Houston Texans receiver and kick returner

Jerome Mathis

was arrested and charged with choking his pregnant common-law wife.

Deputies went to Mathis' home Friday in Manvel, about 25 miles south of Houston, after getting a 911 call. Erica Smith told deputies the player had pushed her onto a bed and started choking her. The 26-year-old woman refused medical treatment but said she is 6 months' pregnant.

Mathis, 24, had left the house when deputies with the Brazoria County Sheriff's Department arrived. When he returned Sunday, he was arrested and charged with assault and family violence.

He was released on $3,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000, authorities said.

In December, Mathis received a misdemeanor citation after his pit bull chewed through a fence and behaved aggressively.

In other NFL news:

* San Francisco waived linebacker Derek Smith.

* The Arizona Cardinals, in conjunction with the NFL, have donated the sod installed for the Super Bowl to Moon Valley High School in North Phoenix.

* Nine-year veteran safety Artrell Hawkins, who last played in 2006 with New England, signed with the New York Jets.

* Designated as franchise players were Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, Kansas City defensive end Jared Allen and Carolina tackle Jordan Gross.

Horse Racing

* Legal off-track betting in New York City would be phased out by mid-June under a plan approved to shut down the enterprise.

* A judge in Frankfort, Ky., urged opposing sides to settle the multimillion-dollar fraud case involving Horse of the Year Curlin's original owners.

Auto Racing

* A possible unification of America's two open-wheel series is still on track, with both the Indy Racing League and Champ Car saying progress is being made.

* Jerry Karl, who started six times in the Indianapolis 500 from 1973 to '81, died Saturday at 66 from injuries he suffered in a car accident in Baltimore. He operated Karl Aviation at Capital City Airport in York, Pa.

Philly File

* The Philadelphia Freedoms selected Venus Williams in the World TeamTennis marquee player draft. The season is July 3-23.

Sport Stops

* The inventor of the rubber fishing worm is among four men to be inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame tomorrow in Greenville, S.C. Nick Creme, of Texas, created the first rubber worm on his kitchen stove in 1949.

* Shannon Veal, the district MVP with the Glen Oaks (La.) High School girls' basketball team, collapsed and died in a playoff game Monday. The cause of death was not known. A 5-8 junior point guard, she had received interest from more than 75 colleges.

* Goran Ivanisevic will be questioned by police in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia, after a photographer said the former Wimbledon champion attacked him and smashed his camera. He has agreed to be questioned when he returns from a trip, police said. *