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LB Matthews, S Woodson among sidelined Packers

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LB Matthews, S Woodson among sidelined Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Mike McCarthy likes the forecast for Sunday night.

``Well, we live in Green Bay, Wisconsin, so snow's going to happen,'' the Packers coach said Friday. ``I hope it does snow. I think it'd be great. It's a great setting. Personally, I think snow's fun to play in, so I think our players will enjoy it.''

The Packers host Detroit on Sunday night and Green Bay will try to stay atop the NFC North without five starters.

The team has ruled out linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), safety Charles Woodson (collarbone), receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), running back James Starks (knee) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (knee) against its NFC North rival.

Woodson returned to practice on a limited basis this week after being sidelined since suffering his injury Oct. 21. Matthews, who leads the team with nine sacks, still hasn't been cleared to practice after he reinjured his hamstring Nov. 4.

``We're getting close (with Matthews),'' McCarthy said. ``But I think it's very important for Clay, no different with Charles, that when we do bring those guys back it's not potentially just a one-week situation.''

And in the big picture, the Packers are vying for a second straight division title with a first-place showdown against the Bears looming Dec. 16 in Chicago. Having playmakers such as Matthews and Woodson back for that game would be ideal for Green Bay, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers isn't looking that far ahead.

``I've always felt that when we get them back let's have them because every game is critical for us,'' Capers said. ``There's not one (game) that's more critical than another. The game Sunday night is the most critical game for us. We've got to find some way to go play our best.''

After rallying in the final minutes for a 24-20 victory at Detroit (4-8) three weeks ago, Green Bay (8-4) will try to extend its league-best home winning streak of 21 games over the Lions with a depleted offense as well.

Right tackle T.J. Lang returned to practice Friday in limited fashion after suffering an ankle injury in the Packers' win over Minnesota last Sunday.

Lang is questionable to play against the Lions. But McCarthy indicated after practice Friday that undrafted rookie Don Barclay would make his first pro start at Lang's spot.

``That's the way we've prepared all week,'' McCarthy said.

McCarthy confirmed Alex Green would be the starter at running back after Starks suffered his injury in the last game.

Green, a second-year player, had been splitting carries with Starks the last few games. Before that, Green was the primary back in a three-game stretch after Cedric Benson suffered what turned out to be a season-ending foot injury in early October.

``It's a blessing to get a second chance to make a first impression again. That's rare,'' said Green, who leads the team with 360 rushing yards.

Veteran Ryan Grant also will see action in the backfield after the team re-signed him earlier this week.

If McCarthy gets his wish for a snow game Sunday night, he could be compelled to take a long look at Grant. He ran for Packers postseason records of 201 yards and three touchdowns on a snow-covered Lambeau turf in their rout of Seattle in the 2007 divisional playoffs.

``He plays well in the snow. History would tell you that,'' McCarthy said. ``I'm comfortable with Ryan Grant.''

Notes: Packers DE Mike Neal didn't practice this week and is doubtful for Sunday. But McCarthy said the news on Neal's injured shoulder from the last game was better than what team personnel initially feared. If Lang and Neal aren't cleared, the Packers would be down to six offensive linemen and four defensive linemen healthy enough for the game. Making a roster move this weekend to provide depth at one or both position groups is possible, McCarthy said. . Green is looking forward to potentially playing in snow for the first time. The West Coast native played in college at Hawaii and missed the final two months of his rookie season with the Packers last year because of a knee injury. ``It's one thing I looked forward to when I was being drafted here - we play in the snow,'' said Green, a third-round pick. ``I know that's a big thing around here.''

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Fantasy Football 2019: Previewing Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes in Week 3

Fantasy Football 2019: Previewing Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes in Week 3

Lamar Jackson faces his first real challenge of the season on Sunday when the Ravens travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs and their star signal-caller, Patrick Mahomes.

