Redskins

Bills getting healthy in time for late-season push

Bills getting healthy in time for late-season push

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay is set to return after missing two games with a partially torn ligament in his neck. And running back Fred Jackson could soon be ready for action, too.

The Bills' bulging list of injured players is suddenly growing shorter, and just in time for a team attempting to mount a late-season playoff push.

``We're pretty healthy I think for the most part, and we've got some other guys that are coming off injuries,'' Kelsay said Monday before he returned to practice for the first time in nearly two weeks. ``If we can win these ballgames coming down the stretch, and get healthy to make a push for the playoffs, that's huge.''

Kelsay declared himself ready to play in revealing the nature of the injury that's sidelined the 10-year veteran since Nov. 8, when he felt something pop in his neck while he was pushing a sled in practice.

With 10 days' rest, Kelsay feels significantly better, and added he's been assured by team doctors that he doesn't risk further damage.

``Structurally, everything's sound,'' Kelsay said, describing the injury as a minor tear. ``I definitely plan on playing. ... I have a lot of confidence that it's not going to slow me down.''

Kelsay was limited to taking part in only individual drills in practice Monday, when the Bills returned from an extended weekend break following their 19-14 win over Miami on Thursday. If all goes well, Kelsay expects to practice Wednesday and be ready for Sunday, when the Bills (4-6) play at Indianapolis (6-4).

The Bills are already depleted at defensive end, with starter Mark Anderson (left knee) expected to miss at least one more game since having surgery.

The news is promising for Jackson, too, after the running back missed last week's game since sustaining a concussion in the final minutes of a 37-31 loss at New England on Nov. 11.

Coach Chan Gailey said Jackson is expected to complete his NFL-mandated post-concussion tests on Tuesday, which would clear him to return to practice the following day.

``Everything's on track for him to be ready to go Wednesday,'' Gailey said. ``He says he's feeling well.''

Jackson attended a morning walk-through and then watched the afternoon practice from the sideline. NFL rules exempted him from speaking to reporters - or host his weekly TV show broadcast on Monday night - because of his concussion. Jackson did appear to be in an upbeat mood after he playfully grabbed a teammate in a headlock while heading out the locker room door.

The mood is significantly brighter in Buffalo since the win over Miami. The Bills snapped a three-game skid and won for only the second time in seven games to stay in the fringes of the AFC playoff hunt.

With six games left, Buffalo is in the mix of five teams at 4-6, with only three teams ahead of them competing for the conference's two wild card playoff spots. Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are both 6-4, while Cincinnati's 5-5.

That's enough for the Bills to believe they've got a shot, while acknowledging they've left themselves very little margin for error.

``Last week, it was keeping the season alive, and it's the same thing now,'' receiver Stevie Johnson said. ``If we win, we know we still have hope of the playoffs.''

Getting healthier is a switch for a team that's previously unraveled because of injuries. That includes last year, when a mounting number of injuries led to the Bills losing eight of their last nine following a 5-2 start.

Knock on wood, Gailey's hoping the trend reverses this year.

``When you can start to get healthy toward the end, that's always big,'' Gailey said. ``And if we can continue to do that, and we don't lose any more, that bodes well for us.''

Gailey confirmed the Bills placed tight end Mike Caussin on season-ending injured reserve because the player's surgically repaired right knee has not yet fully healed. The Bills had until Monday to determine whether to activate Caussin, who opened the season on the unable-to-perform/reserve list.

The second-year player accepted the team's decision, saying his knee was not yet strong enough to handle the extra workload of practice over the past three weeks.

``It was a little too much, too quick,'' Caussin said. ``It's the best thing for me, really. It gives me a chance to get back, get healthy and perform better for this team.''

Caussin had surgery in late January after tearing two ligaments in a 40-14 win over Denver on Dec. 24.

``He never got appreciably better,'' Gailey said. ``He told me in his own words he was 75-80 percent, and that's not good enough. We weren't going to release him, so we just put him on IR.''

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The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

When their turn comes up in this draft, the Redskins are going to pick the best available player on the board. Unless they’re not. 

