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Seahawks rally past battered Redskins...

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Seahawks rally past battered Redskins...

From Comcast SportsNetLANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Russell Wilson raced ahead to throw the final block on Marshawn Lynch's go-ahead touchdown run, and the Seattle Seahawks finally had a victorious road show.Robert Griffin III's knee buckled as he tried to field a bad shotgun snap, leaving the Washington Redskins an offseason to worry about their franchise player's health.The last rookie quarterback standing in the NFL playoffs is Wilson -- the third-round pick who teamed with Lynch on Sunday to lead the Seahawks to a 24-14 victory over the Griffin and the Redskins.Lynch ran for 132 yards, and Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and ran eight times for 67 yards for the Seahawks, who overcame a 14-0 first-quarter hole -- their biggest deficit of the season -- and will visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons next Sunday."It was only two touchdowns, but it's still a big comeback and in this setting and the crowd, it's a marvelous statement about the guys resolve and what is going on," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It's not about how you start but how you finish."Seattle will be riding a six-game winning streak, having left behind any doubts that the team can hold its own outside the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks were 3-5 on the road in the regular season and had lost eight straight road playoff games, the last win coming in December 1983 against the Miami Dolphins.The day began with three rookie quarterbacks in the playoffs, but No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck was eliminated when the Indianapolis Colts lost 24-9 to the Baltimore Ravens earlier in the day.Lynch's change-of-direction, 27-yard touchdown run -- with Wilson leading the way with a block on safety Madieu Williams near the goal line -- and a 2-point conversion gave the Seahawks a 21-14 lead with 7:08 remaining."Marshawn always tells me, Russ, I got your back, no matter what,'" Wilson said. "So I just try to help him out every cone in a while when he gets downfield."Then came the play that essentially put the outcome to rest.On the second play of the Redskins' next possession, Griffin's heavily braced right knee buckled badly as he tried to field a bad shotgun snap on a second-and-22 at Washington's 12-yard line. He lay on the ground, unable to recover the ball as the Seahawks pounced on it.Griffin walked off the field under his own power, but the Redskins announced he would not return. After a few minutes, Griffin walked back to the sideline and watched the end of the game. The extent of the injury was not immediately known.Griffin was playing in his third game since spraining his right knee about a month ago against the Baltimore Ravens, and he had been looking gimpy since tumbling backward following an ill-advised sidearm throw in the first quarter.Nevertheless, he stayed in the game. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he didn't pull Griffin because the quarterback wanted to continue."I think I did put myself at more risk," Griffin said. "But every time you get on the field, you're putting yourself on the line."Griffin was scheduled for an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.Having recovered the fumble, the Seahawks kicked a short field goal to give them the insurance they needed. Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, subbing for Griffin, was unable to rally the Redskins in the final minutes.Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick and last year's Heisman Trophy winner who set several rookie quarterback record this year, finished 10 for 19 for 84 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also had five carries for 21 yards, including a laboring 9-yard run that made him look 32 years old instead of 22.The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Redskins, who recovered from a 3-6 start to win the NFC East.The Redskins opened the game threatening to make a mockery of the NFL's top scoring defense. Simple toss-to-the-right stretch plays netted 8, 9 and 18 yards for Alfred Morris in an 80-yard drive, and tight end Logan Paulsen barreled into linebacker Malcolm Smith after a catch to highlight a 54-yard drive.Both possessions ended with 4-yard touchdown passes: one to Evan Royster for his first NFL TD catch and the other to Paulsen. The Redskins led 14-0 in the first quarter against a team that allowed a season-low 15.3 per game in the regular season, but Griffin had tweaked the knee on that second drive.The Seahawks responded by getting Lynch involved more and scoring on three consecutive drives to pulled within a point at halftime. Steven Hauschka, who injured his left ankle during the first half and had to relinquish kickoff duties, nevertheless sandwiched field goals of 32 and 29 yards around a 4-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Michael Robinson.The Seahawks were poised to take the lead on the opening drive of the second half, moving the ball to 1-yard line with a pair of nice runs by Lynch and a leaping catch by Golden Tate.But Lynch fumbled on second-and-goal from the 1, the ball popped loose and was recovered by defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins. Then, on their next drive, the Seahawks drove to Washington's 28 before a sack forced a punt -- rather than a long field goal attempt by an injured kicker.With the Redskins' offense struggling, however, the Seahawks had more chances to take the lead -- and finally did on the 79-yard drive capped by Lynch's touchdown run.The playoff meeting between the two teams was the third, but first outside Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-10 in January 2006, and 35-14 in January 2008. Those were the last two postseason games played by the Redskins.Seattle had outscored opponents 193-60 in its final five games of the regular season. But they were 3-5 on the road and had lost eight straight road playoff games. Their only road playoff win came in their first postseason road game, Dec. 31, 1983, at Miami.And now they have another.

How Tommy Hottovy became a 'resource' for Cubs during COVID-19 pandemic

How Tommy Hottovy became a 'resource' for Cubs during COVID-19 pandemic

At the height of Tommy Hottovy’s illness, Cubs manager David Ross had to take over the pitching coach’s duties on his regular video conference with pitchers.

“When he spoke, he couldn’t get two words out without coughing,” Ross recalled Friday, before the Cubs’ first day of Summer Camp.

Hottovy, 38, battled the novel coronavirus for a month, while baseball was still on hold due to the pandemic. He finally got his first negative test back a few weeks ago. Hottovy was upfront about his condition with the pitchers, and on Friday Ross said he wanted Hottovy to speak in a team meeting.

“Just because he is such a powerful resource,” Ross said. “… He’ll be a god guy to go to if guys have questions.”

