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Z-Logo(West Plains)- The West Plains Zizzers proved themselves once again Friday night as they went up against and defeated the Hillcrest Hornets 27-7. The teams seemed even matched until the Second Quarter when the Zizzers brought in their first touchdown of the evening and continued their scoring streak through the rest of the game.

The voice of the Zizzers Travis Smith has your West Plains Friday Night Football Follow-Up:

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Once again the Zizzers took down the Hornets 27-7 making their new 2014 season record 4-0. Next week West Plains will be Away with the Joplin Eagles who played a 4-6 season last year.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When you are managing a team in playoff contention for the first time in decades, you are bound to be second-guessed by fans whenever your team struggles.

Ned Yost just wasn’t expecting it in his postgame news conference.

Moments after the Royals committed three errors in a disheartening 6-3 loss to the last-place Boston Red Sox on Thursday night, a fan wandered into the interview room and demanded to know why Josh Willingham was starting at designated hitter rather than former All-Star Billy Butler.

“Willingham has been giving us better at-bats,” Yost replied, playing along while incensed members of the Royals staff looked on. “Billy will probably be in there (Friday), though.”

The Royals certainly could have used a clutch hit from somebody, and some decent defense, too.

Liam Hendriks (1-2) failed to last three innings while making a spot start for left-hander Danny Duffy, who is shelved with shoulder soreness. The Royals’ defense didn’t do Hendriks any favors, either, making all three of those errors in the first four frames.

“That’s baseball,” said shortstop Alcides Escobar, who had one of them. “That happens.”

Clay Buchholz (8-8) allowed three runs, two earned, over 6 1-3 innings for the Red Sox. He turned a one-run lead over to the Boston bullpen, and it preserved his sixth straight win against the Royals. Edward Mujica handled a perfect ninth for his fifth save.

Kansas City’s advantage in the AL Central dropped to a half-game over idle Detroit.

“Both sides were capitalizing on errant throws,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “Any time you give a club an extra out, you’re walking a tightrope, and that was the case tonight.”

Indeed, nearly every run scored by both teams was a product of some sort of mishap.

In the second inning, Boston’s Will Middlebrooks doubled and then scored when Eric Hosmer allowed a two-out grounder by Christian Vazquez to get by him into right field. It was the Gold Glove first baseman’s third error in four games and his 10th of the season.

The Royals pulled ahead in the bottom half, getting a two-out double from Lorenzo Cain and back-to-back singles by Escobar and Nori Aoki. On Aoki’s hit, Escobar rounded third wide, and first baseman Mike Napoli tried to throw him out. The cross-diamond throw nearly wound up in the visiting dugout, and the error allowed Escobar to trot home for a 2-1 lead.

Boston pulled back ahead in the third. Mookie Betts singled, Xander Bogaerts walked, and Yoenis Cespedes was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hendriks walked Napoli to tie the game, and Middlebrooks singled up the middle to give the Red Sox the lead.

They added another run in the fourth, thanks in part to two more errors.

Kansas City pieced together a promising rally in the sixth. Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch leading off, and Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain hit back-to-back two-out singles to make it 4-3. But Buchholz bounced back to strike out Escobar and preserve the lead.

Jemile Weeks added a two-run double in the eighth to give Boston a cushion.

“We’re struggling offensively a little bit,” Yost said. “Plus, Hendriks went out and had a really good first inning. The error in the second inning cost him a run. He lost all his tempo in the third inning. He was really rushing his delivery to the plate.”


The Red Sox are just 64-83, but they are 50-25 when they score at least four runs.


Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia had surgery Thursday to repair tendon damage and clean out scar tissue in his troublesome left wrist. He is expected to heal in about six weeks. “It created more range of motion and instant relief than Dustin has felt,” Farrell said.

Royals: RHP Greg Holland (muscle stiffness) felt good after throwing Monday, Yost said, and could have been available. … Duffy said he hopes to begin throwing in the next couple of days. He is due to start Tuesday against the White Sox.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

CINCINNATI (AP) — St. Louis’s drive toward a Central Division championship hit a Cincinnati speed bump.

Johnny Cueto pitched eight scoreless innings to beat Lance Lynn and send the Cardinals to their third consecutive loss, 1-0, Thursday.

