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Cowboys-Redskins on Thanksgiving? No biggie to RG3

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Cowboys-Redskins on Thanksgiving? No biggie to RG3

IRVING, Texas (AP) Robert Griffin III, the Texas-bred quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, comes to his home state for the first time as a pro for the most traditional of Thanksgiving rivalries - Cowboys vs. Redskins.

Hold on a minute with all that drama and emotion building for Thursday's game. The Washington rookie grew up in Central Texas rooting for the Denver Broncos.

``It's one game and that's what we've got,'' Griffin said. ``We've got the Dallas Cowboys, and that's what I'm going to play like.''

Hold on another minute before deciding he is completely blowing off the pretty cool idea that he's coming home for a big game on a unique stage. He gets it.

``It will be fun. I'll see a lot of familiar faces,'' Griffin said. ``It's Cowboys-Redskins or Redskins-Cowboys, whatever way you want to put it. Me being a Texas kid, I know how big the rivalry is and I get my fair shot at it.''

Griffin has practical reasons for approaching Thursday's game as one Washington needs to win. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo does, too.

The Redskins (4-6) kept themselves in the playoff conversation by coming off the bye with a 31-6 blowout of Philadelphia, sparked by 14 of 15 passing and four touchdowns from Griffin. A win puts the Cowboys (5-5) a half-game behind the New York Giants in the NFC East five days after they risked ruining their season against last-place Cleveland before winning 23-20 in overtime.

``It started for us two weeks back,'' Romo said. ``We've been putting our head down and grinding, going forward and trying put together win after win.''

The Cowboys have played the Redskins more than any other team in their annual Thanksgiving home game, and Dallas has won all six previous meetings. The Cowboys also are trying to win their fourth straight against Washington, which would be the longest streak in eight years.

But the Redskins haven't brought a quarterback like Griffin into this game in a long time. Statistically, he's ahead of the other four rookies who began the season as starters, and he's right there with most of the veterans. He's one of six quarterbacks with a rating of at least 100, completing 67 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

The Redskins lost six of eight after Griffin's remarkable debut in a win at New Orleans, so maybe it was easy to forget about him. He sort of reminded everyone by picking apart the Eagles. He's also in the top 20 in rushing in the NFL with 613 yards. The next quarterback is Cam Newton at 394. The Cowboys have faced both.

``You can't really go into a game worried about this guy scrambling because it will slow you up and probably put you in a worse situation than just trying to go after him,'' said Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears. ``Obviously, we have to have awareness of where he is and where he can escape.''

Griffin isn't the only runner the Redskins have. Another rookie, Alfred Morris, is fifth in the league with 869 yards rushing, and Washington is one of four teams with two games of 200-plus yards on the ground this season.

The Dallas running game is struggling through the extended absence of starter DeMarco Murray and an offensive line that is also battling injuries.

Murray is likely to miss his sixth straight game against the Redskins, and backup Felix Jones is battling a knee injury that could limit him. Without those two, the Cowboys would have to rely on a pair of undrafted players in rookie Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner. In five games without Murray, the Cowboys have rushed for 100 yards once.

``We've shuffled guys through, but it hasn't just been there, it's been everywhere really,'' Romo said. ``Our offensive line, we've had to move guys around and do different things.''

Romo was sacked a career-high seven times by the Browns behind a line that started the game with a new center and a replacement guard, and ended up having to fill in for left tackle Tyson Smith when he sprained an ankle. One of the few constants, right tackle Doug Free, has been the focus of questions all week after he was beaten repeatedly by Cleveland.

``Every game you can look at it and say I did this wrong, I did that wrong,'' Free said. ``Some are worse than others, but I mean every game you've got things to work on, things to fix. You've got to stay focused on the task at hand.''

The Washington defense has lost several starters to injury, and even linebacker London Fletcher is in danger of missing a game for the first time in his 15-year career. He's tied with Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber for the league's longest active streak at 234 straight games, but he injured an ankle last weekend against the Eagles and faced the short week of recovery time.

``It matters to London. It matters to us, not necessarily the streak, but playing,'' Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. ``And there is a reason why he has played all those games because he plays when he is hurt and hopefully he will be able to play.''

Griffin will play, and plenty of folks from the hometown of Copperas Cove, Texas, will be at Cowboys Stadium, where he's 1-0 after beating Texas Tech in a neutral site game for the Bears last year, although he left early with concussion-like symptoms.

``He's kind of a different guy,'' Shanahan said. ``He's pretty relaxed no matter where he goes or who he's with. It just seems like he's pretty cool, calm and collected. He handles different stages as good as anybody I've been around.''

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Capitals Draft Tracker

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Draft Tracker

The 2018 NHL Draft starts on Friday with the first round and runs through Saturday. Here's a running tracker of the Caps' picks.

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

3rd round, 93rd overall: 

4th round, 124th overall: 

6th round, 186th overall: 

7th round, 217th overall: 

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Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

ATLANTA -- For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.

The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.

Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.

The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.

Peter Moylan, Atlanta's eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns' sacrifice.

With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles' bullpen in left.

Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged "you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them."

Machado said an intentional walk "crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield."

Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was "supposed to be middle in." Moylan said the pitch "slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle."

Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.

Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore's seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.

The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.

Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.

Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.

Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.

Ozzie Albies' bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman's two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.

Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.

Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings

The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.