Both teams have been very similar through the first two weeks of the season. The Ravens and the Chiefs are the only two teams in the NFL that currently feature a top-five fantasy quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end (BAL: Jackson QB1, Brown WR4, Mark Andrews TE1) (KC: Mahomes QB3, Watkins WR1, Travis Kelce TE3).

While most pegged Mahomes as the de-facto option at quarterback ahead of the season, very few saw the start that Jackson has served up.

Jackson has entered MVP-consideration several months removed from being pegged as an afterthought. After the Heisman Trophy winner took the helm of the offense midway through last season, the NFL questioned his arm strength, his accuracy, and whether he could be the key to leading the Ravens back to the Super Bowl. A disappointing playoff appearance brought along more doubters, but John Harbaugh knew he had something special in Jackson.

The Ravens selected Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in the first round of April's draft and signed veteran running back Mark Ingram to add to Jackson's arsenal. Both moves have been instrumental through the first two weeks of the season. Brown is currently WR4 (12 Receptions, 233 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD,) heading into Week 3, and Ingram is flourishing as RB12 (154 Rushing YDS, 2 Rushing TD, 2 Receptions, 30 Receiving YDS).

The Chiefs dominance throughout the first two weeks of the season hasn't got as much acclaim. Mahomes and Co. dusted the Jaguars in the season opener and unfortunately lost star receiver Tyreek Hill for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. Sammy Watkins then took advantage of the increased workload and put in the best performance of his career (198 Receiving YDS, 3 Receiving TD). In Week two against the Raiders, Mahomes shredded the Raiders for four touchdowns. 

When these two teams matched up in 2018, Mahomes threw for 377 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, while Jackson threw for 147 yards, two touchdowns, and rushed for 67 yards.

I expect a similar outing for the Mahomes in Week 3, and presume Jackson's rushing total will be significantly less than in their last clash. Both quarterbacks will finish this week in the top-five of fantasy scoring, and we will witness the best game thus far of 2019.

Quarterback Rankings: Week 3
Running Back Rankings: Week 3
Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 3
Tight End Rankings: Week 3

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I Am The Prospect: Local product Joe Snively proving himself to hometown and Capitals

I Am The Prospect: Local product Joe Snively proving himself to hometown and Capitals

Joe Snively is the second Washington Capitals' prospect featured in NBC Sports Washington's I Am The Prospect series. Click here to check out more profiles from I Am The Prospect.

Nothing motivates quite like the chance to be a hometown hero. That potential role for Joe Snively of Herndon, Virginia, runs deep as he celebrated the Capitals first franchise Stanley Cup Championship as a fan with the rest of D.C. around Capital One Arena mere months before signing his first professional contract with them as an undrafted free agent. 

The Yale bulldog scored in each of his four seasons in New Haven, and before that he was learning youth hockey in the Capitals' community programs held where the Capitals practice, at MedStar Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia.

Snively, born in 1996, has watched the Alex Ovechkin impact spread a passion for the Capitals and hockey itself across the DMV. Ovechkin was selected first overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. 

Todd Reirden noted that with area prospects, "you don't want to force them, just because it's a nice local story," but it's about evaluating what the team needs. In Snively's case, he adds "forward depth" that Washington is looking for.

"He's here not because he's from there area," assistant GM Ross Mahoney said. "He's here because he got a good chance of playing for the Capitals in the future."

Mahoney oversees the Capitals' NHL Entry Draft, developmental programs, keeping tabs and evaluating league prospects and Washington's amateur scouting staff.

Snively, at 5'9" and 180 pounds, said his size "has always been a knock" on him as a player and is a reason why he wasn't drafted.

Because of the similar story, many compare Snively to Jeff Halpern, a former Capital and current assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Halpern hails from Potomac, Maryland, played for the Capitals twice over 14 seasons, and was the first member of the Capitals to ever come from the D.C. area.

As for his hopes for potential impact on young hockey players around the DMV, "I don't know if inspire is the right word," Snively said, but he definitely wants to show them that anything is possible.

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