Capitals

Cowboys have chance to make big move in NFC East

201210211412511221474-p2.jpeg

Cowboys have chance to make big move in NFC East

IRVING, Texas (AP) This time, being a .500 team gives the Dallas Cowboys a chance to make a significant move in the NFC East.

Without that imperfect win at Carolina after consecutive losses, the Cowboys (3-3) really would have been in a scramble going into a stretch of four division games over the next six weeks.

``I looked at it last night, I saw the games we have coming up and how big they are for us,'' linebacker Anthony Spencer said Monday. ``If we can get a couple of wins here in a row, it's going to help us out more toward the end of the season.''

The Cowboys play Sunday against the NFC East-leading and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (5-2), who have won five of six since their season-opening home loss against Dallas.

It's the only home game in a six-week span for the Cowboys, against the only division opponent they've already played this season.

While acknowledging the importance of division games, coach Jason Garrett said his focus is solely on this week's matchup against the Giants. Not the upcoming stretch when Dallas has both of its games against Philadelphia (3-3) and plays division rival Washington (3-4) at home as well.

``That's how we do things around here. We're focused on cleaning up yesterday's game in our meetings today, getting our lifts in, our run in, and pointing our attention to the Giants,'' Garrett said. ``They're in our division, so there's no reason to look anywhere else but this game.''

The Giants have never lost at Cowboys Stadium, winning three games there. The facility opened in 2009 with New York winning the first-ever regular-season game.

DeMarcus Ware knows this is a big week for Dallas, and is aware of the significance of a potential sweep of the Giants.

``When you think about NFC East games, the way that they are playing, if you're not able to get wins early against big teams, it can come back to haunt you,'' Ware said. ``So when you have the opportunity to get big wins against NFC East teams, we have to do it.''

Dallas got a sorely needed 19-14 victory Sunday despite being outgained by the Panthers and scoring only one touchdown.

Dan Bailey kicked four field goals, including a go-ahead 28-yarder with 3:25 left. The defense stopped Carolina on fourth down with just over 2 minutes left, and Bailey added another field goal before Cam Newton and the Panthers got one more chance.

``Just lean on each other. We got to depend on each other,'' Spencer said. ``We know that our offense is going to have to put points on the board and we're going to have to stop teams from scoring. It's going to come down to when our offense is going to have to put points on the board to win the game and it just happened be that we had to stop them to win the game.''

Spencer was back after a strained pectoral muscle shelved him for two games over a three-week span when Dallas had its bye week. He said he felt good and was having fun, including a sack of Newton that set the Panthers up for a game-ending fourth-and-20 play.

The Cowboys got back to .500 for the season and improved to 123-123 in regular-season games since 1997, a span when they have won only one playoff game.

Running back DeMarco Murray missed the Carolina game because of a sprained left foot. There is a chance he could be back to practice in some capacity Wednesday.

``We'll wait and see on that. We're certainly optimistic,'' Garrett said. ``He's proven to be someone who heals quickly. We'll monitor him day by day but we'll have to wait and see.''

Garrett said the Cowboys were still waiting late Monday for results of an MRI on linebacker Sean Lee's sprained right toe that knocked him out in the third quarter of the Carolina game.

Center Phil Costa had to be taken off the field on a cart Sunday because of a right ankle injury. Garrett said the injury may not be as bad as it looked at first, but still didn't elaborate on the extent of what he called a sprain.

``We are more optimistic about Costa now than we were yesterday. When that injury happened during the game everybody was concerned as he was being carted off,'' Garrett said. ``By the end of the night last night and by today, we are a little more optimistic. It's a significant injury. We are not saying anything but that.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

grubauertrade16x9done62218.png
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.

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 37-year-old’s play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed the 37-year-old’s $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.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land or 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 sign John Carlson? That’s unclear—even with the ceiling going up to 79.5 million—but it certainly helps the Caps’ cause.

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 as their backup next season. And if Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum next season, 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.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

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

bryce-harper-usat.jpg
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.

MORE NATS NEWS: