Capitals

Steelers DB Victorian, Van Dyke ready for more

Steelers DB Victorian, Van Dyke ready for more

PITTSBURGH (AP) As the veteran member of the Pittsburgh Steelers' otherwise-youthful cornerbacks, Ike Taylor enjoys being among the first- and second-year players at his position meetings.

``I feel like they keep my young,'' Taylor said. ``Especially with the new young music coming up, the clothes, shoes, all that kind of stuff.''

This week, it's much more than music or fashion trends that have Taylor appreciating players such as Josh Victorian, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Curtis Brown and Robert Golden.

With Taylor sidelined with a fractured right ankle and top reserve Cortez Allen likely out with a groin injury, the likes of Victorian and Van Dyke are thrust into prominent roles.

Picked up late in training camp, neither was even active for games as recently as two weeks ago. But as the Steelers (7-6) head into Dallas (7-6), they'll be counting on the inexperienced cornerbacks to deal with the Cowboys' talented receivers.

``We tried to teach these young players like they are going to be starting because we know someday, they will be starting,'' Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. ``Unfortunately, we got a couple hits at the same spot. Generally speaking, throughout the course of a season, this happens every year. It's not a surprise that some of these guys are going to be starting and taking a significant amount of snaps. Hopefully they will be prepared and answer the challenge.''

The results were mixed in this past Sunday's game, the first without Taylor for the Steelers since 2006. Allen made his first career start, and fellow second-year pro Brown also was bumped up the depth chart to play in nickel packages.

Repeatedly picking on Brown and Allen, Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes and was 12-for-18 when passing on third down with eight of those completions going to receivers that either Brown or Allen was covering.

That led to coach Mike Tomlin benching Brown in favor of Victorian, who had been cut off the practice squad the week prior.

While acknowledging that was ``a big step,'' Victorian said he never doubted his abilities - not when he was cut five times by four teams in a 14-month span, and not when he was beat by Danario Alexander for a touchdown on one of his first plays in his first NFL regular-season game Sunday.

``To play corner not only on this team but in this league, you have to have confidence,'' the 5-foot-10 Victorian said. ``Coming up I wasn't always as big as everybody, so confidence is something that has been building in me since I was a young kid. I think I'm pretty confident now.''

Van Dyke was confident he was going to be drafted by the Steelers in 2011 after speaking multiple times with Tomlin. Instead, Oakland plucked him in the third round with the 81st pick, leaving Pittsburgh with Brown at No. 95 and Allen at No. 128.

Van Dyke started four of 14 games for the Raiders as a rookie last season but was cut at the end of this past training camp. The Steelers were happy to scoop him up but limited him to special teams during the first half of the season.

But multiple penalties that negated returns led to Tomlin deactivating Van Dyke five times in a six-game span before he was needed against the Chargers because of Taylor's injury.

``It's always good to put your hand in the pile, as coach Tomlin always says,'' Van Dyke said. ``I just have to go out and make plays and help my team win this game, do what coach LeBeau and coach Tomlin want me to do.''

During practice Friday, Victorian and Brown were the top two corners to play after Keenan Lewis, a first-year starter who himself fought through a minor hip injury this week. Golden, an undrafted rookie safety, also was given reps in nickel packages.

The Steelers secondary will depend upon to help deal with Dallas' Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten, who all are on pace to have 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Between them, Victorian, Van Dyke, Brown and Golden have combined for four NFL starts.

``We will need every one of them, without a doubt,'' LeBeau said. ``They will all be playing.

``Hopefully, we have some quality depth. It's a challenge for us.''

Notes: LB LaMarr Woodley made it through an entire week of practice without setback or incident after missing the past two-and-a-half games due to an ankle injury. He is listed as probable to play Sunday. ... An apparent stomach virus is making its way through the Steelers locker room. LB James Harrison missed practice Wednesday and Thursday due to illness, and WR Antonio Brown, WR Plaxico Burress, reserve LB Stevenon Sylvester and LS Greg Warren were among those who were affected by it Friday.

---

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

Quick Links

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

After three straight wins, the Caps now sit just one win away from closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will get their shot to finish the series Monday in Game 6.

Nicklas Backstrom was the hero in Game 5 for Washington with three points including the overtime winner. Who will step up in Game 6? The Caps will need to make sure it's not Artemi Panarin who has been held without a point in two straight games. Washington will also need to make sure their penalty kill stays hot as they have killed off 13 straight power plays for the Blue Jackets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await the winner of this series after closing out the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Will the Caps close out Columbus and set up the rematch?

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 6

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Washington currently leads the series 3-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 6, 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.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

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

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

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS 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.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

Quick Links

Need to Know: Setting the final odds on the Redskins first-round draft pick

Need to Know: Setting the final odds on the Redskins first-round draft pick

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 23, three days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Setting the odds on the Redskins’ top pick

We have just three days left until the draft and it’s time to make the final predictions. For the last time before this draft, we’re going to break out the $100 in imaginary poker chips and see who is the favorite to be the Redskins’ top pick. 

Before we get started, all of these odds are set with the Redskins staying at No. 13. With a separate stack of chips, I’ll put $20 on them trading down, $80 on them staying put. There just isn’t an obvious team to deal with or a player that would be on the board to make a team want to move up. 

DT Vita Vea, $30—I would have this a little higher but I’m becoming less confident that he’ll be on the board when the Redskins draft at 13. Normally nose tackle isn’t a high-value position, but this is an odd draft and Vea is a freakish talent. He has to get past the Raiders picking tenth and the Dolphins at No. 11 and I’m not sure they will. 

S Derwin James, $20—If Vea is gone then there is a good chance that James will be there at 13, assuming that the four quarterbacks everybody thinks will go in the top 12 are indeed selected. Although the Redskins have D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson at safety, the versatile James could find snaps all over the field, as a third safety to cover tight ends and perhaps even at slot corner. 

DT Da’Ron Payne, $15—It’s starting to look like he’ll be a reach at 13; his real value lays more in the late teens or early twenties. But the analysts’ consensus doesn’t necessarily match up with what the Redskins think. If they believe that Jim Tomsula can coach some pass rushing ability out of him, they could well have him graded high enough to go ahead and fill the need with the first-round pick. 

LB Roquan Smith, $10—His size may concern enough teams to leave him on the board until the Redskins are on the clock. I’m not sure that the Redskins would take him because they just re-signed Mason Foster and Zach Brown. But he is fast, hard hitting, and he may be too good to pass up. 

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, $10—Many project him to be a slot corner in the NFL. A few years ago, many teams would hesitate to take a nickel corner in the first-round. But today, with teams lining up with three or more wide receivers on 63 percent of the snaps a slot corner is much more than a role player. Add Fitzpatrick’s ability to move back to safety and you have a player the Redskins should covet if he drops to 13. 

CB Denzel Ward, $10—I don’t give much of a chance of being on the board when the Redskins pick but stranger things have happened. He would be a steal at 13.

RB Derrius Guice, $5—I don’t think that this will happen, but I can’t look at all of the attention the Redskins have given to him and believe that there is a zero chance of them taking a running back this high in an RB-rich draft.  

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.

Tandler on Twitter

Timeline  

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 18
—OTAs start (5/22) 29
—Training camp starts (7/26) 94

The Redskins last played a game 113 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 139 days. 

In case you missed it