Redskins

Arizona's Kolb says he's fine, ready to face Bills

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Arizona's Kolb says he's fine, ready to face Bills

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) When last seen by most of the country, Kevin Kolb was probably on his backside after absorbing one of a multitude of hits in the Arizona offense's worst performance of the season.

Kolb pronounced himself fine Wednesday, fully recovered from the punishment he endured in that 17-3 Thursday night loss at St. Louis, Arizona's first defeat of the season. The Cardinals scored the fewest points in a game since they lost 13-3 to the New York Jets in 2004, Dennis Green's first season coaching the Arizona

It helps that Kolb had a couple of extra days to shake off the effects of that physical drubbing the Rams put on the Arizona offense.

``It is nice. It was nice for everybody, not just myself,'' Kolb said after practice. ``We've got a lot of little of dings, as does every team in the NFL, but as hard it was to play in that turnaround Thursday night, it is nice to have a few days off to relax and get your body back right.''

An already sputtering offense took a hit when running back Ryan Williams injured his left shoulder, putting him out for the rest of the season. The team already is without running back Beanie Wells for at least five games with a turf toe.

Their absence from already was an anemic ground game and the presence of a porous offensive line leave Kolb in a precarious spot.

Then there is the improving health of John Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the starting job this year. Skelton went down with a sprained right ankle late in the game and Kolb came on to direct the winning drive in the season opener over Seattle.

Skelton said he's about 90 percent healthy and could play if circumstances warranted it this weekend.

Kolb threw 50 passes against the Rams, and was slammed down on most, if not all, of them. Fifty passes are too many, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

``That's going to give you issues. I don't want to do that,'' Whisenhunt said. ``I'd like to sit here and say if we have to do it, we'll do it, but I don't want to do it.''

Kolb, a football gunslinger by nature, says he will throw 50 again, if necessary.

``You don't want to, especially in this league'' Kolb said, ``but you do what you have to do. We've seen teams win a lot of ways in this league, so we'll do whatever it takes.'

The Cardinals' offense could get some reinforcement this week. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, out for two weeks with a hip injury, ``participated fully'' in practice, Whisenhunt said, although he was listed as limited in the injury report.

Tight ends Todd Heap and Jim Drey also were limited. Their return would double the number of tight ends available to help with the blocking, especially on the edge where tackles D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie have struggled so much.

Keeping tight ends in to help protect Arizona's quarterback is an option, although like anything else, a team can't rely on it too much. The same, Kolb said, goes for a three-step drop.

The sack issues, Kolb said, are the responsibility of the entire team.

``Obviously, the line, they get blamed for it,'' he said. ``It's on me. It's on communication from the very beginning, which has been good most of the time, from backs, the tight ends. It's a team effort, and unfortunately the offensive line, they take the brunt of that whenever we have games like that.''

Whisenhunt said improvement on the line can come with scheming the opposition and get better play from the linemen.

``A little bit of both,'' he said. ``I think that there is only so much you can do when you're down and you're trying to catch up. You have to spread it out and throw it, and that's where we've given up some of those sacks.

``There's no question we've got to do a better job in our protection schemes and we've got to do a better job in our techniques. That's what we've been working on and we worked on it some today.''

Despite all those issues, the Cardinals are, after all, 4-1 and tied with San Francisco for first in the greatly improved NFC West. They haven't been 5-1 in 36 years.

Kolb knows that the offense has to get it going against a Buffalo team that has been outscored 90-17 in the last six quarters.

The Cardinals didn't add a running back after Williams went down, choosing to get by with what they have - the trio of Stephens-Howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith.

The versatile but small Stephens-Howling stepped out of his situational duties to become the No. 1 back when Wells was sidelined in last season's finale against Seattle. He gained 93 yards in 23 carries, both career highs, in Arizona's 23-20 overtime victory.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: