Capitals

Seattle rookie Bruce Irvin ready for starting role

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Seattle rookie Bruce Irvin ready for starting role

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Bruce Irvin has always fed off the doubt of others, whether it came as he tried to turn his life around as a youth or when he was panned as being a reach when the Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the first round last April.

``I love reading all the negative stuff. ... That's just the type of person I am,'' Irvin said on Wednesday. ``I love to see what people say about me because it's funny. I take that in mind and I bust my butt and it just makes me work harder.''

The latest doubt Irvin will try and erase comes Sunday when the Seahawks face the Falcons in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

Irvin will make the first start of his career after starting defensive end Chris Clemons was lost for the season to a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee in last Sunday's playoff win over Washington.

For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record.

Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game.

``I'm still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He's like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,'' Irvin said. ``Next year, I'll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I'm not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons') spot. I'm not looking for that. My time will come and when it's that time it will all handle itself.''

Going to Atlanta is a homecoming for Irvin, who had a troubled childhood that included a couple of weeks in jail as a teenager.

But he's pleased that his first start will come in front of family that won't need to get on a plane to see him play.

``It's going to be bittersweet,'' Irvin said. ``(I'm) happy that my family doesn't have to take a five-hour plane ride to come and see me play and just to be back around in that territory and the people that first were to doubt me.''

Irvin got his share of snaps last week versus Washington after Clemons went down early in the third quarter. His biggest play came in the fourth quarter after Seattle had taken a 21-14 lead, when Irvin stayed with the play and chased down Robert Griffin III for a 12-yard sack.

Griffin fumbled a low snap and crumpled to the ground in pain on the next play, where Seattle recovered the fumble and led to a field goal that gave Seattle a 10-point lead.

Irvin said being in on every play helped him get into the flow of the game more.

``I think it's a plus, I think that's what really helped me last week,'' he said. ``I got into a zone and got the feeling of what my man's strengths and weaknesses were. So I think that really is a plus and we'll see how it goes.''

Irvin will be helped this week by the Falcons' propensity to throw. Seven times this season Atlanta threw the ball at least 40 times. The Falcons ran the ball more than 25 times just once over the final eight weeks of the season.

That would seem to play to Irvin's strengths. But getting a consistent pass rush has been a problem for Seattle, now amplified by the loss of Clemons. Irvin had the only sack of Griffin last week after the Seahawks had just one sack the final two weeks of the regular season.

``I think he's got more sacks in him,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``I think it's been a terrific year, I think he can be a double-digit sack guy once he gets it going.''

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How to watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs NHL 20 simulation and Caps' chippy Nov. 18 win over Ducks

How to watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs NHL 20 simulation and Caps' chippy Nov. 18 win over Ducks

The Capitals’ simulated season continues on Tuesday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL 20, aired on NBC Sports Washington. Real-life Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin will be on the call.

In a partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBCSW is airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 20 games, taking place on the dates and times according to each team's regular season schedule with commentary from NBCSW's experts surrounding the coverage.

After the game wraps up, NBCSW will reair the Caps’ physical Nov. 18 affair with the Anaheim Ducks. Richard Panik scored his first goal in a Washington uniform and Garnet Hathaway was ejected after exchanging more than just blows in a fight with several Ducks.

Here’s how you can catch both games Tuesday night.

Broadcast Schedule

7:00 PM – NHL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals (P)

8:00 PM – NHL Classics: Anaheim Ducks @ Capitals from Nov. 18, 2019 (R)

10:30 PM – NHL 20: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Capitals (R)

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

How Ben Olsen is coaching D.C. United during coronavirus quarantine

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the MLS season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen is working to find his way in the face of massive changes to the day-to-day life of so many around the world.

"The priority right now with the group that we have is to maintain a level of fitness," Olsen said on a conference call with local reporters this morning. "All we can do right now is follow the guidelines given by MLS."

Even though the team is not able to meet face-to-face like they normally would, Olsen and his staff have had to get creative in ways to continue to build team chemistry and make sure everyone is on the same page.

"We have a once-a-week call with everyone on a Zoom chat with the trainers," he said. "We talk about things like social media and how to stay connected to fans, the programs we are sending out and we get feedback from [the players] on what is going well."

Dealing with the pandemic has been especially challenging for players from overseas, who might not have the same support systems that those longtime MLS players have in the area. The club is making a particular point to reach out to those players.

D.C. United and its staff are also making sure that all of the club’s players are able to partake in individualized training to keep a level of fitness, even if that means getting some workout equipment to players who might not have it where they live.

As new challenges arise and are met, Olsen is trying to keep a positive mindset and joked that he now has the time to be a better husband and father than he normally would at the start of a new season.

"There’s this underlying positivity that again I feel very, very lucky because of the scenario I’m in," the head coach noted. "I’m also constantly thinking about others that are not in the situation I’m in. Whether it’s the EMTs, the firemen, the D.C. support system, our medical doctors, so many people on the frontlines that are doing so much and putting their lives in danger right now. I make sure we as a family are constantly reminding our children that there’s a lot of people out there doing some great things in a very, very tough time."

When asked what he misses most about what would be the end of the opening month of the MLS season, Olsen stated that he misses the locker room and being with his players.

"Dealing with the ups and downs of a season, dealing with the journey of the season," he said. "It’s a special thing that we have and I think in some ways you have to lose it to appreciate it. Right now I miss being in that locker room, I miss the guys, I miss my staff."

While no one knows yet when the season will return, Olsen is "very bullish and optimistic" that MLS will recover quickly.

"Of course the league will take a hit, just like every other league and every other business across this country," Olsen said. "This league will be just fine when we get through this, just like our country will be just fine."