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Drug test doesn't define Redskins' Trent Williams

Drug test doesn't define Redskins' Trent Williams

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) The latest in a long line of Washington Redskins knuckleheads.

That was Trent Williams a year ago, after he was suspended for four games by the NFL for testing positive multiple times for marijuana. He was a first-round pick gone bad, fitting right in the tradition of a franchise that's seen far too much off-the-field misbehavior in recent years.

But Williams did something a lot of miscreants don't do. He owned up to his mistake, didn't hide in a shell of denial or blame his problems on others. The third-year left tackle did not want to be remembered as a dope-head, and he set his sights on having his name associated with nicer words.

Pro Bowl left tackle, for example.

``I bust my butt all offseason with that on my mind, and it fueled my fire a lot of days,'' Williams said. ``And to be able to come out and perform with the best in the league and be noted as a Pro Bowl guy, it'd just mean that all my hard work, it just wasn't (whistling) in the wind. That accolade would just kind of let people know how far I've come and how far I'm matured and the type of player I've become. That's what I really want to be known for.

``I don't want to be known for the guy who failed multiple drug tests. That is me, in a sense. It did happen. I embrace that wholeheartedly. That happened, but I have an opportunity to change it, and that's what I want to do.''

Coach Mike Shanahan last week said that Williams is having a Pro Bowl season, although coaches naturally push any player who's doing well. If Williams is going to make it, he'll probably need disproportionate support from the coaches and players in the voting because his reputation hasn't been rehabilitated fully among some fans.

``Obviously they haven't really heard my name with a positive sense in the years before this,'' he said.

It works in Williams' favor that the Redskins (8-6) are winning and lead the NFL in yards rushing, and that he benefits from fame-by-association as the player who protects the blind side of uber-popular quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Also, everyone loves a player who plays hurt, and Williams has been doing just that since Thanksgiving Day, when he collided with teammate Kory Lichtensteiger early in the win over the Dallas Cowboys. The injury is often cited as a ``deep thigh bruise'' in the left leg, but that tells only part of the story.

Williams said the impact with Lichtensteiger left a pool of blood ``about five or six inches long, three or four inches wide'' coagulating between layers of muscles.

``They couldn't drain it. It was too deep,'' Williams said. ``So there was nothing I could do but play through the pain.''

Williams estimated that he's been playing at about 70 percent effectiveness from a physical standpoint in the three games since. He said a similar injury his rookie year would have landed him on injured reserve because he wouldn't have been able to compensate by playing smarter.

``It slows me down, definitely,'' Williams said. ``I have to rely more on my coaching and technique, other than just trying to use athletic ability to go out and maul guys.''

Williams' athleticism has never been in question. It's why he was Shanahan's first draft pick as Redskins coach, taken No. 4 overall out of Oklahoma in 2009.

``The question was work ethic,'' Shanahan said. ``When's he going to get to the next level? I've seen that maturity since he's been here, learning how to be a pro, learning how to be accountable, learning how to lead, different things that you're hoping your guys are going to do.''

Teammates saw a new Trent Williams during the offseason program and at training camp, then rewarded him by electing him to be a team captain on offense. Outsiders might have wondered about the symbolism of such a move, coming so soon after the suspension, but the players saw someone who had moved on from his troubles.

``Trent's stepped up his level of commitment to the team,'' Lichtensteiger said. ``To be elected captain after an incident like that says a lot about how we feel about him as a player, as a leader on this team. It's been a really good year for him, both on the field and off the field in the locker room.''

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Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 108-98 in Game 5 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Ice cold: When the Wizards needed it most, their offense failed them. With John Wall running the show, they can traditionally score with the best of them. But from the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter, they went scoreless for a stretch of three minutes and 49 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Raptors converted turnovers into points to close the game on a 14-5 run. The Wizards shot brick after brick from long range and missed 11 of their last 15 shots. It was a shocking collapse in a game that had been going well for the Wizards.

By beating the Wizards in Game 5, the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead which historically means they have nearly an 83 percent chance of winning the series. Those aren't good odds for the Wizards, who can look at one area of the court to blame.

The Wizards made only five threes on 26 attempts. The Raptors, conversely, went 11-for-25 (44%) from the perimeter. The Wizards' five threes were their fewest in a game since Jan. 12.

DeRozan was a killer: As has been the case this entire series, DeMar DeRozan led the charge for Toronto. The perennial All-Star came out on fire with 20 points in the first half alone.

This time, it wasn't just free throws. He was 4-for-4 at the half, but 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Usually, threes aren't his game.

DeRozan kept it up in the second half to score 32 points on 12-of-24 from the field. That's a pretty efficient night.

Otto looked a bit hurt: Otto Porter, who was held to nine points and four rebounds, didn't appear to be moving very well. He was running around with a limp, which suggests his right lower leg strain is still bothering him.

Head coach Scott Brooks said last week that Porter is 100 percent, but that doesn't seem like the case, unless there was some sort of setback in the time since. Porter, however, is such a smart player and such a good shooter that he can still make the most of his time on the court.

Solid start: The Wizards aren't used to playing well in the first quarter this series. They entered Game 5 with an average deficit of -7.2 points in the first quarter. In this game, however, they led by one point after one.

That was thanks to a buzzer-beater by John Wall (26 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). Ian Mahinmi got the offensive rebound and it set up Wall for a last-second shot. He got to one of his spots and sent it in:

It was just the second time in five games this series that the Wizards have been leading after one. The other time was Game 3, when the Wizards beat the Raptors handily to earn their first win.

Backup PGs: The Raptors again played without point guard Fred VanVleet, their best bench player and a guy who is arguably one of the best backup point guards in basketball. The loss has been evident for the most part, despite his replacement Delon Wright doing a solid job, including with 18 points in Game 5.

On Wednesday, Washington's backup point guard also shined. Despite not playing a single game during the regular season, Ty Lawson continues to make smart plays and create scoring opportunities for others.

He had four assists in this game and made one of the best plays of the night. Check out this move he put on to set up Ian Mahinmi:

And this dude was playing in China like two weeks ago? If he keeps this up, there will be an easy case to make that the Wizards should re-sign him for next season.

Clearly, they want Tomas Satoransky to play more off the ball and the coaching staff hasn't gained full trust in him. Lawson and Satoransky could make a solid reserve backcourt if they have some time to develop some chemistry.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors are back at it on Friday night in Washington for Game 6. The tipoff time has not been announced, but the game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington.

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

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The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.

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