Cueto (18-8) allowed just three hits and hit a batter to help the Reds win their second series in the last 13 against Central Division-leading St. Louis. The Cardinals have lost three straight for the first time since a four-game losing streak Aug. 26-30 and finished their eight-game road trip 4-4 after winning three out of four in Milwaukee.

“We’re heading home,” said center fielder John Jay, who came up short of making the crucial play. “We just have to keep playing.”

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 33rd save and third in the last three games.

“We created an environment where we play the spoiler,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “There is no secret we’ve struggled with the Cardinals the last several years.”

Lynn (15-9) retired 15 straight before Brandon Phillips led off the eighth inning with the Reds’ first walk of the game. He went to third on Jay Bruce’s single to center field and scored on Ramon Santiago’s sinking liner to short center that Jay got a glove on but couldn’t hold. Bruce had to hold up to see if the ball was caught and was forced at second.

“I just missed it,” Jay said. “I knew I couldn’t leave my feet. If I slide, he’s tagging. I tried to be aggressive.”

“He’s made great plays all year,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s one he makes all the time. That one just got away.”

The Reds have won three straight games for the first time since August 5-7 against Cleveland. They finished their home stand 4-3 after losing two out of three against the Mets.

Lynn went into the game 3-0 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against the Reds this season. Cueto was 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against St. Louis.

“Today, he just outpitched me,” Lynn said. “That’s part of it.”

Cueto retired the last 14 batters he faced after Matt Adams led off the fourth inning with a single and was eliminated in a double play. Cueto finished with seven strikeouts.

Lynn allowed three hits and a walk with six strikeouts in eight innings.

Bruce kept the game scoreless with a leaping catch at the right-field fence to rob Adams of a home run leading off the seventh inning. Adams appeared to doff his batting helmet to salute Bruce’s play.

`K’ MAN: Cueto’s seven strikeouts give him 220 this season, the most since Jose Rijo led the National League with 227 in 1993.

HIT MAN: Jay was hit by a pitch for the 19th time this season, the most in the majors. He was plunked for the third consecutive game.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Cardinals: Catcher Yadier Molina got Thursday’s game off after playing all of Wednesday’s night game. Molina’s surgically repaired right thumb still is an issue, manager Mike Matheny said. “You can see the splint,” Matheny said. “He’s still protecting it and doing things to strengthen it.”

Reds: Catcher Brayan Pena was scratched from the original starting lineup with an illness. Devin Mesoraco started in Pena’s place.

UP NEXT: Cardinals: Adam Wainwright starts as St. Louis opens a 10-day, nine-game home stand with the first of three against Colorado.

Reds: Mat Latos strives for his first career win at Miller Park as the Reds open a 10-day, nine-game road trip with the first of three at Milwaukee. Latos is 0-4 in six starts at Miller.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans  Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Titans won 26-10. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Titans won 26-10. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid walked through the glass doors at One Arrowhead Drive for the first time last year, and took over a franchise in disarray, nobody could have expected their turnaround to be so swift and so dramatic.

After winning two games in a season marked by tragedy, the Kansas City Chiefs rolled off nine straight wins. They finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the second time in seven years. A city that had grown accustomed to failure was feeling good about itself, putting away brown paper bags that had become standard headdress on Sunday to wear jerseys and caps with pride.

Just one week into Year 2, that turnaround is starting to look like a mirage.

The Chiefs were dominated in their season-opener last Sunday by a Titans team trying to rebound from its own miserable year. Alex Smith threw three interceptions, Jamaal Charles hardly touched the ball, two defensive starters were lost to season-ending injuries and a perilous lack of depth across the roster was exposed in a humiliating 26-10 defeat.

“Certainly,” Smith said with a shake of his head, “a lot of adversity early.”

There are several reasons for what appears to be an abrupt downward spiral, many extending far beyond one player or one game. They lend credence to the possibility that last year’s magical run merely masked the fact that there is still far more rebuilding to do.

- The team Dorsey and Reid inherited was top-heavy with talent yet virtually devoid of role players. The grist that makes up a 53-man roster was sorely lacking. Eric Berry may be a Pro Bowl strong safety, but his running mates at free safety have been journeymen. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe is a budding star, but the rest of the defensive line has been a disheveled mess.

