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Colts expect Pagano to making all calls in return

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Colts expect Pagano to making all calls in return

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts interim coach Bruce Arians expects Chuck Pagano to take full control of the team when he returns - even if that means making a coaching change in the playoffs.

Pagano has not been on the sideline since being diagnosed with leukemia Sept. 26, something Indianapolis believes will change before the season ends.

``If he comes back, he'll be the head coach,'' Arians said when asked if Pagano would be making all of the game day decisions.

It's the most definitive answer the Colts (7-4) have given since Pagano took an indefinite leave from the team to undergo chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

Initially, team owner Jim Irsay said Indy hoped Pagano could coach from the press box later this season. But with Pagano's prognosis steadily improving, the hopes inside Indy's team complex have grown, too.

The goal, Arians has said over the past month, is to get Pagano back on the sideline for the regular season finale Dec. 30 against Houston, and if not then, to keep playing until Pagano does return.

It looks more possible with each new report.

Pagano's physician, Dr. Larry Cripe, said earlier this month that the illness was in ``complete remission'' just before Pagano embarked on a second round of treatment. Pagano has made a few trips to the team complex recently and has attended each of Indy's last two home games though he watched from the coaches' and owners' boxes. He's been studying game tape, practice tape and has even advised players individually.

In Pagano's absence, though, the Colts have done things few thought possible.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has continued his pace for a record-breaking rookie season.

At age 34, receiver Reggie Wayne has continued to post the best single-season numbers of his career in a record-breaking season.

Other rookies such as T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen have emerged as play-makers and a rebuilt defense has improved, too.

The combination has Arians on the cusp of history, too.

Only six coaches in NFL history have taken over a team at midseason and won more games than Arians, who is 6-2. If the Colts win Sunday at Detroit, Arians would join the Raiders' Art Shell (1989), Cincinnati's Bruce Coslet (1996) and Mike Holovak of the Boston Patriots (1961) as the only members of the seven-win club. San Diego's Don Coryell won eight games in 1978, while Wally Lemm won nine games with the Houston Oilers in 1961. Hamp Pool set the NFL record with a nine-win season with the 1952 Los Angeles Rams.

Just seven AFC teams have winning records, and the Colts are sitting in the No. 5 playoff slot, one game ahead of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Arians, who was forced out by the Steelers after last season despite winning two Super Bowl rings in Pittsburgh, is savoring every moment.

``I'm thankful for the Pittsburgh Steelers letting me go to be here,'' he said last week, drawing laughter. ``Truthfully, I couldn't think of a better place to be at this point in time and to have felt more needed probably in my entire life. So thank you Pittsburgh.''

But Arians, himself a cancer survivor, is eager to get Pagano back on the field soon, too.

The two talk and share text messages nearly every day and whenever Pagano is healthy enough to take control, Arians will gladly slide back into his role as offensive coordinator.

``It's his team,'' Arians said.

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New set of injuries leaves Redskins offensive depth chart in shambles

New set of injuries leaves Redskins offensive depth chart in shambles

At the onset of the 2018 NFL season, few expected Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed to be among the most healthy players on the Redskins.

Both players dealt with injuries in their early careers, and had spotty training camp attendance in Richmond. And yet, 12 games into a season littered with other offensive injuries, Reed and Doctson had been largely healthy. 

That changed in Sunday's thumping from the Giants. Reed strained his big toe, and might not return this season. It's particularly alarming to hear of as he had surgery on both feet last offseason. Doctson landed in concussion protocol after the Giants game, and his status will be updated Wednesday at practice. 

The Redskins offense had not been productive with Reed and Doctson in the lineup, let alone out of it. Reed will certainly be out for Sunday's game in Jacksonville, and Doctson will be somebody to watch. 

With these latest injuries, it's almost impossible to come up with a real depth chart for the offense. Here goes:

QB: Josh Johnson, Mark Sanchez, Colt McCoy
Note: Seriously, these are the QBs. McCoy is not healthy enough to play but the team is not placing him on season ending IR yet either.

RB: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Byron Marshall, Kapri Bibbs, Samaje Perine
Note: Against New York, Marshall landed on the active roster ahead of Bibbs. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but not much this season has. 

