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Johnson plans to play vs Jags despite sore ankle

Johnson plans to play vs Jags despite sore ankle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The only game Chris Johnson has missed in the NFL came when Tennessee sidelined the running back in 2008 to prep for the playoffs.

He isn't about to let a sore right ankle sideline him now.

Johnson said Thursday he takes pride in showing his durability in a league where nearly every player deals with injuries. He calls himself ``a go'' for Sunday's season finale against the Jaguars (2-13) despite missing a second straight practice Thursday after hurting his ankle last week in a 55-7 loss in Green Bay.

``It's a situation where I know it's our last game. I know we're not going to the playoffs or anything like that. I still want to go out and fight with my teammates,'' Johnson said.

The running back already has 1,187 yards rushing this season despite an offensive line missing four starters from the preseason. That ranks as his fourth-best season with a game left in a rebound from last year when he had a career-low 1,047 yards after signing a $53.5 million extension.

Johnson would need one of his best games to do it, but he could join Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith as the only NFL players to run for 7,000 yards in their first five seasons with 168 yards rushing. He has run for that many yards once in his career with four games better than that. He currently has 6,832 yards rushing.

``That'd be very nice,'' Johnson said. ``Anytime you can set a record and have your name up there with Hall of Famer type of guys, it's always a great accomplishment to have under your belt.''

He'll be running against a Jacksonville defense that ranks 31st against the run allowing 145.1 yards per game. The Jaguars have given up more than 200 yards rushing three times this season, though they did get back linebacker Daryl Smith last week against New England where they allowed only 103 yards total.

If Johnson starts Sunday as he expects, this will be his fourth straight season starting all 16 games. That dependability is why coach Mike Munchak expects Johnson to play against Jacksonville. Munchak called Johnson's streak amazing considering his size at 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds to go along with 1,442 rushing attempts and 229 career catches.

``That's a credit to him and the way he takes care of himself, that he can withstand that kind of punishment in the NFL that he takes, like any running back takes when they're running the football, catching it, and on the field as much as he is ...,'' Munchak said. ``Hopefully he'll be able to finish up this season with a big game.

With all the offensive line injuries and the Titans (5-10) losing six of their last eight games, Johnson's future with the franchise has been the topic of heavy speculation. A clause in his contract allows the Titans to release him within the first five days of the new league year after the Super Bowl or $9 million of his $10 million salary for 2013 will be guaranteed.

Johnson's contract goes through 2016, and the Titans still see him as one of their best players.

``He's our playmaker,'' Munchak said last week. ``He's the guy everyone knows when you travel around. He's the first guy people want to know about, so you want the running game to do well.''

That hasn't stopped Johnson from being asked about his future repeatedly, and the 27-year-old running back has deflected questions on whether he wanted to be traded and what team he wanted to play for. Even Thursday, Johnson said he's focusing only on Sunday's game and not worrying about any changes that might happen on the roster or the coaching staff after such a turbulent season.

He noted offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired, Jake Locker was named the starter at quarterback only to get hurt and replaced by Matt Hasselbeck. Locker's return also was mixed in with the constant changes on the offensive line due to injuries.

``It's a situation I can't worry about,'' Johnson said. ``All I can worry about is the team and try to get a victory.''

Notes: Munchak said TE Craig Stevens (concussion) is highly questionable for the finale with LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) likely out again too. WR Kendall Wright (rib) practiced fully and expects to play. RB Jamie Harper (ankle) did not practice along with LB Will Witherspoon (chest), WR Damian Williams (foot) and C Kevin Matthews (right ankle). Munchak expects Witherspoon, Johnson, Harper and possibly Williams to practice Friday.

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Bruins G Tuukka Rask opts out of NHL playoffs over COVID-19

Bruins G Tuukka Rask opts out of NHL playoffs over COVID-19

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has opted out of the team's playoff run.

The Vezina Trophy finalist -- and winner of the top goaltender award in 2014 -- said in a statement Saturday morning before Game 3 of Boston's playoff series against Carolina that "at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family."

Rask led the NHL with a 2.12 goals-against average and was second in save percentage and shutouts. 

RELATED: WHY THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT THAN 2018, OVECHKIN'S BIG GAME AND THE CAPS ARE IN TROUBLE

Boston and Carolina are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series. After a 3-2 loss on Thursday night, Rask said he complained that the NHL's fan-free playoffs lacked the usual intensity.

"It doesn't feel like playoff hockey out there. There's no fans, so it's kind of like an exhibition game," he said. "It just feels dull at times."

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Bryce Harper glad Phillies able to respond after 'embarrassing' Orioles series

Bryce Harper glad Phillies able to respond after 'embarrassing' Orioles series

When the Baltimore Orioles swept the Phillies in a midweek series, several Philadelphians were not pleased. 

One Phillies analyst called the performance "lifeless" and now Bryce Harper is referring to the whole team's effort as "embarrassing."

Much to Harper's and the Phillies' pleasure, the team was able to respond in the series opener against the Mets with a walk-off to get back in the win column. 

"That's a big win for us right there," Harper told reporters postgame. "We have to start out the series after the embarrassment we put up against the Baltimore Orioles, that was pretty terrible. To be able to start this series off on the right foot, that's huge for us."

RELATED: ORIOLES COMPLETE TWO SERIES SWEEPS IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS

In the three-game set, Baltimore scored 26 runs against Philadelphia. The first two games saw the Phillies starters post four earned runs each and the finale was a miraculous extra-inning comeback for Baltimore, where they scored 10 runs in the final five innings. It was more than an indictment of the team's pitching than anything else.

Many teams across the league believed the Orioles would be walkover team in a 60-game sprint to get the 2020 season complete. After one of the worst records in the sport's history over the past two seasons and no sign of things turning around, that was expected to carry over. An 11-8 record a third of the way through shows that is not the case. Baltimore has the fouth-best record in the American League. Even in a normal season, they would be in line for a Wild Card spot. 

Harper and the Phillies learned that the hard way. 

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