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Sacks, defeats mounting for Dolphins DE Wake

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Sacks, defeats mounting for Dolphins DE Wake

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) While Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake accumulates sacks at a rate unprecedented in franchise history, his team keeps getting thrown for losses.

Barring a late-season surge starting Sunday at San Francisco, the Dolphins (5-7) will finish with a losing record for the fourth consecutive year. It so happens Wake, one of the NFL's premier pass rushers, joined Miami four years ago.

``I hate losing,'' he said Wednesday, ``more than I love winning.''

The Dolphins are 25-35 since 2009, but don't blame Wake. During that span he's tied for fourth in the NFL with 38 1/2 sacks, and ranks fourth in this year with 10 1/2.

This season, 7 1/2 of his sacks have come in defeats, including one Sunday against New England. But he keeps trying.

``You've got to be really stubborn to play this game, and probably more so on defense and the position I play,'' Wake said. ``Ninety percent of the time, I don't get the job done. You've got to erase that last play and give the exact same 100 percent effort one more time.

``So whether we're 0-15 or 15-0, I'm going to give that effort. Every game I'm going to give my all. It doesn't grind me down because I feel like every time you go out there, it's an opportunity to win.''

Opponents struggle mightily to take Wake out of the game, so there was cause for head-scratching when the Dolphins took him out of their most recent game in the fourth quarter. He watched from the sidelines for much of a clock-eating, 77-yard scoring drive by the Patriots that sealed their victory.

Dolphins coaches defended the decision, saying Wake was taking his turn on the bench as part of a rotation the team has used all season to keep defensive linemen fresh.

``We did continue with the rotation right up to the very end,'' defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. ``We didn't play particularly well in that last drive, but that had nothing to do with who was in the game in terms of the rotation.''

At least one player grumbled about the strategy, but Wake said he understood.

``I would like to be on the field - even on offense,'' he said with a chuckle. ``I'm sure I could play tight end or running back or something. But we've been rotating like that since Week 1.''

There was a time when Wake was a full-time spectator. A four-year letterman at Penn State, he went undrafted and was cut as a rookie by the New York Giants in 2005. The following year he became a mortgage broker.

``I was sitting on the couch watching games and watching guys play,'' he said.

Wake then gave the CFL a try, climbed from fourth string to stardom with the B.C. Lions, and signed as a free agent with the Dolphins. He spent a year coming off the bench in passing situations, won a starting job and made the Pro Bowl in 2010.

His sack total is the highest for any player in his first four seasons with Miami.

``Now he's one of the premier pass rushers in the league,'' said Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, a former college teammate who played against Wake last month. ``You can tell he just figured out what his body can do. He started playing football in the 11th grade, so he was a late bloomer. In college we all knew he was loaded with talent. We just wished he had a little bit more dog in him, and he found it.''

At 250 pounds, Wake is small for his position, but he has shaken a reputation as a pass-rush specialist. Run defense is the Dolphins' strength, and opponents show no inclination to pick on him with their ground game.

``He's no weak link,'' defensive tackle Randy Starks said. ``He gets credit for sacks, but it takes all four linemen to be good at run defense, and he's right there.''

Wake and the rest of the run defense will be seriously tested by the 49ers, whose ground attack ranks second in the NFL. The Dolphins need an upset win to keep alive their faint hope of a wild-card berth.

Faint hope is more than enough to keep Wake going.

``At this point in the season,'' he said, ``you never know.''

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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