Capitals

Rams still have goals to reach

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Rams still have goals to reach

ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Rams are looking at another season without a postseason appearance.

Winners of three straight games before a 36-22 loss Sunday to Minnesota, the Rams had a chance of making the playoffs if they won their final three games. Now, the final two games serve mostly as a tuneup for next season.

``I don't think they're thinking about next year or the future when you come to work on Wednesday and you're digesting the game play,'' coach Jeff Fisher said Monday. ``I think they're thinking about doing the best they can improving their skills.''

St. Louis (6-7-1) still has a chance at its first winning season since 2003. The Rams play at Tampa Bay before ending the regular season at Seattle. With a victory - or tie - against the Seahawks, St. Louis would finish undefeated in NFC West play.

The Rams, who are 4-0-1 in the division, went 0-6 last season. Arizona was the previous team to go undefeated in the West in 2008. The most recent team to go undefeated it division play and not make the playoffs was Oakland. It went 6-0 in 2010 in the AFC West, but finished third with an 8-8 overall record.

Quarterback Sam Bradford said though the playoffs are out of reach, the Rams don't plan to change how they prepare.

``We're going to look at the things that we did well this week (against Minnesota) and try to build on those,'' he said. ``We're going to look at the things that we need to get corrected, we're going to try to improve on those, and we're going to try to get better these next few weeks.

``Win two games and build on that going into next year.''

Several Rams players veered from the ``one game at a time'' mantra Fisher said as his team won to get back into the playoff picture. Leading up to the Minnesota game, some had the idea of playing in the postseason for the first time since 2004.

Running back Steven Jackson, in his ninth season with the Rams, has dealt with the disappointment of his team missing the playoffs previously. The player with the next longest tenure with St. Louis is defensive end Chris Long, in his fifth year.

``I definitely was hoping that we could,'' Jackson said. ``We knew that we had to take each game one at a time and we had to win. (Against the Vikings) we did not get it done and now I have to show these guys how to finish strong.''

The Rams will want to shore up both lines this week. The defensive line couldn't stop Adrian Peterson, who had 212 yards rushing, though they sacked Christian Ponder twice and recorded 10 tackles for a loss.

More troublesome for St. Louis was its offensive line. Bradford was sacked four times, center Scott Wells had a bad snap that the Vikings eventually converted into a field goal and the team managed just 87 yards rushing.

Fisher said the team has options this week.

``Our challenge is do we want to mope around as a result to the loss to the Vikings and be that team.'' Fisher said. ``Or do we want to be the team that's won three of the last four games that's going to go out and try to win another one.

So, that's the approach we're going to be taking.''

Fisher also said that guard Harvey Dahl suffered a torn left bicep and will have surgery Wednesday. He will be placed on injured reserve and the Rams are still deciding what to do with his roster spot. Shelley Smith is likely to be in the starting lineup in his place.

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

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Lars Eller is out and John Carlson is a game-time decision for Game 1

Lars Eller is out and John Carlson is a game-time decision for Game 1

The Capitals will begin their first-round series against the New York Islanders shorthanded, though we are not quite sure how much yet. The team will be without center Lars Eller for Wednesday's Game 1 against the New York Islanders, according to head coach Todd Reirden. Defenseman John Carlson will be a game-time decision.

Eller left the bubble on Aug. 5 to be with his family for the birth of a child. He returned on Sunday and remains in his room under quarantine until he receives four negative tests over the course of four days. That meant it was theoretically possible that he could be cleared before Wednesday's game, but Reirden put the matter to rest on Tuesday saying Eller would not be available for Game 1.

Travis Boyd has played in Eller's spot on the third line and is expected to remain there for Game 1.

“You feel comfortable with the player that knows our system, knows the detail that is expected, understands his role on the team," Reirden said of Boyd. "He is very versatile we can use him in a lot of different ways and he is going to get that opportunity [Wednesday]. He has made well on this opportunity thus far. I think he has played well in both of the games he has been a part of and now it is where does he go from here?"

On the back end, Carlson's status remains unknown.

After getting tangled up in the team's exhibition game, Carlson did not play in any of the team's round robin games. This was believed to be just a precaution to save Carlson for when the games really start to matter in the playoffs. For that reason and considering how important a player he is, I would expect him to play or otherwise the injury is much more serious than anyone realized.

Carlson skated in both Monday's optional skate and Tuesday's practice.

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Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

After speculation and uncertainty surrounding the college football season grew in recent days, the Big Ten Conference has announced that it is canceling its football season for the fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

In the release, the Big Ten announced it will "continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."

News from the Big Ten differs from speculation and reports coming out of the ACC which state that the conference is set on making the season work in the coming months.

The Mountain West Conference announced it would be canceling its fall season as well on Monday, with hopes to play in the spring instead. 

The Big Ten decision does not come as much of a surprise. It was reported that the Big Ten was going to call the season off on Tuesday. Dan Patrick reported that news and said that the conference had an internal meeting on Sunday resulting in a 12-2 vote to not play a college football season this fall. Nebraska and Iowa were the two conference programs to vote in favor of playing this season.

Additionally, signs of hesitation were shown in the days leading up to the announcement. The Big Ten recently postponed its ramping-up period that included full-pad practices. The Big Ten did, however, recently unveil its 2020 conference-only schedule, leading to confusion in terms of what its stance was on playing football in 2020. Now, there is no more speculation. 

The Pac-12 Conference is reportedly expected to make the same choice as the Big Ten, but has yet to make an official decision. 

While it's understandable that the conference is prioritizing the health and safety of its players amid a pandemic that continues to impact thousands on a daily basis, the news is sure to upset players and coaches around the college football world. Big names such as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, among others, have been campaigning to continue the season with the #WeWantToPlay movement on social media.

With players from all Power 5 conference uniting, they have asked for universal health and safety protocols, opt-outs for athletes that want them, guaranteed eligibility and voices from all conferences to be included in the decision. President Donald Trump also weighed in, supporting the call to play football in the fall on Monday and reiterating that in statements on Tuesday.

Despite the large faction that was on board with the status quo for now, the Big Ten will not be part of a potential college football season in the coming months. There is a chance that the season is played in the spring. Reports indicated that Warren and leaders around the conference preferred that idea, but no decision has been made at this time.

The Big Ten has now spoken, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow suit soon. With two of the five major conferences backing out, it will be up to the SEC, Big 12 and ACC to dictate the future of a 2020 college football season. 

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