Capitals

Buffalo's new-look offensive line braces for Rams

Buffalo's new-look offensive line braces for Rams

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Protecting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick could be an issue on Sunday when the Buffalo Bills (5-7) host St. Louis' strong pass rush.

Buffalo's offensive line is in patchwork mode after injuries to center Eric Wood and tackle Chris Hairston. In fact, two players - Sam Young and David Snow - will make their first NFL career starts vs. the Rams (5-6-1).

``It's insane how many guys we lose every year,'' said Kraig Urbik, who will start at center or right guard. ``It's not like guys are just wearing down. These are actual, physical injuries.''

The Rams have the NFL's fourth-best sack total (34) and those numbers might spike up Sunday. St. Louis is paced by former first-round picks Robert Quinn and Chris Long, who have registered 8 1/2 and seven sacks, respectively.

``They bring a lot of pressure,'' said Snow, a 6-foot-4, 303-pound rookie out of Texas who can play center and guard. ``It's evident that they're a very good defense. It'll be fun to play them.''

Snow, 23, saw his first NFL action against Jacksonville last week. Young, 25, is a 6-foot-8, 316-pound tackle in his third season out of Notre Dame who will line up vs. Long.

``It's a great chance to compete against a great defensive end,'' Young said. ``He's had a lot of production this year and it's a good opportunity for me to test where I'm at.''

The new crew has a lot to live up to. The Bills have allowed the sixth-fewest sacks (20) in the NFL despite using five different starters at right guard or right tackle.

Whatever the combination on Sunday, the Rams are just going to have to wait to figure it out. Buffalo coach Chan Gailey is keeping his alignment close to the vest, and likes it that way. Urbik or Snow, after all, could play center or guard, or both.

``This might be overall as athletic of a defensive front as we have played all season,'' Gailey said. ``You look at all the guys they rotate through there. They are playing extremely well right now and it will be a challenge for (Young) and David (Snow).

The Bills practiced indoors Friday after spending Thursday outdoors. Gailey said receiver Donald Jones will return to the lineup and that Stevie Johnson (questionable) has improved. How Johnson feels on Saturday, though, will be a key to Gailey's ultimate decision.

Gailey listed cornerback Aaron Williams as questionable.

``It'll be close,'' he said.

Leodis McKelvin is also questionable, as is Spencer Johnson, Chris White and Justin Rogers. Defensive end Mark Anderson, like Wood, is out.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

michal-kempny-blackhawks-usati.png
USA Today Sports Images

Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

On Monday, with the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Washington Capitals addressed a need for blue line depth by acquiring Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

But before you begin to analyze how the move impacts the Capitals' outlook heading forward, lets take some time to get to know the newest member of the Caps.

Who is Michal Kempny?

Michal Kempny is a 27-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic. He was born on Sept. 8, 1990 in Hodonin, a small town in southwestern Czech Republic near the border of Austria and Slovakia. Kempny began his hockey career playing for SHK Hodonin. Kempny knew very little english upon arriving to the NHL, but credited his girlfriend Showtime shows to helping him become more comfortable speaking the language. 

RELATED: UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS

What International Experience Does Michal Kempny Have?

Michal Kempny played professionally for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga and Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Kempny was a standout player on the international stage, playing for the Czech Republic U18, U20 and Men's National teams.

MORE ON THE TRADE: WHERE DOES KEMPNY FIT IN THE CAPS ROSTER

When Did Michal Kempny Make His NHL Debut?

Michal Kempny was signed to a one-year contract as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks in May, 2016 and made his NHL debut in October, 2016. Kempny scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 30, 2016 against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Kempny appeared in 50 games for the Blackhawks during the 2016-17 season, recording two goals and six assists. The Blackhawks re-signed Kempny to a one-year extension during the offseason. Kempny played in 31 games this season before being traded to the Capitals.

What Type of Hockey Player is Michal Kempny?

Kempny is a 6-0, 194-pound defenseman with a strong left-handed shot. Known for his play on the offensive end, Kempny was never able to gain the trust of Joel Quenneville on the defensive end. But Kempny has a good bit of offensive upside, thanks to his passing skills and strong shot, which is why the Blackhawks took a flier on him in the first place and why he was an ideal trade candidate for the Capitals. But again, Kempny's size is less than ideal for a top-tier blue-liner and while he doesn't shy away from contact, he is rarely much of a physical presence. 

What Does Michal Kempny's Contract Look Like?

Michael Kempny is set to become an unrestricted free agent the the end of the 2017-18 season and has a cap hit of just $900,000.

RELATED: TROTZ REACTS TO RACIAL COMMENTS MADE BY CHICAGO FANS

Quick Links

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE