Capitals

Urlacher says again he'd lie about concussion

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Urlacher says again he'd lie about concussion

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Brian Urlacher wasn't backing down. Chicago's star linebacker would still lie to cover up a concussion.

Urlacher raised a few more eyebrows on Thursday when he reiterated what he told HBO earlier in the year, and it didn't seem to matter to him that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is recovering from that same injury.

His stance remains the same.

``Yeah,'' he said when asked if he would lie to cover up a concussion.

Coach Lovie Smith wasn't quite sure how to respond to a question about Urlacher's comment.

``I don't think players will cover up an injury, so that's what I make of it,'' Smith said. ``I didn't hear Brian say that, so I don't know exactly what you're talking about. I just know when Brian has been injured, when he hurt his knee he came out, and every other injury I assume he's had he's come out. That's what I'm going with.''

Urlacher acknowledged it would be tough to cover up a concussion while questioning whether newer helmets really were cutting down on such injuries, and he added that the NFL needs to do a better job protecting players from knee injuries.

He said there are points in most games where a player is woozy from a hit, where ``you're like, whoa, that was a good one.''

But, he also said: ``I don't know how you can lie these days with all the (stuff) they have to see who's concussed and who's not. I don't know how they can tell in the first place. I think the helmets aren't very good. I wear an old helmet and Lance (Briggs) wears an old helmet. We don't get concussed. We have some pretty good collisions, we don't get concussed. I think a lot of it has to do with the helmets. They're saying they're better but they must not be because people are getting more concussions now.''

Urlacher said he suffered a concussion against Denver in 2003 but didn't miss any games that season.

``I've been lucky,'' he said.

Cutler wasn't so fortunate on Sunday. The Bears believe he suffered his concussion when Houston's Tim Dobbins nailed him with a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half that forced him to sit out the final two quarters of a loss to the Texans. His status for Monday's game against San Francisco is in question, and if he's not available, Jason Campbell figures to start in his place.

That could leave both teams without their starting quarterbacks, because the 49ers' Alex Smith is also recovering from a concussion he suffered last week.

Head injuries and the long-term effects are a hot-button issue in sports, particularly in the NFL. The league has cracked down on flagrant hits in recent years and toughened its guidelines for treating players with concussion symptoms. Cutler and Smith need to be cleared to return by their team physicians and independent neurological consultants.

The issue has been getting plenty of attention this week in Chicago, but Urlacher would like to see the league focus more on the knees. Specifically, he'd like to see cut blocks banned.

``But that seems to be OK with the NFL so they're not too concerned about safety, obviously,'' he said. ``They are concerned about long-term concussions, but immediately they're not concerned about your knees or your ankles or anything like that. I think that should be an issue. Concussions are taking care of themselves. It's a big deal now to everyone because of all the older players coming back and saying they're all messed up now. That's definitely an issue, but I think the cut blocks need to be a big issue as well.''

Isn't there a big difference between a head injury and knee injury?

``Huge,'' Urlacher said. ``Because a knee injury puts you out for a season, a concussion you may miss a game or two. Huge difference.''

Then, he acknowledged the long-term impact of head injuries.

``That's why you have to judge,'' Urlacher said. ``If you don't want to play if you get concussed, then don't play. It's your career. It's your life.''

On the knee issue, defensive end Israel Idonije agreed ``100 percent.''

``We all know that, though,'' he said. ``It's an offensive game. Ultimately, a lot of the rules that are put in are put in place to advance the offense. And defensively, we're second fiddle at times. That's just the nature of the game. So hopefully the bodies that govern the rules and protections do a better job of taking the injuries that the players on defense consistently sustain, they take those seriously and remove some of those elements from the game as well.''

But when it comes to concussions?

Defensive end Corey Wootton was just as adamant as Urlacher. Would he lie?

``No, I wouldn't,'' Wootton said.

He said he's discussed the issue with former teammate Hunter Hillenmeyer, whose career was cut short by concussions. He also mentioned Dave Duerson, one of the stars on the 1985 championship team who suffered from the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

``This is not what we're going to be doing for the rest of our lives,'' Wootton said. ``A lot of people have families and want to have families eventually, want to play with their kids and live a long life.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

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