Capitals

Titans lose another starter for season to injury

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Titans lose another starter for season to injury

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee's offensive line is what coach Mike Munchak calls a ``work in progress'' now that right tackle David Stewart is the third starter lost to injury.

Center Eugene Amano tore his right triceps in August, and right guard Leroy Harris' season ended in November with a right knee injury. Then Stewart broke his right leg on the team's third offensive play in their 24-10 loss to Houston on Sunday.

And those aren't even all the injuries on the line.

Munchak said Monday they were waiting for test results on left guard Steve Hutchinson's right knee, but will need to add more offensive linemen. When left tackle Michael Roos hurt his knee and came out for a play, Hutchinson returned with the rest of the line scrambled as the Titans (4-8) lost their second straight and fourth in five games.

``It seems like this is one of those years where what can go wrong is going wrong, and we're getting challenged in a lot of different ways,'' Munchak said.

When Roos hurt his knee with 9:13 left in the third quarter that left the Titans with limited options. Mike Otto, who had replaced Stewart, moved to left tackle. Center Fernando Velasco, who hadn't played tackle since high school, moved to right tackle, with Hutchinson coming back at left guard and Kevin Matthews sliding to center.

``It seemed like I was the only one standing and everybody else just kind of fell out,'' right guard Deuce Lutui said. ``At the time, you just kind of wonder who's coming in and if I even have to make a move.''

With Stewart out, the Texans batted down even more passes. All the injuries led to Jake Locker being sacked six times and hit a total of eight times, leading him to lose two fumbles and three interceptions. Locker had been sacked only five times in his previous six starts.

``You never want to see your quarterback take a beating like that,'' Velasco said. ``That's our job as offensive linemen. I know it comes with running backs and tight ends and all, but as an offensive line, that's what we take to heart not to let our quarterback get hit like that and to protect our quarterback. ... We didn't do a very good job at it.''

Both Munchak and Velasco took issue with a hit Velasco took from Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith on the Titans' final offensive play, their sixth and final turnover. Officials flagged Smith for a personal foul, and Locker took up for his lineman by confronting Smith. Velasco called it ``very, very cheap shot'' and said that he hopes the NFL fines Smith.

Munchak, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, didn't mince words.

``Totally unnecessary. Uncalled for. No place in the game for it. All those things,'' he said. ``They threw the flag. Obviously they saw it. I'm sure there'll be some consequences to that. That's just totally out of line.''

Now the Titans (4-8), who visit Indianapolis (8-4) on Sunday, have to wait and see if Hutchinson can play before figuring out who starts on the offensive line. Munchak said the veteran might play or could miss a game or two. They also have to correct issues that included at least six dropped passes.

The Titans are another loss away from their second losing season in three years. Munchak led them to a 9-7 record in his first year, and finishing this stretch strong may be a bigger challenge than starting cold as a head coach coming off a lockout, as he did in 2011.

He said the best compliments he got as a player came in seasons with only a handful of wins. Munchak wants to finish strong and insists nobody will be quitting with future jobs on the line.

``You hope if you have to go through a season like this like we're going right now, you hope that you can look back and say there was some good that came out of this. For us right now all you can look at, you've got four weeks left. The goal is to be a lot better in four weeks than you are right now. I mean that's all you can work on. We can't take back the past,'' Munchak said.

``The question is again can we win all four? We'll see.''

NOTES: Munchak also said safety Robert Johnson may be done for the season after tearing ligaments in his foot. ... DE Kamerion Wimbley was having tests after hurting a big toe late against Houston. ... WR Damian Williams hurt a hamstring when he tried to pull up and avoid hitting a stadium worker on the sideline late in the first half.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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