Redskins

Raiders' focus shifts to future

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Raiders' focus shifts to future

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) For the Oakland Raiders, the focus has already turned to the future.

With six straight losses, all that's left for the Raiders (3-10) to play for in the final three weeks is pride, draft position and the opportunity to evaluate some of the younger players on the roster.

Coach Dennis Allen has already gotten increased playing time from young receivers like Rod Streater and Juron Criner, cornerback Phillip Adams and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi. Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie want to get a more detailed look at third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor and rookie offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom in the final three weeks.

``All of us, as competitors, we want to win. That's what it's all about,'' Allen said. ``But I also understand, and I've got a big-picture view of what I want this football team to look like. Reggie and I have talked about it. We knew what we were dealing with when we came here. We knew we had some depth issues on the roster, and we couldn't sustain a lot of injuries. We've sustained a few injuries in some spots. We all want to win, and I understand that. And I want to win now, but I'm looking at the long-term future of this team. We've got to prepare for the future.''

Streater is coming off his best game as a pro, catching four passes for 100 yards - even besting his top single-game yardage mark from two years at Temple. Streater signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent and has been one of the brightest developments this season with 28 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns.

``Experience is definitely valuable,'' Streater said. ``A lot of things you can't just teach. You got to kind of go out there and experience the good and the bad. Getting that experience will be good for me next year.''

Criner, a fifth-round pick, has 15 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown and has gotten increased playing time in recent weeks.

Adams has gotten more time at cornerback the past few weeks and has interceptions the past two games, while Bilukidi is part of the defensive line rotation.

Allen said he would look at possibly starting Bergstrom as the organization figures out which players will be part of the future.

``It's going to take time,'' Allen said. ``It doesn't happen with one decision. It's an accumulation of decisions made over time that gets everything to be exactly how you want it.''

The most interesting case is Pryor, the former Ohio State star who has no official plays in two seasons as a pro. Pryor got on the field once as a rookie and committed a false start before his only play.

He was inactive the first 11 games before dressing the past two weeks without playing. While Carson Palmer will remain a starter barring injury, Allen does want to give Pryor some playing time down the stretch.

``We've got a package of plays that we've had up and available the last couple of weeks to get Terrelle in the game,'' he said. ``I think at some point we'll get him in the game and have a package of plays for him to run.''

Allen is getting backing in this difficult year from an unusual spot: the AFC West rival Denver Broncos. Allen was defensive coordinator in Denver last season and is still highly thought of in that locker room.

After the Broncos' latest win over the Raiders, some of Allen's old players said they believed he was still the right person to get the Raiders turned around.

``Once they get their personnel that they want, that coach Allen wants, things will start working out. It starts from the top,'' cornerback Champ Bailey said. ``He did some good things for us. He did some good things here. I have to give him a lot of credit. He earned that job. He deserves it. He's a good football mind.''

Allen helped Denver win the AFC West last season and knock out Pittsburgh in the wild-card round before getting the Raiders job. His defense in Oakland has not been nearly as good.

The Raiders are last in the league in points allowed per game (30.9) and fifth worst in yards per game (390.2) and are on pace to allow the most points ever in a season in franchise history.

``It's just his first year,'' Denver linebacker Von Miller said. ``I'm sure they'll get it cooking. For us we got it clicking with coach Allen. He's a great coach. I'm sure the wins will start coming soon.''

Notes: Allen will leave the team to attend his father's funeral on Monday. He will decide when he returns whether to reinstate LB Rolando McClain from his two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Allen said he has not talked with McClain since the suspension was issued Nov. 30. ... Allen said RB Darren McFadden was walking without pain a day after re-injuring his sprained right ankle that sidelined him for four weeks. ... X-rays on CB Michael Huff's injured wrist were negative. He also was undergoing an MRI but Allen did not believe the injury was serious.

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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: