Nationals

Jets' many flaws clear in loss to Texans

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Jets' many flaws clear in loss to Texans

NEW YORK (AP) Mark Sanchez had his moments - good and bad - for the Jets. Tim Tebow, too.

But some of the Jets' biggest flaws were on full display in their 23-17 loss to the Houston Texans. They couldn't run the ball, the defense couldn't stop the run and Tebow still isn't running on the field much.

And now, the Jets are running out of answers.

``We could've won, we should've won,'' wide receiver Chaz Schilens said Monday night. ``We got in the way of ourselves again. Sooner or later, we'll fix it.''

At least that's the hope for a New York team that's 2-3, but feels an awful lot worse than that. After all, this is a franchise that once had its coach guaranteeing Super Bowls, a team known for spunk and swagger. That's not so much the case these days as some players spoke as if Monday night was a moral victory.

``It was a lot of courage, a lot of effort that we showed,'' Tebow said. ``It wasn't always perfect and we always didn't execute the way we want to, but you can never question our toughness or our effort or our character.''

The Jets' performance was certainly better than what they showed in a 34-0 drubbing against the San Francisco 49ers last week. But plenty of questions remain for the Jets, who lost for the first time to the Texans.

``We helped them,'' a weary sounding coach Rex Ryan said on a conference call Tuesday, about 10 hours after the loss. ``We made a mistake and they made the plays. That's a good football team. Obviously, you can't help them, and that's the disappointing thing to me.''

The running game still hasn't been able to get going, averaging just 3 yards a carry as Shonn Greene gained just 26 yards on eight attempts.

``Well, we have to get the run game going,'' Ryan said. ``If we can run the ball, it'll open up a lot of things in the passing game. We have to be more efficient running the football.''

And they have to better at stopping it, too. Arian Foster zipped through missed tackles all over the field for 152 yards, making it seem as though Houston could run at will.

That's becoming a disturbing trend for a Jets defense that has looked slow at times - despite Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine insisting in the offseason that the unit become faster. Last week, the 49ers ran for 245 yards, and Miami had 185 two weeks ago.

``We still have some things we want to clean up and try to get better on and just continue to work,'' cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. ``This game, we fell hard on the back end, too. We missed a couple of plays out on the field and when we just go back and look at it, I think we will get a whole lot better, too.''

Joe McKnight had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to get MetLife Stadium rocking as the Jets cut the deficit to 20-14, but things went sour on the very next play as Chaz Schilens couldn't handle an onside kick attempt.

And then, there's the whole quarterback quandary with Sanchez and Tebow.

Sanchez went 14 of 31 for 230 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Ryan thought he played ``pretty good,'' and said there was ``no question'' Sanchez is still the Jets' starting quarterback - despite many fans and media calling for Tebow to get more time, and perhaps even slide into the starting role.

That's despite Sanchez's 48.4 completion percentage being dead-last in the NFL, and his 66.6 quarterback rating ranking 31st. Still, it isn't all on Sanchez. He had four passes tipped at the line of scrimmage and a few drops by his receivers, including one by Jeff Cumberland that led to a game-sealing interception. Sanchez is also playing without top receiver Santonio Holmes, out for the season with a foot injury, and rookie Stephen Hill and tight end Dustin Keller sidelined by hamstring issues.

New York's receiving corps is so thin, even free agent Terrell Owens tweeted at the Jets - practically begging them - to call his agent to sign him.

``You never say never or anything,'' Ryan said when asked about Owens. ``We'll look at all options, like we always do.''

But it appears the Jets have no interest in Owens - or Plaxico Burress or Chad Johnson, for that matter.

``I would assume we would go with the same crew,'' Ryan said.

That means, for now, it's Schilens, Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates - who was scheduled to have an MRI on an injured shoulder - and newly signed Jason Hill - who dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Tebow.

Ryan thinks Keller, who has missed the last four games, might be back against Indianapolis on Sunday.

``I'm encouraged,'' he said. ``When I talked to Dustin last, he felt he was going to be able to go this week, so I think that will give us a huge boost.''

Ryan was also hopeful about Stephen Hill being able to return, and that can only help Sanchez.

Meanwhile, Tebow was on the field for only seven offensive plays when many expected this to be his big breakout game for the Jets. He ran for a first down on a fake punt, and also took a snap and rumbled 13 yards up the middle for another first down. But that was about it for Tebow, who is doing his best to hide any perceived frustration about his minimal role.

There was also some confusion at times Monday night, forcing the Jets to call timeouts when Tebow ran onto the field. That was caused, in part, by inexperienced players not being clear on personnel groups - not just Tebow.

``I think when you have a guy and you just pick up a guy and he's with you for four days and he has to go in, he hasn't practiced any of that stuff with Tim as a quarterback,'' Ryan said, apparently referring to Jason Hill. ``So if you call the package, for whatever reason, we had some issues with the substitutions.''

Just add it to a lengthy list of things the Jets are trying to fix these days.

``For us to be 2-3 right now,'' Schilens said, ``is not indicative of who we are.''

