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Browns' Richardson, Weeden questionable

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Browns' Richardson, Weeden questionable

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Though two of his star players got hurt, Browns coach Pat Shurmur defended playing his regulars late in a blowout loss in Denver.

Shurmur said he was just trying to win when prized rookies Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden were injured in the second half of the 34-12 loss.

``What do we do, just stop playing?'' Shurmur said Monday. ``So you just run the ball and get out of there, warm up the buses? Is that what? We're trying to do what we can to move the football. At that time it was a three-score game. Typically that means throw it.''

Facing a defense that knew he had to pass, backup Colt McCoy was sacked four times during his brief relief appearance for Weeden.

``I was just trying to not get knocked out,'' said McCoy, whose 2011 season ended when he sustained a concussion in Pittsburgh. He hadn't thrown a pass since then in a regular-season game until a wobbly Weeden went out Sunday.

``We were pretty far behind at that point when I got in, so I assumed we would start throwing,'' McCoy said. ``It took a couple series getting used to the pocket - hadn't had any reps, hadn't sat back there in a while - so getting a feel for how those guys were playing, I maybe missed a couple throws early.

``A couple times I just threw the ball in the dirt to let those guys (teammates) rest. We were throwing the ball down the field and those guys were tired.''

Shurmur said he was unaware of McCoy's comments. He did know about kick returner Josh Cribbs' profane postgame tweet to fans and did not approve.

``That's not acceptable,'' Shurmur said. ``I don't like that and he shouldn't do that. I think he's remorseful. But he shouldn't be reading tweets after a game. Emotions are raw when you don't win. It is important we use good judgment.''

Bitter fans have questioned Shurmur's decisions all year. Their latest outburst came after Weeden was hurt on a third-quarter sack and Richardson went down when McCoy rolled up on the back of his leg after being hit on Cleveland's second-to-last offensive play.

``We don't want to get anybody hurt,'' Shurmur. ``Anybody on the field is exposed to injury.''

Shurmur remains hopeful Weeden and Richardson can play in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

``I wouldn't rule them out yet,'' he said. ``We're still evaluating those injuries. In the case of Trent, it involved his ankle. The X-rays didn't show a break. He was actually feeling better today. Brandon, it was his right shoulder. At this point it's a sprain.

``I think it's important if guys are physically able to play, they play. That's the competitive nature of this game.''

Richardson has set Browns rookie rushing records of 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. Though Weeden has 17 interceptions to 14 touchdown passes, his 3,385 yards are 10th in team history.

The Browns (5-10) probably need a good game from both of their ailing first-round draft picks to beat the Steelers (7-8) and avoid going 5-11 for the third time in four years. A victory would put them two games ahead of Shurmur's first season in Cleveland a year ago - but might not be enough to guarantee him a third chance.

New owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have said only that they are evaluating all aspects of the organization. Sweeping changes are expected after Cleveland's 12th losing season in 14 years.

Having so many injuries hasn't helped. Still, Shurmur expects his young replacements to battle.

``Those are excuses,'' Shurmur said of utilizing second- and third-stringers. ``The next guy up has to play well.''

Shurmur believes rookies getting thrown into the fray has helped the young Browns become more competitive. He termed the loss in Denver disappointing but not discouraging, and sees progress.

``I feel like we're much improved,'' Shurmur said. ``I believe we're a better football team, more ready to make the next jump than we were last year.''

NOTES: WR Mohamed Massaquoi, who missed Sunday's game with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. The Browns also promoted QB Thad Lewis from the practice squad. He could serve as McCoy's backup if Weeden sits against the Steelers. Massaquoi had 17 catches for 245 yards and made five starts. His contract expires in March and this may have been the former second-round pick's final season in Cleveland. ... DB Sheldon Brown sustained a concussion when hit by Broncos WR Brandon Stokley, who was penalized for an illegal hit. Shurmur didn't think Stokley was intentionally trying to hurt Brown, but that the penalty was warranted. ... Shurmur thinks OL John Greco (thumb), ``will be OK.'' ... Cribbs called out fans only a few days after thanking them for voting for him for the Pro Bowl.

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

RELATED: DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS AND MORE FROM CAPS LOSS TO FLYERS

Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Derrius Guice's representation has released a statement that says the Washington Football Team running back "adamantly denies" the charges that he was arrested for on Friday

Guice turned himself into the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office facing one count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery, and one count destruction of property.

The following statement from Peter Greenspun was obtained by Ben Standig of The Athletic. 

"Mr. Guice will not be commenting on these charges, which he adamantly denies. We ask that the media respect Mr. Guice's privacy," the statement read. 

"Unfortunately, the investigators did not seek a statement or any input for Derrius before the warrants were issued. The failure to fully investigate allegations of events, which allegedly took place months ago is inexplicable."

Greenspun, who has a historic career and most notably was a defense attorney in the 'D.C. Sniper trial,' called the charges of his client "unsubstantiated." He also called out the football franchise for releasing Guice prematurely without inquiring about the investigation. 

"... a full vetting of the allegations will take place, in contrast to actions by local law enforcement and the Washington Football Team that assumed the worst, directly contradicting every sense of fairness and due process," the statement concluded.

The Washington Football Team released Guice less than an hour after his arrest became public. The move came through as a part of the culture Ron Rivera has vowed to instill during his first few months as head coach. This is also not the first time Guice has faced issues for off-the-field behavior. He fell to the team back in the 2018 draft due to issues he had while with LSU.

In his short tenure, Rivera has dealt with a tumultuous series of issues arising from the franchise including current and former players facing other serious allegations, a monumental name change, and serious allegations of the culture within the team's executives.

Despite injuries mounting in two years for the 23-year-old back, it was expected that Guice would become the leading rusher in the backfield this season. Still, he had yet to prove to be a consistent contributor with only 42 carries for 245 yards and two touchdowns entering his third season.

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