Mike Shanahan says QB Robert Griffin III is “ahead of schedule” after knee surgery.

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