One of the NFL's best runners wants a trade

One of the NFL's best runners wants a trade

From Comcast SportsNet
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout appears far from over. His agent, Adisa Bakari, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Jacksonville Jaguars running back is upset with owner Shad Khan's recent public comments about his client's 27-day holdout. "Maurice wants to play for an organization that wants him and for an owner who respects him and values what he brings to a team -- on the field, in the locker room and in the community," Bakari said. ESPN reported that Jones-Drew is open to being traded. When asked Tuesday whether he would trade Jones-Drew, Khan said he is "not going to get into all the theses and hypotheses." Khan added that Jones-Drew is "a great player, and we would love for him to be back." Last week, however, Khan said MJD's absence "doesn't even move the needle" in terms of stress. Khan reiterated his stance Tuesday by saying, "This is not a team about one person." His message to Jones-Drew? "Train's leaving the station. Run, get on it," Khan said. Bakari made it clear that those statements don't sit well with Jacksonville's biggest star. "Obviously, he's not happy that what started as a very cordial and private conversation is now public and contentious," Bakari said. Now, with both sides seemingly digging their heels in as deeply as possibly, it is unclear when or if Jones-Drew will show up in Jacksonville. The Jaguars open the season Sept. 9 at Minnesota. Jones-Drew's holdout is fairly simple. He wants a new deal after leading the NFL with 1,606 yards rushing last season. He has two years remaining on a five-year, front-loaded contract worth 31 million. He is scheduled to make 4.45 million this season and 4.95 million in 2013. Khan and general manager Gene Smith insist they have no plans to negotiate a new deal with MJD, not wanting to set a precedent of paying players with two years remaining on lucrative deals that included large signing bonuses. Jones-Drew skipped the team's entire offseason workout program, including a mandatory, three-day minicamp last month. If new coach Mike Mularkey is fining Jones-Drew the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement -- 20,000 for each day of minicamp and 30,000 for each day since training camp opened -- the total is up to 870,000. Mularkey said Tuesday he has had no recent contact with Jones-Drew or his agent. Coming off a career year, Jones-Drew wants to be one of the NFL's highest-paid backs. His average salary per year ranks behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Tennessee's Chris Johnson, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, Houston's Arian Foster, St. Louis' Steven Jackson, Carolina's DeAngelo Williams and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch. Both sides have valid arguments. Jones-Drew signed his deal in 2009, before rushing for at least 1,300 yards in three consecutive seasons. Not only has he seemingly outperformed his contract, MJD is the face of the franchise and probably the only player on the roster known outside small-market Jacksonville. The Jaguars, meanwhile, paid him based on the expectation that he would flourish as a starter after spending the first three years of his career splitting carries with Fred Taylor. The team isn't enamored with paying a running back into his 30s, especially one who takes as many pounding hits as Jones-Drew does. Plus, the Jaguars have missed the playoffs in each of his three seasons as the starter. Jones-Drew is entering his seventh season. He has 6,854 yards rushing, 2,473 yards receiving and 74 total touchdowns. He carried a career-high 343 times last season, averaging 4.7 yards even though defenses knew he was the focal point of Jacksonville's offense.

Quick Links

Shootout practice pays off for Caps on Thursday night

Shootout practice pays off for Caps on Thursday night

On Monday, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz dedicated a portion of practice to working on the shootout.

Why?

A couple of reasons: The Caps haven’t been good at them this season and that extra point might just come in handy given how tight the standings have become.

On Thursday night, that extra work paid off in a pivotal 2-1 shootout win over the visiting Blue Jackets.

RELATED: Caps put distance between them and divisional foes

With the win, the Caps improved to 2-5 in games decided by the skills competition. More important, though, it helped Washington grow its lead over Pittsburgh and Columbus to two and three standings points, respectively, with nine games left to play.

“Winning in a shootout, which we have not been good at all year, Holts was the guy,” Trotz said, referring to Braden Holtby, who had not won a shootout in five tries. “That was great. That extra point might be huuuge. It might be absolutely huge.”

Of the practice, Trotz said: “It’s paying dividends. We’re working on parts of our game that we need to make sure that we are good at.”

The Caps’ leading scorer and penalty shot specialist, T.J. Oshie, scored the only goal in the shootout. In the 2014 Sochi Games, Oshie beat Bobrovsky four times in penalty shots to lift the United States over Russia. Three times he went 5-hole.

“I thought about it for five seconds, maybe,” Oshie said Thursday night. “I was going to come in and do something different from what I remembered. I saw something different and decided to go 5-hole.”

Oshie added: “I felt pretty fortunate, and luckily that’s the only one we needed because Holts shut the door on the other end.”

Holtby, meantime, made saves on both of the Columbus attempts that were on goal. Another missed the net.

Afterward, the veteran goalie credited the extra work on Monday. In that practice session, Trotz asked Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Kevin Shattenkirk, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams to take two shots each on Holtby, who was watched closely by the coaching staff.

“We worked on it a little bit,” Holtby said. “It’s something that I try not to fiddle around with too much because I don’t want it creeping into my regular game because a breakaway is totally different than a shootout. But with the race getting pretty close, [in case we had] another one, we worked on it a couple of days ago in practice to try and get a little better at that for the stretch run.”

And they did get a little better at it. And just at the right time.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps win goalie duel in shootou

Quick Links

Caps put some distance between them and divisional foes in pivotal win

Caps put some distance between them and divisional foes in pivotal win

While the Caps established themselves as the top team in the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins have managed to keep pace with them leading to a three-team race for supremacy of the division. On Thursday, the Caps managed to give themselves a little breathing room.

Washington defeated Columbus 2-1 in a shootout. While it was not the "four-point" game the Caps perhaps had hoped, it still extended their lead over the Blue Jackets by a point.

The Ottawa Senators also did Washington a favor on Thursday by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ironically enough, the score of that game was also 2-1 in a shootout.

RELATED: Caps win goalie duel in shootout

While all three Metropolitan leaders did manage to get points on the night, Washingotn was the only one to get two, meaning they extended their lead over both teams by one. It also means neither Columbus or Pittsburgh registered a regulation or overtime win (ROW). ROW is the first tiebreaker in the standings which could prove critical in such a tight race.

After Thursday's games, here is what the top three of the Metropolitan looks like:

1. Washington: 48-17-8, 104 points, 46 ROW
2. Pittsburgh: 46-17-10, 102 points, 43 ROW
3. Columbus: 47-19-7, 101 points, 45 ROW

With eight games remaining, that's not much breathing room for the Caps. Considering, however, that Washington could have left Thursday tied for second in the division, they certainly will take Thursday's result.

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals are trying to get their game to an elite level