NFL • The Detroit Lions have released wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delmas, two starters from last season’s team.
Burleson spent four seasons with the Lions, but Detroit likely made this decision with financial flexibility in mind. The 32-year-old Burleson caught 39 passes for 461 yards and a touchdown last season in nine games. He missed time after injuring his arm in a car accident.
The Lions drafted Delmas in the second round in 2009, and he’s been a consistent starter for them since then. If Burleson and Delmas don’t return to Detroit under different contract terms, the Lions will have significant holes to fill at both receiver and in the secondary.
"The last 4 years in Michigan been incredible!" said a message on Burleson’s Twitter account Thursday. "MY TEAM, FANS & the CITY will missed more than you know! Thank You!"
When healthy, Burleson was a productive complement to star receiver Calvin Johnson. Now the pressure will be on Detroit’s other receivers to step up. Ryan Broyles has been limited by injuries, but Kris Durham caught 38 passes for 490 yards last season, so perhaps he could fill a bigger role in 2014.
Delmas started 15 games last season and finished with a career-high three interceptions. It looked like Delmas might leave the Lions last offseason, but he agreed to stay with Detroit on a two-year contract.
Safety Glover Quin started all 16 games for the Lions last season, but none of the other safeties on the roster have much experience in major roles.
The popular Burleson caught 194 passes in his four seasons with the Lions, including a career-high 73, when Detroit made the playoffs. That was also the last time he played a full season.
U.S. women blank Russia 8-0 in exhibition
SOCCER • Abby Wambach scored her record 165th international goal and the U.S. women’s soccer team beat Russia 8-0 in an exhibition Thursday night in Atlanta to extend its unbeaten streak to 42 games.
Shutting out Russia for the second time in six days by a combined 15-0 score, the world’s No. 1-ranked team improved to 36-0-6 since March 2012. The Americans are 70-0-10 in their last 73 home games.
With the United States up 2-0 on own goals in the 11th and 50th minutes, Amy Rodriguez took Heather O’Reilly’s pass from the right side and volleyed it in with her left leg for a 3-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
Wambach, scoring her 40th goal in the Americans’ last 48 games, made it 4-0 in the 54th, taking Megan Rapinoe’s pass from the left side and bowling over goalkeeper Maria Zhamanakova in the penalty box for the score.
• The U.S. soccer team will host Mexico in an exhibition game April 2 at Glendale, Ariz., as both nations prepare for the World Cup.
The game, announced Thursday, is not on a FIFA fixture date. That means Europe-based players are not likely to be available for the match.
Preparing for their seventh straight World Cup appearance, the Americans opened their 2014 schedule with a 2-0 win over South Korea on Feb. 1. The U.S. is planning home exhibition games for May 27, June 1 and June 7 before leaving for the tournament in Brazil.
At the World Cup, the U.S. has first-round games against Ghana on June 16, Portugal six days later and Germany on June 26. Mexico opens against Cameroon, before playing Brazil and Croatia.
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