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Cassel to start at QB for Chiefs vs Chargers

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Cassel to start at QB for Chiefs vs Chargers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Matt Cassel is getting another chance to be the Chiefs' starting quarterback.

Cassel will start Thursday night's game at San Diego because Brady Quinn has not been cleared to practice due to a concussion, regaining the starting job - at least for one week - that he lost after a dismal five-game stretch to start the season.

Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel announced Tuesday that Quinn will not be available, and that Ricky Stanzi will serve as the backup. Fullback Nate Eachus was also ruled out with a concussion.

``They will continue with their testing and evaluation and will return when the doctor releases them, and lets us know they're OK,'' said Crennel, adding that doctors haven't told him how long Quinn might be out.

Cassel was scuffling along until he sustained his own concussion a few weeks ago against Baltimore. Quinn took over for a loss to Tampa Bay, and Crennel made the move permanent during the bye week in hopes of igniting a struggling offense.

He never got much chance to see whether it worked.

Quinn was hurt in the first quarter of Sunday's 26-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders, though it's unclear when the injury occurred. He was sacked by Rolando McClain and then took another shot while floating a pass that was picked off by Matt Giordano.

Quinn left the field and went down the tunnel leading to the locker rooms, and Crennel said a trainer told him at that point that Quinn had sustained a ``head injury'' and was unavailable.

Cassel played the rest of way, completing 20 of 30 passes for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It was the 10th pick that he's thrown in parts of six games this season.

``I'm excited to be playing,'' Cassel said. ``As I said last week, my approach doesn't change. I'm going to go out (and) I'm going to work hard. It's unfortunate for Brady, but at the same time, we have to move forward. It's a short week. Preparation has to be put in.''

Cassel, who signed a $63 million, six-year deal in 2009, said he doesn't harbor any ill will toward Crennel over his benching. Cassel also said he doesn't find it uncomfortable that he's regained the starting job on a temporary basis almost by default.

``I don't look at it that way,'' Cassel said. ``No matter what my position is, I'm going to be the same guy, and I think that's the reason I was able to go in there and execute at a high level Sunday. I was ready and my approach was the same.''

Cassel said he wasn't sure whether coming off the bench changed his perspective, but his coach indicated that the decision may ultimately help Cassel from a mental standpoint.

``Sometimes a second chance energizes a guy,'' Crennel said. ``He wants to do well, and whatever role he was in, he didn't like it, but he said, `I'm going to do my job. I'm a Chief, and I'm going to be ready if I'm called on.''

The Chiefs (1-6) could certainly use a little energy. They've lost four straight overall and still have not led in regulation this season, making them the first NFL team since at least 1940 to play seven games without taking an offensive snap with the lead, according to STATS LLC.

They've also turned the ball over a league-leading 25 times after four turnovers Sunday.

Cassel has responsible for two more on Sunday when he fumbled a snap early in the second half that led to a field goal by Oakland. He's committed 16 turnovers by himself, which puts him ahead of all but three teams in the league: Dallas, Buffalo and Philadelphia.

``He knows he's going to have to play, and he's going to do the best he can,'' Crennel said. ``We have to help him as well, and if we all take the same attitude we'll be successful.''

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said it helps, given the short week, that Cassel was the starter when the Chiefs played San Diego earlier this season. Cassel committed three turnovers in the game, but he'll be familiar with the Chargers' schemes and personnel.

``He's preparing himself like a pro to be ready to go in this football game,'' Daboll said. ``He's got a good attitude, he's taken Brady being put ahead of him well. If you ask him, I'm sure he's anxious, excited for the opportunity.''

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

With Dallas' Luka Doncic and Atlanta's Trae Young leading the way, the top five NBA draft picks from 2018 have been selected as the top five NBA rookies this season.

Doncic and Young were unanimous first-team selections for the NBA All-Rookie team, which was announced Tuesday. Phoenix's Deandre Ayton, Memphis' Jaren Jackson and Sacramento's Marvin Bagley III are also on the first team, which was chosen by 100 voters who cover the league.

Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Jackson and Young were the first five picks in the last year's draft.

This marks the first time since the 1984 draft that the first five picks ended up as first-team all-rookie -- the selections that year being Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley. That was the entirety of the rookie team that season; the NBA didn't start doing first- and second-team selections until 1988-89.

The Hawks had two all-rookie selections this season, with Kevin Huerter on the second team to join Young. Also on the second team were a pair of Los Angeles Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet, along with Cleveland's Collin Sexton and New York's Mitchell Robinson.

Rookie of the year will be announced at the NBA Awards show in Los Angeles on June 24. Doncic, Young and Ayton are the finalists.

