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Peterson remaining focused while chasing Dickerson

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Peterson remaining focused while chasing Dickerson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The record many thought would never be broken is right there in front of him, and Adrian Peterson can smell it.

His powerful legs have been chewing up the yards at a staggering pace over these last two months, chasing down Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing mark with the relentlessness that helped him come back from a devastating knee injury in less than nine months.

As Peterson continues that pursuit, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is comfortable in knowing that while the record is important to his star running back, making the playoffs trumps everything. Actually, the two may go hand in hand.

Heading into the final two games of the season, Peterson is 294 yards away from eclipsing Dickerson's record 2,105 yards set in 1984 and the Vikings (8-6) almost surely need wins over Houston and Green Bay to get into the playoffs.

With all that in mind, Frazier had a chat with Peterson on Monday just to make sure that the focus remains where it needs to be.

``The record would be great,'' Frazier said the day after the Vikings won in St. Louis to stay alive in the playoff race. ``But the most important thing is to get a win in Houston. And the fact that he feels that way, that will permeate through the rest of our team. He wants to really concentrate on winning this game, more so than the record.''

Peterson was unavailable for comment on Monday after racking up 212 yards and a touchdown in the 36-24 victory over the Rams, but he said after the game that he knows how to prioritize the two pursuits.

``It's something that I'm not focusing on, it's in the back of my mind, but I want to accomplish that,'' Peterson said of the record. ``I want to let the chips fall where they may. I look at today's game, I could have had 300 (yards), but it wasn't meant to happen. We got the `W,' we got closer. Let's move on.''

To say that Peterson is ``only'' 294 yards away from Dickerson's record with two games to go is remarkable in its own right. The game has evolved from Dickerson's day to a quarterback-centric universe, one where running backs are lucky to get a dozen carries in a game just to keep the defense off balance.

Perhaps that's why Dickerson felt relatively comfortable that his mark would stand. In five of Dickerson's first six seasons, he had at least 379 carries for the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts. Peterson's career high for carries is 363 in 2008, and he enters the game against the Texans with just 289 on the season.

``He's a phenomenal player and seems like a good dude,'' Dickerson told CBSsports.com last week. ``If a player was to break it, I'd probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don't think it's going to be broken.''

The Vikings are a throwback to the days when running backs ruled. They rely on Peterson as their first, second and third option to move the ball down the field, and he has delivered even with opposing defenses crowding the line of scrimmage in an all-out effort to stop him.

He's topped 200 yards twice in the last three weeks, is averaging more than 164 yards per game over the last eight and is averaging more yards per carry (6.3) than Christian Ponder is per pass attempt (5.95).

``Nobody probably has ever done it better than he's doing it in this stretch,'' Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.

Even when an opposing defense appears to have him bottled up, Peterson has found a way to break out. He had minus-3 yards on his first five carries against the Rams, but ripped off an 82-yard touchdown run and a 52-yard burst in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.

Through it all, he's turned what had been a career-derailing injury for a running back - a torn ACL in his left knee suffered last December - into nothing more than a speed bump.

``It's mental. My mindset, my willpower, my determination,'' Peterson said. ``And that's something people don't see, is how hard I work during the offseason. I grind hard. When you want to be great - and in my mind, I want to be the greatest that ever played - you can't talk about it, you have to go out and work.''

He's carried this offense on his broad shoulders all season long, and his teammates are hoping to return the favor by helping him get the record.

``We obviously want him to get it, and he's chugging along,'' Ponder said. ``He's getting yards and I don't think it's something we're thinking about and trying to take advantage of. We do want to make the playoffs and that's our number one goal and (to) keep winning. The way he's playing, we hope he gets it. He's getting close.''

NOTES: Frazier said that WR Percy Harvin, who is on injured reserve because of a sprained left ankle, had an appendectomy last week. ... DE Brian Robison has a sprained shoulder. Frazier said he's the only player who will be questionable for the Texans game this week. ...CB Chris Cook is eligible to come off injured reserve this week. He hasn't played since he broke his arm against Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. Frazier said they would see how he responds in practice this week and hope to play him on Sunday.

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AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this story.

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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Capitals vs. Canadiens preseason Game 3: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Capitals vs. Canadiens preseason Game 3: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Coming off two preseason losses to the Bruins, the Capitals look to secure their first win of the preseason in Montreal against the Canadiens on Thursday night.

The Canadiens are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Hurricanes, and Blues.

The next time the Capitals and Canadiens will meet again will be the first of November back in Montreal.  

But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 3 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

CAPITALS-CANADIENS PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Canadiens 

Where: Videotron Centre, Quebec City, QC, Canada

When: Thursday, September, 20, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Canadiens preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-CANADIENS PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

6:30 PM: Beyond the Scoreboard: Zach Leonsis 
7:00 PM: Capitals vs Montreal Canadiens 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: DC Sports Live

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    Sending Alexeyev back to his junior team is not a reflection of his play, it’s about timing

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    Sending Alexeyev back to his junior team is not a reflection of his play, it’s about timing

    The Capitals made their first roster cuts of training camp on Wednesday with the most notable name being the young defenseman Alex Alexeyev, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2018. A high draft pick getting sent back to his junior team less than a week into training camp could lead fans to jump to the conclusion that he has not performed well, but that would be incorrect. The reality is that the team has been very impressed with his performance.

    Alexeyev recorded an assist in his lone preseason performance on Tuesday. He admitted to having some nerves at the beginning of the game to NHL.com writer Tom Gulitti, but he was able to settle down after that and managed very strong [performance overall.

    “[Alexeyev] continues to show his ability to play in a number of different ways,” head coach Todd Reirden said after the game. “Just really some high skill plays in tight areas where he’s executing passes that normally guys at that size and that age probably don’t do as defensemen.”

    Roster cuts have a negative connotation for most as they think in terms of NFL cuts (or this). To see Alexeyev cut this early may make some worry that it was because he was not good enough to make the team. That’s true, but only partially.

    Alexeyev is not good enough to make the team…yet.

    With John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey and Brooks Orpik all returning, the Capitals’ defense is set for this season. There are also players like Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs all competing to show they are ready for the NHL in case of a call-up. There is just no room for Alexeyev yet, but he has shown clear future NHL potential.

    But why send him back if they see potential in him? Wouldn’t he benefit from more time practicing with NHL coaches and players?

    Yes if the coaches are focused purely on development. As training camp progresses, however, and the upcoming season draws closer and closer, Reirden and his coaching staff will focus more and more primarily on preparing for the season. That means more time working with the NHL players and less time for the young prospects.

    The best thing for a player’s development is playing. Alexeyev’s junior team, the Red Deer Rebels, played its final game of the preseason on Saturday and will begin the regular season on Friday. The time to send junior players who are not going to make the NHL roster is now so that they can go back to their teams and get game action.

    There’s a lot of excitement around Alexeyev and for good reason. His play in development camp, the rookie tournament and the preseason have, thus far, justified the faith the Caps showed in him when they drafted him in the first round. Sending him back to the WHL now is what is best for the development of a promising young player who is not ready quite yet to make the NHL.

    Said Reirden, “[Alexeyev’s] a guy that has a bright future ahead of him and continuing to learn and grow every day."

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