Perry, Wright split carries for No. 16 Louisville


Perry, Wright split carries for No. 16 Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville's plan to double up on its ground game has turned out better than the No. 16 Cardinals had scripted.

Splitting carries between running backs Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright has improved the ground game, which has resulted in a more balanced Louisville offensive attack entering Saturday's Big East Conference game against South Florida.

Perry leads Louisville (6-0, 1-0) with 559 yards and nine touchdowns on 96 carries, just three less than Wright's 99 attempts for 450 yards and six TDs.

Most notable is Louisville's 17 rushing touchdowns, four more than all of last season.

Though passing still accounts for nearly 60 percent of the Cardinals' 2,455 yards, the ground game's improvement has eased the burden on sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

``Each week when you break down the percentage of yards, it's almost even, like 50/50 or 60/40,'' Bridgewater said. Offensive coordinator Shawn ``Watson does a great job of just calling plays and developing a great game plan.''

Bridgewater said he could almost see the balance coming.

``That's how it was in the spring and training camp,'' he said. ``We had a balanced identity.''

As the season has progressed, Perry and Wright have taken turns having big games.

Perry earned Big East offensive honors for last week's four-touchdown, 101-yard performance on just 12 carries at Pitt. Trailing 21-17 at halftime, he rallied the Cardinals with three second-half scores including a 59-yard run with 2:25 remaining to seal the 45-35 victory in their conference opener.

Wright had the other touchdown from 4 yards, finishing with 61 on 13 carries.

It marked Louisville's fifth game with a 100-yard rusher, after just one last year.

``We weren't satisfied because we both could've come out with a hundred yards in the game or more,'' said Perry, whose 54 points lead the conference. ``But there are a lot of things we need to get done and are going to get done.

``We were more satisfied with the `W.' "

Wright has had his moments, too. He scored three times and rushed for 105 yards in a season-opening victory over Kentucky - Perry had a game-high 108 yards in that game - adding 114 and a touchdown on 20 touches two games later to help Louisville beat North Carolina.

Where the 6-foot Perry's quickness has allowed him to break big plays, 5-foot-11 Wright has displayed every-down back ability while starting each game. Both though have had 20-carry games.

``Coaches wanted us to go hard every day,'' said Wright, adding that they support each other through the competition. ``One of us tries to make good plays, and the other tries to come back (and do the same). That's what keeps our edge.''

At first glance this looks like a carryover from last season, when six yards separated Victor Anderson (539) and Dominique Brown, who carried a team-high 140 times. In fact, the Cardinals entered the season with Brown, Wright and Perry competing for the starting job before Brown's knee injury created a two-way battle.

The obvious difference is that both are more experienced, and that has advanced the rushing attack. No doubt, Bridgewater's passing (1,438 yards, 9 TDs) makes the Cardinals go; but he's running less often than last season as defenses have had to account for Perry and Wright.

And they haven't made it easy, especially with the offensive line clearing big holes for them.

The run game ``is so critical to our offense,'' Louisville coach Charlie Strong said this week. ``It's run and pass. If you watch our offense, we are a play-action, bootleg team where we try and get the ball down the field. In order for Teddy to have the games he's having, playing as well as he's playing, we have to be able to run the football. We've been able to run the ball thus far.''

The results are nearly a 46-yard improvement to 167 yards per game, third best in the Big East behind Cincinnati - next week's opponent - and Temple. Louisville ranked fifth last season.

And in following the plan, Perry and Wright hope the ground game can reach the point where it gets more attention - albeit divided between them.

``We just picked up where we left off last season and got better at it,'' Wright said.

Added Perry, ``We didn't envision this at all. Jeremy's a hard worker at what he does and I didn't knock him when he got the starting position, because whoever is out there is going to handle the job.''

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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

The Redskins’ contract with wide receiver Paul Richardson is very team friendly in the first year but it increases over the years to the point where he needs to be a very productive receiver in order to justify staying on the roster.

The big picture of the deal is $40 million over five years. A total of $12.5 million is fully guaranteed at signing, which is comprised of a $10 million signing bonus, his $1.5 million 2018 salary, and $1 million of his $5 million 2019 salary.

More money will become guaranteed if Richardson is on the roster as of five days after the start of the league years in 2019 and 2020. The remaining $4 million of his 2019 salary and $3.5 million of his $6 million 2020 salary become guaranteed on those dates.


Richardson will get salaries of $7.5 million in 2021 and 2022. Each year of the contract he can earn $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses ($31,250 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster).

It all adds up to the following salary cap numbers:

2018: $4 million
2019: $7.5 million
2020: $8.5 million
2021: $10 million
2022: $10 million

The average annual value of the contract is $8 million, which is tied for 24th among NFL receivers.

The first window the Redskins have to terminate Richardson’s contract without taking a negative cap hit would be in 2020 as long as they do it prior to the fifth day of the league year when the partial salary guarantee kicks in. They would take a $6 million deal cap hit but they would save a net of $2.5 million.

The last two years, when the cap numbers are at their highest, the Redskins could easily move on, saving $6 million in cap space in 2021 and $8 million in 2022.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."