Capitals

Titans, Jets ready to run right at each other

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Titans, Jets ready to run right at each other

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The New York Jets turned to the running game over the past month to help limit turnovers and have ground away enough to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Chris Johnson is ready to help the Titans snap a three-game losing streak if Tennessee and its new offensive coordinator can get him the ball more often.

``If the running game gets going, I can make plays in the running game and I think we can win these last three games,'' Johnson said.

The Jets and Titans sound ready for some old-school football Monday night when simply winning matters above all, even if New York has something more to play for than Tennessee. The Jets (6-7) are a game out of the AFC's sixth and final playoff seed and finish against three teams with losing records starting with the Titans (4-9).

``We're not really thinking about the playoffs right now,'' Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. ``We're just trying to string together a couple of wins. We know we have a big challenge in Nashville on Monday night. It's a good opportunity for our team to hopefully play well. I think we had a good day today. It should be fun for us.''

The Titans already are eliminated and trying to keep jobs. They also want to prove to owner Bud Adams in the process that they are improving, even if this season has been ugly on the field with losses in four of the past five games. Frustrations grew after blowing a 20-7 halftime lead last week in losing 27-23 at Indianapolis.

``We're just tired of losing,'' Titans safety Michael Griffin said. ``Everybody's motivated still to go out and play football and try to get a win.''

The Jets have done just that in winning, even if it hasn't been pretty. They have won two straight and three of four by running as much as possible, averaging 146.5 yards the past four games - fourth-best in the AFC in that stretch. It's helped take the ball away from Sanchez, who has one more interception (13) than touchdown passes (12) along with a banged-up receiving corps.

Shonn Green and Bilal Powell have been splitting the work and the yards, helping the Jets pull out ugly wins over Arizona and Jacksonville the past two games. Powell has a sore toe, but X-rays show it's not broken for some good news for New York. Now Tim Tebow's two broken ribs are feeling better, and coach Rex Ryan said that may bring the wildcat option back into play for the Jets.

``It's good, I think the run game has really picked up,'' Sanchez said.

``I think the offense played really well, exceptionally well. Early in the game, those shorter runs have yielded bigger gains later on. I'm proud of that front five and even our big guys coming in to block, the receivers look good blocking downfield. We've been, for the most part, efficient in the passing game. It's been a good combination for us.''

Sanchez also should have receiver Braylon Edwards available Monday night after being claimed off waivers from Seattle on Tuesday. He has caught eight passes for 74 yards in 10 games with Seattle and has been hampered by a sore hamstring. The Jets have thrown for 129 yards or less in six games this season, including just 104 yards in the 17-10 win at Jacksonville last week.

``Whatever the game plan dictates and however the game goes,'' Sanchez said. ``We've been fortunate to be able to run the ball well these last couple weeks. We'll take it one game at a time.''

Griffin knows what to expect from the Jets.

``I'm pretty sure they watch film and see some teams have been able to run the ball on us,'' the Titans safety said.

Tennessee is allowing 129.4 yards rushing per game, 27th in the league, and couldn't get off the field last week to get the ball back for the offense.

The Titans haven't run much the past two games since Dowell Loggains took over at coordinator. They haven't had many chances with Jake Locker turning the ball over seven times, and they also unveiled a revamped offensive line last week after losing two more starters to injuries. Left tackle Michael Roos is the only starter left from the original line.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said they definitely need to get the run game going and ease the pressure on their first-year starting quarterback.

``Yeah, it's going to be big,'' Munchak said. ``We know they're going to try to run it a lot. It should be a challenge on both ends, for us to be able to run it, and for us to be able to stop the run.''

Ryan has had his hands full trying to rally the Jets, who started the season with high expectations but haven't been above .500 since their 2-1 start. He's looking ahead only to this game.

``We've just been trying to get our team to improve, and that's really where my focus has been,'' Ryan said.

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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.

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 sign John Carlson? That’s unclear—even with the ceiling going up to 79.5 million—but it certainly 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 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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