Capitals

1st-place Redskins 'not just a one-trick pony'

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1st-place Redskins 'not just a one-trick pony'

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) The team that was supposedly riding the coattails of Robert Griffin III kept right on winning when those coattails disappeared.

It can no longer be argued that the Washington Redskins are overachievers who were prospering only because of a multidimensional rookie quarterback who stubbornly refuses to give up. They look legitimately like a first-place team - which they now are - having won five straight to put themselves in control of their playoff fate.

With backup Kirk Cousins leading Sunday's 38-21 win over the Cleveland Browns, Washington (8-6) now has the same record as the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants atop the NFC East and holds the tiebreaker over both clubs. The Redskins next visit the struggling Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) before hosting a potential all-or-nothing regular season finale against their biggest rival, the Cowboys.

``I've never underestimated the importance of Robert,'' offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger said. ``That guy has put the team on his back many times throughout the year, and we'd certainly like to have him back whenever he does come back on the field.

``But it's nice, it's really good, for Kirk to step in and to perform like that. It's good for the offense as a whole to kind of tell the football world that we're not just a one-trick pony of having a triple-threat quarterback that can do everything and that's the only reason we're winning. Robert certainly is the man, but being able to show that you're capable without him is a pretty fulfilling thing for us.''

Griffin missed his first game of the season with a sprained right knee and is awaiting the doctors' OK to see if he can return for the Eagles' game. Without him, the Shanahans - head coach Mike and offensive coordinator Kyle - had their finest hours Sunday since arriving in Washington.

Kyle Shanahan has enjoyed a fun and productive season as a play-caller, experimenting with new concepts because of Griffin's ability as a passer and a runner, but he made the most of Cousins' talents and adjusted masterfully against the Browns, using play action and bootleg to counter an aggressive defense.

``A lot of three-and-outs to start that game,'' Lichtensteiger said. ``But thankfully the coaches really hunkered down and figured out what was working.''

The rest of the roster assembled by Mike Shanahan is coming together at the right time. A defense that couldn't stop anyone in September or October has clamped down in the second halves during the winning streak - even though linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive lineman Adam Carriker and safety Brandon Meriweather were lost many weeks ago for the season with injuries.

The offensive line, theoretically the weak spot headed into the season, has helped anchor the NFL's top rushing attack even though right tackle Jammal Brown never suited up because of a hip injury. There's concern this week, however, because center Will Montgomery sprained his left knee in Sunday's game and right tackle Tyler Polumbus suffered a concussion. Polumbus' backup, Jordan Black, was suspended for four games Monday for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances.

The roster has more its share of rookie contributors: quarterbacks Griffin and Cousins, running back Alfred Morris and punt returner Richard Crawford. Kicker Kai Forbath, who counts technically as a ``first-year player'' instead of a rookie because he spent a season elsewhere on injured reserve, is one 3-pointer shy of tying the NFL record for consecutive successful field goals to start a career.

Shanahan has had his slip-ups, among them his poor choices in quarterbacks during his first two seasons in Washington and his statement this year that the playoffs were essentially a lost cause at 3-6. Fortunately, his players didn't believe the latter - he backpedalled the next day, anyway - and now the team is on the cusp of its first playoff berth since 2007.

``I understood we were going to struggle the first couple of years,'' Shanahan said. ``We didn't have a football team. It was getting the right guys on the football team where we felt like we could make a run. I told our football team at the beginning of the year that, `You guys don't know it, but you guys are a lot better than you think you are.' They've obviously been proving that now.''

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Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman loses bet, rocks Ovechkin jersey

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USA Today Sports

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman loses bet, rocks Ovechkin jersey

Nearly two weeks have passed since the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to raise their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

With one team being a first-year expansion project that turned out beautifully and the other a franchise that had not appeared in a Stanley Cup Final since 1998, there was obviously a lot on the line.

Those away from the ice had 'a lot' on the line, too.

Prior to the start of the series, each city's mayor agreed on a bet that would force the losing team's member to wear an opposing jersey at the conclusion of the Cup.

Well, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman followed through on her end of the bargain.

Here is proof of her wearing the jersey of a man who led what was arguably the greatest post-championship celebration in sports history.

 

The Capitals announced Wednesday that the team's home opener and Stanley Cup banner unveiling will be played on October 3 against the Boston Bruins.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

MORE ALL-STAR NEWS: