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Dolphins fear Long's arm injury is season-ending

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Dolphins fear Long's arm injury is season-ending

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Tackle Jake Long's absence from the lineup will help the Miami Dolphins decide whether to keep him next year.

Long hurt his left triceps in the first half of Sunday's loss to New England, and the Dolphins fear he'll miss the rest of the season. That means Long might have played his final game for Miami, because he can become an unrestricted free agent this winter.

Rookie Jonathan Martin moved from right tackle to the left side to replace Long against the Patriots, and if he plays well in the final four games, the switch could become permanent.

Long, a perennial Pro Bowl tackle since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, earns a base salary of $11.2 million this season. He would receive $15.4 million next year if the Dolphins give him a franchise tag. That's likely more than Miami will be willing to spend, given that Long has battled injuries for much of his career and has endured a disappointing season.

The Dolphins (5-7) have lost four of their past five games, and their already slim playoff hopes might be quashed Sunday, when they play at NFC West leader San Francisco. So the timing's right to start thinking about next year.

Aside from addressing the situation at left tackle, upgrading the offense will be the priority, and the 23-16 loss to New England reinforced that notion. The Dolphins are averaging 18.9 points per game, sixth worst in the NFL.

``It's hard to win a lot of games scoring that many points,'' coach Joe Philbin said Monday. ``It probably would stand true in high school football.''

And now the Dolphins are prepared to move forward without their star offensive lineman.

`If that's the case, we'll go to work and get five guys ready to go up front,'' Philbin said. ``He has been an excellent leader. He's a valued member of the offense. However, injuries occur with every team. Ours is no different.''

Martin, a second-round draft pick, protected Andrew Luck's blind side as a left tackle at Stanford. He has started every game this year at right tackle, and Philbin said the rookie fared well after Long went out.

``He did a good job. He played well,'' Philbin said. ``He has a bunch of reps in his history from college playing over there. Here he doesn't get a lot of repetitions over there, but I thought he made a good adjustment in the middle of the game.''

Nate Garner, who has nine career starts, took over at right tackle.

Long has missed only two games in five NFL seasons. He was chosen a Pro Bowl starter each of the past three years and was a front-runner to be selected this year.

``He has been a good player for a long time, and he's the leader on the offense,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ``So it's tough to replace him.''

Even so, Long has become a less dominant blocker as his injuries accumulate. He was slowed by an ankle injury as a rookie and hurt his shoulder in 2010. Last year he battled back trouble, then missed the final game with a torn right biceps. He missed practice time this season because of a right knee injury.

Revamping the line would present yet another challenge for an offense that has sputtered. Tannehill ranks 31st in the 32-team league in passer rating, and Miami ranks 21st at 3.9 yards rushing per attempt.

A little more production might make a big difference, because five of the seven losses have been by a touchdown or less.

Against New England, the Dolphins totaled only 277 yards. Tannehill went 13 for 29, the third time he has finished below 50 percent, and twice missed an open Brian Hartline deep.

``You can't play the coulda-woulda-shoulda game,'' Hartline said. ``But they were big plays, and to beat a team like that, you have to make those kind of plays.''

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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