Clemson's Hopkins breaking records at receiver

Clemson's Hopkins breaking records at receiver

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Don't look for Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins to talk much about his accomplishments, preferring to leave that to others. So far this season, the Tigers' junior has given people plenty to get excited about.

Hopkins is 14th-ranked Clemson's other receiver opposite star All-American Sammy Watkins. But it's Hopkins who's grabbed the headlines so far this season. He leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 49 catches for 777 yards.

He has set single game school marks this season with 13 catches against Auburn and 197 yards receiving against Boston College. He tied a school mark with three touchdowns in a win over Ball State. Hopkins is as big a reason as any Clemson's offense is clicking along at record pace.

Hopkins and the Tigers (5-1, 2-1 ACC) try and keep things going against Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1) on Saturday.

Though he is getting more attention because of his play, Hopkins generally avoids the spotlight like he avoids most defenders.

``I let my play do the talking,'' Hopkins said this week. ``I feel like if too much is said, it's politicking.''

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior's performance has done all the talking necessary. Hopkins has stepped into the primary receiving role left open because of Watkins' sluggish first half.

Watkins has missed three games because of suspension and illness. He's got just 16 catches for 118 yards and no touchdowns this year, making Hopkins contributions crucial for the defending ACC champions.

Hopkins had a stellar season in 2011 with 72 catches for 978 yards, a year largely swallowed up by Watkins' 82 grabs for 1,219 yards and 12 TDs. While Watkins gained All-American honors and countless headlines, Hopkins was content to quietly do his share.

``I've been doing this since my freshman year, so it's not really a surprise to me,'' Hopkins said. ``To have this big of a season, I guess it's a surprise to some.''

Not to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who's watched Hopkins steadily mature into a star for the Tigers.

Hopkins was much more slender at 180 pounds when he joined the team two years ago. Not blessed with Watkins' speed, Hopkins worked on running precise routes and battling for the football against all defenders. Hopkins specialty is the sideline catch, leaping high to grab the ball while innately knowing where to tap his feet to complete the pass.

``He does things now that we are numb to it because he does it every day,'' Swinney said. ``He's got a gift and now he's put the technical part with it.''

Just listen the next time Hopkins makes a catch at Clemson's Death Valley. The fans shout out, ``NUUUK,'' Hopkins' nickname since he was a child. But it didn't come from - as you might think - the young man's explosiveness as an athlete.

Hopkins acknowledged his ``Nuk'' name came from a brand of baby pacifier that was the only one he wouldn't bite through. ``It was just a neighborhood name for me,'' he said. ``I tell people I got it because I'm a nuclear bomb because I'm explosive.

``I think if people find out, they might start throwing pacifiers on the field,'' Hopkins said with a smile.

Hopkins also gained some early-season attention for a deeply personal decision - he chose last month to reenact his baptismal ceremony after a Clemson practice in front of those teammates who wanted to stay. Clemson coach Jeff Scott Tweeted out a picture of the ceremony, praising Hopkins' maturity.

The picture also brought out some negative words toward Hopkins and Scott on Twitter from those who believe religion shouldn't be part of football. Hopkins chose not to discuss his baptism, saying only he did not think it affects his showing on the field.

Hopkins is pleased with his play and in helping Clemson chase a second straight league crown. He says the Tigers will have a tough test with the Hokies, who lost twice to Clemson last season, including 38-10 in the ACC title game, and who'll want revenge.

Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor said Hopkins is key part of Clemson's quick-strike attack along with Watkins, Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd and tailback Andre Elllington. ``They're the reasons that this offense is very successful,'' Taylor said. ``And the fact they can confuse a defense with all the misdirection.''

Hopkins direction to the NFL seems clear, although he's not yet thinking about a choice he'll have after the season to jump into the draft instead of playing his senior year.

``I'm capturing this moment, enjoying every minute every day,'' he says. ``You think about longterm, you kind of forget to have fun right now.''

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek


The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197