Meanwhile, many of the Chiefs’ best players just happened to play increasingly irrelevant positions. Jamaal Charles is arguably the best running back in the game, but pass-happy offenses have rendered his skillset far less valuable than it was 20 years ago.

- Two straight drafts have failed to produce impact players. The Chiefs had the No. 1 overall pick last year and chose offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who has struggled through injuries and with the transition to the NFL. Their first-round pick this year, outside linebacker Dee Ford, played three snaps in the Chiefs’ season opener.

There is also a lack of production deeper in the draft. Guys such as linebacker Nico Johnson, a fourth-round pick last year, are still toiling away on the practice squad.

- Two key players made themselves unavailable after getting into trouble with the league and the law. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended for the season opener following an arrest last November, and right tackle Donald Stephenson will miss the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

“I watched it at home,” Bowe said Thursday, “and I wish I could have been out there to help my team, but things happen. You learn from them and try not to let them happen again.”

- The Chiefs’ salary cap situation. Dorsey and Reid were forced to cut Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers and allow Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert to depart in free agency, along with several other key players from a year ago. Meanwhile, they had little financial flexibility to plug the holes.

The few players they have given big money to have been ineffective. Bowe struggled last season, the first of a $56 million, five-year deal. Smith signed a $68 million extension, and then threw those three picks against Tennessee. And after Charles signed an $18.1 million extension before training camp, he was given just 11 touches in the season opener.

Throw in season-ending injuries to Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson and starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito, things suddenly look ominous in Kansas City.

“I was shocked,” Chiefs linebacker James-Michael Johnson said, when asked to assess their season-opening performance against Tennessee. “I thought we were going to do a lot better.”

Reid vowed this week that “we’re going to get ourselves right,” but it’s a promise that won’t be easy to follow through on given what the Chiefs will see in the coming weeks.

After beating up on backup quarterbacks and cellar-dwelling teams last season, they now face the prospect of playing AFC West favorite Denver this weekend. They stay on the road against Miami before returning home for a Monday night game against New England. After that? Back on the road against playoff contenders San Francisco and San Diego.

“It’s the NFL. We just have to focus on what we need to get done,” Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali said, “and go out there and all the distraction, keep it away and get that job done. Right now, that’s our guys’ mindset. We’re not too concerned with what happened in the past. We’re more concerned with what’s ahead of us, to get the job done.”

FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014  file photo, Denver Broncos' Bradley Roby runs a drill during NFL football training camp  in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

FILE – In this Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 file photo, Denver Broncos’ Bradley Roby runs a drill during NFL football training camp in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — On back-to-back August afternoons, Denver Broncos rookie cornerback Bradley Roby was torched by Peyton Manning’s long touchdown passes to Demaryius Thomas.

The first time, Roby trudged off the field knowing his technique, leverage and his reaction time could have been better.

“He never had to go against an offense like this or a quarterback like that,” Thomas said.

Or a receiver as talented as Thomas.

The next day, same play, same result.

This time, Roby plodded back to the sideline in frustration.

He knew he’d done all he possibly could have and yet he’d still come up short.

“I don’t know if there’s a lesson there but just keep doing everything you can and even when you do, there might be an occasion when a Hall of Fame quarterback and an outstanding Pro Bowl receiver hook up anyway,” defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said afterward.

“That coverage was as good as it could be and it was just a perfect throw. Every now and then that happens in this league and I think you learn that as a younger player.”

The following week, Roby was a different player entirely.

“I guess he got tired of getting beat,” Thomas said. “Because two days in a row I had caught two deep balls on him and the next week he came out playing way better. You could just see the difference. You could see him not guessing about stuff. He had that swagger.”

That’s what had convinced GM John Elway to draft him in the first round in April.

With Chris Harris Jr. still working his way back from ACL surgery and Kayvon Webster sidelined by a sprained ankle, Roby capitalized on his increased snaps that sped up his learning curve.

“There is no question when you’re being challenged every day in practice like you are with our receiving corps that’s going to help you be better on Sunday,” Del Rio said. “Certainly with Chris being out or limited through a lot of camp, he got a ton of reps.”

In three joint practices and an exhibition game against the Houston Texans, Roby was tested by another big receiver in Andre Johnson.

