Capitals

Raiders hopeful McFadden will return

Raiders hopeful McFadden will return

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders running game, which struggled so much the first half of the season when Darren McFadden was healthy, showed signs of life in recent weeks after the star back sprained his right ankle.

With McFadden poised to come back this week, the Raiders are excited to see what he will be able to do now that the offensive line is adjusting to the new zone blocking scheme.

McFadden missed the last four games with the injured ankle, including last week when he practiced but was unable to play in a loss to Cleveland. But running backs coach Kelly Skipper said he is seeing much more burst from McFadden in practice this week and is optimistic he'll be able to play Thursday night for the Raiders (3-9) against the Denver Broncos (9-3).

``We're very excited,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said. ``I can't wait to watch him. We were kind of working through a lot of things when he was healthy in the new scheme and a lot of guys doing a lot of different things that they haven't done in their careers. But now with as many games as we have underneath our belt up front, getting him back will be a big bonus for us.''

McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry before spraining his right ankle early in the eighth game against Tampa Bay. McFadden had averaged more than 5 yards per carry over the previous two seasons, but struggled to adjust to the team's new zone blocking system.

He had two 100-yard games before the injury and averaged 4 yards a carry in just one game this season. He also had only three runs that went for at least 20 yards in 139 carries after being one of the league's top big-play backs the past two years.

With converted fullback Marcel Reece and undrafted free agent Jeremy Stewart sharing the load the last four weeks, the Raiders (3-9) averaged 4.2 yards per carry as the blocking up front started to click.

``We've improved so much, and now he gets to step in and be able to see the holes and see the improvement we've done,'' Skipper said. ``He's been watching film, he's been studying a lot, so he's been seeing it, `There it is, OK. Good.' So I think it will help him a lot. He'll be right on point.''

While the running game has improved, the Raiders have struggled as a whole without McFadden, losing the past five games to get knocked out of playoff contention with a quarter of the season left.

McFadden has missed 23 games in five NFL seasons with a variety of injuries. He said sitting out is difficult and that he just tried to keep a positive mindset during the team's skid.

He did like seeing the improved run game with bigger holes to run through than he had when he was healthy.

``It's one thing I'm looking forward to, is to get out there and try to get into some of them,'' he said.

The Raiders also hope to get backup running back Mike Goodson back this week as well. Goodson sprained his right ankle later in the same game that McFadden got hurt in and has been out ever since.

He also practiced last week but did not play against the Browns. He is also expected to be back Thursday.

``Getting Goody back is great, too, because that's another change-up for us,'' Palmer said. ``It's not like Darren is going to go in and get 50 carries. He has to work his way back into this thing, too. Having another guy on third down to come in like Goody and kind of spell everybody gives us some more rest.''

NOTES: S Matt Giordano and S Mike Mitchell have passed all their tests after leaving the last game with concussions and practiced on a limited basis. ... CB/PR Phillip Adams, who also got a concussion in the game, has not been cleared. ... DT Richard Seymour (hamstring) also missed practice and could miss his fifth straight game. ... The Raiders signed RB Jamize Olawale from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad to their 53-man roster.

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

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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