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QB Matt Hasselbeck starting 4th straight vs Colts

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QB Matt Hasselbeck starting 4th straight vs Colts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans do not have a quarterback controversy just yet, and coach Mike Munchak is doing his best to keep the situation under control by making it clear the starting job is Jake Locker's when healthy.

When that will be still remains to be seen.

For now, Matt Hasselbeck should make his fourth straight start Sunday against Indianapolis, and the veteran's play in leading Tennessee to fourth-quarter comebacks each of the past two games makes it easier for Locker to take his time healing up his shoulder.

Locker injured his left, non-throwing shoulder Sept. 30 for the second time in four games. He just started throwing in practice last week on a limited basis, and Munchak said they would discuss the quarterback's status later Monday. The coach said again that Locker will start when he's ready with the only holdback how quickly the quarterback can move through each stage of healing.

``He could progress very fast,'' Munchak said of Locker.

``That's all the information we really have other than that it's just a lot of speculation of where he's at and timing and guessing what week he'll be (back). We just don't know that. When he's ready to play, like I said, he'll be back playing. We just don't know when that is right now.''

Hasselbeck threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington on fourth down with 1:03 left in rallying the Titans (3-4) to a 35-34 win at Buffalo. He also drove the Titans to 10 fourth-quarter points in beating Pittsburgh on Oct. 11. Locker praised the 14-year veteran's performance as being ``awesome.''

``I'm happy that we're winning games, and I don't think you can look at it any other way,'' Locker said. ``It's my job to get myself healthy and myself back on the field as soon as I can.''

Locker said he had another round of tests on his shoulder Monday and hadn't heard the results yet. What doctors are looking for on the MRI exams is a more healing around the shoulder where the bone dislocated twice.

``Once that happens, then the discussion about being able to come back becomes a little more serious,'' Locker said.

The Titans have a chance to claw their way back to .500 if they can beat Andrew Luck and the Colts (3-3), their AFC South rivals. That would revive playoff hopes after a dreadful 1-4 start, especially in the AFC where all but two teams have at least three losses.

After Indianapolis, the Titans host Chicago and visit Miami before their bye week on Nov. 18. Keeping Hasselbeck as the starter with Locker continuing to heal up could position Locker for a return Nov. 25 against Jacksonville and the final six games this season.

Munchak said everything gets factored in when making a decision on when a player returns from injury. He also said too much football remains to ``put all your eggs in one basket.'' But the coach refused to speculate on how long Locker will remain out, noting not many people though the Titans could rally from 1-4 to have the chance to be 4-4.

``If Jake's ready to play this week, Jake will start,'' Munchak said. ``If Jake's ready next week, Jake will start and from there we'll figure it out.''

Another factor could be the health of left tackle Michael Roos, who had an appendectomy Monday morning. Roos has started all 119 games since being drafted in the second round out of Eastern Washington, and Mike Otto would start if Roos isn't able to play against the Colts.

The Titans have allowed 13 sacks, and Locker dislocated his shoulder for the second time when sacked hard by the Texans.

``He's a quick healer,'' Munchak said of Roos. ``He can tolerate high pain levels and still pain, which he's done since he's been here. We'll have to wait and see.''

The Titans aren't worried about a quarterback change affecting the timing of the offense, not after working with both Locker and Hasselbeck throughout training camp. Receiver Kenny Britt said Locker should make sure he's feeling better when he's back, especially after Hasselbeck showed he can still throw the ball.

``We're winning, and that's what we want to do is keep winning,'' Britt said. ``We can definitely win when Jake's in the game too. We definitely have two great quarterbacks right now.''

Notes: The Titans will be looking at linebackers after Munchak announced Zac Diles broke his right leg in Buffalo. Diles likely will be placed on injured reserve. Linebacker Will Witherspoon also hurt a hamstring that will make him questionable against Indianapolis, and reserve Patrick Bailey broke a rib. ... Munchak said S Jordan Babineaux hurt a wrist but should be OK.

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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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USA Today Sports Images

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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