Redskins

49ers K David Akers looks to return to top form

49ers K David Akers looks to return to top form

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The last thing David Akers wants to do is let down his team. And he's not sure why he even needs to publicly say as much.

Akers has been kicking footballs for a living long enough to know there are some rough stretches - and he is in a bit of one for the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers.

Only a year ago, Akers seemed almost perfect, and he practically was: setting an NFL single-season record with 44 field goals, and missing just eight kicks. This season, he is 15 for 21 - and was wide left on a 41-yard try in overtime of last Sunday's 24-24 tie with the Rams that would have won the game.

No blaming this wayward kick on the Candlestick Park wind or any other elements. He just missed.

``I wish I could use that,'' Akers said this week, regrouping for Monday night's key NFC game against the Chicago Bears. ``It's something I've always been successful at. And when you don't, and you let down your teammates and fans and the organization, absolutely it bothers you. I kicked very well in practice and had a great preseason. And then it's been kind of a roller coaster.''

Not that his teammates are worried. Many are still surprised the Eagles let Akers go after 12 years in Philadelphia.

``David is one of the best kickers to ever play this game, so I don't think there's one guy in here who batted an eyelash or looked at David with any type of malice,'' wide receiver Kyle Williams said. ``I think he is probably the hardest guy on himself and that's about it. Dave's probably, we can argue, the best kicker to ever play the game. Bottom line.''

Akers, a six-time Pro-Bowler in his 15th NFL season out of Louisville, was considered among the 49ers' most important offseason acquisitions when they signed him to a three-year deal in late July 2011 - right up there with NFL Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh.

He showed just why from Day 1, and the rest of the way as San Francisco fell just short of reaching the Super Bowl in a 20-17 overtime loss in the NFC title game to the eventual champion New York Giants.

Aside from his 44 made field goals last season, Akers also set a record for most attempted at 52 and most points without a touchdown with 166. That far surpassed the 49ers' previous best for overall points - by Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, no less. Rice scored 138 points in 1987.

Sometimes, a kicker, or any other player, gets the breaks. Sometimes not.

``I put a lot of time and effort into this craft and it's been a little different than I'm used to,'' said Akers, who turns 38 on Dec. 9. ``If my season and my career were to end today, I'd feel like I've given it my all. I hope it doesn't. I hope to get back on the horse and do a great job for the 49ers and the fans and the team this year.''

Just more than two months ago, in San Francisco's season-opening win at Green Bay, Akers booted a 63-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar and through the uprights.

In the moment, Akers' mouth fell open and his eyes popped as he threw his arms into the air in both celebration and disbelief. His teammates proceeded to mob him after the record-tying kick.

Akers called it ``a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'' He is showing now that he is human, too.

``You go through it. You're either the hero or the goat,'' Akers said. ``And that's kind of the business we're in. You just have to kind of take that in stride and try to gnaw on it if you don't do well. And if you do well, you understand that it was one kick, and you don't get too high about it.''

Akers acknowledges he has misjudged kicks a couple of times this season based on the wind, then tried to overadjust at other times and come up short. Against the Rams, it was none of that.

``This one over the weekend, I just wanted to smooth it and came off the ball a little bit,'' he said. ``You can second guess yourself all the time. You try to take the situation and make the best decision for that time about how to approach the ball. Obviously, I didn't get a chance to re-kick that. ... You know, you try to set it up for each kick and do the best you can and, obviously, I didn't do what I needed to do at that time.''

Harbaugh doesn't seem concerned that Akers is experiencing any confidence issues.

``No, not that I'm aware of,'' the coach said. ``I'm not pinpointing any reason why. I have no indication that he's not confident, either.''

Akers' calm demeanor has served him well over the years, and he hasn't changed much during his career when it comes to technique or approach.

The 49ers are counting on Akers getting back in his usual groove down the stretch as they look to defend their division crown and chase a first-round playoff bye. And Monday night's matchup with the Bears very well could be decided with his leg.

``Akers is going to be a big part of that game if we're past the 50 making those field goals,'' cornerback Carlos Rogers said.

Akers sure plans to deliver the next chance he gets.

``The No. 1 thing is, whether you drive a kick or miss a kick, I know it affects the outcome of the game for the organization and my teammates,'' he said. ``You go from one high to a low and that's not what you want to do. It's not what you want to do as a professional. It's not what you want to do as a competitor. I want to win and be able to feel good that I'm part of the team, you know?''

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry - what does it mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry - what does it mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the Top  5 paid receivers in the NFL. They can also trade Landry, and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical, few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins, but certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. $$$$Wide Receivers$$$$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

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The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.