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Enjoying life in focus, Patriots RB set for bye

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Enjoying life in focus, Patriots RB set for bye

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Stevan Ridley will be on the sidelines this weekend, just not in uniform.

While many players around the NFL escape football during the bye week, New England's second-year running back wants no part of that. Ridley is heading to Louisiana to watch his former high school play on Friday before attending his alma mater's biggest clash of the season a day later.

``I'll be down in Baton Rouge, watching the LSU-'Bama game, of course,'' he said of his fifth-ranked Tigers and their showdown against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. ``It's funny how you get some time away and I'm going to watch another football game.

``So, I'm leaving football to go to football. Hey, it's my life.''

And with good reason.

At the midway point of the Patriots' season, the back is developing into one of the league's best, leading the AFC with 716 yards rushing, good enough for fourth in the NFL. He has 57 more yards than Houston's Arian Foster, who led the league in 2010 but has played in one less game than Ridley this season.

When he entered the league as the 73rd pick last year, the idea that he'd be ahead of Foster and a slew of other All-Pro backs halfway through his sophomore season wasn't a thought.

``I just go out there and run the football,'' he said, ``and I look up right now . leading the AFC in rushing? It's a dream come true for me.''

The same could be said for the Patriots (5-3).

Led by quarterback Tom Brady, one of the most potent and pass-happy offenses in the league over the past five years has adopted a more balanced attack behind Ridley's straight-ahead running.

With 150 carries through the first eight games, fifth most in the league, Ridley is on pace to become the first New England running back with at least 300 since Corey Dillon notched 345 in 2004. In fact, only BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2010) and Dillon (2004, 2005) have eclipsed 200 carries for the Patriots in the last nine years.

``He's very passionate about the game. Stevan loves to play. I think that's his biggest asset,'' New England running backs coach Ivan Fears said. ``On game day, he is there. He is mentally in the right frame of mind to play the game and I think as long as he's got that kind of passion for the game, he's going to do the little things that he needs to do to be physically ready to play.

``He's figuring out how to be a professional athlete, he's figuring out what it takes to win on Sunday. That's what you like about him.''

After carrying the ball just 87 times for 441 yards during his rookie campaign, Ridley this season has made some serious strides, exhibiting the intangibles required to thrive at this level.

His power, speed and elusiveness all have been on display at one time or another during an array of dazzling runs, including a league-leading 47 for first downs, five that have gone for 20 or more yards and five that resulted in touchdowns.

``I've got a lot of work to do in front of me,'' he said. ``I'm looking forward to the next eight (games) that we have.''

Patriots coach Bill Belichick thinks so, too.

``I think he's done some good things. I think there's certainly a lot of things that he can improve on,'' he said. ``There's been times where he's had really good blocking. There's times where he's produced yards on his own. There's a lot of things that he can work on. He's still a young, improving player.''

So far, so good, though. And his body seems to be holding up well to the rigors of being the primary back.

``I'm still playing football and still on the field. As long as I'm not missing any playing time, it's 100 percent,'' the 23-year-old said. ``Like I said, I'm just thankful to be healthy and thankful to be in my position in where I am. Got a little bit of football left to play, hopefully I can be healthy all the way until the end.''

The Patriots certainly hope so.

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING PLAYOFF SERIES?

Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.

WHAT CHANNEL IS GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING SERIES?

Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING?

Capitals projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 6 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.