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Bowers returns to practice with Buccaneers

Bowers returns to practice with Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Help could be on the way for Tampa Bay's erratic pass rush.

Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers practiced for the first time this season on Wednesday, opening a three-week window in which the Buccaneers will be able to evaluate the second-year pro and determine if he'll be able to return from a torn right Achilles tendon that's sidelined him since May.

If Bowers isn't activated by Nov. 7 to the 53-man roster, he has to be placed on injured reserve and sit out the remainder of the season.

``It felt good to be back on the field, it felt good to sweat,'' Bowers said. ``It's been a tough road, but I'm glad to be where I am now.''

The former Clemson star led the nation in sacks two years ago, and the Bucs selected him and Adrian Clayborn in the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL draft in hopes of bolstering one of the league's weakest pass rushes.

With Bowers on the physically unable to perform list and Clayborn sidelined for the season with a knee injury, the Bucs have eight sacks through five games.

The 6-foot-4, 288-pound end isn't making any predictions about when he could be ready to play in games, and coach Greg Schiano reiterated that Bucs will not rush Bowers back into the lineup.

Seven of the team's eight sacks have come in two games. The Bucs didn't have any on Brady Quinn during last week's 38-10 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs.

``We've got to make sure we go deliberately with this. Do it, see how he feels and then do it some more,'' Schiano said. ``It was a minimal workload (Wednesday). We're going to ease our way into this.''

Bowers had 15 1/2 sacks in his final season at Clemson and was projected be an early first-round pick before undergoing knee surgery a few months before the draft.

The Bucs jumped at the opportunity to take him in the second round, No. 51 overall, excited about the prospect of pairing him with first-round selection Clayborn, who wound up leading the team with 6 1/2 sacks as a rookie.

Bowers appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, starting the final six at left end and finishing with 1 1/2 sacks.

``I'm just kind of getting back in the swing of things. It's a day-by-day situation,'' said Bowers, who would not speculate on when he might be ready to play in a game.

Although Schiano didn't rule out Bowers playing Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the first-year coach suggested a return is not imminent.

``There's a chance, but that's not what we'd want to do,'' Schiano said.

With Michael Bennett playing well and leading the team with four sacks, there's little chance that Bowers would return in the spot he played as a rookie. Daniel Te'o-Neshiem took over at right end after Clayborn was lost for the season against Dallas, so there's possibility Bowers could push him for that job.

Schiano said it was premature to discuss a potential role.

``Right now I just want to see if he can come back,'' Schiano said. ``After that we'll figure out how to employ him in the scheme.''

That's fine with Bowers, who played both left and right end in college, as well as a rookie.

``Whatever coach decides,'' he said, adding while he's anxious to get back on the field, he's also comfortable with the team's cautious approach to bringing him back.

``Right now, I don't want to put myself out there'' without being ready, Bowers said. ``With those guys playing as well as they are, I don't want to do that.''

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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