“Going against a guy like Andre, and holding my own, doing decent on him, gives me more confidence,” Roby said. “Every day I’m trying to get better. It’s a process. You can’t come in and expect to be Darrelle Revis Day 1. It’s a slow climb to the top. I’m willing to put the work in.”

It paid off in the opener when Roby knocked down three passes and sealed Denver’s 31-24 win over Indianapolis by batting down Andrew Luck’s fourth-down throw to Reggie Wayne in the closing minutes.

Del Rio said Denver’s coaches never hesitated to put Roby on Wayne.

“We felt good about the matchup as long as he’s playing smart, playing with his leverage and using good technique,” Del Rio said. “He’s got the talent to cover some of the top guys.”

Cornerback Aqib Talib thought Roby’s debut was outstanding.

“If I could go back and change my first game as a rookie, I’d make mine just like Bradley Roby’s,” said Talib, a two-time All-Pro. “He had a great game.”

In his first NFL game, Talib was burned for an 84-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Devery Henderson in 2008 when his Buccaneers lost to the Saints 24-20.

Roby gave up his share of receptions, but he never got down on himself.

“I’ve definitely seen some growth,” Harris said, “because a couple of weeks ago if somebody caught a ball on him, he was just done. Now, I mean, they caught the ball on him. So, for him to not be down and continue to fight throughout the whole game, that’s huge for a rookie.”

Notes: S David Bruton practiced Thursday for the first time since separating his left shoulder in the opener. … OC Adam Gase declined to say if WR Wes Welker could play against Kansas City on Sunday if the league and players union iron out a new drug policy by this weekend. A new agreement could lead to Welker’s four-game drug suspension getting rescinded. “It’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to worry about it,” Gase said. “If something happens, I’ll deal with it when that time comes.” … LB Von Miller was voted the Broncos’ player rep for the NFLPA.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — All-Star closer Greg Holland could be available for the Kansas City Royals this weekend after dealing with some tightness in his right arm, while left-hander Danny Duffy was awaiting word from doctors before beginning to throw again.

The Royals lead the AL Central by one game over Detroit.

Royals manager Ned Yost said before Thursday night’s game against Boston that Holland felt good after throwing Monday. Holland planned to play catch and would be available if all went well.

Holland has not pitched since saving a 4-1 win over Texas on Sept. 3. Wade Davis picked up three saves in his place during the Royals’ recent six-game road trip.

Right-hander Liam Hendriks made a spot start Thursday night for Duffy, who left his previous outing after one pitch with soreness in his left shoulder. Duffy had hoped to only miss one start.

(Cincinnatti) (AP) – Alfredo Simon usually takes a strike before taking a swing. The Cincinnati right-hander was more aggressive, and it paid off against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Reds starter doubled on the first pitch of his first at bat and then swung at the first pitch of his second plate appearance before slashing another two-bagger that drove in the go-ahead run of a 4-2 Reds win on Wednesday night.

“Sometimes, (manager Bryan Price) tells me to take a strike, but sometimes, the fastball I get on the first pitch is the only chance I have to get a hit,” said Simon, who was hitting .098 going into the game.

Simon shook off a rough start but lasted seven innings, and Ryan Ludwick hit a solo home run to help the Reds win back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 27-28 against the Chicago Cubs. The Central Division-leading Cardinals hadn’t sustained consecutive defeats since a four-game losing streak from Aug. 26-30.

“He was a little erratic early, but he rallied,” Price said of Simon.

Simon (14-10) allowed five hits and two runs with three walks and five strikeouts for his second win in eight decisions over 11 starts since the All-Star break.

“I gave up the two runs in the first inning, but I kept fighting,” Simon said. “Everything was working.”

Sam LeCure and Ryan Dennick pitched the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman worked a perfect ninth for his 32nd save.

Terry Lyons (0-4) took the loss after Cardinals starter John Lackey was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Plate umpire Tom Hallion ejected Lackey four pitches into the third inning.

“Lackey was warned to quit arguing balls and strikes, and he continued to argue,” Hallion said.

The ejection caught Lackey by surprise.

