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Cowboys back to practice after memorial service

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Cowboys back to practice after memorial service

IRVING, Texas (AP) The corner locker assigned to Jerry Brown at the Dallas Cowboys facility remained untouched Wednesday.

A day after a private memorial service for Brown, the practice squad member killed in a car accident involving a teammate, his Cowboys helmet hung on a hook below a shelf with several pairs of cleats. Towels marked with his No. 53 were folded on the bench right next to a copy of the team's itinerary from last week.

For the Cowboys, it was back to practice as they took their next steps after the tragedy and started preparations for Sunday's home game against Pittsburgh.

``It was hard last week initially. But this week, it's been upbeat. Guys are getting their energy back,'' defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. ``I'm back to being me, making people laugh, being the guy I am. We had a good day today. Hopefully we can have another one tomorrow and the next day and get ready for the Steelers.''

The Cowboys won their game Sunday at Cincinnati, about 36 hours after Brown was the passenger in a one-car accident for which nose tackle Josh Brent, his college teammate and close friend, is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge. The car Brent was driving flipped over and Brown was later declared dead at a hospital.

Brent, who is free on bond, was placed Wednesday on the reserve/non-football illness list by the Cowboys, a move that ends his season but allows him to remain with the team.

``I think we want to be able to contact him and him being able to contact his teammates,'' Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said from an NFL owners meeting being held at a hotel not far from Valley Ranch.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said teams are ultimately responsible for such roster moves and that in this case, ``it was the right decision.''

Asked about possible NFL discipline against Brent, Goodell said the league would let the legal process move forward a little bit to get more clarity on that. The commissioner gave no timeframe on when he anticipated speaking with Brent.

``The best thing for Josh Brent and for everyone involved in this thing is that he's a part of the Dallas Cowboys in some way, shape or form, and he feels the love that we have for him and the support that we have for him,'' coach Jason Garrett said.

Fullback Lawrence Vickers, whose locker is next to Brent's, echoed Hatcher and Garrett that the team is there to support Brent.

``You've just got to be there for your brother in a time of need. This is one of those times,'' Vickers said. ``This is an issue that we all have to deal with, but he has to deal with it even more.''

Brent was with Brown's family at the memorial service. Vickers said Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, had comforting words for the entire team.

``Stronger than any woman I ever seen in that position,'' Vickers said. ``For us seeing her strength, her strength was more like, `Hey, y'all focus on what you have to do, Jerry's in a better place.'''

The Cowboys (7-6) are a game behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants with three games to play. They play Pittsburgh and New Orleans at home before ending the season at Washington, which is tied with them for second place.

Garrett said there were still discussions about whether the team would honor Brown's memory with any kind of patch or decal on their uniforms.

While the Cowboys aren't revealing details of Tuesday's memorial, Garrett said the service ``was incredible on so many different levels.'' He said it contributed to helping everybody heal and move forward.

``There was a lot of love in that room, there's no question about that,'' Garrett said. ``A lot of love for Jerry and his family, a lot of love for Josh Brent.''

Garrett said he spoke with Brown's mother after the game and got a chance to visit her before the memorial. He called her a ``rock for everybody'' and described as remarkable the strength that she has demonstrated, her ability to understand and having peace in the situation so quickly.

Most of the players learned of the fatal accident after boarding the team flight Saturday afternoon before taking off for Cincinnati. They won the game Sunday, then got a day off before the memorial service.

Now they have to refocus for the rest of the season.

``The whole situation has been very challenging for all of us right from the start,'' Garrett said. ``The big thing that we have to do is we have to balance remembering Jerry and honoring him, supporting Josh in every way that we can, and also getting back to living our lives, as individuals, as players, as coaches, as a football team, and getting back to work. They aren't two separate things. I believe you can do both.''