That is the mixed message delivered on Tuesday by Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. 

Williams was asked what nearly every NFL personnel executive has been asked during this round of draft press conferences: Will the Redskins take the best player on the board or would they draft for need?

And Williams gave an answer similar to the ones that all of the other personnel guys gave. 

“You hear this cliché all the time, it’s always going to be the best player available, because at the same time if you’re looking for a need, the player you’re looking for a need might not be graded as high as the guy that’s on that board,” he said. 

That makes some fans crazy as they believe that you must fill needs in the draft. But reaching to fill needs is a good way to have a mediocre, disjointed draft. 

But there are times when the best available player is not the player the Redskins will pick. The topic of injuries came up and Williams talked about the situation at offensive tackle. Morgan Moses and Trent Williams currently are rehabbing from injuries and they won’t take the field during OTAs and minicamp. 

Doug Williams said that both players should be ready for training camp. He didn’t mention it but Trent Williams and Moses are signed for the next three and five years, respectively. That means that there is no need for a tackle in at least the first two rounds, and Williams agrees. 

“We can’t go into the draft drafting tackles, you know,” he said. 

So if, say, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame has the highest grade on the Redskins’ board when pick 13 comes up, they will not be taking the player with the best grade. They will “reach”, perhaps only slightly, to take a player at another position. 

The Redskins have a similar situation at quarterback. They are committed to Alex Smith for at least three seasons and it would be foolish to spend a high pick on a quarterback. Williams said that the Redskins are not in the quarterback business this year. If there is a top QB still on the board at pick 13, it’s likely that Williams and Bruce Allen would be looking for phone calls from teams that want to trade up and get their signal caller. 

The true test of how the team chooses needs vs. best available could well come this year. Let’s say that Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tremaine Edmunds are all on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up. While each team has its own grades, you probably won’t find many that don’t have Fitzpatrick and Edmunds a clear cut above Payne. The Redskins have needs on the defensive line, not so much at inside linebacker or in the secondary. Picking Payne at that point could be interpreted as reaching to fill a need while leaving more talented and more versatile players on the board. Going best available would almost surely mean choosing between Fitzpatrick and Edmunds. 

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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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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: 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 Wednesday night in Game 5 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 5: WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT TORONTO RAPTORS

Series: Series tied 2-2
Where: Air Canada Centre
Tip-off: 7:02 p.m. (earlier tipoff than usual)
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Pivotal game

The Wizards have done their part in winning both games at home to even up this series at 2-2. Now comes Game 5, which could very well determine who takes this series.

Winners of Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 hold a 164-34 (.828) record all-time. That means teams that lose Game 5 come back to win the final two games and the series only 17.2 percent of the time.

The Wizards need to get this one and they know all too well why. Last year they were in this same position in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. They went down 0-2, won the next two games but then lost Game 5 and ultimately the series in seven games.

Road warriors

The Wizards will also have to do something they have yet to do in a while in Game 5 and that is win on the road. Though they have won eight straight home postseason games, they have lost their last six on the road. It goes back to that Celtics series when Washington lost all four games in Boston. The last time they won on the road in the playoffs was Game 6 last year against the Hawks.

The Raptors are particularly tough in Toronto. They were 34-7 this season at home, tied with the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA. 

The recent historical odds are also in Toronto's favor. Since 2003, the home team has won each of the first four games in a seven-game series 35 times. In those series, the home team has held a Game 5 record of 22-13 and a series record of 26-9. If the Raptors get Game 5, history will be on their side to go on to win the series.

Can Otto get going?

Games 3 and 4 in Washington saw All-Star Bradley Beal break out to score 28 and 31 points. Will we see the same from Otto Porter before this series is over?

Game 4 seemed to suggest that is possible. After scoring only one point in the first half, Porter erupted for 10 points in the third quarter alone. Though he only scored 12 points in the game overall, it was the most aggressive we have seen him all series.

Porter is averaging just 10.3 points per game through four playoff games. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three, and as long as the Wizards are winning he won't complain, but Porter can do much more than that on offense. If he starts scoring more, the Wizards will be tough to stop.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

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