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Some veterans to play final game for Steelers

Some veterans to play final game for Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) For the first time since he was taken in the third round in the 2009 draft, Mike Wallace will miss a regular-season game for the Steelers.

It might well be the first of many games Pittsburgh plays without the speedster receiver going forward.

An injury in his left hip and hamstring area will prevent Wallace from playing in the Steelers' season finale Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. He will be an unrestricted free agent, leaving his status with the team for beyond this season in question.

Wallace isn't the only veteran who might have attended his final practice as a Steelers player Friday. On the heels of a non-winning season and with salary-cap issues upcoming, Pittsburgh (7-8) has some decisions to make on several longtime stalwarts who have been tenured contributors to championship teams.

Wallace, Casey Hampton, Rashard Mendenhall, Max Starks, James Harrison, Larry Foote and Charlie Batch have a combined 59 years of service for the Steelers, 12 starts in Super Bowls for the team and 11 championship rings.

There is reason to believe the game against Cleveland (5-10) will be the final one for many in that group as part of the organization.

``I don't know who's going to be out the door or who's going to be re-signed, but it's always a business first,'' Foote said. ``From a selfish standpoint on defense, we were No. 1 in the league - so bring us all back, keep us all. But I never know what's their plans and (general manager) Kevin Colbert can run a team better than I can.''

Starks, who will start his 96th game at tackle for the Steelers on Sunday, and Hampton, the team's nose tackle for the past 12 seasons, both hinted this week they could envision playing elsewhere.

The Steelers' most recent two second-round draft picks - and rookies of the year - are tackles. That doesn't bode well for Starks, who rebounded from injury each of the past two years to become a reliable starter for the Steelers by the time the season ended.

``I think the writing's on the wall, so to speak,'' Starks said. ``I had a great run - nine years here. I've gotten to be a part of three Super Bowl teams and got a chance to grasp two of those Lombardis, so it's an excellent career. If I have to move on, this will always be home for me.''

Hines Ward wept at his retirement press conference in March when he said he couldn't envision himself in another uniform. The gregarious Hampton chuckled this week at that notion - maintaining that he'd while he'd like to stay a Steeler, he'd play elsewhere if he had to.

A 35-year-old pending free agent, there's no guarantee the team will make a strong effort to keep Hampton.

Like Hampton and Starks, Foote said on Friday that he doesn't want to be a backup. But unlike Starks and Hampton, Foote can attest to the grass not always being greener.

Foote asked out of Pittsburgh following the 2009 Super Bowl victory because he knew Lawrence Timmons was primed to take his starting right inside linebacker's job. Foote signed with his hometown Detroit Lions, who were coming off an 0-16 season.

A year later, the Lions cut him - and Foote was given a three-year deal from the Steelers. He gradually re-earned a starting job back for this season.

Foote is coming off a solid season in which he led the team in tackles. Also, the player presumably drafted this past April to replace him, Sean Spence, missed the season due to a knee injury.

``Hopefully I'm back, but you've got to approach it that way,'' Foote said. ``Especially being long in the tooth as you say, all the older guys. That's just the nature of the game.''

At 34, Harrison is an even older member of the Steelers' linebackers corps. Harrison had back and knee injuries that slowed him early this season, and he has only five sacks.

A former NFL defensive player of the year, Harrison has a projected salary-cap hit of more than $10 million next season. It's unlikely the Steelers would keep him at that number.

``Right now, I'm looking forward to finishing out, playing this game against the Browns and after that's done I'll get things together as far as looking forward to next year,'' Harrison said.

Mendenhall was similarly evasive when asked about his future on Friday. The former first-round pick has only 163 yards rushing in five games this season because of injury, deactivation and suspension. A pending unrestricted free agent, he is seemingly destined to be on his way out.

At 38, Batch is the NFL's oldest non-kicker, and the Steelers could elect to add some youth to the quarterback position.

It won't be age that keeps the Steelers from bringing Wallace back. Failure to come to an agreement on a new contract might, though.

Wallace held out through the entirety of Steelers' training camp in Latrobe, Pa., this summer before signing a one-year tender as a restricted free agent. He finished the year with fewer catches and receiving yards than he had in each of the previous two seasons and with a 13.1 yards-per-reception that is well below his career average.

``This year obviously didn't go exactly how I wanted it to go, but I'm happy with the start to my career and I feel like I'm on the right path to do some great things,'' Wallace said.

But will they take place in black-and-gold? Wallace paused when asked if he'd consider re-signing with Pittsburgh.

``I don't know. We'll see,'' he said. ``But I've got big plans. No matter what the situation is I've definitely got big plans for myself and my family.''

Like several other Steelers after a rare non-winning season, those plans just might not include Pittsburgh.

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Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals head to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Caps are second in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 32-19-7, while the Kings are scraping along the bottom of the Pacific Division with a record of 23-29-6. The Caps also beat the Kings (quite recently) 6-4 on Feb. 11.

The Kings are hoping to break out of their season slump and put an end to their four-game losing streak against the Capitals during Monday evening’s 10:30 p.m. ET game.

Here is everything you need to know about Monday’s late-night matchup, which will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


CAPITALS at KINGS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Los Angeles Kings, Game 60 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Monday, Feb. 18, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at King game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Kings on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at KINGS TV SCHEDULE

9:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
10:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:30 PM: Capitals at Kings

CAPITALS at KINGS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
Lars Eller -- lower body as of Feb. 1

Kings: 
Alec Martinez -- upper body as of Feb. 15
Sean Walker -- face as of Feb. 15
Jonny Brodzinski -- shoulder as of Sept. 20

CAPITALS at KINGS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, Capitals (15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points): Last time the Caps faced the Kings (which was only one week ago), Kuznetsov contributed two goals and two assists to the Caps’ 6-4 victory. His timely goal finished out the game, essentially securing the Caps’ victory, NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Reagan reported. In the two games that have happened since, Kuznetsov has given the Caps one assist and one point. 

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovi is just shy of 40-goals and played a key role in the Caps’ latest game against the Kings. He led the team with eight shots on net, and the team captain gave the Caps the first point of the game.

CAPITALS vs. KINGS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 111
All-Time Series Record: Kings lead 60-38-13
Last Meeting: Caps win 6-4 (2/11/19)

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

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As Bryce Harper saga drags on, Mike Rizzo says focus is elsewhere

As Bryce Harper saga drags on, Mike Rizzo says focus is elsewhere

As rumors swirl that the Phillies have gained traction with Bryce Harper, Mike Rizzo spoke confidently of his current roster at spring training.

"We worry about us. We worry about the Nationals," Rizzo said at team availability. "We have a strategy and a game plan going in to each offseason.

Rizzo also said that they were prepared for this situation, and it’s not all bad.

"Our payroll is quite a bit less than it was last season, and we feel we’ve got ourselves a team that should compete in the National League to play meaningful games September and beyond," Rizzo said. "I think the front office has done a great job."

Is that meant to comfort Nationals fans preparing to mourn the end of an era? Saving money may not cushion the fall, but Mike Rizzo prioritizing those in West Palm Beach is a signal that fans should do the same.