Redskins

Texans want to build momentum going into playoffs

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Texans want to build momentum going into playoffs

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans need a win this weekend at Indianapolis to secure a bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

They also want to build some momentum instead of limping into the postseason despite their 12-3 record. Houston had a chance to secure home-field advantage last week, only to post its worst offensive performance of the season in a 23-6 loss to the Vikings.

``It's not important, it's crucial, because in order for you to get to where you want to be, you have to be playing your best ball,'' veteran linebacker Bradie James said. ``And that's what we've been working on this week. Guys have been frowning during the holiday time. So that means we should respond well.''

They now have to win at Indianapolis, where the Texans are 0-10. The Colts, who went 2-14 last season, are 10-5 this season and have already secured a playoff spot.

``This is like a playoff game for us,'' quarterback Matt Schaub said. ``This is a team that is in the playoff themselves and we're in their building. With all that we can gain from playing well and getting a win on the road, it's definitely a playoff-type game.''

Schaub and the offense should get a lift from the return of running back Arian Foster, who missed most of the second half of Sunday's game because of an irregular heartbeat in a game in which Houston rushed for a season-low 34 yards. He has practiced all week and coach Gary Kubiak said he will play Sunday.

He said since it had happened to him before, the medical staff knew exactly how to handle it on Sunday.

``Anytime something like that happens that's unusual, so it concerns you,'' Kubiak said. ``At least it's something that they had a little history with and they could deal with.''

This is Houston's second meeting with the Colts in the last three weeks. Houston's only win in the last three games came in a 29-17 victory over the Colts two weeks ago.

``I think that's the biggest thing is to get the confidence,'' offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. ``We have a very confident team when we get things going in the right way. I think we will. I think our guys will respond.''

Though much of the focus this week has been on the poor play of the offense, the defense is also looking to get better in its last game before the postseason. Defensive end J.J. Watt liked how the unit played in the first meeting against the Colts, but hasn't been happy with its performance in other recent games.

He has already set a franchise record with 20 1/2 sacks, leaving him 2 1/2 shy of breaking Michael Strahan's single-season sack record.

``It's on my mind,'' Watt said of the sack mark, ``but winning is No. 1 by far. I had someone ask me (Tuesday), would you rather win the game or get the sack record? There is no debate whatsoever. I'd much rather win the game, but then I said I would love to win the game and get the sack record.''

Watt had 10 tackles, including three sacks and forced a fumble, in Houston's first game against Indianapolis.

Kubiak said it's a big week for his veterans to step up and help get the team headed back in the right direction. He doesn't really have to say anything to those players because they know what needs to be done.

After making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, Kubiak is looking for his team to do more this year.

``There's another level that you play the game at,'' Kubiak said. ``There's another level of expectations. There's another level of responsibility, and that's why you see a lot of the same people in the playoffs all the time ... because they find ways to raise that level. To me that's the next step for this organization.''

NOTES: Tight end Owen Daniels sat out of practice on Thursday with a sore hamstring, but Kubiak said he should be OK for Sunday. ... LB Brooks Reed, who returned last week after missing three games with a groin injury, is doing well this week and Kubiak said he expects him to play more than he did against the Vikings.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. Yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up on the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY