New surroundings for Rams tackle Barksdale


New surroundings for Rams tackle Barksdale

LONDON (AP) Joe Barksdale is finding himself in a lot of new situations these days.

The second-year tackle is with a new team, learning a new offense - and doing it in a different country.

Barksdale was picked up off waivers by the rebuilding St. Louis Rams last month after being dropped by Oakland, and was given his first career NFL start last weekend in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.

As if that wasn't enough of a whirlwind, he then had to hop on a trans-Atlantic flight with his teammates to London, where they'll face the New England Patriots at Wembley on Sunday.

``Hey, it's never a dull moment,'' Barksdale said, looking around at the lush surroundings at the luxury resort the team stayed at this week outside the British capital.

This is no time for the Rams to be tourists, though - and that may be especially true for Barksdale, who was already doing his best to get used to new surroundings even before the London trip.

``All I can do is pretty much roll with the punches,'' he said. ``Study as much as I can, as often as I can, rest when I can. Get ready to perform when I have to.''

He performed quite well last weekend, as Barksdale and guard Shelley Smith - another newcomer who made his first start - helped limit the Packers to three sacks.

``I thought those guys did a great job,'' quarterback Sam Bradford said. ``It's not easy to come in and play against Green Bay, who going into last week was No. 1 in the league in sacks. They got put in on a short notice, but I thought they handled everything extremely well and played at a high level.''

And the whole travel part is just an added bonus for Barksdale. The Rams signed up last year to go to London for the sixth annual regular-season game to be played at Wembley Stadium, and Barksdale is happy to be along for the ride.

``I've always wanted to come to London,'' he said. ``So I was definitely excited when I found out we'd be coming to London. But I'm just thankful for the opportunity, and that football has (allowed) me to be able to go so many places and experience some new things.''

The Rams might be an easy team to fit into these days with all the new faces this season. St. Louis has 14 rookies on the active roster but coach Jeff Fisher - also in his first year with the Rams - has found a way to fit all the new pieces together. The 3-4 Rams have already exceeded their win total from last season, when they were tied for the league's worst record at 2-14.

``We're not opposed to changing this roster on a weekly basis if we get an opportunity,'' Fisher said. ``We did so last week, we made another move by bringing in (guard) Chris Williams, who was released by the Bears. The building process is ongoing.''

Fisher sees the offensive line as one of the keys against the Patriots, knowing his team will need to establish an effective run game to extend their possessions and keep Tom Brady and the explosive New England offense off the field.

According to running back Steven Jackson, Barksdale and Smith are up to the task.

``It's only been one week, but for them to come in and learn the offense relatively fast, they've done a great job,'' Jackson said. ``Both guys are very athletic, pretty sound in what they're doing with their feet and their hands, and they have another tough challenge against this New England defense.''

Barksdale certainly could have asked for an easier opponent as he continues to learn a new system. But he's not about to.

``It's the NFL,'' he said. ``No game is easy.''

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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