Around the Nation (June 5): Rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey signs with Browns

Associated Press Published:

FOOTBALL

Browns sign rookie LB Chris Kirksey

CLEVELAND — The Browns have agreed to contract terms with rookie inside linebacker Chris Kirksey.

The team selected Kirksey in the third round of last month’s NFL Draft from Iowa. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder is expected to compete with Craig Robertson for a starting spot alongside Karlos Dansby.

Kirksey’s deal is worth $3.04 million and includes a $662,500 signing bonus.

The Browns were weak last season in covering running backs and tight ends on pass plays and the team believes Kirksey’s skill sets will help them improve in that area. Kirksey played both inside and outside linebacker for the Hawkeyes.

Kirksey is the second rookie signed by the Browns. Cornerback Pierre Desir, selected in the fourth round from Lindenwood, signed his deal last week.

HOCKEY

Late Wednesday: Williams puts LA Kings past Rangers in OT opener

LOS ANGELES — Justin Williams scored 4:36 into overtime after a turnover by Dan Girardi, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night in the Stanley Cup finals opener.

Williams was left alone in the slot after Girardi’s pass from his knees went straight to Mike Richards. Williams put his eighth goal of the postseason past Henrik Lundqvist, who made 40 saves and nearly stole a series-opening win for the Rangers.

Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for the Kings, who moved one victory closer to their second Stanley Cup title in three years after a hair-raising finals opener.

Game 2 is Saturday at Staples Center.

Kings’ win is second-most watched opener on NBC

STAMFORD, Conn. — The Los Angeles Kings’ overtime victory over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals averaged 4,777,000 viewers, making it NBC’s second-most watched Game 1, and the second-most watched opener overall since 1999.

NBC won Wednesday night’s prime time among viewers 18-to-49 with a 1.9 rating. The Kings’ 3-2 win peaked at 5.7 million viewers from 10:45-11:00 p.m. EDT. It drew a 3.0 households rating, including a 10.1 in New York and a 7.1 in Los Angeles.

The game was up 65 percent in viewership compared to the last time the Kings were in the finals two years ago, and 212 percent higher than the Rangers’ previous finals appearance in 1994 on ESPN.

The only Game 1 on NBC to surpass Wednesday night’s viewership was last year’s triple-overtime game between Boston and Chicago that averaged 6,358,000 viewers.

NBC won the night by 27 percent among viewers 18-to-49 over its nearest competitor, Fox.

GOLF

Phil Mickelson opens with 67 at St. Jude Classic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Phil Mickelson talked of finishing off rounds coming into the St. Jude Classic, and he did just that Thursday with a 3-under 67 in the opening round at the TPC Southwind.

Mickelson birdied three of his final four holes for his first round in the 60s since the third round at the Wells Fargo Championship. He hadn’t shot below 70 since then, missing the cut at the Players Championship and tying for 49th at Memorial last week.

He is among the players here tuning up for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, and Retief Goosen was the clubhouse leader with a 66.

Play was delayed Thursday afternoon for a thunderstorm, and tournament officials closed the course to fans for the rest of the day.

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