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Rivera not sure if strong finish saves his job

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Rivera not sure if strong finish saves his job

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) While Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes a strong finish is crucial for his team's confidence heading into next season, he's not sure if winning three of the last four games will be enough to save his job.

``I think we have to keep going,'' Rivera said.

By that he means it's important the Panthers beat Oakland and New Orleans to finish the season 7-9, which would better last year's record by one game.

Carolina (5-9) enjoyed its first blowout win Sunday, crushing San Diego 31-7. That came one week after a decisive 30-20 upset win over Atlanta.

After Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney following a 1-5 start, he told Rivera the team needed to be ``trending upward'' the rest of the way for him to keep his job.

The Panthers are 4-4 since.

However, the latest stretch - one in which second-year Cam Newton has combined for 13 touchdowns in the last five games without a turnover - provides a bit of promise for the future and could convince Richardson to give Rivera another shot.

``This isn't about a couple of good wins or emotional wins,'' Rivera said of his own future. ``It's really about the whole body of work.''

Rivera said Monday that he's under the impression that Richardson, not the team's future GM, will make the decision on the coaching staff's future.

That could also factor into Rivera's corner since often times new GMs like to bring in their own coaching staff.

Rivera, who is 11-20 in two seasons in Carolina, said he's made some mistakes as a first-time head coach.

However, the former Bears and Chargers defensive coordinator believes he's improved in a number of areas, including delegating authority and managing coaches and players.

``I will put myself up against anybody in terms of Xs and Os,'' Rivera said. ``I feel very confident of that. But I've had to learn a lot about managing. When you're managing 26 people and five coaches (as a defensive coordinator) and then suddenly you're managing 61 people and 17 coaches it's a little different... So there's been a lot to learn and grow on.''

Rivera points out that because of the NFL lockout last year he's only had 16 months to get to know his players.

He didn't have the luxury of OTAs or minicamps last season.

Rivera said one mistake he might have made when putting together his coaching staff in 2011 was not hiring anyone with any significant NFL head coaching experience.

``In retrospect to have an older gentlemen that could have looked over my shoulder might have helped,'' Rivera said.

Still, the players remain staunch supporters of Rivera and some believe it would be a mistake to break up the cohesiveness that is beginning to form.

``We really have something outstanding going on here in this locker room,'' receiver Steve Smith. ``If we can continue to do the things we're doing now, we're going to have some great things to look forward to in the future.''

Newton refused to talk about the future, saying he's not done with this season.

``We aren't looking to the end of the season to prove ourselves,'' Newton said. ``We're trying to come out and practice to execute each and every day so come game time we can put a nice product out there on the field.''

Rivera said he believes finishing strong is important when it comes to carrying momentum into the offseason and then next year - even though that wasn't the case last season.

Carolina won four of its last four games in 2011 and seemed to ready to carry that momentum into this season.

Instead, their potent offense sputtered out of the game and the Panthers opened the season 1-6, crushing any hopes of a trip to the playoffs.

``It's a different set of circumstances this time,'' Rivera said. ``I believe this team is maturing a little more than last year. Hopefully going forward we will be able to better manage our expectations as a team. We have to realize that we have not arrived.''

Before the season three-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil even took out a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper promising fans a Super Bowl win.

Rivera said he likes Kalil's confidence, but said next time he'd like to see that kept in house and not made public.

He said it might have added undue pressure.

As for the pressure surrounding his own future, Rivera said ``there are a lot of things I feel good about here. But again, we'll see how it goes in two weeks.''

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Redskins to play on Thanksgiving for third consecutive season

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Redskins to play on Thanksgiving for third consecutive season

The Washington Redskins are playing on Thanksgiving ... again.

With the 2018 NFL regular-season schedule set for an official release on Thursday night, news has begun to leak on the different dates.

The Redskins will travel to Dallas yet again to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay reports on Thursday afternoon.

The Week 12 showdown will take place on Thursday, Nov. 22 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. 

Last season, the Redskins beat the Giants at home 20-10 to increase their all-time Thanksgiving Day record to a whopping 3-7. That game marked the first time since the 1973 and 1974 seasons that the Redskins' played on Thanksgiving back-to-back years.

The 2018 season marks unchartered territory for the Redskins.

Against non-Cowboys opponents, the Redskins are actually undefeated on Turkey Day. But this showdown will be against their dreaded division rivals who hosted them two seasons ago on Thanksgiving.

The Cowboys won that matchup 31-26 with two rushing TDs from Ezekiel Elliot while Jordan Reed caught two TD passes from Kirk Cousins.

The Redskins and Cowboys will meet under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium on November 22. Game time to be determined.

RELATED: PROJECTING THE REDSKINS 2018 SCHEDULE

 

 

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Orioles pitching falls apart as Tigers complete sweep in Detroit

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Orioles pitching falls apart as Tigers complete sweep in Detroit

DETROIT - Leonys Martin hit his first big league grand slam, Jeimer Candelario had four hits and three RBIs, and the Detroit Tigers beat Baltimore 13-8 Thursday to extend the Orioles' losing streak to six.

Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two home runs to Manny Machado and one to Chris Davis. Zimmermann was pitching for the first time since being hit in the jaw by a line drove off the bat of Cleveland's Jason Kipnis on April 11.

Alex Cobb (0-2) made his second start after signing a $57 million, four-year contract in spring training and his ERA rose to 15.43. He allowed seven runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Machado had four RBIs for the Orioles, who were outhit 18-14 in the game and outscored 23-15 in the three-game sweep.

Victor Martinez hit an RBI single in the first, but Davis put Baltimore ahead with a two-run homer in the second, his sixth hit and fourth homer in 10 career at-bats against Zimmermann.

Detroit went ahead for good with four runs in the bottom half after third baseman Tim Beckham's throwing error allowed James McCann to reach base leading off. Jose Iglesias hit a two-run triple, Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single and Nick Castellanos a run-scoring groundout.

Machado's homer in the third cut Baltimore's deficit to 5-2, but Candelario's two-run homer extended the lead to 7-2 in the bottom half. Martin homered off Mike Wright Jr. in a five-run fifth.