Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Friday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EST:
– FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -What’s the secret to beating Tom Brady? Pressure him. The Steelers, however, haven’t been great at pressuring quarterbacks of late. Nor have they had much success against Brady.
– FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Julio Jones hopes to join practice Friday for the first time this week after being held out with a sprained toe. The Falcons’ receiver insists he’ll be ready for Sunday’s NFC title game.
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– Building a Super Bowl team starts and ends with a championship-caliber quarterback, but don’t forget the value of low-cost contributors – undrafted players and late-round picks who blossom into key starters.
– The NFL releases its list of early entrants to the draft. Dozens of underclassmen, such as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, have already said they are giving up their final seasons of eligibility.
– MELBOURNE, Australia – Roger Federer joins top-ranked Andy Murray in the fourth round at the Australian Open. Federer, seeded 17th, defeats Tomas Berdych. Murray ousts Sam Querrey.
– HOUSTON – The Golden State Warriors, winners of five straight, play the Houston Rockets in a matchup of two of the top teams in the West. Game starts 8 p.m.
– LA QUINTA, Calif. – Phil Mickelson tries to climb the leaderboard at the rainy CareerBuilder Challenge in his return from sports hernia operations.
– ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Less than three months before his Masters title defense, Danny Willett is hardly looking like a champion. At the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, he misses the cut.
– COLUMBUS, Ohio – All-Star goaltender Sergei Boborvsky’s contributions to the Blue Jackets’ startling turnaround this season can’t be overstated. The Russian leads all NHL goalies in wins.
– RALEIGH, N.C. – Halfway through the season, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Villanova’s Josh Hart lead the list of college basketball’s top players.
– STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State won 28 games last season and is getting only better: ranked No. 4, the first team to reach 20 wins and, along with UConn, the only unbeaten women’s team.
– KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The wide-open ice dance begins with the short program at the U.S. figure skating championships. The men’s short program highlights the evening programs.
– KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer of Austria gives the host country a winning start to the traditional Hahnenkamm races by winning a super-G.
– CHAPECO, Brazil – The Chapecoense club is rebuilding after the air crash that killed nearly the whole team. In this town of 200,000, soccer is the oxygen of almost everything: gossip, pride, debate.