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Harrison: I've had "double-digit" concussions

Harrison: I've had "double-digit" concussions

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison didn't want to wait for the NFL to do something about protecting his head, so the four-time Pro Bowler decided to do it himself.

After enduring what he estimated as ``double digit'' bouts with concussion-like symptoms throughout his decade-long career, Harrison began using a special layer of padding inside his helmet last fall and is pleased with the results.

``I haven't seen any spots or had any blackouts,'' Harrison said Tuesday.

Harrison was the first NFL player to use the CRT padding developed by Unequal Technologies inside his helmet. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick began using a flak jacket lined with military-grade Kevlar during the 2010 season, but Harrison was the first player to put the quarter-inch padding in his helmet.

He's been joined by around 100 players over the last 12 months and feels the extra weight (about 3-4 ounces) is worth the feeling of safety it provides.

``To protect my head I'd take a pound more,'' Harrison said.

The outspoken 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year believes the movement could catch on. One of the NFL's fiercest hitters, Harrison says he played through concussion-like symptoms in the past but as he's aged has become more wary of the long-lasting impact repeated head shots can have on a player's future health.

``If something works, I'm going to use it,'' he said.

The green padding uses material developed to protect combat military personnel. The padding square packs that can be cut into different shapes then stuck inside helmets from various sports, including hockey and baseball.

Harrison became aware of the product while looking for a little extra protection after fracturing his right orbital bone last season. Pittsburgh backup quarterback Charlie Batch, a member of the NFL Players Association's executive council, introduced CRT to player representatives from around the league, which quickly helped expand usage.

Unequal Technologies president Robert Vito said the product doesn't claim to prevent concussions but that anecdotal evidence from players from all levels seem to indicate the material can help minimize the recurrence of concussions.

Harrison noted the NFL has gone to great lengths to address concussions and hand out ``crazy fines'' to players who make illegal hits but haven't taken aggressive action in trying to update the equipment.

``The league is mandating next year that we wear thigh and knee pads,'' Harrison said. ``I don't know how many people's career has been ended on a thigh or knee bruise. We have guys now that are 30, 31 years old that are having to quit the game because they have severe headaches ... I think you should be focusing more on (the helmet) than knee or thigh pads.''

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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

The Stanley Cup champion Caps will open their seven-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 16 season against the Bruins at TD Garden, the team announced.  

Washington will face Boston, Carolina and St. Louis twice apiece—once on the road, once at home—and the 

Canadiens one time. The game against the Habs will be played at Videotron Arena in Quebec City.

NBC Sports Washington’s preseason broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the preseason entire slate:

Date                    Opponent           Location                      Time
Sun., Sept. 16      at Boston          TD Garden                  1 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 18    vs. Boston         Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20  at Montreal      Quebec City, Que.      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21        at Carolina        PNC Arena                  7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25    at St. Louis        Enterprise Center      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28        vs. Carolina       Capital One Arena    7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30      vs. St. Louis      Capital One Arena     3 p.m.

Monday's announcement kicked off a busy week for the Caps.

On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin will pick up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Nicklas Backstrom will also be on hand for media interviews; key members of the Cup-winning team are typically in attendance.

On Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Washington will make selections in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds of the 2018 Entry Draft at American Airlines Center. (Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Minnesota in the Tyler Graovac deal.)

Next Monday, many of the organization’s prospects, including this year’s picks, will report to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the start of development camp. The schedule and roster will be announced this week.

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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