“I didn’t say any cuss words toward him,” Lackey said. “He saw my mouth moving and threw me out. It was unexpected, for sure. I’ve been thrown out a few times throwing balls at people, but never for something like this”

With the game tied 2-2, Jay Bruce led off the Reds’ fourth inning with a bloop single. Simon, who entered with one career double, went the opposite way to drive in Bruce with the go-ahead run.

Brandon Phillips added a bases-loaded, run-scoring single in the fifth to make it 4-2.

Simon retired the first two batters of the game before the Cardinals scored two runs. Matt Holliday walked and scored from first on Matt Adams’ double. Oscar Taveras followed with a run-scoring single.

Todd Frazier drove in Chris Heisey with a single in the first, and Ludwick tied it for the Reds in the second with his ninth homer and first since Aug. 17 – a 374-foot shot into the left-field seats.


Lackey was ejected for the fourth time in his career and first since 2009 when he was with the Angels and was ejected two pitches into a game for throwing at Texas’ Ian Kinsler.


The Reds acquired from Milwaukee minor-league RHP Kevin Shackelford and RHP Barrett Astin on Wednesday as the two players to be named in the Aug. 31 trade that sent RHP Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers.


Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny got no argument from SS Jhonny Peralta when the veteran was given Wednesday off. Peralta missed just three of St. Louis’ first 145 games. “He wants to finish strong,” Matheny said. “He’s answered the bell.”

Reds: RHP Pedro Villareal’s status remained day-to-day after he was hit in the right forearm by Holliday’s sharp one-hopper in the ninth inning of Monday’s 5-0 loss.


Cardinals: Lance Lynn tries to improve to 4-0 in four 2014 starts against Cincinnati in Thursday’s series finale.

Reds: Johnny Cueto will look to avoid dropping to 0-3 in three starts this season against St. Louis.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis, right, throws as he is hit by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison during the third quarter an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis, right, throws as he is hit by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison during the third quarter an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

(St. Louis) (AP) – There were so many shortcomings in the St. Louis Rams’ woeful season-opening loss to Minnesota, that the team’s best option now is to just move on from it.

In Week 2 at Tampa Bay, they will try again to act the part of a franchise on the rise minus a second stalwart.

After practice on Wednesday, coach Jeff Fisher told players they had done a good job of getting back to business.

“I ain’t sulking,” guard Rodger Saffold said. “You can’t be all happy for a week because you’ve got another opponent coming up.”

As bad as the bottom line appears from a 34-6 blowout to the Vikings at home, players believe one good week will make it all better. Still, they will be using that whipping as motivation.

“I’m all for the 24-hour rule, but as a competitor some of that better resonate in you,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “I thought we practiced like a team that quite frankly was 1-0 versus 0-1, and that’s the way you work.”

That task is complicated because defensive end Chris Long will undergo left ankle surgery that will sideline him much of the season.

“I would rather be Chris’ backup than him be hurt,” said William Hayes, who steps up as the starter at left end.

Quarterback is a particular trouble spot. Sam Bradford is out for the year with a knee injury, and backup Shaun Hill is hobbled by a left quadriceps injury. That could leave the offense in the hands of Austin Davis, who has been with the team for parts of three seasons and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in his NFL debut last week.

Hill hopped on one leg while releasing the pass that resulted in a critical interception near the end of the first half, and was taken out at the break. It appeared he had been hurt during the previous play when two linemen, one from each team, landed on him.

Odds maker Bovada drastically downgraded the Rams’ chances of winning the Super Bowl. They had been a mere 66-1 and now they are 200-1, ahead of only the Jaguars and Raiders at 400-1.

“It’s a fine line,” Laurinaitis said. “You don’t want to just throw that thing completely away. You want to remember how that felt, and you never want to feel that way the rest of the season.”

Not that he is using it as an excuse, but the opener was Hayes’ first action of the year. He was held out of the preseason with a chest injury.

“I was a little rusty last week,” Hayes said. “I wasn’t really satisfied with the way I played so it’s going to stay with me until I play better.”

Fisher singled out several players for criticism in his postgame news conference following the defeat that matched a 28-point opening loss in 1937 for worst in franchise history. Among the lowlights cited by the coach: The offense had 11 possessions, “and in each of those 11 drives we had an issue, whether it was a sack or penalty or mental error or something.”

