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Trick play helps Packers dismantle Bears

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Trick play helps Packers dismantle Bears

From Comcast SportsNetGREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Four days after starting the season with a demoralizing defeat, Clay Matthews and the Green Bay Packers looked every bit like the team they were expected to be this season.Maybe even better, at least on defense.The Packers (1-1) pulled off a perfectly executed trick play, then rattled and robbed Jay Cutler the rest of the way in a 23-10 victory over the division rival Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.The win represented an impressive rebound from a season-opening loss to San Francisco. Had the Packers lost to the Bears, they would have fallen to 0-2, with both losses coming at home."Inside the facility, there wasn't any panic," Aaron Rodgers said. "Outside, I think people were worried if we lose to Chicago, you're kind of putting yourself behind the eight ball a little bit. Good win for us. We're 1-1. Again, it's one game. We need to get better on offense; defense played incredible."Especially Matthews, who was credited with 3 of the Packers' seven sacks of Cutler.With six sacks in the Packers' first two games, Matthews already has equaled his total from last season."I think the statistics speak for themselves," Matthews said. "It's always good when you get after the quarterback, get him off his rhythm and have him throw some balls up there that I'm sure he wouldn't want, or wants back."It was a significant step backward for the Bears (1-1), who were filled with confidence after steamrolling Indianapolis in their opener.Cutler threw four interceptions to go with the seven sacks. As frustration mounted, Cutler vented with emphatic gestures throughout the game, saying afterward it was simply a sign of his desire to win."I care about this," Cutler said. "This isn't a hobby for me. I am not doing this for my health. I am trying to win football games and get first downs. When we're not doing the little things or not doing things the right way consistently, I'm going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn't care, they can get somebody else."Cutler was particularly upset with his offensive line, a position group that did not see a significant addition during the Bears' offseason makeover of their offense."I'm not going to just walk to the sideline and act like everything's OK," said Cutler, who was 11 for 27 for 126 yards. "It's just not going to happen."The loss left at least one prominent member of the Bears wondering if their Week 1 win was something of a mirage."Maybe we're not as good as we thought we were," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "We've got a long ways to go, that's obvious. We didn't play like we did last week. Maybe Green Bay's just that good, I don't know. We just didn't play well and they played good enough to do what they did to us."The Bears also lost running back Matt Forte to an ankle injury. Bears coach Lovie Smith said the severity of the injury was unclear.Smith was impressed by the Packers' rebound during a short turnaround."You've got to give them a lot of credit," he said. "They didn't play as well as they wanted to last week and they came back this week."Smith acknowledged that his team looked "flat-footed" on the Packers' biggest play of the day, a gutsy and perfectly executed fake field goal when the Packers were facing fourth-and-26 on the Chicago 27 late in the second quarter."Good call by them," Smith said. "They executed the play to perfection. What else can I say? Normally when a fake works it's a good job by the opponent, and that's what happened tonight."The Packers lined up for a field goal, but punter Tim Masthay, the holder, flipped the ball to backup tight end Tom Crabtree, who streaked into the end zone."I had the easiest job of anybody," Masthay said. "All I'm doing is catching the snap, putting it down and flipping it to Tom. The rest of the guys were the ones doing the work. So, yeah, it was really cool."Crabtree credited the Packers' blocking."It's not really on me," he said. "I think any of you could run that play. All I did was catch the ball and run a straight line. The guys did a great job blocking. Tim had a great pitch. Like I said, I just ran a straight line. That was about it."Watching from the sideline, Rodgers at first thought something went wrong."I saw Crabby running out the back side, I couldn't believe it," Rodgers said. "That's a gutsy call. A gutsy call. You've got to score on that."The Packers' defense did the rest, holding new Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall to two catches for 24 yards.Earlier in the week, a confident Cutler wished the Packers' defensive backs "good luck" in trying to match up physically in man coverage with a new-look wide receiver corps led by Marshall. Stalked by Tramon Williams for much of the night, Marshall didn't see much of the ball. And he couldn't convert his one big opportunity, dropping a potential touchdown in the third quarter.Charles Woodson said the Packers took note of Cutler's quote."It was everywhere," Woodson said. "You know how it is. Once you make a statement these days, it doesn't take long for it to travel and get to you."Cutler shrugged off any potential fallout from his comment, noting that the Packers didn't play much man coverage."They didn't play man, so why would they say anything?" Cutler said.In all, the Packers showed they're a better team than they appeared to be after Week 1."We got kicked in the (rear end) four days ago," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "And we were motivated."

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Need to Know: Who will be left for the Redskins to draft at No. 13?

Need to Know: Who will be left for the Redskins to draft at No. 13?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 26, one day before the second and third rounds of the 2018 NFL draft.  

The players the Redskins will have to choose from at No. 13

As the 2018 NFL draft unfolds tonight, the Redskins are going to look to be able to pick from a group of players when their pick comes on the board. “You’ve got about six or seven guys on that board that you’re hoping is there when you get there,” Doug Williams said on Tuesday. “If you lose one, you put another one up.”

So, who is likely to be in that group? Based on a bevy of mock drafts and big boards plus my own analysis guessing, here are the seven players I think will wind up in that group that will be under discussion when the Redskins pick, in no particular order. 

  • QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville 
  • DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
  • Edge Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
  • LB Leighton Vander Esch, Vanderbilt
  • S Derwin James, Florida State
  • CB Joshua Jackson, Iowa

Right off the top, did I forget RB Derrius Guice? No. While the Redskins like him I don’t think he is in consideration for the 13thpick. 

If Jackson is there, the move is to wait for the phones to ring. There is talk that the Ravens, who pick 16th, would like to add him. Moving back to Baltimore’s spot could potentially add a third-round pick and still have at least four of these seven players still available. The Redskins are intrigued by Jackson but with Alex Smith under contract, they aren’t going to draft a quarterback.  

Payne has been a popular pick to the Redskins in mock drafts (such as the one I posted yesterday). He could be a bit of a reach at 13 and perhaps he is a better candidate to be taken after a trade back. I think that Vita Vea will be gone, probably to the Raiders with the 10thpick. 

If Vea does go to Oakland and there is a top-10 surprise like Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey, a hot name lately, then there is a good chance that both Edmunds and James will be available. Let’s do the count as the Redskins would as the first 12 picks unfold. If four quarterbacks go plus Vea, McGlinchey, guard Quinton Nelson cornerback Denzel Ward, running back Saquon Barkley, and edge rusher Bradley Chubb, that leaves two other picks in front of the Redskins. I think those will be cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick and inside linebacker Roquan Smith. That would leave James and Edmunds. Of course, one or both of them could go earlier, leaving Fitzpatrick and/or Smith for inclusion on the Redskins’ list. 

Any one of those four players should give the Redskins pause when it comes to trading down or taking Payne. They need impact players and all of those prospects have potential to be just that. 

Their interest in Davenport may tell us how confident the Redskins are in their ability to retain Preston Smith beyond this year and their confidence in the development of Ryan Anderson. And if they select Joshua Jackson could be a signal that Josh Norman will become a 2019 salary cap casualty. The Redskins reportedly like Vander Esch but he’s a notch below the special talents like Edmunds and Smith. 

If I was presented with this scenario, I’d probably take James. Yes, the Redskins like D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson but they could take James, move him around the defense and figure out some neat name for his position. He would make the defense better immediately. Other needs like the defensive line could be handled later on in the draft.  

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.

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Timeline  

Today’s schedule: 8:00 NFL Draft, first round, AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 15
—OTAs start (5/22) 26
—Training camp starts (7/26) 91

The Redskins last played a game 116 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 136 days. 

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Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

The Toronto Raptors' best player has become a serious problem for the Washington Wizards, as they now face a 3-2 series deficit in their 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series and the bleak reality that one more loss means their season is over.

DeMar DeRozan, who began this first round series with a modest 17 points in Game 1, has since raised his game to a new level to beyond even what we have seen in the past. In Games 2-5, DeRozan has averaged 31.8 points, including his 32-game outburst in Game 5 that tilted the series in Toronto's favor.

DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points through five games against the Raptors. That's up considerably from his 22.5-point career playoff average.

DeRozan scored his 32 points in Game 5 with efficiency. He shot 12-for-24 from the field and even made three of his four shots from three.

He didn't even need the free throw line like he normally does. DeRozan shot six free throws, less than his regular season average.

The Wizards are having trouble with DeRozan particularly in the first half. DeRozan is averaging 14.8 first-half points during the playoffs, second only to LeBron James. 

DeRozan had 20 points by halftime in Game 5.

"DeMar was in his element tonight," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He got it going early. It was kind of hard to shut him off."

The Wizards are paying for disrespecting DeRozan's three-point shot. He made just 31.2 percent from long range in the regular season, but is shooting threes at a 45.5 percent clip in the playoffs.

If DeRozan is knocking down shots from outside, his offensive game is as complete as just about anyone in the NBA. He has shown in this series an impressive ability to not only get to the rim, but finish through contact or draw fouls.

DeRozan does a good job of maintaining body and ball control going straight up against Wizards' big men and is often rewarded by the referees. He shot a playoff career-high 18 free throws in Game 4.

The Wizards are actually doing a decent job of taking away his midrange shots, which usually account for much of his points. Though DeRozan is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent from 5-to-9 feet, up from his season clip of 47.6, his numbers are down from further out.

DeRozan is shooting 40 percent from 10-to-14 feet out, down from 41.5 percent in the regular season, and just 28.6 percent from 15-to-19 feet, down from 43.7.

DeRozan is hurting the Wizards from long range and within nine feet of the rim. He is taking what the Wizards are giving him and Washington has to adjust.

"We’ve gotta pretty much get it out of [his] hands. Make sure we take care of everybody else," Oubre said.

The Wizards should look to how the defended him in Game 4 as a good example of how to limit his impact. DeRozan had 35 points, but required 29 shots from the field and 18 free throws to get there. 

Washington forced DeRozan into an inefficient night and forced others to try to beat them. The result was the Wizards' best defensive game overall, as the Raptors scored a series-low 98 points.

DeRozan isn't the only defensive concern for the Wizards as they look ahead to Game 6 on Friday. Backup point guard Delon Wright scored 18 points for the second time this series and Toronto hit 11 threes in the game.

The Wizards held the Raptors to just seven threes in Game 4 and it was no coincidence they won that game. They have to lock down the perimeter and, as this series has shown, that includes DeRozan even though he isn't known for making threes.

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