Redskins

Oklahoma's Javon Harris rebounds from benching

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Oklahoma's Javon Harris rebounds from benching

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Javon Harris knows well the mistakes he made that cost him a spot in the starting lineup and landed him at the center of the criticism of Oklahoma's pass defense.

All that is behind him now.

Harris and the retooled Sooners' secondary are off to a strong start this season, ranking ninth in the nation in passing defense after a brutal finish to 2011. In the first big test for the secondary this season, Harris came up with one of the team's three interceptions and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown that put Oklahoma comfortably ahead of Texas Tech in the third quarter of a 41-20 win Saturday.

That avenged a loss to the Red Raiders a season ago, when the Sooners were gashed for 452 yards through the air in one of several poor performances that stuck with Harris and the rest of the secondary throughout the offseason.

``We stayed on each other about each and every thing that we needed to do and just took it over to this year,'' Harris said. ``We know that last year was last year. We don't dwell on things that happened last year, just like we don't dwell on things that happen game to game. We just go in there and try to get better each week. We correct each other.

``We're brothers out there. If somebody's messing up, if somebody needs to work on something, we tell each other. It's all about the love. You've got to love the game. You've got to love each other.''

Oklahoma headed into this season with the same players in the starting lineup that struggled at times last season, but new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops shuffled them into places he thought suited them better. Aaron Colvin switched from safety to cornerback, Tony Jefferson from nickelback to free safety and Gabe Lynn from cornerback to nickelback.

Harris was bumped from free safety back to strong safety, where he had played before last season.

``It's not really just a switching positions thing for me. It was really a mindset,'' Harris said. ``I just wanted to come in this season with the mindset of, `Go out here and get it. No holding back, can't look back, finish strong and get better.' That's the only thing I can do.''

Harris' struggles last season centered around getting caught looking into the backfield. As the free safety, his responsibility was not to let anyone get behind him. But in a 45-38 loss to Baylor, he was burnt deep twice as eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III threw for 485 yards and four touchdowns.

Harris paid the price, losing his place in the starting lineup for the final three games of the season. He headed into his senior season with one last chance to get it right.

``I would say that I'm just a player trying to make it, but at the same time just want to continue to lead my guys and just get better every game,'' Harris said. ``Consistency was one word that I used at the beginning of the year. I just want to go and finish this year out. Last year, I didn't get to finish the year out.

``One thing about my character is to finish strong, and that's what I plan on doing.''

Heading into Saturday's Red River Rivalry game against No. 15 Texas (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) in Dallas, the 13th-ranked Sooners (3-1, 1-1) are allowing only 160.5 passing yards per game with just one touchdown pass. Three of the nation's top five passing teams - West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State - remain on the schedule and Texas has shown improvement with David Ash taking over as the starting quarterback on a full-time basis.

``We just have to keep that mentality for the rest of the season,'' cornerback Demontre Hurst said. ``We've got a long season, we've got teams that's really going to try and throw the ball and test us.''

The Texas Tech game was only a start. The Sooners limited Seth Doege to 203 yards - less than half what he had in Norman a season earlier - before backup Michael Brewer threw for 68 yards in mop-up duty against Oklahoma's backups.

``That right there just shows that we can stay on the same page,'' Harris said. ``We'll go into this game and we'll go in each week the same way. ...

``This is a no-fly zone. Anything that's going in the air is going to get struck down or is coming back the other way.''

Harris, a former running back at MacArthur High School in Lawton, scored his first career touchdown with the interception that was tipped off the hands of Tech receiver Eric Ward and right to him.

``He definitely finds the ball and that goes with preparation. He's always in the right place at the right time,'' said Colvin, who had his first career interception in the game. ``Things don't happen just for no reason. I feel like your preparation allows you to do some of the things and I feel like that's why he makes a lot of plays.''

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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: