Capitals

Smith practices for 49ers in non-contact jersey

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Smith practices for 49ers in non-contact jersey

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Alex Smith insists it's too early to guess whether he will return from a concussion in time to start at quarterback in San Francisco's key Monday night NFC showdown against the Chicago Bears.

The decision is not up to him, anyway.

Smith went through position work with the NFC West-leading 49ers (6-2-1) in a non-contact black jersey Wednesday, his status still unclear after he sustained a concussion in the second quarter Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

``I feel good, better,'' Smith said Wednesday in his first comments since the injury. ``I'm just going along with the process right now. Nothing's been decided. It's a whole long process that's up to the doctors. I just kind of do what they tell me. Contact obviously is the final straw.''

Coach Jim Harbaugh kept a watchful eye on Smith from several yards away as he worked with backup Colin Kaepernick and No. 3 QB Scott Tolzien to get his reps.

Smith had to pass concussion tests given by a neurologist - he went to Stanford on Monday - to get this far and return to the practice field, but there are still further steps in the process for him to be medically cleared for game action.

``Right now it looks like Alex will be our quarterback for sure,'' optimistic tight end Vernon Davis said. ``I would think so. With all those concussions, you can't really tell, but he was out there and threw the ball around a little bit.''

Smith said he experienced blurred vision on a 1-yard quarterback sneak early in the second quarter of Sunday's 24-24 tie. But six plays earlier, he scrambled to his left and started to slide before turning when St. Louis linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar hit him in the back of the neck with 1:10 left in the first quarter. Smith briefly grabbed his face mask and grimaced but stayed in the game.

He isn't sure whether that hit contributed to the concussion, because he didn't experience any symptoms right away.

``It's all speculation. It certainly didn't help,'' Smith said. ``Talking to the neurologist, it probably contributed, for sure. Whether it loosens you up for the next one, I don't know. I felt fine after that though. The sneak was definitely when I came up and my eyesight went wrong.''

So, just how did he manage to complete all three passes he threw afterward with blurred vision, including a 14-yard touchdown to Michael Crabtree?

``That's a great question,'' Smith said. ``No idea. It certainly wasn't like I was blind.''

But he was hurting.

Smith said he experienced headaches and nausea with the concussion, and the symptoms were ``more severe'' than what he felt after a concussion last season against Dallas in the team's home opener. By Monday morning after sleeping overnight, Smith said he had improved.

``It's tough to describe. For me, the vision was the biggest thing, for sure,'' Smith said. ``I've taken a lot of hits over the years, and to try to play quarterback when you're vision is not what it should be was difficult,'' Smith said. ``For me, ultimately it didn't get better. It wasn't one of those things I could blink off and my focus was returning. I went on the sidelines and sat down and it seemed to get worse. It wasn't getting better. It was not good for the team to go out there. I didn't think I could help us much.''

Second-year backup Colin Kaepernick took over for the second series in the second quarter and rallied the Niners in the fourth quarter, even running for a 7-yard touchdown. He finished 11 for 17 for 117 yards with three sacks.

He is approaching as if he will start against the Bears - the same way he prepares every week.

``Same reps as always. Nothing really changes,'' Kaepernick said. ``I've always been out there preparing myself to start.''

The rest of the 49ers aren't worrying about who will be quarterback, just preparing for the stingy Bears defense.

``Whoever's behind center, we'll be ready to go,'' left tackle Joe Staley said.

Notes: RB Frank Gore said he had his sore ribs examined again after the Rams game and is feeling OK. ... K David Akers, who last season set an NFL single-season record with 44 field goals, is only 15 for 21 this season. He missed a 41-yarder wide left in overtime against the Rams. ``I'll stand up in good times and bad,'' Akers said. ``I'm going to give it everything I have.''

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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.

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 play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed the 37-year-old’s $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. John 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 re-sign Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear—even with the salary cap ceiling going up to $79.5 million—but it sure helps the Caps’ cause.

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 as their backup next season. And if Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, 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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