Nationals

Cleveland Browns name their starting QB

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Cleveland Browns name their starting QB

From Comcast SportsNet
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Brandon Weeden won the Browns' starting quarterback job without playing a game. Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur announced what had been an open secret after practice on Monday: Weeden, the No. 22 overall pick, will start Friday night in Detroit. "Brandon is the starter and we're moving forward," Shurmur said. "We're rolling and I'm not looking back." Weeden has taken snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense throughout training camp. He was pleased by the decision. "I busted my tail for 10 practices now and put in a lot of work," Weeden said. "I've had my ups and downs. We play Friday. My job is to get the team playing better and win games ... starting Friday." Incumbent starter Colt McCoy is now competing with 10-year veteran Seneca Wallace for the backup job. "I sat down with all three guys separately and told them," Shurmur said. "Colt was very professional. Disappointed, but he handled it well." McCoy believes he showed improvement, but has come to grips with the direction Cleveland is headed toward. "Guys," he said, "it is what it is. I worked so hard and I felt so good. Every day, I approach my job as a professional. I get here early and am the last guy to leave." The 25-year-old then went to pose for pictures with fans and sign autographs. A year ago, McCoy started the first 13 games before being inactive the last three with a concussion as Cleveland (No. 30 in the AP Pro32) finished 4-12. He was victimized by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison during a 14-3 loss in Pittsburgh. A dazed McCoy went back in after sitting out only two plays. Trainers attending to other hurt players were unaware of McCoy's distress. That led to a league policy now requiring teams to have a certified athletic trainer in the press box to monitor play and help medical staffs evaluate injuries. Cleveland went 0-3 with Wallace as the starter down the stretch. Now, Shurmur likes the progress displayed by all of the team's passers. "I feel better about the quarterback position," he said. "We've got two guys here who can be number two. To me, it is a win-win situation." Wallace took some snaps with the second-string offensive unit Monday, but Shurmur said McCoy likely would be first off the bench against the Lions. Weeden said officially being No. 1. won't make him change his daily approach, though he is getting more comfortable working with veterans like All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack. "I'm getting in the huddle and joking with guys now. The chemistry is great," said Weeden, a 28-year-old rookie from Oklahoma State. "But it is all about wins and losses. I've got to show I'm the best guy to get wins." Weeden will likely play one quarter against the Lions. He's eager to play more. "Every rep is vital," he said. "You can't get enough of them. You see guys in the league 12, 14 years like Peyton Manning, and they take as many as they can. I take every single one and learn." Shurmur is confident Weeden will be able to guide Cleveland's west coast-style offense. The strong-armed former pitcher in the New York Yankees' minor-league system, has looked sharp throughout camp. Monday, he regularly found receivers on deep sideline patterns, routes that are generally acknowledged to be the toughest to complete. "He gets with the program, he's accurate," Shurmur said. "He's wired right to play the position." NOTES: Shurmur moved Tuesday's practice back about six hours to the afternoon so that he and others on Cleveland's staff can attend morning memorial services in Philadelphia for Garrett Reid, son of Eagles coach Andy Reid. Shurmur, a former assistant to Reid, expressed his sorrow over the death of the coach's 29-year-old son. Browns GM Tom Heckert, and four Cleveland assistants also worked with Reid in Philadelphia. ... LB Marcus Benard walked off with an undisclosed injury. "I don't know what happened, but at least he walked off," said Shurmur. Benard missed the final 12 games a year ago after getting hurt in a motorcycle crash. ... LB Chris Gocong was seen in the parking lot, on crutches. Gocong tore his right Achilles tendon Saturday and is out for the season.

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Nationals set to enter defining seven-game stretch

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USATSI

Nationals set to enter defining seven-game stretch

WASHINGTON -- Most baseball managers try to operate in monochromatic fashion. They see one goal each day, and it only rests in those 24 hours. Some -- like Davey Martinez -- claim they don’t look at the standings in June. His standard message is to “win today” then move to tomorrow.