NOTES: Dallas signed DT Brian Schaefering, who was released by Cleveland before this season. He appeared in five games with the Browns in 2009, and all 16 games (nine starts) in 2010, when current Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan held the same position there. ... NT Jay Ratliff (groin) and rookie CB Morris Claiborne (concussion) didn't practice. RB DeMarco Murray (foot) and LB DeMarcus Ware (elbow) were also held out. ... DE Robert Rose (Ohio State), LB Brashton Satele (Hawaii) and TE Andre Smith (Virginia Tech) were added to the practice squad.

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Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

Caps Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t have a contract beyond the Stanley Cup Final, and any potential talks about an extension will wait until the trophy is awarded, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday.

“No,” MacLellan said, asked if a decision on Trotz’s future had been made. “We’re going to address everything after the playoffs are over.”

Trotz’s four-year contract expires at season’s end.

It’s rare for a head coach to enter a season while in the final year of his deal. But that’s how the Caps decided to handle Trotz’s situation last offseason after another strong regular season performance ended with yet another second round playoff exit at the hands of the Penguins.

It was a suboptimal situation for Trotz, a 55-year-old who ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories but, until this year, had never led any team beyond the conference semifinals.

Despite his lame duck status, all Trotz did was produce his best coaching performance to date. 

Consider:

  • While visiting his son in Russia last summer, Trotz visited Alex Ovechkin in Moscow to discuss the changes he’d like to see the Caps’ captain make to his training and his game.
  • When the Caps reconvened for training camp in September, it was clear there were still some hurt feelings in the locker room. So Trotz and his assistants backed off, allowing some necessary healing to occur.
  • When the team suffered back-to-back blowout losses in Nashville and Colorado back in November, Trotz initiated a tell-it-like-it-is team meeting that many players have pointed to as the turning point of the regular season, which ended with the team’s third straight Metropolitan title.
  • Trotz also got his highly-skilled lineup to buy into a more structured, detailed style of play late in the campaign, a transformation that prompted MacLellan to call this playoff run the most defensively responsible of Trotz’s tenure.
  • In each of the two previous conference semifinals, Washington was defeated by Pittsburgh and, as a result, the Penguins had become a physical and a mental hurdle for the Caps. Earlier this month, Trotz helped direct Ovechkin and Co. past the two-time Cup champions.

Although MacLellan wouldn’t say much about Trotz’s contract, he did say that he’s noticed a big change in Trotz’s day-to-day approach to his job, a change possibly prompted by the coach’s free agent status.

“I think his demeanor has changed a little bit,” MacLellan said. “He seems a little lighter, a little looser, a little less pressure. Maybe a little more freedom about how he goes about things. He’s more relaxed, I guess would be the way to describe him.”

MacLellan also acknowledged the job Trotz’s has done this season, beginning with his delicate handling of the dressing room to start the year.

“I think he’s done a good job managing it,” MacLellan said. “To come in this year with so many questions—from my point of view, the lineup questions weren’t that big of a deal—but just the emotional state of our coming into to start the year [and] how to handle that. I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Indeed, Trotz’s situation remains unclear on the eve of the Final. But we do know this much: He’s having one of the best contract years in NHL coaching history.

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Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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FB/The Town of Lovettsville

Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

Welcome to Capitalsville, Va., population: #ALLCAPS

Hoping to become the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup headquarters, the small Northern Virginia town of Lovettsville has renamed itself to Capitalsville, Va.

Caps superfan and Mayor of Lovettsville, Bob Zoldos, had a lightbulb moment while watching Game 7 in a local bar and restaurant, Velocity Wings. Overcome with emotion from the win, he decided to take his idea to the town council meeting Thursday and Capitalsville was born after a unanimous vote to "unleash the fury."

This is not the first time name changes have occurred ahead of a big game. Ahead of the Caps' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jacket Brewery located in downtown D.C. changed its Twitter handle to "Grujacket Brewery" in support of goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The name change from Lovettsville to Capitalsville is temporary, with the plan to keep the new name through the end of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Zoldos hopes the sign brings in other Caps superfans from across the DMV to take in a piece of history 20 years in the making. 

Here's to hoping Capitalsville brings the city some luck heading into Game 1 on Memorial Day.

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