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Falcons' White focused on postseason, not Pro Bowl

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Falcons' White focused on postseason, not Pro Bowl

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White has gotten over his initial disappointment of missing out on the Pro Bowl for the first time in five years.

White is focused on winning a playoff game.

Under fifth-year coach Mike Smith, the Falcons have gone 0-3 in the postseason, but at 13-3 they're in the same spot they held two years ago as the NFC's No. 1 seed.

White insists that ``it's going to be a lot different outcome'' this time.

In suffering playoff losses to the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals, White thinks the Falcons still had too much youth on their roster to know what it takes to win on the big stage.

``We're not doing a lot of the young things we used to do to lose games and stuff like that,'' White said on Friday. ``This was a pivotal point for us as a football team this year. In previous (regular seasons), I felt like we didn't win those games against teams we needed to beat and this year we did.''

Now in his eighth year with Atlanta, White says he's pleased that receiver Julio Jones was named to the Pro Bowl in just his second year.

``That was the best part,'' White said. ``I probably would've been upset if neither of us had made it. It made a little more at ease. I really would've been ticked off if neither one of us had made it.''

White has more catches and yards receiving than Jones, but Jones caught 10 touchdown passes to White's seven. They have combined for 171 catches, 2,549 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns.

``Roddy has been so good to me in helping me learn what it takes to be a professional,'' Jones said. ``We compete just like players at any position, but we're close and we're always pushing to make each other better. Same thing with Harry (Douglas) and everyone else.''

White sees no sense in belaboring the Pro Bowl talk even though he became just the fifth NFL player to post three consecutive seasons with 90-plus catches and 1,200-plus yards.

``I've been to a couple of them,'' he said. ``I know what it feels like to be out there and stuff like that, so it wasn't a big thing that I had on the list.''

Another reason that White is encouraged about the Falcons' next game on Jan. 13 is that quarterback Matt Ryan has become the team's most indisputable leader.

When the Falcons lost at Arizona in the 2008 wild-card round, Ryan was a rookie. In getting blown out the last two years by Green Bay and New York, White thinks Ryan might have been handcuffed by predictable play-calling of former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

Now that Dirk Koetter has taken over the job, the Falcons have said all season that they're more aggressive in the passing game and able to move downfield and control the clock even though their running game has been emphasized less.

Ryan has ``been mentally prepared throughout the whole season for this stretch run,'' White said. ``He knows we have to win a playoff game. Everybody knows that, and not to put any pressure on him, but I just think that at this point in the season, everybody knows they have to play their best football right now. That's all that matters, and that's what counts.''

White overcame a right knee injury late in the season that caused him to miss practice time, but the pain and swelling subsided enough for him to keep an important streak alive.

He has never missed a game since the Falcons drafted him 27th overall in 2005.

``I'm kind of that guy that brings a lot of energy to the team,'' he said. ``As I know that I'm out there, I know that everybody is going play like they usually do. That's the best part about it and the fact that I just love playing football. I love being out there with those guys and going out and competing.''

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: 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 Sunday night in Game 4 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 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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