Human nature often runs interference on compartmentalization. It even crept up on Martinez on Sunday morning when in the midst of an answer about Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner playing daily. 

“For me, this is a big week,” Martinez said. “We have a chance to make up some ground here. I want these guys readily available to play.”

He’s right. The claim of significance is valid for once in mid-June, not a concept drummed up by overzealous television promos or interminable Internet space. 

The Nationals have seven games in seven days against two teams near the top of the division. Damaged Philadelphia arrives Monday. The Phillies’ bullpen is hurting and ineffective. Bryce Harper could miss the All-Star Game for just the second time in his career. Philadelphia is 6-8 in June. Meanwhile, Atlanta is rolling along. Its lineup remains deep, the pitching functional and Dallas Keuchel set to make his debut here in D.C. next weekend. The Braves hold a 2 ½-game lead in the not-so-great National League East. 

“Not thinking too big picture,” Adam Eaton said. “But knowing we have an in-division rivalry, we’ve got to win those games. It’s important. We’re trying to chase at this point. Not to put too much emphasis on it, but we need to play some really competitive baseball. And we shouldn’t beat ourselves these next four games. Play good baseball and not beat ourselves. If we play the brand of baseball we know how to play, and play clean, we have a good chance.”

Washington is five games under .500. Days are clicking off the calendar. Departing along with them are opportunities to chop at an 8 1/2-game deficit in the division. Following this week, only seven games against Philadelphia remain. However, 13 with Atlanta remain on the schedule, including seven in 10 days in September. The question is if those will matter. Sink this week and they won’t. Pull off a deficit-halving six of seven and everything changes. 

This week’s ramifications will first be felt on the phone lines in a month. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives July 31. Drag back to a double-digit deficit this week and plunk down the “for sale” sign. Rocket through the week and perhaps reinforcements will be found.

Monday brings a dreaded series opener. The Nationals are 6-17 in the first games of series this season. No one knows why. It doesn’t make sense. But, here they are, incapable of winning a first game and constantly playing from behind.

Patrick Corbin will be on the mound attempting to counter the trend. He, like the team when a new opponent shows up, has been in arrears the last three games. Corbin’s ERA dipped to 2.85 following a 116-pitch shutout of Miami on May 25. He’s been bludgeoned since. His ERA is up to 4.11, he will start twice this week, and the Nationals need him to right his ills.

Friday, Corbin threw a bullpen session focused on his line to the plate. Pitching coach Paul Menhart describes what they are trying to accomplish to get Corbin back to the version he was earlier this season:

“His lines and his east-west motion have made it very difficult for him to get the ball to where he wants it to be,” Menhart said. “He needs to be more direct to the plate and have more of a north-south rotation with his upper body and being more stable lower-half wise will allow him to do that and have his deception and hide the ball better and keep that tunnel.”

Corbin agreed. He doesn’t watch much video to cure ruts. He also doesn’t want too much information. The team’s analytics trackers have informed him his arm slot remains in a good place. He thinks his body is still in a running at a high level, dismissing any correlation between his struggles and the workload against Miami. He’s also going through the most common element of reduced success: trying not to chew on it too much.

“I think when I’m away from the field, you think about it more,” Corbin told NBC Sports Washington. “You’re frustrated about it a little bit -- what the heck is going on? But when you get here, you just try to work, try to do things to get better. That’s how I approach it. I’m just looking forward to my next start on Monday going out there and trying to get back to how I know I can pitch.”

Philadelphia arrives after being thumped in Atlanta on Sunday, 15-1. Washington had the opposite day in a 15-5 win. Monday night starts a reckoning of sorts for both. The Nationals will send out their three high-end starters during the four games. Philadelphia is trying to right itself and not let the Braves get out of touch at the top of the division. So, even for the one-day-at-a-time crew, the coming seven carry significant weight, and they’re finally admitting it.

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 

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Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”

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