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Jones-Drew making progress on field, in classroom

Jones-Drew making progress on field, in classroom

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is making progress toward getting back on the field and getting his college degree.

Jones-Drew started running for the first time in nearly two months Wednesday, but remains a long shot to play Sunday when the Jaguars (2-12) host New England (10-4).

Jones-Drew has missed the last eight games because of a sprained left foot. Coach Mike Mularkey called his star running back ``questionable,'' an upgrade from his ``highly questionable'' status of recent weeks.

``I just don't want to go out there and put anybody else in jeopardy if I can't be full speed,'' Jones-Drew said. ``If I can't go out there and fully protect our quarterback, help our offensive line and block, I'm not going to go out there and put somebody else's life in jeopardy.''

With two games remaining, the Jaguars have little left to play for in what will go down as the worst season in franchise history.

And Jones-Drew has nothing to prove. He led the NFL in rushing last season, has another year remaining on a lucrative contract and remains the centerpiece of the franchise.

But standing on the sideline has been difficult for the ultra-competitive back who has been telling teammates for weeks that ``losers tend to quit when things get tough.''

``For me, it's just more to show my teammates and the league that people get hurt and you just have to be able to bounce back,'' he said. ``Watching these guys for a long time and coaching, you got to be able to preach what you coach. I've been doing a lot of talking. I haven't been able to go out there and do it yet, so hopefully I can get out there and be able to show some of the guys what I've been talking about.''

Jones-Drew is going back to school for similar reasons.

When he left UCLA after his junior season in 2006, Jones-Drew promised his mother and his grandparents that he would return to school and get his degree.

Football, family, cross-country travel and plenty of other excuses make college an afterthought.

But with the Jaguars long removed from playoff contention and his youngest child now 19 months old, Jones-Drew is going back to college. He's taking three business classes beginning Jan. 7.

``Some of these schools, they'll take a check for that degree,'' he said. ``I am not going to say who, not going to say what schools, but at UCLA, you got to go back. You can't take online classes. You have to go back and actually go in the classroom. That made it tough.''

And get this: Jones-Drew wants to live in a dorm.

``I don't think I'll be a college kid again,'' he said. ``College kids don't make what I make, and I don't party like that, don't do those things. I just go to school and catch up on a lot of sleep. I have to get here at 6:30 every morning and I've got three kids at home, man. I don't get a lot of sleep with those guys.''

Maybe the best news for coach Mike Mularkey and the Jaguars is that Jones-Drew is just going to college for a quarter and doesn't plan on missing anything mandatory in the offseason.

``I probably won't train'' in Jacksonville, Jones-Drew said. ``I'm going to train the way I've trained for the last seven years.''

Jones-Drew skipped the entire offseason program in 2012, sitting out training camp and the preseason during a 38-day holdout while looking for a new contract. The Jaguars didn't budge, refusing to renegotiate since he had two years remaining on a five-year deal worth $31.5 million. He made $4.45 million this season and due to get $4.95 million next year.

He said Wednesday he doesn't plan on another holdout.

``We'll see how it goes,'' he said. ``Things could change, though.''

His status for the Patriots could change, too, depending on how his foot responds to Wednesday's workout.

``I will be very surprised if he can go out there and run like we want him to run today,'' Mularkey said. ``I will be very surprised. ... I'm happy he's going to be out there running, making an effort to push that thing and see how it's going to feel.''

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Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

Caps Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t have a contract beyond the Stanley Cup Final, and any potential talks about an extension will wait until the trophy is awarded, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday.

“No,” MacLellan said, asked if a decision on Trotz’s future had been made. “We’re going to address everything after the playoffs are over.”

Trotz’s four-year contract expires at season’s end.

It’s rare for a head coach to enter a season while in the final year of his deal. But that’s how the Caps decided to handle Trotz’s situation last offseason after another strong regular season performance ended with yet another second round playoff exit at the hands of the Penguins.

It was a suboptimal situation for Trotz, a 55-year-old who ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories but, until this year, had never led any team beyond the conference semifinals.

Despite his lame duck status, all Trotz did was produce his best coaching performance to date. 

Consider:

  • While visiting his son in Russia last summer, Trotz visited Alex Ovechkin in Moscow to discuss the changes he’d like to see the Caps’ captain make to his training and his game.
  • When the Caps reconvened for training camp in September, it was clear there were still some hurt feelings in the locker room. So Trotz and his assistants backed off, allowing some necessary healing to occur.
  • When the team suffered back-to-back blowout losses in Nashville and Colorado back in November, Trotz initiated a tell-it-like-it-is team meeting that many players have pointed to as the turning point of the regular season, which ended with the team’s third straight Metropolitan title.
  • Trotz also got his highly-skilled lineup to buy into a more structured, detailed style of play late in the campaign, a transformation that prompted MacLellan to call this playoff run the most defensively responsible of Trotz’s tenure.
  • In each of the two previous conference semifinals, Washington was defeated by Pittsburgh and, as a result, the Penguins had become a physical and a mental hurdle for the Caps. Earlier this month, Trotz helped direct Ovechkin and Co. past the two-time Cup champions.

Although MacLellan wouldn’t say much about Trotz’s contract, he did say that he’s noticed a big change in Trotz’s day-to-day approach to his job, a change possibly prompted by the coach’s free agent status.

“I think his demeanor has changed a little bit,” MacLellan said. “He seems a little lighter, a little looser, a little less pressure. Maybe a little more freedom about how he goes about things. He’s more relaxed, I guess would be the way to describe him.”

MacLellan also acknowledged the job Trotz’s has done this season, beginning with his delicate handling of the dressing room to start the year.

“I think he’s done a good job managing it,” MacLellan said. “To come in this year with so many questions—from my point of view, the lineup questions weren’t that big of a deal—but just the emotional state of our coming into to start the year [and] how to handle that. I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Indeed, Trotz’s situation remains unclear on the eve of the Final. But we do know this much: He’s having one of the best contract years in NHL coaching history.

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Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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FB/The Town of Lovettsville

Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

Welcome to Capitalsville, Va., population: #ALLCAPS

Hoping to become the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup headquarters, the small Northern Virginia town of Lovettsville has renamed itself to Capitalsville, Va.

Caps superfan and Mayor of Lovettsville, Bob Zoldos, had a lightbulb moment while watching Game 7 in a local bar and restaurant, Velocity Wings. Overcome with emotion from the win, he decided to take his idea to the town council meeting Thursday and Capitalsville was born after a unanimous vote to "unleash the fury."

This is not the first time name changes have occurred ahead of a big game. Ahead of the Caps' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jacket Brewery located in downtown D.C. changed its Twitter handle to "Grujacket Brewery" in support of goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The name change from Lovettsville to Capitalsville is temporary, with the plan to keep the new name through the end of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Zoldos hopes the sign brings in other Caps superfans from across the DMV to take in a piece of history 20 years in the making. 

Here's to hoping Capitalsville brings the city some luck heading into Game 1 on Memorial Day.

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