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Buffalo Bills C Wood out with knee injury

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Buffalo Bills C Wood out with knee injury

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills will have to continue their late-season playoff push with a limping leading receiver Stevie Johnson and a banged-up offensive line.

Starting center Eric Wood said Monday he expects to miss between two and four weeks with a partially torn ligament in his left knee. Coach Chan Gailey said starting right tackle Chris Hairston is unlikely to play against St. Louis on Sunday because of a deeply bruised right ankle.

As for Johnson, he's still experiencing tightness in his left hamstring. He's expected to miss practice time this week, though Johnson remains confident he can play through the injury.

``I'm not worried too much,'' said Johnson, who has five touchdowns and leads the team with 55 catches and 705 yards. ``I know I'll be out there on Sunday, even if it was worse than what it is now.''

Johnson, who's also been bothered by a nagging groin injury, felt his hamstring stiffen after scoring on a 13-yard catch early in the third quarter in a 34-18 win over Jacksonville on Sunday.

Wood and Hairston were also hurt during the game.

On the bright side, No. 2 receiver Donald Jones is expected to return after being held out Sunday with a calf injury.

The Bills (5-7) remain on the fringes of the AFC playoff hunt in preparing to host the Rams (5-6-1).

The injuries to Wood and Hairston leave the Bills with one backup lineman, tackle Thomas Welch. The team is expected to sign another lineman before returning to practice on Wednesday.

Shortly after Gailey said the Bills were preparing to free up a roster spot to add a lineman, the team announced it had released veteran linebacker Kirk Morrison. The eighth-year player had proven to be the odd-man out after being listed inactive for all 12 games this season.

The Bills re-signed Morrison to a two-year, $4 million contract in March to provide them an experienced backup behind starter Nick Barnett. It was a disappointing finish to Morrison's two years in Buffalo. After spending five seasons as a starter in Oakland and one in Jacksonville, Morrison appeared in just 14 games - all as a backup - with the Bills.

Buffalo's re-shuffled offensive line will feature Sam Young taking over for Hairston, and right guard Kraig Urbik expected to shift to center. That means David Snow is expected to take over at right guard. Snow is an undrafted rookie out of Texas who opened this season on Buffalo's practice squad.

For Wood, the knee injury is the latest setback for the second of Buffalo's two 2009 first-round draft picks.

He missed the final seven games of last season after requiring surgery to repair a torn right knee ligament. Wood also missed the final six games of his rookie season after breaking two bones in his left leg.

Wood said he won't require surgery because the injury is to his MCL. And he hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning to play in the final two games of the season.

Wood was hurt with under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. He was blocking a Jaguars player, when defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey dived into his leg while attempting to tackle running back Fred Jackson.

Knowing that he was hurt, Wood was so frustrated by being injured yet again that he stayed in for one more play before alerting the trainers.

``I was in disbelief,'' Wood said. ``I was in denial that I got hurt. So I just kept paying because I was like, `There's no way I'm staying down on this field. There's no way this is happening again.'''

He credited the knee brace he now wears as preventing what could have been a more serious injury.

Wood was relieved to know the injury wasn't major, because he wasn't looking forward to spending yet another long offseason recuperating as he did last year. Wood wasn't fully cleared for practice at the start of training camp, and was eventually eased in at center.

``It's just stupid stuff that keeps happening. I played 49 straight games in college and never got banged up,'' said Wood, who played at Louisville.

``Maybe my luck ran out then.''

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NOTES: Gailey said CB/return specialist Leodis McKelvin's stiff back is feeling better after he was forced to leave Sunday's game in the first quarter. ... Gailey said there's a fear veteran DE Chris Kelsay's neck injury could be season-ending. Kelsay has missed three of the past four games since tearing a ligament. He was spotted wearing a neck brace on Monday. ... CB Aaron Williams (right knee) has a chance to return this week after missing four games.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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