Redskins

Rams leave for London matchup against Patriots

201210211246460171146-p2.jpeg

Rams leave for London matchup against Patriots

ST. LOUIS (AP) Ready or not, it's time for the St. Louis Rams to take their game overseas.

The team was flying to London on Monday in preparation for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. The Rams (3-4) might have an edge in game preparation, given they'll be training at Arsenal's soccer facilities, which coach Jeff Fisher described as completely self-contained.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owns Arsenal, so it was a natural that he was interested in the London option. The Rams had planned on playing in London for three straight years but backed off earlier this year and decided on playing just one game amid fan concerns that Kroenke might move the franchise after the 2014 season.

Fisher said the Rams will practice in the early afternoon London time as they adjust to the six-hour time change, and will get plenty of free time. The team has been preparing for this for a few weeks.

``They're excited,'' Fisher said. ``They know the challenges associated with going across the pond, as they say, and they're looking forward to it.''

Speaking into a microphone that had feedback issues when he met reporters, Fisher joked that it was the only glitch during preparations for the trip.

``The organization has done a great job with all the logistics, everybody's prepared and ready to go,'' Fisher said. ``If this is all we have, we're in good shape.''

Fisher believes the team progressed even in the 30-20 loss to Green Bay on Sunday, the Rams' first defeat at home after a 3-0 start. He said quarterback Sam Bradford might have played his best game, and cited improvement on the offensive line with solid debuts for newcomers Joe Barksdale and Shelley Smith.

``Nobody played good enough because we didn't win, but Sam made the throws, he bought time, he did a really good job on the line of scrimmage getting in and out of things,'' Fisher said.

Bradford was 21 for 34 for 255 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass in the final minute to Austin Pettis. After the game, he appeared optimistic.

``Our mentality is that we can play with anyone on any Sunday,'' Bradford said. ``And we're going to take that same mentality into the game next week.''

The Rams have added more help for a line decimated by injuries by signing Chris Williams, a 2008 first-round pick out of Vanderbilt whose contract was terminated by the Bears last week. Williams started 20 games at left guard, 11 at right tackle and seven at left tackle with Chicago, but failed to live up to his perceived potential in Chicago.

``We just think he can help us,'' Fisher said. ``Now, he's got a lot to learn and I don't know how soon or where we'll plug him in, but we think he has a future here with us.''

Fisher said most but not all injured players would be accompanying the team, but did not specify.

``I think you could assume that if they don't make the trip, they're going to be out this week,'' he said.

Center Scott Wells (foot) can resume practicing as the Rams' designated-to-return injured reserve player, but Fisher said he's not ready yet. Tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) is likely to miss his fifth game.

The Rams had been holding opponents to 14.7 points at home before running into the Packers, who have won four straight in the series and seven of 10. They sacked Aaron Rodgers three times in the first quarter, but that was it.

The offense is 28th in the NFL. Danny Amendola leads the team with 32 receptions even though he's missed the last three games with a collarbone injury, and Steven Jackson scored his first touchdown of the year on a 6-yard run against Green Bay.

``We've still got a lot of work to do,'' Jackson said. ``We're slowly coming together as an offense and a unit. We've got to help our defense out by putting points on the board.''

The Packers surprised the Rams with a successful onside kick in the first quarter that set up a field goal. They took control in the third quarter, grabbing a 17-6 lead, while the Rams ran only seven plays and Bradford threw an interception that led to another field goal.

The Rams' defense faces another formidable challenge. The Patriots have had at least 350 total yards in 16 consecutive games, tying the record set by the Rams from 1999-2000 for the longest streak in NFL history, and they lead the NFL with an average of 436 yards.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back
Georgia

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

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.

 

Quick Links

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WIZARDS NEED BEAL TO BE MUCH BETTER TO WIN

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!