Redskins

Utah State player who collapsed getting stronger

Utah State player who collapsed getting stronger

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah State forward Danny Berger ran a mile the other day then did some stairs afterward. Not unusual for an athlete, except that he did it just six weeks after he nearly died after collapsing on the basketball court.

Now, unless Berger takes his shirt off to reveal where a defibrillator has been implanted in his chest, it's hard to differentiate him from most other 22-year-old college athletes.

``I feel good,'' Berger said after watching his Utah State teammates practice late Tuesday during a 13-game winning streak. ``The doctor said everything looks great. I look normal.''

While previously hopeful he would play again this season, he is resigned that won't happen. But he looks forward to an extra year of eligibility. This was to be his junior season; now he'll have two seasons left.

``I just try to think about the long run,'' said Berger, who was revived after going into cardiac arrest on Dec. 4. ``I have another year. I'll be more mature, be stronger and a better teammate and more of a leader. I focus on that, and look at the fact I am extremely fortunate.''

That's not to say it is easy just watching.

He can shoot, ride the stationary bike and run, but he isn't cleared to practice or play.

While his team heads to New Mexico State for Thursday's game that kicks off a short road trip, Berger will be back in Logan, catching up on school work.

``It feels like it's longer (than six weeks), to be honest,'' Berger said. ``It's hard to sit there and watch, but I'm happy for them.''

With a 14-1 record, Utah State is one of a dozen Division 1 teams with only one loss, though the Aggies don't get much attention playing a Western Athletic Conference schedule.

Berger sees a team that is a bit more unified - perhaps since players witnessed his life-threatening incident.

He recently took time to write a heartfelt blog entry, published by the Aggies, in which he updated schoolmates about his health, thanked all those who helped save him or even thought about him, and reiterated how grateful he is to be alive.

``I'm trying to get better one day at a time psychologically, and remember the things I've learned over last the last six weeks,'' Berger said Tuesday.

He cited his relationship with others.

``How I treat people and how I conduct myself is what really matters. A lot of things just don't matter that we get caught up in,'' he said.

Berger still doesn't remember much of what occurred on the court that December afternoon.

He was working on his defense in preparation for an upcoming game against instate rival Brigham Young but suddenly felt dizzy as if he had stood up too fast.

Fast action by longtime assistant trainer Mike Williams, among others, was credited with saving Berger's life.

Four days later, he was out of the hospital and being reunited with his teammates in front of a packed crowd.

The Aggies won that night, their fourth win in a row. Since then they've won nine more - the 13-game winning streak the sixth longest in school history and second longest in the country behind Kansas (14 straight).

Through everything, the small defibrillator implanted in Berger's chest hasn't kicked in once - a good sign.

In a few weeks doctors will be monitoring him when he gets his heart rate up as high as he can.

That will let them set his defibrillator a little higher so it doesn't go off when he is just working out -thus enabling him to work out even harder.

He's also hoping some additional blood work and research will shed more light on his collapse.

``Hopefully, we find something out. We may not find out why it happened,'' he said. ``It's obviously pretty scary because they don't know what caused it. But I decided I can't live my life like that. I've got to look past it, just live . try to be normal.''

In that respect, he's glad the attention has quieted but he doesn't mind talking if it is important to others.

``I said it before,'' Berger said. ``I know it happened for a reason. I'm here for some purpose and need to figure out those things. I have the rest of my life to do that.''

As for that mile, he ran it in 6 minutes, 55 seconds.

``It was a little slower than normal, but better than I was expecting,'' he said.

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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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