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At Pro Bowl, Peterson doesn't plan to let up

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At Pro Bowl, Peterson doesn't plan to let up

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Pro Bowl has become so diluted by player withdrawals, Super Bowl qualifiers and minimal effort that the NFL considered pulling the plug on it.

The future of the annual all-star game will be assessed again this spring, based partly on how Sunday's game turns out, and in the event of a cancellation it's a safe bet that Adrian Peterson won't be the reason. Some of his Minnesota Vikings teammates there this week also bring a perspective that goes beyond the simple pleasure of a free midwinter trip to Hawaii.

Fullback Jerome Felton, who helped pave the way for Peterson's 2,097 yards rushing this season, the second-most in league history, is a first-time selection. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, an injury replacement pick along with linebacker Chad Greenway, is also a Pro Bowl rookie. Defensive end Jared Allen wanted to delay surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder until after the game. Kicker Blair Walsh was so appreciative of the honor he paid for long snapper Cullen Loeffler to join him for the week.

Then there's Peterson, who has never played at any speed other than full throttle. Motivation to play hard so soon after the physically taxing season is often missing for many, but he argues that letting up is more dangerous.

``When you play down, you put yourself in jeopardy of getting hurt going through the motions. So I won't be playing down,'' Peterson said earlier this month. ``I'm going to play hard.''

Another motivating factor is the $50,000 bonus for members of the winning team, twice as much as the losers get.

``We get 50 more racks so we can give it to our mom, our dad, our family, or go buy a car. There's a lot you can do with 50,'' Peterson said.

Walsh could help defray the cost of his generosity. Walsh's base salary in 2012 was $390,000, and as a sixth-round draft pick his signing bonus was a lot less than that. He lobbied for Loeffler to be selected to the NFC squad, but Detroit's Don Muhlbach got the spot instead.

So Walsh is bringing Loeffler with him anyway.

``He's a great guy and obviously has done a tremendous job and is just so thankful for the, I think, transformation that he's made from his senior year in college to now,'' Loeffler said. ``As was our team being doubted before the season, so was he and the selection that they made. ... He's being really appreciative and showing tremendous gratitude toward me and bringing me a lot, too, which I'm thankful for.''

Walsh also told punter Chris Kluwe he'd paid for him to go, but Kluwe and his wife are going on their own dime.

``Just taking in the sun, laughing at Blair while he has to practice, and hanging out with Cullen by the pool,'' Kluwe said Thursday in a phone interview. ``He offered to take me as well, but I told him don't worry about it. If I'm going to make it, I'm going to make it on my own. I did appreciate the offer, but I told him it's OK: `You're still on a rookie salary. You don't have to cover the both of us.' So he has a very vested interest in winning the game.''

Kickers and punters rarely back out of the game, so being named as an alternate doesn't mean much. Kluwe and Loeffler have been trying to soak up the scene, hanging out with their wives and Walsh and his girlfriend during the down time.

``While it may not be the greatest game played because guys obviously don't want to get injured and there's a lot of restrictions on what you can do already, guys are excited to be out here,'' Kluwe said. ``It's a pretty big deal because the ability to say you're a Pro Bowler, to have that tag in front of your name, guys like it a lot.''

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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

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NBCSW

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.

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Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals (2-2-1) were dealt a herky-jerky schedule for the first month of the NHL season, already having logged two back-to-backs and two extended breaks.  But Washington finally gets a semblance of normalcy when they host the New York Rangers (2-4) on Wednesday night in the first of two home games before heading out west to end the month.

The Caps enter the Wednesday Night Hockey tilt with their longtime regional foes having dropped a thrilling weekend showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs and their high-powered attack. The Rangers have long been a thorn in the side of the Capitals and fans alike. But the team that will hit the ice at Capital One Arena on Oct. 17 will be one that Capitals need to dispatch of with ease.

The team's first foray into defending a championship has been a wild ride with ceremonies, openers, rematches and a lot of time off. After dropping the first three games of the season, New York has won two of its last three,  with both games needing extra time.

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Rangers which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

CAPITALS vs. RANGERs HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers, Game 6 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals vs. Rangers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Rangers on  the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and  the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Rangers on NBC Sports Network
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Braden Holtby, G. Capitals: Holtby has started four of the Capitals' first five games. He's allowed just two goals in the Capitals' two wins, but has given up 11 in the two losses. That being said, the Rangers do not have the caliber of fire-power possessed by the Penguins and Maple Leafs. Expect a big game from "The HoltBeast."

Mats Zuccarello, Rangers: The Rangers savvy veteran leads the team in assists (5) and points (50 through the first six games. While he's not the most dangerous threat on offense, he's the table setter and crafty elder statesman. 

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 273

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead series 131–117–18–7

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead series 103–90–18–7

Playoff Record: Capitals lead series 28-27

Last Meeting: Capitals beat Rangers 3-2 OT (3/28/2018)

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