Capitals

Packers turn to rookie LB Moses with Matthews hurt

Packers turn to rookie LB Moses with Matthews hurt

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Kevin Greene is among those who miss not having Clay Matthews on the field for the Green Bay Packers.

Greene just doesn't want the star linebacker to be rushed back from a hamstring injury.

``I want Clay back as soon as he is 110 percent healthy,'' said Greene, the Packers' outside linebackers coach. ``I don't want him back with any chance of re-tweaking his injury because he's coming back too soon. I want him back whenever he is 110 percent, and then we plug him in and we truck on.''

The Packers (7-4) won't have Matthews for Sunday's game against NFC North rival Minnesota (6-5), listing him as out on Friday's injury report. Matthews, who leads the team with nine sacks, hasn't even been able to practice since reinjuring his left hamstring in Green Bay's win over Arizona on Nov. 4.

``Well, he's making progress, he's just not ready to play in the game,'' coach Mike McCarthy said.

In Matthews' absence, undrafted rookie Dezman Moses has seized an opportunity to give Green Bay another disruptive pass rusher.

Moses has come up with a sack in each of the last two games, forced a fumble in one and had a team-high 11 tackles in front of dozens of family and friends in the Packers' loss at the New York Giants on Sunday night. His hometown of Willingboro, N.J., is 75 miles from East Rutherford.

``It was nice to see all of my family and refreshing to see those faces and all of the loved ones so proud of me,'' Moses said.

Moses played every snap on defense Sunday for the first time this season and knocked down a fourth-down pass from the Giants' Eli Manning at the line of scrimmage.

Greene, a dominant pass rusher in a 15-year playing career that yielded the most sacks (160) by a linebacker in NFL history, has been impressed by his young pupil.

``He's not hurting us,'' Greene said. ``He's not drastically costing us in some way. He's making plays.''

Moses' three sacks have him tied with Erik Walden, the Packers' other starter at outside linebacker, for second on the team behind Matthews. Moses also recovered a blocked punt by teammate Davon House in the end zone for a touchdown in the Packers' victory over Jacksonville on Oct. 28. It was the first Green Bay score off a blocked punt since 1990.

The 6-foot-2, 249-pound Moses called the last seven months of going undrafted, signing with the Packers as a free agent, making the team out of training camp and becoming an integral player on a defense hit hard by injuries ``a true blessing.''

``I've been so fortunate,'' Moses said. ``I didn't have too many teams come after me after not being drafted. But Green Bay was the one that decided to pull the trigger and make an offer. And for me, I felt immediately it was the perfect position and place for me to be. I came and I got an opportunity to play and show them what type of player I am, and it's worked out for me.''

The New Orleans Saints also had interest in Moses after the draft, but the former Tulane defensive end wasn't keen on them wanting him to play fullback. Moses began his college career as a linebacker at Iowa before transferring to Tulane for his final two years.

``I wanted to play linebacker, I wanted to play defense, and I believed I could,'' Moses said. ``I guess my play is speaking for itself right now.''

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers misses Matthews, but said he has been happy to give Moses some experience.

``And like most young guys, the more he plays, the better he gets, the more comfortable, the more confident,'' Capers said. ``I think in the long run it's going to help us.''

Notes: With the Packers looking to bounce back from their poor performance in their 38-10 loss to the Giants, they are expected to have WR Greg Jennings play Sunday for the first time in two months. Jennings, who is probable for the game, has recovered from surgery earlier this month for a torn abdominal muscle. . Also probable for the game are LT Marshall Newhouse (wrist), DL Ryan Pickett (quadriceps) and S M.D. Jennings (rib), who has been starting for an injured Charles Woodson (collarbone). Starting DE C.J. Wilson was ruled out because of a knee injury he sustained in the last game. .... Veteran WR Donald Driver, who has been hindered by a thumb injury the last several weeks, is questionable after not practicing this week.

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

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Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Davey Martinez said Friday that Stephen Strasburg will start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Strasburg has yet to pitch this season because of a right wrist impingement which led to a nerve problem in his right hand. He missed his first start, slated for the second game of the season on July 25, then what would have been his second start five days later. Strasburg said his hand was falling asleep in the middle of the night. The Nationals medical staff needed to give Strasburg multiple injections in his hand in order to help the pain subside.

RELATED: IS NATIONALS VS. ORIOLES A TRUE RIVALRY?

He threw a heavy bullpen session Wednesday before throwing 32 pitches in a simulated game. Martinez said Strasburg felt well during the simulated game, so instead of continuing, they had him stop in order to throw 70-plus pitches Sunday against Baltimore.

"The tingling in his thumb is gone," Martinez said Friday. "That's a good sign. We watched him, like I said, he's thrown some really good [bullpen sessions]. That was the big thing for me. Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything's good. Based on conversations with him, he feels good. He wants to pitch. He's ready to pitch on Sunday."

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Max Scherzer left his Wednesday start after just an inning because of a hamstring "tweak" from the day before when he was running sprints. He was expected to play catch Friday. Martinez labeled him "day-to-day."

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