Nationals

Peterson vs. Pack has been boon for Vikings RB

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Peterson vs. Pack has been boon for Vikings RB

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Adrian Peterson rushed for 210 yards at Green Bay the first time. He was, uh, limited to 199 yards for Minnesota in the most recent meeting.

So how much more can this man do? Will the Packers be able to finally stop him with their third try?

That's an issue for this Saturday at Lambeau Field in a playoff game full of intriguing story lines, when the Vikings and Packers will renew their rivalry in the wild-card round. Peterson carried the Vikings into the postseason with another standout performance in Sunday's 37-34 victory, even though the Packers continually sent a safety up to the line to crowd his running lanes as if he was on a blitz.

``They were a lot more physical in that game than they had been before,'' Vikings fullback Jerome Felton said. ``I think they were trying to box everything and keep it in the middle. I just remember thinking, `Man, they're coming downhill.' But I think we're just such a physical team that it wears on people. So he didn't have the 80-yard run, and he still had 200 yards rushing.''

Peterson had an 82-yard touchdown sprint on Dec. 2 during the 23-14 defeat in Green Bay, but his longest run on Sunday was 28 yards.

``I look forward to us having a better performance on defense,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

The Vikings, naturally, were anticipating more adjustments.

``I'm sure they'll come up with another wrinkle when we play them again,'' coach Leslie Frazier said.

One year ago on New Year's Eve, Peterson was lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and wires with a glazed look on his face, a carton of ice cream clutched in his hand, in the first hours after reconstructive surgery on his left knee. He sent that photo of that scene on Twitter, a stark contrast to the raucous stadium he helped ignite Sunday by spinning around, racing past and running through the Packers.

He needed a franchise-record 34 carries to get to those 199 yards, but five of those attempts went for no gain and five more lost yards. That proved again just how difficult it is to stop him, given the ferocity and determination he's running with, and the confidence with which the Vikings are blocking for him. Peterson finished 9 yards short of becoming the NFL's all-time leading single-season rusher, but even though the total resets next season he vowed to pass Eric Dickerson someday.

``God willing, I'll get it next year, or at least make it close,'' Peterson said.

Felton, picked for the Pro Bowl for his blocking prowess after signing a one-year contract, told Peterson after Sunday's game he'd break the record in 2013 if Felton is brought back.

All those individual accolades will be put in the background until next season, though. The playoffs are here.

``Once you get in, anything can happen. It's been done before. There's a precedent set for teams like this getting on a roll. Hopefully we can keep it going and become one of those teams,'' left guard Charlie Johnson said.

The Vikings haven't won an outdoor game this year, but their formula for winning is designed to work in winter: pounding Peterson into the line and relying on the defense to rack up sacks and force a turnover or two.

``When your players have an identity and they know what that identity is, they tend to think a little bit less about what some of the other implications or ramifications can be with the weather,'' Frazier said. ``They know mentally that this is what we are going to focus on no matter the condition. I think it has to be an advantage for you.''

Christian Ponder can't escape responsibility, though. Coming off a three-touchdown, no-turnover game, he'll need to complete enough third-down throws and medium-to-long-range passes to supplement Peterson's work on the ground.

``Green Bay had to play honest. They had to respect the pass game and when we're doing that, we're playing balanced football, we're a tough team to beat,'' Peterson said on Sunday.

NOTES: CB Antoine Winfield's status for Saturday's game is in question, after he aggravated his broken right hand Sunday and sat out most of the afternoon. His hand was swollen badly afterward, and Frazier said Winfield ``was in quite a bit of pain.'' ... DE Brian Robison played through a sprained right shoulder and finished the season with a career-high 8 1/2 sacks, one of which forced a fumble by Aaron Rodgers the Vikings recovered to set up a touchdown. ... Though the dates won't be set until April, the Vikings have their 2013 opponents lined up. Beyond the usual division games, they'll host Philadelphia (4-12 this year), Washington (10-6), Carolina (7-9), Cleveland (5-11) plus Pittsburgh (8-8) in London. They'll travel to Dallas (8-8), the New York Giants (9-7), Seattle (11-5), Baltimore (10-6) and Cincinnati (10-6).

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

The New York Yankees could be without their top relief arm on Opening Night against the Nationals.

Manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for the coronavirus and will be away from the team “for the foreseeable future.” Chapman is the third Yankees player to contract the virus after infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Luis Cessa tested positive in early July.

Boone’s announcement comes 12 days before the Yankees are scheduled to take on the Nationals in D.C. to kick off MLB’s abbreviated 2020 season. New York will play three games against Washington in the only series between the two clubs this year.

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However, if any team is built to absorb the loss of its closer, it’s the Yankees. Boone said that reliever Zack Britton would be the “natural guy” to handle ninth-inning duties if Chapman isn’t ready for the start of the season. New York’s bullpen also includes Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, each of whom—like Britton—would be a closer on most other teams.

On Friday, MLB and the players union announced that 28 of the 30 MLB teams had at least one player or staff member test positive for the coronavirus between intake screening and monitoring testing. Overall, 83 of the 11,149 samples collected have come back positive—a rate of 0.7 percent.

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Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

WASHINGTON --More than a week into the Major League Baseball’s reboot, and its gleefully-named and grotesquely-sponsored Summer Camp, the Nationals are still in wait-and-see mode.

Two players tested positive for Coronavirus at intake screening. The team is not obligated to release their names and cannot do so without the player’s permission. So, what we do know is Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Howie Kendrick are among multiple players not yet in Nationals Park for workouts 12 days before the season is scheduled to begin.

Their health and safety is paramount. However, when they are not working with the team, the organization needs to formulate a baseball-specific plan to go forward without them, should the need arise. And, that time is close because the preparation window is closing.

RELATED: HOW WILL MLB'S NEW EXTRA INNING WITH A RUNNER ON SECOND RULE WORK STRATEGICALLY?

“Right now, we’re taking things one day at a time,” Davey Martinez said Saturday. “I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican back home, so was Robles. I talked to those guys. We talked to the strength-and-conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape. They worked really hard. We’ll have to get them on the field.

“The biggest thing is they can be in great shape, but how much baseball shape have they done? To me, where something happens, if anybody strains an oblique, you’re looking at a significant amount of time. You’re probably looking at almost a whole season here with only 60 games. We got to be careful, we’ve got to see where they’re at. Then once they get here, we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not.”

The Nationals have three exhibition games scheduled before the season opener against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees. They can carry 30 players into that game. Martinez is trying to worry about who is in the stadium since he has no control over the clearances for the players who are not.

“We’re in a difficult situation,” Martinez said. “We really are with these guys. We’ve done everything we can. I know our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually put them on some kind of workout program and watching them do what they can do in their apartment. You’re talking about some of our younger players, too. We don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart. We’re also talking about a shorter season where we’ve got to win games right away. We’ll see how these guys come in and for me, it’s the baseball shape....Standing on their feet for seven, eight, nine innings.”

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Catcher Raudy Read played first base during Saturday’s intrasquad workout at Nationals Park. He was there in part because Read could well be a first baseman in the long-term. The Nationals also needed another body at the spot because Eric Thames -- their lone true first baseman available -- played for the opposing side.

The team variations spread across the infield and into the outfield because Soto, Robles and Luis Garcia remain in quarantine.

Martinez said “hopefully” the players in quarantine will be with the team soon. Even if they are, their window to be prepared for Cole is extremely limited, which is going to force the Nationals to start making contingency plans.