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Colts find a Luck-aided running game

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Colts find a Luck-aided running game

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts accomplished their goal last week - improve their running game. Now they want to keep it going.

The Colts ran for a season-high 148 yards in a 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, led mostly by two rookies - Vick Ballard and Andrew Luck.

``It's the fruit of our hard labor,'' Ballard said Monday. ``Whenever you suffer a loss you want to get your edge back. We went back to the basics and figured out what we needed to do to get the win.''

Ballard took advantage of an opportunity with running back Donald Brown out for the second straight week with an injured knee. On 20 carries, Ballard ran for 84 yards, giving interim head coach Bruce Arians a little more confidence in the running game.

``When he came here I thought he had that in him, it was nice to see that come out,'' Arians said. ``He's a good, solid back and I think that the future is bright for him and I just want to stack those weeks together now.''

For Luck, he says the amount of confidence he has in the running game doesn't change, but he's happy that Ballard is getting some recognition for his game.

Ballard said the way to make to way to keep offensive balance for the entire time is simply by getting better at details and the small things.

``Any football team wants to have a balanced offense,'' Ballard said. ``Whenever you can have a good running game it obviously opens up the passing game.''

On Sunday, the Colts passed for 186 yards.

Once Brown returns, the Colts will have a deeper backfield. That could happen sooner than later. Arians said there's a chance Brown could return this week.

``It will be close this week along with about four or five other guys,'' Arians said. ``I'm anxious to see Wednesday who is able to go and who's not.''

Now the question is, when Brown returns, what kind of threat can Indy be running the ball?

``I guess we'll have to wait and see,'' Ballard said. ``However they use us, whoever's in, I'm sure, will get the job done.''

Delone Carter ran for 41 yards against the Browns.

``It was a great total offensive effort in running the football,'' Luck said. ``The running backs were running well and it really helped the offense.''

Ballard also caught a pass for 19 yards in the first quarter to put the Colts at the 5-yard line and set Indy up for its first score - by Luck, who ran 3 yards for the touchdown. It was the first of two touchdown runs by the overall No. 1 pick and someone the Colts presumably do not want running all that often. He ran 5 yards midway through the second quarter to give the Colts a 14-6 lead and finished with 12 yards on three carries.

Luck was only the third quarterback in Colts franchise history to run for two touchdowns in a single game. Ricky Turner and Bert Jones are the other two.

The Colts (3-3) play at Tennessee (3-4) on Sunday.

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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

After the moves, the Caps had more than $21 million in space under the salary cap ceiling, according to www.capfriendly.com, and potentially enough room to accommodate new contracts for John Carlson and other key free agents.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much the 37-year-old’s rugged play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed his $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to ink Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear, but it will sure help the Caps’ cause. Carlson is expected to command an extension in the eight-year, $8 million per neighborhood. 

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, as their backup next season. And if Copley starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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