Cowboys-Redskins on Thanksgiving? No biggie to RG3


Cowboys-Redskins on Thanksgiving? No biggie to RG3

IRVING, Texas (AP) Robert Griffin III, the Texas-bred quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, comes to his home state for the first time as a pro for the most traditional of Thanksgiving rivalries - Cowboys vs. Redskins.

Hold on a minute with all that drama and emotion building for Thursday's game. The Washington rookie grew up in Central Texas rooting for the Denver Broncos.

``It's one game and that's what we've got,'' Griffin said. ``We've got the Dallas Cowboys, and that's what I'm going to play like.''

Hold on another minute before deciding he is completely blowing off the pretty cool idea that he's coming home for a big game on a unique stage. He gets it.

``It will be fun. I'll see a lot of familiar faces,'' Griffin said. ``It's Cowboys-Redskins or Redskins-Cowboys, whatever way you want to put it. Me being a Texas kid, I know how big the rivalry is and I get my fair shot at it.''

Griffin has practical reasons for approaching Thursday's game as one Washington needs to win. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo does, too.

The Redskins (4-6) kept themselves in the playoff conversation by coming off the bye with a 31-6 blowout of Philadelphia, sparked by 14 of 15 passing and four touchdowns from Griffin. A win puts the Cowboys (5-5) a half-game behind the New York Giants in the NFC East five days after they risked ruining their season against last-place Cleveland before winning 23-20 in overtime.

``It started for us two weeks back,'' Romo said. ``We've been putting our head down and grinding, going forward and trying put together win after win.''

The Cowboys have played the Redskins more than any other team in their annual Thanksgiving home game, and Dallas has won all six previous meetings. The Cowboys also are trying to win their fourth straight against Washington, which would be the longest streak in eight years.

But the Redskins haven't brought a quarterback like Griffin into this game in a long time. Statistically, he's ahead of the other four rookies who began the season as starters, and he's right there with most of the veterans. He's one of six quarterbacks with a rating of at least 100, completing 67 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

The Redskins lost six of eight after Griffin's remarkable debut in a win at New Orleans, so maybe it was easy to forget about him. He sort of reminded everyone by picking apart the Eagles. He's also in the top 20 in rushing in the NFL with 613 yards. The next quarterback is Cam Newton at 394. The Cowboys have faced both.

``You can't really go into a game worried about this guy scrambling because it will slow you up and probably put you in a worse situation than just trying to go after him,'' said Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears. ``Obviously, we have to have awareness of where he is and where he can escape.''

Griffin isn't the only runner the Redskins have. Another rookie, Alfred Morris, is fifth in the league with 869 yards rushing, and Washington is one of four teams with two games of 200-plus yards on the ground this season.

The Dallas running game is struggling through the extended absence of starter DeMarco Murray and an offensive line that is also battling injuries.

Murray is likely to miss his sixth straight game against the Redskins, and backup Felix Jones is battling a knee injury that could limit him. Without those two, the Cowboys would have to rely on a pair of undrafted players in rookie Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner. In five games without Murray, the Cowboys have rushed for 100 yards once.

``We've shuffled guys through, but it hasn't just been there, it's been everywhere really,'' Romo said. ``Our offensive line, we've had to move guys around and do different things.''

Romo was sacked a career-high seven times by the Browns behind a line that started the game with a new center and a replacement guard, and ended up having to fill in for left tackle Tyson Smith when he sprained an ankle. One of the few constants, right tackle Doug Free, has been the focus of questions all week after he was beaten repeatedly by Cleveland.

``Every game you can look at it and say I did this wrong, I did that wrong,'' Free said. ``Some are worse than others, but I mean every game you've got things to work on, things to fix. You've got to stay focused on the task at hand.''

The Washington defense has lost several starters to injury, and even linebacker London Fletcher is in danger of missing a game for the first time in his 15-year career. He's tied with Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber for the league's longest active streak at 234 straight games, but he injured an ankle last weekend against the Eagles and faced the short week of recovery time.

``It matters to London. It matters to us, not necessarily the streak, but playing,'' Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. ``And there is a reason why he has played all those games because he plays when he is hurt and hopefully he will be able to play.''

Griffin will play, and plenty of folks from the hometown of Copperas Cove, Texas, will be at Cowboys Stadium, where he's 1-0 after beating Texas Tech in a neutral site game for the Bears last year, although he left early with concussion-like symptoms.

``He's kind of a different guy,'' Shanahan said. ``He's pretty relaxed no matter where he goes or who he's with. It just seems like he's pretty cool, calm and collected. He handles different stages as good as anybody I've been around.''


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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings