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Bradford taking the hits for Rams

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Bradford taking the hits for Rams

ST. LOUIS (AP) Sam Bradford has never cared much for numbers and statistics.

So the St. Louis Rams quarterback was surprised to find out he has been sacked in 30 successive games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

``That's great to know, thanks,'' he chuckled.

Bradford, the top overall pick in the 2010 draft, has endured his share of bumps and bruises this season, having been sacked 35 times to tie the Bears' Jay Cutler for fifth highest in the NFL. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has gone down a league-high 45 times.

On Sunday, Bradford was sacked four times for 32 yards in a 36-22 loss to Minnesota that all but eliminated the Rams from postseason contention.

The last time the Oklahoma product escaped a game unscathed was Nov. 21, 2010, in a 34-17 loss to Atlanta.

The sack string doesn't bother Bradford, although he would obviously like to see it end as soon as possible. The Rams (6-7-1) close the season on the road at Tampa and Seattle.

``When you don't get sacked in a game that means that the protection is good, that the ball came out quick,'' he said. ``It's a team effort to eliminate sacks. And that's something we work for each week. If we can get through these next two games with no sacks; that would be awesome.''

Bradford was trapped by Minnesota lineman Brian Robison on his second pass attempt Sunday. He was also sacked twice in the same series in the second quarter.

Bradford rebounded nicely in the second half, hitting on 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards, one of his best two-quarter performances of the season. He was sacked only once over the final two quarters and finished the game with a career-high 377 yards passing.

Bradford, 25, shoulders much of the blame for the sacks, partly in an effort to deflect criticism from his offensive line.

Although Bradford wasn't aware of his dubious sacks string, several of his offensive linemen were. Tackle Rodger Saffold says the line would like nothing better than to help Bradford record a clean sheet in each of the last two games.

``Overall, I think we've done a pretty job of protecting him,'' Saffold said. ``It would be, like, just one sack here and that would ruin it.''

Bradford was sacked only once in three games this season, all of them coming in the first half. The Rams won two of those games.

``It's always been the goal to hold down the (sacks),'' Saffold said. ``We'll just keep trying and see how it goes.''

Protecting Bradford will be especially important against Tampa, ranked last in the league in pass defense.

The Rams are all but assured of missing the playoffs for the eighth year in a row thanks to the loss to Minnesota. Still, there is a lot to play for over the final two weeks.

For instance, running back Steven Jackson is 91 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth successive season.

``We're still talking about working hard and improving every day, trying to finish things up strong,'' St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said.

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip.

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip.

The Capitals return home to play the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) after a successful road trip (3-1-0), but will still be without forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie (upper-body injuries), who remain day-to-day, according to coach Todd Reirden.   

Here are four things to watch:

Holtby’s back

After missing three games with an upper-body injury of his own, Caps goalie Braden Holtby was thrown into the fire down 4-2 at Montreal on Monday. But he played lights out and matched Habs goalie Carey Price save-for-save, finishing with 22 as Washington rallied for a 5-4 overtime win. Holtby now feels good enough as he will start against the Blackhawks tonight. In his past four appearances, Holtby has stopped 116 of 122 shots on goal.

New-look Blackhawks

Chicago’s slow start cost Joel Quenneville his job on Nov. 6. An NHL coach getting fired is rarely news. But when it’s a guy who’s been in his post for more than a decade and has won three Stanley Cups it is still jarring. The results are mixed since Jeremy Colliton took over. Chicago lost his first two games behind the bench, but is 2-0-2 in its past four games. That’s a small step in the right direction, but the Blackhawks are in sixth place in the Central Division.

Wilsonnnnn!!!!!

This was supposed to be the day Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after his 20-game suspension. An arbitrator cut that short last week so Wilson played on all four games of the road trip and had a goal and four assists. Not a bad start. Wednesday he gets his first home game of the year and what should be a raucous reception from the faithful at Capital One Arena. 

Old mates

On Monday, the crowd at Bell Centre booed former Canadien Lars Eller, who promptly took the puck up ice and scored the game-winning goal in overtime. It was a great moment for a player who felt Montreal gave up on him way too soon when trading him to the Capitals. Michal Kempny knows how he feels. 

Languishing on the bench for most of last season in Chicago as a healthy scratch – he played just 31 games - Kempny sees his old team for the first time since helping Washington win a Stanley Cup. Quenneville is gone, but the defenseman would love to show the rest of the organization trading him was a mistake. 

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5 things to know about new Wizards forward Okaro White

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5 things to know about new Wizards forward Okaro White

The Washington Wizards are set to add power forward, Okaro White to their NBA roster. Here are five things to know about the newest Wizards player.

1. White, 26, is a 6-foot-8, 205-pound power forward who played two seasons for the Miami Heat. In 41 total games, White averaged 2.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and shot 38.8 percent from the field. Though he never appeared in games with them, White also spent time with the Cavs, Hawks and Spurs. He also played Summer League for the Mavs and Grizzlies.

2. He has a decent outside shot for a big man. White has shot 35.6 percent from three in the NBA and made 37.5 percent from long range as a senior at Florida State. The fact he's an excellent free throw shooter is also a good sign. White made 79.9 percent from the line in college and has shot 86 percent in the G-League and 88 percent in the NBA.

3. White played with former Wizards first-round pick Chris Singleton in college. White was a freshman, while Singleton was a junior and the star of the team. White was also a starter on the 2011-12 team that won the Seminoles' first-ever ACC championship.

4. Though he's a bit undersized for a big man, White can block shots. He once had four in a game against the Nets on Jan. 25 of 2017 and three against the Sixers in March of that year. 

5. White's mom, Charmaine, was an Olympic athlete who represented Jamaica in track and field.

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