Capitals

Full-go for Redskins' RG3, bad haircut for Cousins

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Full-go for Redskins' RG3, bad haircut for Cousins

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Robert Griffin III had a full practice and looked pretty good. Kirk Cousins had a full haircut that looked so bad he had to apologize for it.

The Washington Redskins quarterbacks were back to their regular pecking order Wednesday. Griffin went through a regular full practice with first-team receivers for the first time since spraining his right knee, while Cousins was an affable undercard whose hilariously hairy moment was more interesting than anything he had to say about football.

Griffin said he ran plays at full-speed, hoping to persuade doctors to clear him for this week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has made known his unhappiness over sitting out Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns, and he's clearly frustrated that the final say is out of his control.

``I'm ready to play whenever they want me to play,'' Griffin said. ``So if it's this week, next week, next couple of weeks. Whatever they say goes, so I'll be ready.''

Coach Mike Shanahan said doctors will see how Griffin's knee responds to the practice, particularly as to whether there's any swelling when the rookie shows up at work Thursday.

``Hopefully they'll look at it tomorrow and tell us it is full-go,'' Shanahan said.

Still, the signs are much more positive for Griffin than last week, when the Redskins sent out mixed signals in an effort to the keep Browns guessing. Griffin moved relatively well during the portions of practice open to reporters throughout the week, but then Cousins would take the first-team snaps once the session was closed.

Wednesday didn't have the same smoke-screen feel. After playing decoy for a week, Griffin talked about throwing passes to receiver Pierre Garcon with an arm that was ``a little bit more juiced up and ready to go.''

Griffin said his relationship with Shanahan hasn't been strained by having to sit out a game - and that it was important not to let personal emotions bring down the team.

``You don't take those things to the field and try to become a cancer or a distraction to the team,'' Griffin said. ``You support the team. ... You can be unhappy about something, but you've still got to learn, and that's what I did. I was upset, but I never let that show on the field and just watched and was able to see it from a different perspective.''

Griffin, the No. 2 overall draft pick and No. 2 in the league in passer rating, was hurt late in the fourth quarter of the win over the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 9. Fellow rookie Cousins led the Redskins to victory in relief, then threw for 329 yards in the 38-21 victory over the Browns.

The win (8-6) put the Redskins in control of their playoff fate. Their five-game winning streak has them tied with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants atop the NFC East, and Washington holds the tiebreaker over both clubs.

The victory also gave Cousins a chance to bask in the glow of being a winning starting NFL quarterback. His run of fame continued Wednesday when he showed up for a session with reporters with his mop of hair gone, replaced by a close-cut `do that - from the eyebrows up - made him look at least 45 years old.

``I have to apologize to my family and friends back home,'' he said. ``I think I'm embarrassing them. I try to represent them well, and my haircut's not doing it.''

He then explained that when he went to get a haircut on Monday, he had a ``communication breakdown'' with a female barber whose English wasn't the best. She also took off his glasses, so he couldn't see what she was doing.

``She wheels me back around,'' Cousins said. ``I look at the mirror and I realized I had a Mohawk. So I tell her, `Just shave it off. I don't know what to tell you.' So she just buzzed it off, and I have to live with this for the next couple of weeks until it grows back. ... The tough thing was that I didn't realize until that moment that I do have a receding hairline. That was tough to take. My dad is more-or-less completely bald, and I was hoping I wasn't going to get his genes.''

Cousins' remarks were televised live on national television, and soon he was trending on Twitter. Griffin called the haircut ``bad.'' Shortly afterward, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was looking at a photo of the haircut on the Internet and discussing it on the phone with Redskins writers.

``Wow,'' Foles said. ``I'm going to have to do that to mine - cut it all off.''

Notes: The injury news was good all-around for the Redskins. In addition to Griffin, C Will Montgomery (Grade 2 sprain of left MCL) took part in the full practice, while RT Tyler Polumbus (concussion) was able to participate in the walk-through and said he expects to be cleared to play. ... DE Stephen Bowen was limited with an upper biceps tear, but Shanahan said it won't keep Bowen from playing. ... LB Lorenzo Alexander wore a non-contact jersey at practice because of a shoulder injury. ... The Redskins signed LB Vic So'oto to the active roster from the Green Bay Packers practice squad. Washington also signed G Pat Boyle to the practice squad and released LB Kourtnei Brown from the practice squad.

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Metropolitan Division Outlook 2019-20: The New York Rangers

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Metropolitan Division Outlook 2019-20: The New York Rangers

The Capitals enter the 2019-20 season looking for their fifth consecutive Metropolitan Division title.

But this could be the most challenging year yet. The bottom of the division has improved dramatically with offseason moves and the top of the division still has quality teams. It’s hard to figure who will crater and finish last. The winning team might not top 100 points.

