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Johnson plans to play vs Jags despite sore ankle

Johnson plans to play vs Jags despite sore ankle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The only game Chris Johnson has missed in the NFL came when Tennessee sidelined the running back in 2008 to prep for the playoffs.

He isn't about to let a sore right ankle sideline him now.

Johnson said Thursday he takes pride in showing his durability in a league where nearly every player deals with injuries. He calls himself ``a go'' for Sunday's season finale against the Jaguars (2-13) despite missing a second straight practice Thursday after hurting his ankle last week in a 55-7 loss in Green Bay.

``It's a situation where I know it's our last game. I know we're not going to the playoffs or anything like that. I still want to go out and fight with my teammates,'' Johnson said.

The running back already has 1,187 yards rushing this season despite an offensive line missing four starters from the preseason. That ranks as his fourth-best season with a game left in a rebound from last year when he had a career-low 1,047 yards after signing a $53.5 million extension.

Johnson would need one of his best games to do it, but he could join Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith as the only NFL players to run for 7,000 yards in their first five seasons with 168 yards rushing. He has run for that many yards once in his career with four games better than that. He currently has 6,832 yards rushing.

``That'd be very nice,'' Johnson said. ``Anytime you can set a record and have your name up there with Hall of Famer type of guys, it's always a great accomplishment to have under your belt.''

He'll be running against a Jacksonville defense that ranks 31st against the run allowing 145.1 yards per game. The Jaguars have given up more than 200 yards rushing three times this season, though they did get back linebacker Daryl Smith last week against New England where they allowed only 103 yards total.

If Johnson starts Sunday as he expects, this will be his fourth straight season starting all 16 games. That dependability is why coach Mike Munchak expects Johnson to play against Jacksonville. Munchak called Johnson's streak amazing considering his size at 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds to go along with 1,442 rushing attempts and 229 career catches.

``That's a credit to him and the way he takes care of himself, that he can withstand that kind of punishment in the NFL that he takes, like any running back takes when they're running the football, catching it, and on the field as much as he is ...,'' Munchak said. ``Hopefully he'll be able to finish up this season with a big game.

With all the offensive line injuries and the Titans (5-10) losing six of their last eight games, Johnson's future with the franchise has been the topic of heavy speculation. A clause in his contract allows the Titans to release him within the first five days of the new league year after the Super Bowl or $9 million of his $10 million salary for 2013 will be guaranteed.

Johnson's contract goes through 2016, and the Titans still see him as one of their best players.

``He's our playmaker,'' Munchak said last week. ``He's the guy everyone knows when you travel around. He's the first guy people want to know about, so you want the running game to do well.''

That hasn't stopped Johnson from being asked about his future repeatedly, and the 27-year-old running back has deflected questions on whether he wanted to be traded and what team he wanted to play for. Even Thursday, Johnson said he's focusing only on Sunday's game and not worrying about any changes that might happen on the roster or the coaching staff after such a turbulent season.

He noted offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired, Jake Locker was named the starter at quarterback only to get hurt and replaced by Matt Hasselbeck. Locker's return also was mixed in with the constant changes on the offensive line due to injuries.

``It's a situation I can't worry about,'' Johnson said. ``All I can worry about is the team and try to get a victory.''

Notes: Munchak said TE Craig Stevens (concussion) is highly questionable for the finale with LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) likely out again too. WR Kendall Wright (rib) practiced fully and expects to play. RB Jamie Harper (ankle) did not practice along with LB Will Witherspoon (chest), WR Damian Williams (foot) and C Kevin Matthews (right ankle). Munchak expects Witherspoon, Johnson, Harper and possibly Williams to practice Friday.

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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