2013 Preview: Detroit Tigers

2013 Preview: Detroit Tigers

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Today: the Detroit Tigers. The Big Question: Are the Tigers the American League’s best team? Last season the Tigers won 88 games,…

Cravens to accept "challenge," wear Sean Taylor's rookie number

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Cravens to accept "challenge," wear Sean Taylor's rookie number

The majority of highlights from Sean Taylor's career, whether he's walloping a helpless receiver or intercepting a pass from a quarterback foolish enough to test him, come from the days when he wore No. 21. However, some may forget that the gifted safety actually donned No. 36 as a rookie back in 2004, before transitioning to his more familiar digits in 2005. 

Nowadays, Taylor's 21 isn't officially retired, but's it's essentially untouchable. So for Redskins players who want to honor the talented defender — Ryan Clark is a recent example of one who did — they have to go about it in creative ways (Clark, for one, sported the famous number in practice).

Well, rookie Su'a Cravens, who was drafted by the franchise in the second round on Friday, is getting creative. On Sunday, the USC standout announced he was going to pay respect to the Burgundy and Gold legend in his own right by taking the field in the same No. 36 that Taylor debuted in. The news came around the time that it was revealed the versatile Cravens would be listed on the roster as a safety, another thing that he shares with the Pro-Bowler he idolizes.

Here are some tweets from the 20-year-old detailing his decision and what it means to him:

Showing love to Taylor is nothing new for the Los Angeles native, though. It was something he did in college as well:

Cravens has certainly wasted no time since getting every prospect's dream phone call in endearing himself to his new team's fans. He's already said that he's "so damn hyped to be a Redskin" and called the passion of Washington's supporters "unreal." But it's his latest choice that will really have people enthused, as understanding and acknowledging Taylor's talents are surefire ways to become a favorite in D.C.

It's clear Cravens knows his uniform selection means a lot to the city he'll be suiting up for. And it's clear he's ready for the expectations that'll come along with it. Sure, he's only been a Redskin for a few days, but Cravens is already making an impression.

MORE REDSKINS: GRADING THE 2016 DRAFT CLASS

Orpik suspended 3 games for Maatta hit

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Orpik suspended 3 games for Maatta hit

PITTSBURGH -- Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik has been suspended three games for his shoulder-on-chin hit on Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in Saturday night’s 2-1 playoff loss at Verizon Center, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Sunday.

Orpik will miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the second-round playoff series, which resumes Monday night at Consol Energy Center.

“Brooks is a key part for us on the penalty kill but we finished second in the regular season with missing Brooks for 40 games,” Capitals left wing Daniel Winnik said before the suspension was announced.

“We’ve got guys that can fill his role. Who knows what’s going to happen for him, but I’m sure everyone is planning for him to not be in the lineup.”    

Maatta, who suffered an apparent concussion on the play, was being evaluated on Sunday. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he is unlikely to play on Monday.

Orpik’s hearing occurred at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, shortly after the Capitals arrived at their hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. It is the first suspension for Orpik since he was suspended three games in 2006 for checking Carolina’s Erik Cole from behind. He also received a one-game suspension in 2003.

"Orpy's an honest hockey player,” Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson said Sunday from the team’s hotel. “He plays tough and hard and honest, I think. You know, sometimes stuff happens, I guess."

RELATED: Penguins had a 'heightened desperation' in Game 2

Orpik, 35, has played in five of the Capitals’ eight playoff games and has no points, a minus-3 rating and six penalty minutes while averaging 20:15 of ice time a game, including 1:45 per game on the penalty kill. 

The Capitals have the option of replacing Orpik with 28-year-old veteran Mike Weber or 24-year-old Dmitry Orlov. Weber, who played in Game 6 against the Flyers in Round 1, seems more likely because of his ability to kill penalties. Orlov played in all 82 regular season games and the first seven games of the playoffs before he was made a healthy scratch in Game 2 against the Penguins. Orlov was on the ice for a goal by Penguins defneseman Ben Lovejoy midway through Game 1 and saw just one shift the rest of the game.

Taylor Chorney replaced Orlov in Game 2 and logged 10:10 of ice time, including 40 seconds on the penalty kill. In three playoff games Chorney has averaged 11:40 of ice time and is a minus-1 with two minor penalties.

If Maatta cannot play, the Penguins may choose between Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot. Schultz, 25, has just one game of NHL playoff experience, logging just 5:52 of ice time in Game 1 against the Rangers on April 13. Pouliot, 22, has just 56 games of NHL experience and has never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game.

"We have a couple of guys that are with us right now that are good players that have helped us win," Sullivan said. "The coaching staff is going to decide which guy we put in there that we think is the best to help us win."

Schultz played in the Pens’ final 18 games of the regular season and appears the most likely to replace Maatta.

"Justin's another puck mover," Sullivan said. "He's a guy that can help us get out of our end zone. He has a real good shot. He can join the rush. He can play on the power play. So, he has the ability to help us in a lot of areas.

"I really like his shooting ability. He has a great one-timer. He can help us in that regard, but once again, he's another guy that we could put in the lineup that's a real good puck mover that can make that first pass and help us get out of our end zone."

Whoever replaces Maatta, look for veteran Trevor Daley to be paired with Kris Letang on the Penguins’ top defensive unit.

Letang logged a game-high 34:02 of ice time in Game 1 and 35:22 in Game 2 and was back on the ice for the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday in nearby Cranberry Twp.

“He’s a freak,” Lovejoy said after Saturday night’s game. 

“We are so lucky to have a guy like him. He was able to absorb basically all of Olli’s minutes tonight. He was the best player on the ice, like he’s been since Christmas time.”

Caps left wing Daniel Winnik said the Caps made it too easy on Letang in Game 2, allowing him to break out of his own zone without enough physical consequence. That, Winnik said, must change in Game 3 Monday night.    

“When you have a chance to dump the puck in you want to try to put it in his corner,” Winnik said. “I don’t think that’s a secret throughout the NHL. You see it with a lot of top defensemen. We try to make them work as much as we can. Last night I don’t think we did a good job of that as a forward group. I didn’t think we spent enough time in the (offensive) zone. That’s pretty evident with the shots on net (35-24 in favor of Pittsburgh). If we do that he probably can’t play 35 minutes. We made it an easy game for him last night.”

MORE CAPITALS: WILLIAMS: 'WE WERE GETTING EMBARRASSED OUT THERE'

Projected Maryland starter announces transfer via social media

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Projected Maryland starter announces transfer via social media

Maryland linebacker Abner Logan intends to transfer out of the program and expend his final year of college eligibility elsewhere, he announced via Instagram on Saturday. 

"I want to thank everyone that has stood by me and supported me throughout my career at Maryland," he wrote. "I especially want to acknowledge the unbelievable bond I've created with my brothers that will last a lifetime."

Logan, a native of Massachusetts, was a four-star recruit out of high school, rated as the 24th-best outside lineback in the country according to Rivals.com. He redshirted his first season at Maryland in 2012 and played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013. 

In May 2014, Logan was placed on disciplinary probation. He appealed the ruling in October of that year and was cleared to play in the team's final seven games. He did not play in 2015 after tearing his ACL during preseason camp.

He was projected to be a starter for Maryland in the linebacking corps under new head coach DJ Durkin in 2016. 

Players who attain their degree with college eligibility still remaining can transfer to another institution and play immediately under the graduate transfer exemption. The linebacker's message on Instagram appears to reflect that the grad transfer route is part of his plan going forward.