There were 13 penalties for 121 yards. The defense controlled running back Adrian Peterson for the most part, but got victimized by Cordarrelle Patterson’s 102 yards on three carries. Wide receiver Brian Quick had a breakout game with seven catches for 99 yards, but negated a big gain with a facemask call while trying to stiff-arm a defender.

Fisher said Tavon Austin could have had two long punt returns, although Austin muffed one. The game plan could use some tweaking given the diminutive wide receiver got a couple of handoffs up the middle.

“I think everybody took turns making mistakes,” Hayes said. “It’s just the little things we’ve got to clean up. That’s it.”

Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) celebrates his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) celebrates his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

(Englewood) (AP) – John Elway’s Bentley with the six-figure price tag was replaced by Jacob Tamme’s old white Volvo clunker in the prime parking spot outside the Denver Broncos headquarters Wednesday.

Peyton Manning revealed the reason – but didn’t know whose car it was.

When talking about tight end Julius Thomas winning his first AFC Offensive Player of the Week award, Manning mentioned the Broncos’ new parking policy.

The three Broncos who are named the team’s players of the week – one each on offense, defense and special teams – get to park up front where Elway and coach John Fox used to park their cars.

“That’s a new bone, those first three spots,” Manning said.

Then, he rattled off the names of Week 1′s winners:

“We have Rahim and Julius,” he said of Thomas, who caught three TD passes, and safety Rahim Moore, who picked off a pair of Andrew Luck’s passes in Denver’s win over Indy.

And … uh …

“Who’s the special teams player of the week for us, Erich?” Manning asked Broncos media relations manager Erich Schubert. “Do you know?”

That would be Tamme, the versatile seventh-year tight end who has played with Manning his entire career, including four seasons in Indianapolis.

“He didn’t remember? It figures,” Tamme cracked later in the locker room.

Tamme was part of the committee replacing suspended slot receiver Wes Welker in the opener. But he ended up playing 20 snaps on special teams to go with 10 from scrimmage once ace David Bruton was knocked from the game with a dislocated left shoulder.

“It’s definitely good to be useful,” Tamme said.

He secured his prime parking spot by burying punt returner Griff Whalen for a 2-yard loss at Indy’s 36 with three minutes left and Denver clinging to the last wisps of what had been a 24-point first-half cushion.

“Special teams is something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” Tamme said.

He also was quite proud of his new parking spot.

“I take a little flack for my Volvo I drive in here,” Tamme said. “So, I plan on parking that `soccer mom’ Volvo in there as much as possible.”

Thomas caught some flak himself Wednesday when he had to tote a football wrapped in a green helmet beanie during practice as punishment for his fumble and his inability to corral an onside kick Sunday night.

“I have to do a better job of holding onto the football,” said Thomas, who caught seven passes for 104 yards.

Despite his blunders, Thomas was named Offensive AFC Player of the Week.

“That’s a great honor for Julius. He deserves it,” Manning said. “Great start for him. He has really worked hard this offseason. He had some specific goals that he wanted to reach and I think he’s put the time and work in.

“He’s still a young player. He’s still got to keep improving and I think he will. I was really happy with the way he played and competed and nice to see him recognized.”

Manning will see a familiar face coming after him Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) visit the Broncos (1-0). Veteran defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson, who failed to make the final cut in Denver, signed with the Chiefs after they lost Mike DeVito to a ruptured Achilles tendon in their opener.

If Manning is worried that Vickerson knows all his tricks, he’s doing a good job hiding his concern.

“I have certainly played against former teammates before, so I think I’m used to it,” Manning said.

Broncos nose tackle Terrance Knighton said he knows Vickerson will be fired up for his homecoming game Sunday.

“He’ll probably have some type of edge, just because we did cut him,” Knighton said. “I wish him the best. I hope he plays well – not enough for them to win.”

(Cincinnatti) (AP) – St. Louis Cardinals pitcher John Lackey has been ejected from his start against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning.

Lackey appeared to question several ball-strike calls by plate umpire Tom Hallion before a 2-1 pitch to Brayan Pena was called a ball with the score 2-all on Wednesday night.

The right-hander apparently questioned that call, and Hallion – the crew chief – ejected him.

Lackey allowed four hits and two runs with two walks and one strikeout. Left-hander Tyler Lyons replaced him.