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McFadden remains part of Raiders future

McFadden remains part of Raiders future

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie remains committed to Darren McFadden despite a disappointing 2012 season and hopes a new offensive system helps the running back get his career back on track.

McKenzie spoke to beat reporters on Thursday for the first time since Nov. 30 and looked back at a disappointing first season in Oakland and ahead to the future. He said McFadden will be part of that future as he enters the final year of his contract.

``I'm confident Darren's going to play his last season,'' McKenzie said. ``Regardless of what's out there, we have no decision to do anything with Darren.''

After struggling early in his career with injuries and a zone blocking scheme used in Oakland, McFadden broke out as a star in two seasons with Hue Jackson running the offense. He averaged more than 5 yards per carry in both those seasons and was one of the league's top big-play backs.

But he reverted to his early career form last season under coordinator Greg Knapp, who ran the same zone blocking system that calls on backs to run laterally before making a cut upfield rather than attack the line of scrimmage from the start.

McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this season - the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season.

``It's obvious that Darren is much better on certain types of plays,'' McKenzie said. ``That goes without saying. That's how you've got to do it. When you talk about being productive, when you talk about offensively moving the ball, scoring points, getting some plays out of your big-play guys, you've got to find ways to let him do what he does best. We didn't. We didn't do that.''

Knapp was fired by coach Dennis Allen after a 4-12 season, along with special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, offensive line coach Frank Pollack and linebackers coach Johnny Holland. McKenzie said the Raiders are close to filling those openings and he hopes to have everything finalized within the next few days.

McKenzie said he has talked to Norv Turner and Marc Trestman, who both got other jobs, but would not name other potential candidates. The Contra Costa Times reported that former St. Louis head coach Mike Martz interviewed for the offensive coordinator job and Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Greg Olson is reportedly also a candidate.

After filling out the staff, the biggest task for McKenzie will be upgrading a roster that lacked depth and stars in his first season as the Raiders were hamstrung by having few draft picks and a bloated salary cap.

McKenzie said he has more cap room to use on free agents this offseason but believes the organization is a year away from having the cap back in order.

``I'm looking for the future,'' McKenzie said. ``We're trying to build something here. And with building, you can't mortgage the future. So we're trying to lay down a good foundation, get the core players that we think can build this team the right way and make good, sound decisions, be it financial, the personnel, coaching, whatever it is. You see the mistakes, correct it. That's the only way you're going to get better, and that's kind of our philosophy.''

In other topics, McKenzie said neither he nor Allen has talked to linebacker Rolando McClain since he was arrested in Alabama this month for violating rules on car window tint and trying to lie to police about his identity. McKenzie said he has no plans to talk to McClain about the arrest.

McClain, a first-round pick in 2010, was a disappointment this past season when he lost his starting job for ineffectiveness and was suspended two games for conduct detrimental to the team. McKenzie acknowledged it would have been complicated to release him during the season because of salary cap ramifications but would not indicate what McClain's future was with the team.

McKenzie said he was pleased with the little he saw from backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who started the final game of his second season. Pryor threw two TD passes and ran for a third score. McKenzie said he was happy with how Pryor protected the ball and was intrigued by his mobility.

``You can see the plays, and when things break down, where he can kind of create and do some things,'' McKenzie said. ``But he had a chance to make some throws and he did pretty good. I was encouraged. Hopefully, the new offensive coordinator will find a way to see what he can do best during this offseason and see what he looks like in preseason games.''

NOTES: McKenzie said QB Carson Palmer is healing from cracked ribs and a bruised lung that sidelined him for the season finale and should be ready to be on the field for OTAs in May. ... G Mike Brisiel had ``major surgery'' on an ankle injury that hindered him all season. ... RT Khalif Barnes had surgery on a triceps injury and LB Miles Burris had arthroscopic surgery on an injured knee.

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Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Baseball isn’t quite in full swing yet. But it’s close enough. 

The Orioles will open up their spring slate of games on Saturday against the Braves in North Port, Fla. It’s both the first game of spring training for both teams. 

The game can be listened to on Orioles.com or on the MLB At-Bat app. 

So here are three things to pay attention to during the first game of the spring: 

1. The starting pitching

The pitching was, to be frank, atrocious last season for the Orioles. 2020 doesn’t figure to showcase a large jump, either. 

Baltimore will start Chandler Shepherd against the Braves, a pitcher who started three games last season in Baltimore. He allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 19 innings pitched and posted a 6.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Ty Blach will pitch in relief of Shepherd. Blach pitched in five games last season for the Orioles and threw 20 ⅓ innings with an ERA 11.32. 

While neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, it’ll give an interesting look at what could be in store for the rest of spring training in Sarasota. 

2. How much the prospects play

For most major league clubs, there’s not much to get excited about for the first few games of spring training. The Orioles, though, are in a bit of a unique circumstance. 

In the second year of a rebuild, the Orioles are placing their future in the hands of younger prospects, meaning there’s always a chance for a few players to stand out in the first weeks of camp. 

While the lineups aren’t known yet, both for Saturday’s game and for the immediate future, getting a glimpse at some of the younger prospects like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall is what fans have been clamoring for. 

3. The return of baseball

It’s not the return of baseball in the truest sense of the phrase.  

The Orioles aren’t going to play their top of the line prospects, or their major league club. But the first game of the spring means that baseball, officially, is back for Baltimore. 

Even though the 2020 season almost assuredly won’t be one that resembles any kind of contention, the Orioles hitting the field once again is always an exciting time.

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Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, makes an appearance during Capitals practice

Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, makes an appearance during Capitals practice

The Capitals had a special guest during their morning skate on Friday.

Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, got to pay his father a visit at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex.

Ovechkin carried his one-year-old around the ice and even put him down on the ice to practice his skills. Sergei had a mini stick of his own, almost like he was ready to play if needed.

No word yet on whether Sergei plans on declaring for the upcoming NHL draft, but the kid has already got some skills--and not to mention pretty good genes.

If you were having a bad day, this moment between Ovechkin and his son will certainly cheer you up!

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