NOTES: C Nick Mangold was expected to have an MRI exam on his right ankle, but the fact he was able to return to the game after being carted from the sideline was a promising sign. Ryan told 98.7 ESPN that he expects Mangold to play vs. Indianapolis. ... LB Josh Mauga has a torn pectoral muscle, and will miss the rest of the season, according to a person with knowledge of the injury. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the severity of the injury. ... DT Kenrick Ellis is believed to have sprained a knee ligament, but it was uncertain how much time he may miss. ... Former Bills and Raiders OT Ed Wang tweeted that he had a workout with the Jets, but headed home without being signed.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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Your guide to this year's Capitals Development Camp

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Your guide to this year's Capitals Development Camp

While this year’s Capitals roster brought home the ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup – it’s no secret that the team won’t be able to stay together as it is.

Despite the NHL salary cap rising from $75 million to about $79.5 million, the team will have less than $20 million to re-sign 19 active NHL and AHL affiliate players.

Challenging seems like an understatement when considering that key players like John Carlson, Jay Beagle, and Devante Smith-Pelly are due for some significant raises from their previous contracts. 

Similarly, the organization has to maintain depth, keeping its core roster strong while still offering smaller two-way contracts to their minor-league players in Hershey. 

With this in mind, this summer’s development camp seems especially crucial. For die-hard fans and new arrivals alike, all eyes are on how management will keep the team’s momentum next season.

Here’s what you need to know about attending Capitals Development Camp –shortened as dev camp – including who to watch and what events are most worthwhile.

What should I expect for Capitals development camp?

Development camp is fairly self-explanatory.

For one week every summer, as offseason contract negotiations take place, prospective players, minor-league players, and junior league players gather for a week for assessment, scrimmaging, fitness testing, practice, and publicity events. However, it's important to realize that the roster will not be finalized until the last minute, and depends on who the Capitals select or trade for in the 2018 NHL draft this Friday and Saturday.

Practices are free and open to the public at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, with coaching and managerial staff assessing players. Fan Fest will take place on Saturday, June 30 featuring the final camp scrimmage.

The Alumni Summer Classic game is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Kettler. The event is also free and open to the public.

Who should I be looking out for?

Former Hershey Bears on entry-level contracts like Jakub Vrana and Madison Bowey provided essential depth to the Capitals through this historic season. Several of their colleagues may be next in line.

Defensemen 
Following last years’ development camp, Connor Hobbs, Lucas Johansen, and Jonas Siegenthaler joined the Hershey Bears, showing promise on the team’s blue line. 

Hobbs, 21, spent two seasons with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League before coming to the Bears this past season. In November 2017, Hobbs suffered a wrist fracture, missing 32 games of the Bears’ 76-game season. Despite the injury, Hobbs put up a total of 16 points in 44 games.

Assuming he stays healthy, he only stands to get better. Like Siegenthaler, we’ll likely see him in the preseason lineup.

Johansen, 20, also came to the Bears from the WHL – Kelowna, to be exact. The 2016 first-round pick put up a respectable 27 points over 74 games this season. Though this may seem like a significant drop from his previous season’s 41 points in the WHL, the decrease is fairly typical when transitioning from junior to professional hockey.

Siegenthaler, 21, has the most impressive resume of any Capitals defensive prospect. Siegenthaler struggled to produce with the Bears this season, but did finish the full season in Hershey after spending 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons with Switzerland’s ZSC Lions and joining the Bears for their spring playoff push. He’s also made appearances on the international stage at the U20 World Junior tournament, adding his name to Switzerland’s national team roster this season.

It will be interesting to see if he could push for a spot with the NHL club.

Forwards
On the offensive side, Brian Pinho, 23, seems to be poised for a change. Coming off a four-year career with the Providence College Friars, Pinho captained the team to the NCAA quarterfinals this season.

It’s uncommon, yet not unsmart, to finish out a college degree before joining the NHL. Pinho will likely join the Bears next season.

Garrett Pilon, 20, was traded from the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers to the Everett Silvertips. The star child of Everett’s historic playoff run, he proved his indispensability as a scorer who works well under pressure, racking up a whopping 80 points in his final junior league season.

With contracts up in the air for several of the Capitals’ bottom-six forwards and favorable testimonies from management, Pilon might be the strongest chance to crack the lineup.

Goaltending
The Caps’ depth and future in goal looks a bit wonky, with general manager Brian MacLellan strongly hinting at shopping backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to teams who may be able to use him as a starter. Braden Holtby isn’t going anywhere, but you need more than one goalie for an entire NHL season, plus playoffs.

What to do? We’ll have to see how this year’s draft shakes out on June 22 and 23. But for now, keep an eye on Ilya Samsonov. The 21-year-old posted a 0.926 save percentage across 26 games with the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk this season. Even if he moves up to Hershey next season, it’ll be interesting to watch his development.

What else should I know?

If this dev camp is your first time at Kettler, get excited!

Note that for all practices except scrimmages, forwards will be dressed in red or white practice jerseys and defensemen in blue.

Since most players are new and/or under watch by management and coaching, all players will have names and numbers on the backs of their jerseys to make them easier to identify.

Keep in mind that whoever the Caps chose – or trade for – with their six picks in Friday and Saturday’s draft will also affect the dev camp roster. It often isn’t finalized until the last minute. Dev camp provides the first and best chance to get up close and personal with the Caps' newly drafted players. The uncertainty of who you'll get to see can be a drawback, but regardless, attending can give a great glimpse into where the Caps may be headed next season.

Between the Alumni Game, practices, and final weekend scrimmages, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to get your offseason hockey fix or take a step back from the Capitals’ salary cap woes. The final schedule for the week is likely to be released Sunday.

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