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Raiders playing out string of another lost season

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Raiders playing out string of another lost season

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders are desperately in search of some sort of positive news.

The Raiders (3-8) just finished perhaps the worst month in franchise history by losing all four games in November, capped by three straight losses by at least 21 points

The team's first four-game skid since 2008 assures Oakland of a 10th straight season without a winning record and has turned the focus to the future rather than a playoff run.

``It's been mind-blowing,'' defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. ``I would have never, in my wildest dreams, thought we would be 3-8 right now.''

Coach Dennis Allen said everyone is accountable for the problems that have turned a team that was one win away from a division title last season into an also-ran this year.

He said he will look at all options to get things back on track, including possibly finding a role for third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor has been inactive all 11 games this year and has been on the field only once in two seasons since being taken in the supplemental draft last year. He committed a false start before his only snap last year against Kansas City and then got limited duty in the preseason.

``He's working to get better and he's working to improve,'' Allen said. ``I've seen improvement in Terrelle. He's gotten better as a quarterback. He's continued to work. I don't think any of us feel like he's the finished product, including himself. But he has worked to improve.''

Starter Carson Palmer struggled Sunday in his homecoming to Cincinnati, throwing for a season-low 146 yards and turning the ball over twice in a 38-17 loss to the Bengals. But he has been far from the biggest problem on a Raiders team that has struggled to generate a consistent run game all season and been historically bad on defense.

If Pryor gets a chance to play down the stretch, it would most likely be in a limited role that took advantage of his mobility.

The situation at quarterback won't matter much if the Raiders can't get better play defensively. They have allowed 169 points over the last four games, the second most in a four-game span since the merger in 1970.

With the offense struggling to move the ball consistently the last few weeks, the Raiders have been blown out each time. They have been outscored by 70 points in the losses, falling by at least 21 points in three straight games for the first time in franchise history.

The Raiders have allowed 51 plays that have gone for at least 20 yards, including an NFL-worst 13 touchdowns on those big gainers as they have struggled to follow their assignments and tackle downfield.

``I feel like if we could just focus in and execute not 99 percent of the time, not 95 percent of the time, 100 percent of the time, we'd be a lot better on defense,'' cornerback Joselio Hanson said. ``That's just the way it has gone right now. We're not at 100 percent out there. If we get beat doing our job, that's the thing. Some of the plays we're beating ourselves and giving them plays.''

The frustration of losing has started to boil over as evidenced by a scrum that led to the ejections of defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly in Cincinnati.

Houston tackled quarterback Andy Dalton after the whistle for a false start penalty, leading to a fight with offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth. Both players got ejected as did Kelly, who joined the melee as he was coming onto the field for the next play.

``Once you're on the field and you see something going on, you want to help your teammate,'' Kelly said. ``You always want to help your teammate when you think he's in the kind of situation that Lamarr was in. You can't lose your cool because you get kicked out of the game, you hurt your team. You can't have that happen.''

One bit of good news for the Raiders is they get the next three games at home, starting Sunday against Cleveland (3-8). They also could get a boost if injured running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (sprained right ankles) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) are able to return.

The trio has missed the last three games but Allen said he's hopeful they will be able to practice Wednesday.

``We're starving for a win right now,'' Hanson said. ``Can't look in the past right now. Just have to move forward and look forward to this next game against the Browns.''

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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

After the moves, the Caps had more than $21 million in space under the salary cap ceiling, according to www.capfriendly.com, and potentially enough room to accommodate new contracts for John Carlson and other key free agents.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much the 37-year-old’s rugged play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed his $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to ink Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear, but it will sure help the Caps’ cause. Carlson is expected to command an extension in the eight-year, $8 million per neighborhood. 

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, as their backup next season. And if Copley starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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