Capitals

Schaub set for 1st playoff start after rough month

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Schaub set for 1st playoff start after rough month

HOUSTON (AP) Matt Schaub missed Houston's 2011 playoff run with an injured foot.

Now the Texans' quarterback is healthy and looking forward to his first playoff start Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The wild-card playoff game offers Schaub a chance to redeem himself after he threw two interceptions in last week's loss to Indianapolis, which kept Houston from getting a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

He knows he has to do more in preparation this week after a tough December in which he threw three interceptions with just one touchdown pass as the Texans lost three of four games.

``I've got to play better,'' he said. ``Our whole team, everyone across the board has got to pick their game up, especially this time of year, but I definitely do.''

Schaub was playing some of the best football of his career last season before his injury and had led the Texans to four straight wins. Houston was left with third-string quarterback T.J. Yates in last year's playoffs when backup Matt Leinart was injured in the first game after Schaub was lost for the season.

``I think we do forget this is his first time to step on the field in the playoffs, and he's a nine-year player,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ``He's worked really hard. We were in the playoffs last year because of him, too. He put his team in that position and obviously T.J. took over. But Matt had a lot to do with why we were playing last year. This is a big opportunity for him.''

Schaub has 4,008 yards passing with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. He threw eight touchdown passes with three interceptions in the three games - all wins- before his recent slump.

Kubiak knows Schaub needs to improve this week, but he's quick to point out that his quarterback can't play better if the rest of the offense doesn't step up, too.

``We've been in some tough situations playing from down a bunch three out of the last four weeks so that's been difficult,'' Kubiak said. ``I know there are some things he can do better, but we can obviously all help him, too.''

Kubiak said he didn't say anything different or give Schaub any special advice this week, despite it being his first playoff game.

``I just want him to be himself,'' Kubiak said. ``I've always been proud of how he prepares, how he gets ready to play games and how he goes about his job. And I just want him to do it again this week.''

A key for Schaub and the offense on Saturday will be finding a way to start fast. The Texans have been outscored 28-6 in the first quarter in their last three losses.

Schaub's recent struggles have coincided with an increase in the number of sacks Houston has allowed. The Texans gave up three or more sacks just once through the first 13 weeks, and have given up three or more in each of the last three games.

Schaub knows that many factors play into how many sacks a team gives up, and he is confident that the Texans will limit the amount of times he's taken down this week.

``Those guys, they work their tails off,'' he said. ``They're on top of their assignments. We've played some pretty good pass-rushing football teams, but we've been pretty good in not allowing sacks around here, so we've got to get back to that scenario.''

It won't be easy this week against a Bengals team that has 46 sacks - fourth-best in the AFC.

``They have a great front seven,'' Houston left guard Wade Smith said. ``Really, they're pretty much two deep everywhere across the front. Then they have Pro Bowlers up front (and) a great linebacking corps. They're a really good defense, sound all the way around, but at the same time we feel like we're a good offense.''

Schaub rarely shows much outward emotion and seems like one of the most low-key players on the team. But he admitted that he's a bit more amped up for his first playoff game.

``It's an exciting time of year to be a part of this to get ready to play in a playoff game, especially here at home in front of our home fans,'' he said. ``I'm definitely looking forward to it, but the thing that's going to help us win the game are the same whenever you're playing, wherever you're playing. That's playing smart, clean, good football.''

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

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197