For the next two weeks, NBC Sports Washington will take a look at each Metro team and where they stand with training camps opening in less than a month. Today: The New York Rangers.

In February 2018, the Rangers did a very un-Rangers-like thing. The team sent a letter to their fans declaring the plan to rebuild the team. Now just over a year later, it did not take long for New York to make a splash in the offseason again.

The Rangers landed the prize of free agency in Artemi Panarin, added free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba, drafted Kaapo Kakko with the second-overall pick in the draft and traded for prospect defenseman Adam Fox. They also managed to avoid a restricted free agent standoff with Pavel Buchnevich.

All these moves combined put the Rangers among the most improved teams in the league. It did not take long, but New York was able to shift its team from a group of veterans not good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup to a team full of youth and potential.

The future certainly looks brighter for this team in the future than it previously had, but despite all the improvements there are still plenty of questions about the present roster.

While New York certainly got younger, star goalie Henrik Lundqvist did not.

Lundqvist had an up-and-down season last year. His first half of last season was good enough to get him to the All-Star Game. He struggled in the latter half of the season and finished with a save percentage of only .907 and a GAA of 3.07. He is not a goalie who seems to do well taking a backseat, but Alexander Georgiev played well enough to earn more playing time. All of this makes it difficult to determine just what the split between the two netminders is going to be heading into this season.

In front of the crease, the additions of Trouba and Fox look like they will give the Rangers two new top-four defenseman to plug in. That should certainly help a team that ranked 23rd in the NHL last season in goals against per game with 3.26 and could potentially take some of the pressure off Lundqvist.

Mika Zibanejad returns as the team’s top center after what was easily his best season in the NHL with career highs in goals, assists and points. He was seen as a second-line center going into last season, but certainly took advantage of the larger role offered by New York. The concerns over whether he can handle a top-line role may not be as prevalent as last year, but I still seem him as a poor man's No. 1 center.

The offense is also likely to lose some of its depth before the start of the season due to salary cap constraints.

The Rangers sit with just $1 million remaining in projected cap space and still have RFAs Brendan Lemieux and Anthony Deangelo left to sign. When looking into what the team's options are for freeing up space, you have to wonder if players like Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov -- who are both entering the final year of their contracts -- could both be moved before the summer is over.

Panarin is a great addition and undeniably a superstar, but he cannot carry a team by himself. When he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and became the offensive focal point of the team, he was only able to lead the Blue Jackets to a single playoff series win in his two seasons there. That was a much deeper team than the Rangers appear to be if they should lose Kreider or Namestnikov.

Money decisions will continue to loom over this team even after a decision is made on those players. The cap situation was dire enough that the Rangers bought out the remaining two years of Kevin Shattenkirk’s contract. While he was underperforming, the combined buyouts of Shattenkirk, Dan Girardi and Ryan Spooner will leave New York with $5,394,444 of dead cap space in 2019-20 and nearly $7.5 million of dead cap space in 2020-21. These are not just bad contracts that can be packaged in a trade and sent away, that is dead cap space that the team is stuck with. That is a massive amount for a team that sure looks like it wants to compete for the playoffs sooner rather than later.

You still have to count the Rangers among the most improved teams this offseason, but the hill they had to climb and still must continue to climb may have been much steeper than many anticipated. There is still a lot of work left to do in Manhattan.

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Orioles Roundup: Orioles allow 13 unanswered runs in loss to Red Sox

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Orioles Roundup: Orioles allow 13 unanswered runs in loss to Red Sox

The O's continue to struggle against their AL East foes, including the Red Sox. The bats stayed hot, but the arms were unable to slow down the Boston lineup in Fenway. Here are the news and notes surrounding the team.

PLAYER UPDATES:

SP Ty Blach allowed five runs on five hits in 5.1 innings, walking three and striking out six. The Orioles' hot start is the only thing that saved him from being saddled with the loss.

OF Trey Mancini continued to torture the Red Sox, knocking in two runs with an early single to extend the Baltimore lead to 5-0. Mancini remains one home run shy of his first 30-homer season.

3B Renato Nunez crushed a three-run bomb in the first inning to start the scoring in Sunday's game, though it wound up his only hit of the afternoon.

C Chance Sisco has his afternoon end early after being hit in the groin by a foul tip. Team doctors are still evaluating the injury, and they hope to have more information by Monday. Manager Brandon Hyde is optimistic Sisco will avoid an Injured List stint.

INJURIES: 

C Chance Sisco: Groin, Day-to-Day

OF Dwight Smith Jr.:  Calf, expected to return in late August 

RP Josh Rogers: Elbow, out indefinitely

SP Alex Cobb: Back, out until 2020

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, expected to return in September 

COMING UP:

Monday, 8/19: Royals at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Tuesday, 8/20: Royals at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Wednesday, 8/21: Royals at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Source Credit: Rotoworld 

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