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Raiders prepare for Broncos without head coach

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Raiders prepare for Broncos without head coach

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Being mired in a five-game losing streak with a short week to get ready for Peyton Manning and the first-place Denver Broncos is tough enough.

The Oakland Raiders have to do it without their head coach.

Dennis Allen left the team after Sunday's 20-17 loss to Cleveland to be with his father, who has a serious medical issue. Allen is expected to rejoin the team on Wednesday night and be on the field Thursday when the Raiders (3-9) host the Broncos (9-3).

But until then, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will oversee the team and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will map out the defense.

``This is a pretty unique season, both on and off the field, I'll say that,'' Tarver said Monday. ``There's a bunch of adversity and the true character of a man and a coach and whoever is to, no matter what the circumstances, be a pro and handle your business. But I've been a part of a lot of different situations, both in this league and in coaching, but there's some unique things that have happened this year.''

Allen is with his family in the Dallas area helping to care for his 66-year-old father, Grady, a former NFL linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons. Knapp said he texted Allen on Monday morning to pass on good wishes and planned to talk to the head coach as the team prepared for the Broncos.

Oakland did not practice on Monday and will have two brief practices before the game Thursday. With the short week, the position coaches had begun some of the scouting of the Broncos last week to allow the coordinators to put together the game plan on Sunday night and Monday.

Allen, a former defensive coordinator in Denver, is typically heavily involved in the defensive game plan, while giving more general tips about philosophy for Knapp to use on offense.

``Today we went right into a normal Tuesday routine for coaches,'' Knapp said. ``We started game planning this morning for Denver, and then our practice schedule for the next two days will obviously be a little bit shorter because our guys need to still recover from this game and get ready for the next game. From a game-plan standpoint, you condense maybe three days of practice into two. From a coaching standpoint, you've done a lot of work ahead of time, so you can make it happen a little bit sooner during the week.''

While Knapp is officially in charge of the team while Allen is away, he said the only real additional responsibility he will have is to decide when to blow the horn to move to the next practice period.

Some of the players just learned of Allen's absence on Monday and wanted to pass their best wishes on to their coach and his family. They said it will be hard to concentrate entirely on the Broncos knowing what Allen is going through.

``I think it will because obviously we'll be caring about his situation, just wondering what's going on,'' cornerback Michael Huff said. ``But we know we have a game to get ready for. It will because we'll be worried about him, but I think we'll still walk on the field and focus.''

The Raiders will need to be at their best to have a chance against the Broncos. Oakland has lost five straight games and was carved up by rookie Brandon Weeden on Sunday in the loss to the Browns.

Now the defense must deal with Manning, who was 30 for 38 for 338 yards and three touchdowns in Denver's 37-6 home win over Oakland in Week 4.

The Raiders are also dealing with a number of injuries in the secondary, with starting free safety Matt Giordano, backup safety Mike Mitchell and backup cornerback Phillip Adams all leaving Sunday's game with concussions.

The three will need to pass the league's concussion protocol in order to play Thursday, which could be difficult because of the short week.

That could lead to a patchwork secondary on Thursday night.

``You're never really ready for Peyton Manning,'' Tarver said. ``It's a matter of getting on the same page and having enough coverage looks to hopefully slow down his progression and challenge guys in coverage, that's what we need to do.''

NOTES: RBs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are expected to play after missing the previous four games with sprained right ankles. ... The Raiders are hosting their first Thursday game since Oct. 25, 1979, against San Diego. They have played eight Thursday road games since then.

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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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