Redskins

Bills CB McKelvin eager for latest chance to start

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Bills CB McKelvin eager for latest chance to start

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Out of the doghouse and back in the Buffalo Bills' starting lineup, cornerback Leodis McKelvin is determined to prove himself no matter how daunting a challenge it will be to prepare for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

McKelvin can't pick and choose his opponents nor control the circumstances behind why he's risen up the depth chart. He's jumped ahead of two injured players: starter Aaron Williams and veteran backup Terrence McGee.

So if the game at New England (5-3) on Sunday marks the 2008 first-round draft pick's latest - and potentially last - chance at showing what he can do as a starter in the final year of his contract, then McKelvin's going to go out smiling.

``Yeah, the last time I played corner, I did pretty good,'' he said, bearing a wide grin. ``I got an interception off Brady, so I'm happy about that.''

Of course, it won't be easy for McKelvin or the Bills (3-5), who are 2-19 all-time against Brady and have lost 11 straight games at in Foxborough.

``Brady's a tough guy,'' McKelvin said. ``Things are going to happen and you've just got to make sure that you're going to be there when the time comes to make the play.''

The chance to play is what matters most to McKelvin, in what will mark his first start in 12 games and second since losing the starting job five weeks into last season.

``I'd say I'm playing for my future. I'm playing to keep my career going,'' McKelvin said. ``It's very critical for me to go out there and play good.''

The book on McKelvin hasn't changed much since the Bills selected him with the 11th pick out of Troy. Speedy yet undersized at 5-foot-10, McKelvin was regarded as a dynamic special teams returner, who needed work to develop as a defensive back.

In four-plus seasons, McKelvin has made his biggest mark on special teams. He's scored three touchdowns (two on punt returns) and his career punt- and kickoff-return averages top the franchise list.

This season, he's leading the NFL with an average of 19.5 yards on 13 punt returns.

His play on defense has been a different story.

McKelvin's most productive season came in 2010, when he had two interceptions and was credited with 11 passes defensed in 16 games, including 14 starts. That's close to what he's managed in his past 24 games, a stretch in which he has two interceptions and 10 passes defensed.

That's not anywhere close to meeting anyone's expectations, including his own, after McKelvin arrived in Buffalo eager to show he could be a dual threat.

``With special teams, they know I can play specials teams, but I'm a defensive player at heart,'' McKelvin said. ``But it's not how you start, it's how you finish. And that's my goal, how I go out there and finish.''

Coach Chan Gailey can appreciate how motivated McKelvin is.

``I think that Leodis has never lacked confidence,'' Gailey said. ``I think he has a chance to go play extremely well. Hopefully, he's learned from some of the things that happened in the past.''

There has been very little that's happened to crack McKelvin's confidence or upbeat personality. Most every week, he arrives at his locker with a smile on his face and humming whatever song is playing through his head phones.

``Lose confidence? That's something a cornerback is supposed to have,'' McKelvin said. ``I mean, if you're not confident in yourself, why should you play this game?''

The biggest test of McKelvin's resilience came after the Bills squandered an 11-point lead in the final 2:06 in a 2009 season-opening 25-24 loss at New England. After the Patriots scored to cut the lead to 24-19, McKelvin took the brunt of the blame for what happened next.

Rather than taking a knee in the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, McKelvin attempted a return only to have the ball stripped from his hands. The Patriots recovered and scored three plays later.

Upon arriving at his home the next morning, McKelvin found his front lawn vandalized. Two male teens were eventually arrested, but McKelvin refused to press charges.

``Just leave it in the past,'' he said, when reminded of what happened. ``That game was that game. This game's coming up this week, and we've got to be focused and ready to go.''

Here's his chance.

``Yes, my chance,'' McKelvin said. ``I've been waiting on the chance to go out there and perform and be the guy that I know I can be.''

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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USA TODAY Sports

In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

HOW DID THE CAPS WIN THEIR SERIES AGAINST COLUMBUS? FIND OUT HERE

But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.