Raiders

Redskins long snapper plays through broken arm

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Redskins long snapper plays through broken arm

From Comcast SportsNet

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Late in the third quarter of Robert Griffin III's NFL debut, Washington Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg grabbed the rookie quarterback on the sideline and made a request.

"I know we're rolling right now, but keep it up," Sundberg said he told Griffin. "Because I don't want to go out there for another punt."

This wasn't a teammate simply urging the offense to score more points. Sundberg was in pain.

It'll go down as the other remarkable performance in RG3's stellar first game. Sundberg broke his left arm in the first half and continued to play -- snapping the ball four times for punts, twice for field goals and twice for extra points in the second half of Washington's 40-32 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

"We've got a story to tell to our kids and our grandkids, how we played with a guy who played a whole game with a broken arm," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said Monday. "I'm going to remember both. RG3's going to come first, obviously, because that's what they're going to ask me about, but when my grandson scrapes his knee, I'll tell him about the guy who played with a broken arm."

Sundberg was hurt when his arm was squeezed between a helmet and a facemask during the punt that was blocked by the Saints and returned for a touchdown. He knew immediately what had happened because he broke the same bone in high school. The doctors on the sideline kept urging him to get an X-ray, but Sundberg instead kept asking for something to ease the pain so he could keep playing.

"I think at the end of the day you've got to look at yourself and see what you're made of," Sundberg said. "It was terrible, but I felt like I really didn't have another option."

The Redskins -- like most NFL teams -- have only one top-notch long snapper on the roster. Will Montgomery is listed as the backup, but that's mainly because someone has to be the backup. The team will have to sign another snapper if Sundberg can't play, which appears likely now that he's been fitted with a large cast that will make snapping difficult.

Sundberg said he got hit on the broken arm a few more times during the game. Yes, it hurt.

"It's one of those things you've kind of got to keep telling yourself it doesn't hurt, it doesn't hurt, it doesn't hurt," he said. "At some point, you convince yourself: There's only a few more minutes left, only a couple more snaps, I can get through it, I can get through it."

Then came that conversation with Griffin in the third quarter, which naturally caught the rookie off guard.

"He was like, What do you mean?'" Sundberg said. "Dude, my arm hurts so bad, and it hurts so much worse to throw punt snaps. I was like, Don't make us punt again.' Then we kind of laughed about it, and I was like: I'm serious.' He's like, Oh.' No pressure rookie, but I don't want to punt again."

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

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USATSI

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.