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Drills in South Korea and the United States have been scaled back due to the outbreak, and North Korean diplomacy has been hampered.

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Drills in South Korea and the United States have been scaled back due to the outbreak, and North Korean diplomacy has been hampered.

 

Officials said Sunday that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to help diplomacy focused on North Korea’s nuclear program, the South Korean and US militaries are scaling back their annual exercises this month.

The allies agreed to launch the nine-day drills on Monday, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, after considering factors such as the status of the pandemic and diplomatic efforts to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The drills, according to the statement, are defensive in nature and will primarily consist of tabletop exercises and simulations with no field training.

After some of their soldiers were contaminated with the coronavirus last year, the allies cancelled their spring exercises. In recent years, the countries have also halted or reduced many of their normal training programs in order to make room for the now-stalled US-led diplomatic effort to persuade North Korea to denuclearize in exchange for economic and political benefits.

Drills between the United States and South Korea have stoked tensions on the peninsula, with North Korea seeing them as invasion rehearsals and responding with its own missile tests. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged the US to end its aggressive policy and South Korea to stop joint drills with the US in January, warning that how they act would determine the fate of their ties with North Korea.

According to some analysts, if Kim feels provoked by the upcoming drills, one of two major military exercises between Seoul and Washington along with their summertime training, he might resume high-profile missile tests and raise tensions.

Since a February 2019 summit between Kim and then-President Donald Trump collapsed due to wrangling over US-led sanctions on North Korea, the nuclear talks have been frozen for nearly two years. The government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which mediated the early stages of the US-North Korean talks, has called for a resumption of the talks as well as stronger inter-Korean relations.

Because of the pandemic, Seoul and Washington agreed to “minimize” the number of troops involved in this month’s exercises, according to a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer.

According to the officer, who requested anonymity due to a department regulation, the allies have been staging field exercises during the year to maintain their readiness rather than holding them intensively throughout those months, presumably referring to the spring and summer drills.

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WATCH: Broncos’ Javonte Williams’ 9-yard touchdown run against Chargers

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WATCH: Broncos’ Javonte Williams’ 9-yard touchdown run against Chargers

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Dolphins crush Panthers behind Tua-Waddle connection, win fourth straight

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Dolphins crush Panthers behind Tua-Waddle connection, win fourth straight

The Miami Dolphins showed their midseason momentum is real and displayed what can become of the young Alabama connection of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and receiver Jaylen Waddle.

In a key game to determine if the Dolphins could legitimately swing their sudden surge into a reinsertion in the AFC playoff conversation, they responded. Clicking on all cylinders in a 33-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami won its fourth consecutive game.

The Dolphins, after starting 1-7, now find themselves at 5-7 with home games against the lowly New York Giants (4-7) and Jets (3-8) on the horizon and a path to getting back to .500 looking more and more realistic, especially after demoralizing the Panthers (5-7).

Tagovailoa completed just under 90 percent of his passes, going 27 of 31 for 230 yards and a touchdown. More than half of that passing yardage went to Waddle, the rookie wideout who finished with nine receptions for 137 yards and the touchdown. It all came against a Carolina pass defense that entered Sunday ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

The Dolphins defense held the Panthers to pedestrian numbers. Starting quarterback Cam Newton was 5 of 21 for 92 yards, two interceptions and a rushing touchdown. Star running back Christian McCaffrey was held to 35 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Miami finished outgaining the Carolina, 315-198. The Dolphins held the Panthers to 4 of 12 on third downs, forced three turnovers on defense and even scored on special teams.

A pair of second-quarter touchdowns gave the Dolphins a 21-7 lead. First, Waddle caught a 9-yard touchdown from Tagovailoa that followed an interception and return into the red zone by cornerback Xavien Howard.

Later in the half, Waddle’s 57-yard catch and run over the middle from Tagovailoa eventually set up running back Myles Gaskin to score on a direct snap for a 3-yard touchdown. It was one of two Gaskin rushing scores out of the Wildcat, adding on from 3 yards out again in the third quarter.

Before halftime, The Dolphins were in position to add to the two-touchdown lead, but it backfired when center Austin Reiter skipped a shotgun snap past Tagovailoa that Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu recovered and ran the other way to the Miami 23-yard line. Receiver Isaiah Ford made a touchdown-saving tackle, but it left a second on the clock for a Zane Gonzalez 41-yard field goal. Miami led, 21-10, at halftime.

The Dolphins struck first on special teams when linebacker Duke Riley blocked a first-quarter punt deep in Panthers’ territory that cornerback Justin Coleman recovered for a touchdown. Riley also had a big third-down hit on Panthers receiver DJ Moore that forced the punt.

Carolina answered with a Newton 1-yard rushing touchdown that was set up by a long pass for 64 yards from Newton to Moore, who got open over the top on what appeared to be a miscommunication between Howard and fellow cornerback Byron Jones, both on the same side with no safety help.

Miami’s secondary recovered from there, intercepting Newton twice in the first half. Rookie safety Jevon Holland had the first one while Howard had the later one that set up the Waddle touchdown.

The Dolphins got to the Panthers’ 24-yard line on their opening possession, but former American Heritage High and FSU standout Brian Burns swooped past right tackle Jesse Davis for a strip-sack of Tagovailoa. Davis recovered the fumble, which was followed by a Michael Palardy punt to the Carolina 5-yard line before the Miami special teams score.

Aside from the Howard and Holland interceptions, cornerback Nik Needham had a diving interception late against Panthers backup quarterback PJ Walker. Jaelan Phillips had three sacks, and Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins added one apiece.

Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders made a pair of fourth-quarter field goals, but he also missed an extra point off the upright.

Sunday’s game was only the seventh meeting all time between the Dolphins and Panthers. Carolina, a 1996 expansion franchise in the NFC, is Miami’s least-faced opponent in the NFL.

The Dolphins host the Giants next Sunday before their bye week.

This story will be updated.

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Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater exits Chargers game with leg injury, is replaced by Drew Lock

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Broncos squander opportunity to enter bye with momentum, fall back to where they should be (.500)

Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater exited Sunday’s game against the Chargers with a lower leg injury in the first quarter, and was replaced by Drew Lock.

Bridgewater was hurt when Los Angeles safety Derwin James came in untouched from the blind side to crunch Bridgewater as he threw. The play was initially ruled a strip-sack, but was later changed to an incomplete pass after further review.

Lock came in for Bridgewater the next play. After trainers examined Bridgewater on the sideline, he hobbled to the locker room. He was ruled questionable to return.

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