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Ex-Vol WR Rogers trying to make most of 2nd chance

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Ex-Vol WR Rogers trying to make most of 2nd chance

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers said he is maturing as a person. His football future depends on it.

The former all-Southeastern Conference standout, who said he left Tennessee after being suspended for positive drug tests, continues to show there is no question about his ability.

Rogers has 34 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns in Tennessee Tech's first five games. He already owns single-game school records for catches and receiving yards.

``It's the same old me, just in a more mature sense,'' the former Tennessee star said. ``I have a different mentality about life and how you approach things.''

Nobody questions Rogers' talent.

He led the SEC with 67 catches and ranked second in the conference with 1,040 receiving yards to earn all-conference honors with the Volunteers last season. Rogers was expected to team up with Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson this year to give Tennessee one of the nation's most dynamic receiving units.

Those plans unraveled less than two weeks before the start of the season when Rogers was suspended indefinitely. His transfer to Tennessee Tech was announced four days later. Because Tennessee Tech is a Football Championship Subdivision program, Rogers was eligible to play for his new team immediately.

Rogers remains a legitimate NFL prospect because of his rare combination of size (6-foot-3 and 206 pounds) and athleticism, but he can't repeat the mistakes that caused his move from the SEC to the Ohio Valley Conference. As a junior, Rogers would be eligible to enter the draft next year.

``It's your second chance, but it's your last chance,'' Rogers said.

His new teammates and coaches say he's making the most of it.

Rogers set school single-game records for catches (18) and receiving yards (303) two weeks ago in a 41-38 double-overtime loss to Southeast Missouri State. He is putting up his impressive stats despite facing constant double-teams and occasional triple-teams.

Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, who coached Atlanta Falcons star Roddy White at UAB, said he has never seen one receiver get this much attention from opposing defenses.

``No one can guard him in this league one-on-one,'' Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb said. ``They know that. We're pretty much playing 10-on-9 because they have to put two people on him.''

Brown said Rogers also is making the right decisions off the field.

Before adding Rogers to the team, Brown spoke with Tennessee Tech's seniors to make sure they had no problem with it. Brown then established ground rules with Rogers, though they won't specify the nature of those conditions.

``He's been perfect off the field,'' Brown said. ``He's gone to class. He's doing what he's supposed to do. It's been fantastic. We've had not one issue with Da'Rick whatsoever. He's trying his best to mature.''

Rogers picked Tennessee Tech in part because of his familiarity with the roster. He played at Calhoun (Ga.) High School with Lamb and Tennessee Tech running back Adam Urbano. Lamb's father is Calhoun High coach Hal Lamb, who spoke with Brown before the transfer was finalized.

``I think being dismissed by Tennessee has really opened his eyes,'' Hal Lamb said. ``For him to get to the next level, which has been his goal since Day One, he was going to have to straighten up and start doing things the right way.''

Having friends on Tennessee Tech's offense helped Rogers adapt. Three days after his transfer was announced, Rogers caught a touchdown pass in a victory over Hampton.

``It goes a long way,'' Rogers said. ``I'm not concerned coming in what's my quarterback going to be like, what's my running back going to be like. I'm good with that. The only thing I have to focus on is staying clean, staying straight with everything that's going on, learning the playbook and making plays for my team.''

The biggest adjustment involves his surroundings.

After performing in a stadium with a seating capacity of 102,455 last year, Rogers has played in front of fewer than 10,000 fans in three of his first five games this season.

``Football's football,'' Rogers said. ``You just line up and play ball. But you can never replace the atmosphere, the Vol Walk and all those things. Running through the `T' (with) 100,000 people screaming, it gets pretty crazy. That's the biggest thing. It took a while to adapt, but it's been good here. Everyone here has welcomed me as family.''

One thing his new team and old team have in common is both are winless in conference play. While Tennessee has lost its first two SEC games without Rogers, Tennessee Tech (2-3, 0-2 Ohio Valley) has struggled as its injury-ravaged defense has allowed 43.8 points per game.

Rogers believes his new team will improve, and he also continues to follow his former squad. But he still hasn't contacted any Tennessee coaches to establish closure in that relationship.

``I haven't talked to them,'' Rogers said. ``I probably will along down the line as the season's ended. Right now, I'm just letting the coaches do their thing.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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