As part of the celebration of its 100th season, the NFL will have the Green Bay Packers play at the Chicago Bears in the Thursday night kickoff game Sept. 5.

Traditionally the Super Bowl champion is the home team for the prime-time opener, but the league wants to salute historic rivalries. No rivalry fits better than Chicago vs. Green Bay. The teams have met 200 times since 1921, when the Bears were the Chicago Staleys. Green Bay leads the series 97-95-6 in the regular season, with the clubs splitting two postseason meetings.

Staging the game at Soldier Field – even if it is a modernized version of the stadium – adds to the theme.

New England instead will open at home in the prime-time game Sunday night, Sept. 8. The opponent has not been determined.

• Buffalo is giving cornerback E.J. Gaines an opportunity to win back his starting job by signing the free agent to a one-year contract. Gaines, 27, returns to Buffalo after spending last season with Cleveland. He played six games with the Browns before going on the injured-reserve list after suffering his second concussion in three weeks.

• Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City quarterback and reigning MVP, will be a part of ABC’s coverage of the first round of the NFL draft April 25.

• Cornerback Darqueze Dennard chose to stay with Cincinnati on a one-year deal, keeping the starting cornerback group intact.

COLLEGE: Georgia senior wide receiver Tyler Simmons and freshman defensive back Tyrique Stevenson are facing misdemeanor charges following a bar fight.


MIAMI OPEN: Petra Kvitova faced only one break point and advanced to the quarterfinals beating Caroline Garcia, 6-3, 6-3.

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is ranked a career-high No. 2 and will rise to No. 1 if she wins the title. No. 1 Naomi Osaka lost in the third round.


U.S. MEN: Midfielder Weston McKennie is expected to be sidelined several weeks because of a sprained ankle.

McKennie, 20, left the U.S. national team camp and returned to Schalke, his German club. The sprain to his left ankle is characterized as moderate to high.

MESSI PLAYING: Lionel Messi will play for Argentina in the Copa America in June in Brazil, according to Coach Lionel Scaloni.


OLYMPIAN DIES: Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an aerials gold medal, died at age 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova lived for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving details.


NASCAR: The qualifying procedures were tweaked to avoid a repeat of the session two weeks ago in which all 12 drivers in the final round failed to log an official lap.

Scott Miller, the senior vice president of competition, accused drivers of “making a mockery out of the qualifying process” when they all idled on pit road until the final second to attempt their qualifying lap. But the drivers all blew the timing, none completed a lap before the clock ran out, and fans booed the shenanigans. So beginning Friday, all cars must post a lap time or start at the rear of the field. Once a car leaves its pit stall, it cannot stop on pit road.

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