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Packers-Titans family affair for Matthews' brood

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Packers-Titans family affair for Matthews' brood

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Bruce Matthews watches Green Bay film first as an uncle. Then he hits replay and studies the defense in his role as Tennessee's offensive line coach.

Each time, he's watching the same Packers linebacker.

``He's a great player,'' Bruce said of his nephew, Clay Matthews. ``It isn't like he's just some guy out there. He definitely is the guy who makes things happen on their defense, and he's a guy we really have to make a pointed effort to account for him, which we're doing.''

The Packers linebacker is just the best-known member of the third generation carrying on the Matthews' NFL tradition, and this is the latest family football showdown. Bruce, a Hall of Fame lineman, spent 19 years with the Houston-Tennessee franchise and played against brother Clay, a 19-year linebacker with Cleveland and Atlanta, 23 times.

Clay Matthews Sr. got it all started with his four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s.

For Clay III, he said Thursday that his family's NFL success added to his motivation. He went from a walk-on at Southern California to being drafted in the first round - just like his father and uncle - by Green Bay 2009.

``Obviously, growing up in a football family where - you're right, not only my father played but my uncle and grandfather, played, that's what I wanted to do,'' the Packers linebacker said. ``Fortunately I was healthy enough and blessed to fall into the situation I'm in right now, but they were absolutely instrumental role models in getting me where I'm at today.''

Titans coach Mike Munchak had a close view of the Matthews' brothers' rivalry in the old AFC Central as a teammate of Bruce's for years. Munchak said it's exciting for his offensive line coach to watch film knowing his job is to stop his nephew from having a good day.

So no pressure there.

``Hopefully, he'll reach out to him during the week and tell him we have all types of plans for him to kind of discourage him a little bit, maybe slow him down,'' Munchak said. ``It's a great challenge.''

Clay Matthews has 11 sacks so far this season for the Packers, so watching him play is a bit different from what Bruce Matthews saw when he studied his brother during the 1980s and 1990s. Even so, he says his nephew reminds him very much of his brother, a four-time Pro Bowler.

``He can cover. He can play against the run, and obviously he can rush the passer,'' the Titans' assistant said. ``It's just a matter of what they're asking him to do as to some point in the game he does all three, and obviously, he isn't a one-dimensional guy. He plays with passion, so it's fun to watch guys like that, especially when you count him as a family member.''

This game was set to be even more of a family affair until Bruce's son, Kevin, sprained his right ankle Monday night against the Jets. He had started two straight games at center, but now may wind up on injured reserve if the Titans need an extra healthy player.

Kevin said he had been waiting for this game for both the chance to play at Lambeau Field and against his cousin. They text often, and Kevin said Clay had asked him to give up some plays to help him against the Titans.

``I told him he doesn't need any help from us,'' Kevin said. ``He's doing a good job this year.''

This could be a preview of coming attractions. Clay's brother, Casey, is a linebacker with the Eagles, while Bruce's son, Jake, is a junior offensive lineman at Texas A&M and considered a top draft candidate.

For now, the focus is on Sunday and family bragging rights with the Titans (5-9) already are eliminated from playoff contention and the Packers (10-4) honing their game for the postseason. With the Titans in the AFC and the Packers in the NFC, these teams hadn't played in the regular season since 2008.

``It's one of those things you think about, but you never think it's going to come to fruition ...'' Clay said. ``It'll be something to look back on and talk about. But it'll be more interesting when Sunday rolls around to see what he's going to do.''

He will line up opposite Titans left tackle Michael Roos, the lone starter left on a patched-up offensive line. How much help Roos gets from his position coach against Clay remains to be seen. Uncle Bruce is giving nothing away before kickoff.

``I don't know that we all anticipated the kind of success and kind of rock star quality he has right now, but it's really fun to watch and I'm very proud of him. But like I've always said, I love to see him do well, just not this week.''

NOTES: The Titans practiced indoors Thursday due to a soggy field. Winds gusting to 40 mph kept the bubble over the field swaying, and Munchak said his key was just not looking up. ... Rookie WR Kendall Wright (ribs) did not practice, though WR Damian Williams (hamstring) practiced fully. LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) also practiced fully.

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AP National Writer Nancy Armour contributed to this report from Green Bay, Wis.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.teresamwalker

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3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

Nicklas Backstrom scored with less than seven seconds remaining to give the Capitals the 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in a preseason preview of the regular-season opener. Radko Gudas and Richard Panik also scored.

