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Ex-Pro Bowler can't hold back his tears

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Ex-Pro Bowler can't hold back his tears

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Captain Chaos fought to hold back the tears.Chris Cooley, the longest-tenured player on the Washington Redskins and easily the team's most colorful character, was saying goodbye."I appreciate everything," Cooley said with a sniffle, his voice starting to waver. "I'm sorry. I'm a baby. I appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I guess, finally, just to say thank you to our fans. It's been great. Thank you."The Redskins released their two-time Pro Bowl tight end Tuesday, a few hours after creating some special teams chaos of their own by cutting kicker Graham Gano and replacing him with Billy Cundiff.Talk of field goal percentages quickly gave way to the stunning realization that No. 47 will no longer occupy his customary space near the back corner of the locker room."He helped me get comfortable with this team & this offense. He is a legend in my mind and will be missed. Thank You Chris Cooley," tweeted rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III -- and he's only known Cooley a few months.Coach Mike Shanahan said the decision came down to a matter of playing time. Fred Davis, who had a breakout year in 2011, has emerged as the new starting tight end, relegating Cooley to utility duty as a backup at both fullback and tight end during preseason."He wants to start. He wants to play," Shanahan said. "And we'll see if he gets that opportunity."Cooley did not take questions at the end of his impromptu speech to reporters. He said recently that he wanted to start, but that he was also at the point of his career that he wanted to win after missing the playoffs in six of his eight NFL seasons.Shanahan said Cooley's release wasn't about health or money. Cooley appeared in only five games last season after trying to play before sufficiently recovering from offseason left knee surgery."I thought he practiced well, he played well (in preseason), and I think he's got an opportunity to start in the National Football League," Shanahan said. "I think he's healthy."Cooley, whose Pro Bowl seasons came in 2007 and 2008, was also one of the most expensive players on the team, due 3.8 million in salary this year and 3.85 million in 2013."We never talked about a reduction," Shanahan said. "We never talked about anything like that. I'd never do that to a guy like him."Shanahan conceded that cutting Cooley is a "risky move" because Davis would be lost for the year for another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Davis was suspended for the final four games of last season after failing a drug test.The coach didn't rule out having Cooley return if the 30-year-old tight end can't find a suitable team elsewhere.For his part, Cooley seemed unsure what to do with himself."I have every belief that I can play football," he said. "I have every belief that I can be not only a productive player but a starter in this league. I'm very confident in my abilities to continue to play the game. It would be a tough decision for me to put on another jersey. It's something that I really never had to imagine, so for now, I'll take some time and make sure what I do in the future is exactly what I want to do."Gano's release came one day after he appeared to win the kicking job, and two days after Cundiff was cut by the Baltimore Ravens.Gano had stood at his locker on Monday feeling excited and looking forward to the season after his lone competition in training camp, Neil Rackers, was sent packing when the Redskins made their first round of cuts.But Gano's numbers have never been impressive. He has made 73.8 percent of his field goal attempts since joining the Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32) late in the 2009 season, the second-worst rate in the league over the past three seasons.Gano, 25, missed 11 attempts in 2010, tied for most in the NFL. He had a league-high 10 misses last season, although five of those were blocked. He beat out Rackers without attempting a field goal in the Redskins' preseason games, coming out ahead based on his performance during practice.Cundiff's statistics are only marginally better. The 32-year-old kicker has a career field goal rate of 76.7 with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore. He joined the Ravens during the 2009 season and went to the Pro Bowl season in 2010, going 26 for 29, but last season he missed a potential game-tying, 32-yarder against the New England Patriots in the waning seconds of the AFC title game.Cundiff also has limited range. He is 5 for 19 over his career from 50-plus yards, including just 1 for 6 last season. He was cut Sunday by the Ravens, who opted to go with rookie Justin Tucker. The Redskins called as soon as Cundiff cleared waivers."It obviously was an interesting situation, and I think there's really no other way to put it," Cundiff said. "For me, obviously, a tug of emotions. When you start to see what I accomplished in Baltimore, and then to have the door kind of shown to me a little bit earlier than I thought -- then to have a team come up right away and say they'd like to have my services and they were going to make a move."Shanahan didn't offer much of an explanation for his kicker change."We just thought that was the best move for us at this time," the coach said.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

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USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby. Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1. It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Wizards take out Cavs on road to continue impressive run after All-Star break

Wizards take out Cavs on road to continue impressive run after All-Star break

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-103 on Thursday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wizards keep it rolling: Even a week off for the All-Star break couldn't slow the Wizards' roll. 

