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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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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 space to re-sign 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 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 or 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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