Here are three players who impressed for the Caps.

1. Richard Panik

Panik got plenty of practice on the penalty kill with 4:16 of shorthanded ice time shorthanded. In that time he gave a glimpse of why he was so coveted by the Caps as a free agent.

In the first period, Panik pounced on a loose puck at the top of the faceoff circle in the defensive zone. Seeing he had room to work with, he did not just clear it down the ice and instead elected to skate up with it. He fought off the backcheck from Tyler Bozak through the neutral zone, drew an additional two Blues players to him, then drew a holding call from Bozak because he would not give up the puck.

Panik's 4:16 of penalty kill time was more than top penalty killer Carl Hagelin's 2:26, though the fact that Hagelin took two minors on the night probably had something to do with it.

Late in the game, Panik was also added to the power play as a sixth attacker with the goalie pulled. He would score the game-tying goal with just 1:09 left in regulation.

2. The goalies

Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov both played about a half of the game. It is really hard to evaluate a goalie on just 30 minutes of work, so I will give a shoutout to both as both played very well.

Vanecek got the start. He looked a little awkward at first, but settled in as the game went along for a solid performance. He stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced with the only goal he allowed a weird deflection off of Brett Leason’s skate.

Samsonov took over about halfway through the second period and within minutes found himself defending the net on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The penalty killers helped out their young netminder allowing only one shot on goal, but it was a good one. Colton Parayko one-timed a slap shot, but Samsonov was there to stop with no rebound. Soon after the penalty was over, Vladimir Tarasenko was all alone in front of the net, but was denied by Samsonov’s who stretched the blocker to deny the high shot.

Sanford scores on the PP. Samsonov wasn't tight against the post. Showed him too much daylight and Sanford made him pay.

Samsonov finished with 11 saves on 12 shots.

3. Connor McMichael

Boy, somebody got a confidence boost from Monday’s game. 

McMichael was given a second preseason game as a reward for his solid performance on Monday and he definitely showed off the confidence that comes along with being a first-round draft pick.

In the first period, McMichael found himself all alone with the puck on a mini-breakaway on Jordan Binnington. Just a reminder, this is the Binnington who was the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup champions.

So what did McMichael do? He skated to the front and tried the stick between the legs shot. It may not have worked, but you have to respect the confidence this kid had just to try, though no doubt the coaches probably had a few words for him in the locker room about it.

There was one area in which McMichael struggled, however, and that was on the faceoff where he lost all five draws he took on the night.

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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

After a thrilling back-and-forth contest to start the WNBA Semifinals, the Washington Mystics and Elena Delle Donne are back in action to host the Las Vegas Aces for Game 2.

Washington took Game 1 97-95 over Las Vegas in their first game in nine days to start the series. Rusty and stuttering out of the gate, the Mystics were able to gut out a win after an explosive run in the third and early fourth quarter. 

Emma Meesseman (27 points) led the charge for Washington. In the third quarter, she took over the game totaling 13 of the team's 26 points and got the Mystics back in control of the contest. Elena Delle Donne finished with 24 points and hit the game-clinching basket in the final minute of regulation.

A'ja Wilson had 23 points in a losing effort, despite playing all but three minutes. Off the bench, Kelsey Plum emerged with 16 points to give the Aces an additional spark. 

Game 2 is on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. The best-of-five series features the high-powered and No. 1 seeded Mystics against the most defensively sound squad in the No. 4 seeded Aces.

The Aces entered the series with a ton of momentum, fresh off one of the craziest wins in WNBA history. They gut-punched the top seed in the opening half and nearly stole it in the closing seconds. Nevertheless, it appears the Mystics with the third-best offense in the WNBA's existence found their footing and will be better prepared for Game 2. 

ACES VS. MYSTICS GAME 2:

Who: Las Vegas Aces at Washington Mystics

What: WNBA Semifinals Game 2

When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington D.C.

TV Channel: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

MYSTICS vs. ACES WNBA SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE:

Game 1: Mystics 97, Aces 95 (Mystics lead 1-0)

Game 2: Thurs, Sept. 19: Aces at Mystics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 3: Sun, Sept. 22: Mystics at Aces, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 4: Tue, Sept 24: Mystics at Aces, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

Game 5: Thurs, Sept. 26: Aces at Mystics, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

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