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Hottovy’s story includes a fever that kept him awake from midnight to 6am every night, viral pneumonia that required breathing treatments, a trip to the hospital that he packed a bag for in case he had to spend the night.

Hottovy was isolated from his family for a month, sequestered to a spare bedroom their house, and he still felt guilty for putting them at risk. Those precautions kept his wife and two young children from contracting the virus from him.

“It’s very scary, and it’s awesome for him to share his story with us,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “There’s a lot of people unfortunately who have gotten this and were not able to tell their story, were not able to see their families for one last time. And it’s unfortunate. You can’t take days for granted.”

Utility man Ian Happ stayed in Arizona after MLB shut down Spring training in March. He lived with Cubs reliver Dakota Mekkes during that time.

“Dakota would be on the pitchers calls,” Happ said, “so you kind of got to walk the journey with Tommy a little bit and check in on him as he was going through it. And I think his experience, his story, it’s incredible. Not testing negative for 30 days and the impact that had on his family and everyone around him, I think it really puts it into perspective.

“It tells guys how serious this is and how cautious we need to be. Not just for ourselves, but for our teammates, their families and for everybody who’s working hard to be here for us.”

As far as COVID-19 testing goes, the Cubs opened Summer Camp on an encouraging note. League protocol restricts Ross from saying if any Cubs have tested positive, but he did say he expected all players who were scheduled to report Friday would be in camp. Two staff members did recently test positive at home and were expected to miss the beginning of camp, general manager Jed Hoyer announced earlier this week.

League-wide, only 1.2 percent of players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of intake screening, including 31 players. The league’s 101-page 2020 Operations Manual is designed to keep that number low. But the health and safety protocols are only as good as the clubs’ compliance.

“Every single person in the organization,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, “every player, ever staff member, everyone in uniform, out of uniform, we all have to make great decisions, exercise great disciple, hold each other accountable, collaborate, go into it with an open mind and exercise real personal and collective responsibility.”

If that message wasn’t already clear, Hottovy’s experience put it into sharp focus.

 

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How Cubs open training camp in position of strength? Let them count the ways

How Cubs open training camp in position of strength? Let them count the ways

As the Cubs on Friday opened their second shot at a first impression this season, they were at full strength — minus one dishwashing mishap. And to hear the manager talk, they might be ready to play games as quickly as anyone in baseball.

Manager David Ross, who let the news slip during a Zoom session with reporters that all the Cubs players tested negative for COVID-19 during intake screening, already has his replacement pool in place for starter Jose Quintana (badly cut thumb/dishwashing), plans the team’s first intrasquad game Saturday and would seem to have very few job battles open in this three-week training camp.

“Thankfully, we’ve had a group that stayed ready,” Ross said, “and taking live batting practice, and [pitchers] have been throwing live bullpens and followed the protocols that our coaches have set out. 

“All of them look like they’re in phenomenal shape.”

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Spoken like every manager on every first day of spring training. Except it was July, in Chicago, with three anxious weeks between now and the scheduled openers of a 60-game sprint of a would-be baseball season.

So, strap on the mask. Snap on the latex gloves.

And count the Cubs’ blessings as things open up:

— Aside from left-hander Quintana, the fourth starter whose season is in doubt as the Cubs await the progress in a few weeks of the surgically repaired nerve in his thumb, the Cubs expect to have everybody else scheduled to be in camp available for workouts, Ross said. This while teams such as the Phillies (four COVID-19 cases) and the Angels (nine inactive for undisclosed reasons) deal with more severe roster losses from the outset.

—Even Quintana’s loss has already, presumably, been replaced by sixth-man Alec Mills — whom Ross has “a ton of confidence in” — with right-handers Colin Rea, Adbert Alzolay and Jharel Cotton in the wings as rotation depth and candidates to fill Mills’ swingman/long role in the bullpen.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good reports back from the work that Colin Rea’s put in,” Ross said. “Jharel Cotton is a huge pickup, especially in this shortened season — and not having a lot of innings under his belt the last couple of years. And he feels really good and has stayed sharp. So, we’ve got some good options to fill that void internally that I have extreme confidence in.”

As for looking for outside help with Quintana down, Ross called that a “wait and see” proposition for front office bosses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. “Jed and Theo are working hard on all areas of that.”

—Did somebody say job battles? When last they trod the diamond in March, the Cubs essentially had only a few bullpen spots, the center field mix (Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ or a combination of both) and second base (Jason Kipnis and/or Nico Hoerner) to figure out. But with a 30-man roster to start the short season, all four of those position players should not only be on the roster but also be in position to play significant roles. And the additional spots for pitchers figures to make some of the bullpen calls less fraught.

“We’ve got a little more leeway for some [roster] expansion,” Ross said. “But those pieces are going to be important, and they’re going to have value when they are on this team. So, you’ve still got to look at them through the same lens in putting the best group that you can together.”

—Did somebody say they’ve got to get a look at guys in competitive situations? Ross said enough pitchers have stayed on top of their throwing programs that his starters are ready to throw three innings out of the chute. Consequently, intrasquad games start Saturday, though Ross is ready to employ pitch limits and hamstring-forgiving guidelines for base running the first several days.

Still, as past Cubs managers have often learned the hard way, Ross seems to understand this will be no push-button operation, especially under these trying circumstances over these next few one-day-at-a-time weeks.

“It’s not something we can map out and say this is how we’re going to run things,” Ross said. “We’re going to take feedback from the players and when we can push them a little bit harder, we’re going to push them, and when we feel like we’ve got to back off, we’ll slow things down a little bit.

“Everything we’re having to do now is unique.”

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