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Foster: Don't expect 100 percent play at Pro Bowl

Foster: Don't expect 100 percent play at Pro Bowl

HONOLULU (AP) Houston running back Arian Foster says players are going to step up at the Pro Bowl this year, but don't expect 100 percent effort.

Foster said Friday after practicing with his AFC teammates that it's unrealistic to expect full effort from the NFL's top athletes when they're limited in the plays they're able to run.

``This isn't basketball - you can't go play a pickup game of football,'' Foster said.

Foster said if the NFL expects 100 percent effort from its stars and league officials are willing to cancel the game if they don't see that, then the game will likely be scrapped.

``I think it's an honor and a tradition, but for you to expect the best athletes in the NFL to come out and play a game 100 percent when you can't game plan, you can't blitz, you can't do all these things, it's not going to be competitive like everybody wants it to be,'' Foster said.

Effort has emerged as the top theme for this year's Pro Bowl as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made clear the all-star game won't be played going forward if it's second-rate football.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning said that would be a shame, meaning players have to play better to keep it around.

Manning said the NFL will lose the value of players interacting if the Pro Bowl goes away, which helps to keep the league strong. The true value of the game over the years, he said, is for younger players to have interactions with older veterans, like Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson chatting with former Chargers great LaDainian Tomlinson.

``Don't tell me there's not great value in that conversation,'' Manning said.

``If they cancel this, then I think the NFL will lose that,'' Manning said. ``Is there monetary value in that conversation? I would argue yes. I would argue that's helping keep the NFL as great as it is. So I'd hate for it to be canceled.''

The AFC and NFC squads took team photos at a resort on Oahu's west side before practicing separately on a 50-yard field in front of family, friends and some fans.

AFC defenders played a little more defense than in two prior practices. During seven-on-seven drills, Kansas City safety Eric Berry picked off a Manning pass and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie intercepted Houston quarterback Matt Schaub. On one play, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck gave the ball to Foster, who looked downfield to throw a pass but didn't.

``Throw that,'' Colts linebacker Robert Mathis dared Foster.

``I want to make sure Ray Anderson's paying attention,'' a Denver coach shouted to the players after Jets safety LaRon Landry broke up a pass, referring to the NFL executive who earlier this week said the league would make a decision about the Pro Bowl by April. Anderson was at the practice.

Wide receivers A.J. Green and Victor Cruz said part of practice is about getting the timing and rhythm right between players.

``It's just getting comfortable with the plays, getting comfortable with the little nuances of the playbook really quickly and once you get acclimated, it's fairly easy,'' said Cruz, the New York Giants star.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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

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'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

RALEIGH — T.J. Oshie shuffled out of the Capitals locker room, hunched over, half dressed, his face a mask of anguish and pain, his right arm pinned against his body. 

He made it to the X-ray room at PNC Arena on his own, two medical staffers at his side, moaning as he entered to learn his fate. Moments later, his teammates came off the ice at that same spot, 2-1 losers to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series. 

Players clomped past in various states of frustration and distress. Nicklas Backstrom smashed his stick against a wall and, when it only half broke, finished it off with one last theatrical whack. 

It was a perfect summation of Washington’s visit to Raleigh, where it arrived with a 2-0 series lead and left tied 2-2 with a critical Game 5 back home at Capital One Arena on Saturday. 

Oshie will not be with them. He will be out “for quite some time,” said Capitals coach Todd Reirden. Carolina forward Warren Foegele nudged Oshie from behind as both skated near full speed and he crashed hard into the boards in Washington’s offensive zone. 

Oshie yelled out in pain and lay on the ice for several minutes. He was helped off the ice and Foegele received a two-minute penalty for boarding. That did not sit well with Oshie’s teammates, who failed to score on the power play. They thought the play deserved more – a major penalty, for sure, and supplemental discipline by the NHL Department of Player Safety. They didn’t get the five minutes. They might get a suspension when the league looks at the play.   

“It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “It’s an extremely dangerous play and (Oshie) will not be with our team for a while.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Did you see that? What did you think? I was on the ice, I watched the puck, so I didn't see what happened there, but if you think it's not a dirty play, you have to watch it again."

The frustration was understandable. Oshie had 25 goals in 69 games this season. He missed 11 with a concussion in November before returning. On Thursday, he’d moved up to the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and he’s been a staple on the second line much of the season. He is as skilled a player as there is on the Capitals and has a goal and an assist in the series. 

“It’s always tough. He plays the game so hard,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. I have no idea what it is or whatever. But the thing with [Oshie] is no matter what he’s going to find a way to have a positive impact on our team - whether in or out. It doesn’t matter. He’s a leader and he’s a guy that guys want to fight for.”

Carolina didn’t agree with the Capitals, of course. Foegele called it “an unfortunate play” where he was just trying to lift Oshie’s stick and he lost an edge and careened into the boards. It doesn’t matter now. With the series now even, Washington will have to build on a much better game than it played Monday night in a 5-0 loss, but without one of its best players. On Friday they can begin figuring that out. On the plane ride home Thursday night they were still trying to process what happened to Oshie. 

“We have all those meetings. GMs make meetings with referees and watch the video and it's two minutes?” Ovechkin said. “We're players and we have to go out there and play, but those guys have to make a decision. They can't be afraid. If the guy hurt, it's a dirty play, it has to be not two minutes. It has to be different call."

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'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

The Capitals were incensed by Warren Foegele’s shove to the back of T.J. Oshie in Game 4 on Thursday that sent Oshie dangerously into the boards and knocked him out of the game. Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, does not know what all the fuss is about.

“You see a lot of hits that are way, way worse than that,” Brind’Amour told the media after the game.

Oshie entered into the offensive zone with the puck and Foegele came in on the backcheck. Oshie had a good position on the puck, blocking Foegele out with his back. Foegele responded with a cross-check to the back of Oshie that knocked him over face-first awkwardly into the boards. Oshie appeared to strike the boards with his right shoulder and was doubled over in obvious pain as he slowly made his way off the ice.

Ovechkin was so angry that he followed Foegele and continued yelling at him after he went into the penalty box.

But Brind’Amour did not see it as a dirty play.

“I think [Oshie] just went in awkward,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't know the extent of the injury or whatever. Barely hit him I thought, really. He gave him a little shove, but it certainly wasn't what we've been seeing out here.”

In fact, Brind’Amour did not think a penalty was going to be called at all until Oshie stayed on the ice.

“There wasn't a penalty being called and then obviously he crashed into the boards hard and that's when the arm went up because he stayed down,” Brind’Amour said. “You don't like to see that, but I think more than anything he just was not ready for the hit.”

For those of you keeping track at home, Brind’Amour took issue with two consenting players fighting one another, but a cross-check to the back leaves a guy doubled over in pain and, well, he just was not ready for the hit.

Right.

Of course, you can file this away under, “What is he supposed to say?” It’s not as if Brind’Amour would come out and bury his own player for an illegal hit. He is going to defend his guy. Having said that, there were probably better ways to handle the injury of an opposing player rather than diminishing it quite as much as Brind’Amour seemed to.

“We've got way more injuries than they do,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't worry about their team.”

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