Doncic and Young join other unanimous first-team all-rookie picks over the last decade: Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell (2018), Malcolm Brogdon and Dario Saric (2017), Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis (2016), Andrew Wiggins (2015), Michael Carter-Williams (2014), Damian Lillard (2013), Kyrie Irving (2012), Blake Griffin (2011) and Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry (2010).

Others receiving votes: Phoenix's Mikal Bridges, New York's Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, Minnesota's Josh Okogie, Dallas' Jalen Brunson, Brooklyn's Rodions Kurucs, Chicago's Wendell Carter Jr., Charlotte's Mile Bridges, Detroit's Bruce Brown, Sacramento's Harry Giles III, Orlando's Mo Bamba and Indiana's Aaron Holiday.

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Alex Ovechkin goes for gold before a needed break from hockey

Alex Ovechkin goes for gold before a needed break from hockey

The Capitals’ season ended a month ago, but Alex Ovechkin has yet to take his break.

That will happen soon enough, but for now Washington’s captain is leading Russia at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Slovakia. After that, he gets his first real rest since the end of the 2016-17 season. He has played in 194 NHL games, including the postseason, in 18 months.  

Ovechkin will turn 34 on Sept. 17 and the questions now start in earnest: How long can one of the world’s greatest goal scorers keep up his pace? Ovechkin recorded his eighth 50-goal season this past season. And while it ended in disappointment with a first-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Ovechkin deserved little blame after adding four goals and five assists in the series.

“As a captain and as a leader, I thought he took another step this year from how he showed up to training camp to how he played all year long two-way hockey, commitment and when the games mattered the most,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said last month. “He scored big goals and showed fantastic playmaking ability. A physical force. I'm excited to see what he comes back with now after a little extended time away because he was tremendous this year.”

Washington won the Stanley Cup on June 7 in Las Vegas last year and after a hectic summer of celebrating and, eventually, training, players were back less than three months later for another grind of a season that ended after 89 more regular-season and playoff games. Ovechkin missed just one of them. 

Next year could be another one filled with milestones for Ovechkin. He doesn’t even need 50 to reach them. With 42 goals he reaches 700 for his career. Only seven players have ever hit that mark.  

Ovechkin passes Mario Lemieux (690) with 32 goals and moves into the top 10 all time. He has a reasonable chance to catch Brett Hull for second-most power-play goals (265) in NHL history. Ovechkin has 247 right now and has averaged 17 per year each of the past four seasons.     

At some point, even for Ovechkin, scoring 50 goals will be too much. Only Johnny Bucyk (36) and Jaromir Jagr (34) have ever topped 50 goals at an older age. But if he could just do it one more time he would tie Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for most 50-goal seasons ever (nine). We’re at the point where nothing should surprise, but we’ve gone off the known map. 

“That's the best I've seen him play in my three years here,” teammate Lars Eller said. “He just took some games over. It was impressive. He was our best player. Him and Nick, but especially O, he just took it to another level. Physicality-wise, he enforced his will out there and when he decides to do that, he's almost unstoppable. That was exciting to see."

Almost everything Ovechkin does now is unprecedented. In the past 20 NHL seasons dating to 1998-99, there have been 28 different 50-goal seasons as scoring has become harder thanks to better goalie play, equipment and more tactical defensive systems. And yet Ovechkin owns 29 percent of those 50-goal seasons. His 89 points (51 goals, 38 assists) were his most since 2009-10.  

For now, Ovechkin will settle for another IIHF World Championship. He has helped Russia win gold at the event three times (2008, 2010 and 2014). 

But Russia was 6-0 heading into the matchup with Sweden on Tuesday night and had outscored its opponents 29-3 in Group B despite just a goal and an assist from Ovechkin. 

There can be wild fluctuations in the competition level during the group stage at Worlds. The Russians beat Italy 10-0 last week. And the United States, Canada and Finland are all formidable opponents in Group A. 

Russia will likely play one of those teams in the quarterfinals on Thursday so nothing is guaranteed. The semifinals would be Saturday if they do win and then the gold-medal game - or the bronze-medal game - would be Sunday. Then, finally, Ovechkin can rest and get ready for his 15th NHL season with two years left on his contract with the Capitals. 

“[Ovechkin] elevated his game in the first round. He's just got a hunger to him to contribute and to score goals,” teammate Brett Connolly said. “You could tell that he was committed and that he was going to give everything he had to win it again. He was great last year and arguably even better this year….This fan base is very lucky to watch what he does on a consistent basis. You're not going to see that ever again. So, enjoy it while it's here.” 

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