WR: Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Michael Floyd, Jehu Chesson
Note: With Doctson possibly out with a concussion, the Redskins don’t have enough WRs for the Jags game. If that happens, expect Simmie Cobbs to get called up from the practice squad. Darvin Kidsy is another option.

TE: Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle
Note: With Reed out the Redskins will likely call up J.P. Holtz from the practice squad. Matt Flanagan is another practice squad option, but he projected to be a fullback. Seeing as the third tight end plays a decent amount of snaps in the Redskins offense and special teams, the organization might look outside the team for help if Reed gets put to the injured reserve. 

OL: Trent Williams, Chase Roullier, Morgan Moses, Tony Bergstrom, Luke Bowanko, Zac Kerin, Austin Howard, Ty Nsekhe, Kyle Fuller 
Note: The Redskins really hope Bergstrom can get back on the field this week as the Austin Howard guard experiment went poorly. The team just added Fuller on Tuesday. 

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Ovechkin’s hat trick keeps Capitals rolling in 6-2 win against Red Wings

Ovechkin’s hat trick keeps Capitals rolling in 6-2 win against Red Wings

Capital One Arena — The stars came out for the Capitals on Tuesday night. 

There was Alex Ovechkin continuing his marvelous age-33 season with a hat trick, his first since Nov. 25, 2017. Nicklas Backstrom had four more assists. That’s his second four-point game in six games. T.J. Oshie returned from an 11-game absence (concussion) and scored on the power play. Evgeny Kuznetsov set up two goals. 

Anything else?

It all added up to a 6-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings and Washington is rolling. With that kind of firepower why wouldn’t it be? The Caps have won 11 of their past 14 games. At 18-9-3 and with 39 points, Washington is in first place in the Metropolitan Division and has a chance to build on that lead with five of its final eight games of 2018 at home. 

It didn’t hurt that the second-place Columbus Blue Jackets coughed up a 2-1 lead to the Vancouver Canucks at home Tuesday, allowing two goals in the final five minutes to lose 3-2 in regulation. The Blue Jackets are stuck on 34 points and suddenly the Capitals have a five-point lead in the division. 

“The season is all progress,” Backstrom said. “You keep building your team getting all the roles intact. Lately the last couple of games we’ve been playing good hockey, we’ve been playing with a lot of speed, we’ve been playing quick. That’s when we’re hard to play against, I think.”

The recent hot streak starts with Ovechkin, in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career. It was his 126th multi-goal game and he passed former Washington forward Dino Ciccarelli (125) for the 11th-most in league history.

“I’ll take it,” Ovechkin said. “Couple lucky goals.”

Ovechkin has points in 12 straight games (13 goals, six assists) and 18 of his 19 points during that stretch have come at even strength – with admittedly a few empty-net tallies tossed in for good measure. He extended his NHL lead to 25 goals – four ahead of Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point (21).  

If Ovechkin records a point against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday he will tie his career best of 13 games set between Dec. 30, 2006 and Feb. 1, 2007. That was the year before this incredible run of sustained success began with Washington’s first playoff berth in the Ovechkin era. They didn’t even wear red uniforms back then. Ovechkin ranks eighth in points (38) in the NHL through 30 games. 

“I don’t watch much hockey so I can only go off the years I’ve been here but he’s playing outstanding,” Oshie said.

“At that level that he got himself to last year right at the start of the year … he’s really just kept building off that. It’s fun being on this side of that when Big O is going like that. It’s a privilege to play with him out there and you think maybe there are not other ways he can kind of amaze you and wow you but there was another example tonight.”

Last year, he didn’t get to 39 points until Dec. 30, which was game No. 40. He had three assists that night against the New Jersey Devils and ended that game at 41 points. He didn’t get to 25 goals until a Jan. 2 game against Carolina, which was Game No. 41. Ovechkin finished with 87 points (49 goals, 38 assists) and is well ahead of that pace and halfway to his magic number of 50.   

“The age he's at to still continue to not only want to get better, but to be able to,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said.

“After just the way he's played the game with such a physical presence and the energy he has and the size he is, it's not easy. He's been great in our room, the leadership is really stepped up for me, the best I've seen him lead in our room during the regular season. And then his overall play is following right along with it. I know some other years statistically have been better, but for me it's his best two-way hockey that he's played.” 

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