Though they started a bit slow in the first quarter, the Wizards picked up right where they left off with an impressive win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team many feel improved significantly at the trade deadline.

The Cavs have some newfound confidence, but the result on Thursday was another notch on the Wizards' belt. They moved to 8-2 since John Wall got injured and to 34-24 on the season overall, 10 games above .500 for the first time in 2017-18.

Beating the Cavs was a great sign for the Wizards who are just beginning an extremely difficult part of their schedule. Of their next 16 games, 14 will be against teams currently slated to be in the playoffs. A win at Cleveland bodes well with matchups against the Warriors, Celtics and Raptors on the horizon.

Since Wall got injured, the Wizards have taken out the Cavs, Thunder and Raptors. They keep proving they can compete with anyone even without their All-Star point guard.

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Satoransky continues to thrive: More and more teams are learning what Tomas Satoransky is capable of. The second-year pro had another gem of a game with 17 points (6-for-7 FG), eight assists, four rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers.

The Cavs added a lot of athleticism to their backcourt at the trade deadline, but it was nothing to Satoransky. He even made easy work of George Hill, an experienced and physical perimeter defender.

Satoransky also proved a much more even match for Jordan Clarkson, who was giving Tim Frazier fits before the Wizards went away from him in favor of Satoransky and Bradley Beal (18 points, nine assists) running point.

Satoransky and Beal helped lead another well-rounded effort for the Wizards offensively. They had 29 assists and five guys reached double figures. 

When Wall comes back, Satoransky will slide back to the bench as the primary backup point guard. He will still be part of the rotation, but games like this beg the question of whether his role should expand into something larger.

Given Wall plays so much, it will require Satoransky to start producing as a backup shooting guard or small forward. There are reasons to believe he's ready for those responsibilities. He can spread the floor with a consistent three-point shot and has made some nice plays off the ball in the fastbreak. He doesn't need to be the primary ball-handler to produce on offense, he just needs to gain some confidence in doing it.

Oubre was much better: The last few weeks leading up to the All-Star break were tough for Kelly Oubre, Jr. In his last 11 games entering Thursday night, Oubre was averaging just 9.4 points while shooting 31.2 percent. He was looking for a breakthrough and he got one against the Cavs.

After beginning the game 2-for-6 from the field, Oubre got hot in the second quarter and had 12 points by halftime. He went scoreless in the third quarter, but hits some big shots in the fourth to end up with 17 points. He also had five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Oubre's second quarter surge helped turn the game around. The Wizards had trailed by as much as 11 points and were shooting just 37 percent at the end of the first quarter. Oubre hit a pair of threes in the second including one to give the Wizards a lead with just over two minutes to go in the half.

Oubre has been contributing in ways other than scoring lately, but the Wizards can certainly use more from him on offense. The Wizards' bench can be limited offensively and everything opens up when his three is falling consistently.

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

New-look Cavs: The Wizards took some shine off what many have praised as a rejuvenated Cavaliers team following the trade deadline. Cleveland overhauled their roster and had won three games since. But the Wizards stopped that streak and did so by holding a lot of the Cavs' players in check.

LeBron James had a big night per usual with 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and two steals. But many others were stymied including Hill (six points, 2-for-10 FG), Rodney Hood (eight points), Clarkson (nine points), Larry Nance, Jr. (six points) and Jeff Green (five points), who happens to have hurt the Wizards on numerous occasions recently.

How the Wizards would match up with the revamped Cavs was particularly interesting because the old Cleveland crew beat the Wizards twice earlier this season. Of all the teams in the East, the Wizards seemed to match up worse with the Cavs than anyone. It was only one game, but the Wizards looked much better against this version of the Cavs than they did against the previous group.

Up next: The Wizards return home to play the second game of a back-to-back. They host the Charlotte Hornets with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.

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