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Westwood targets season-opening win in Dubai

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Westwood targets season-opening win in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) He's got a new caddie and a new home in the United States.

Lee Westwood hopes those changes translate into victories this year, starting with the Dubai Desert Classic that begins Thursday.

The eighth-ranked Englishman has been a runner-up at Dubai three times, including last year when he led after three rounds but lost to Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello. Westwood missed a seven-footer on 17 that could have tied, and one on 18 to force a playoff.

After missing the cut at the PGA Championship last year, Westwood split from coach Pete Cowen and temporary caddie Mike Waite. Mike Kerr, normally on the bag for Alvaro Quiros, took over. Westwood also moved to Florida with his family in December after rejoining the PGA Tour in 2012.

The move to Florida, Westwood said, has allowed him to play much more golf in the offseason - he was out last week with Luke Donald - than he's done in the past when England has been frigid.

``I feel like I'm coming out running,'' Westwood said, adding that his short game and putting have shown the most improvement.

``Hopefully, I will come out and be competitive,'' he said. ``We've seen recently some of the best players struggling to find their competitive edge. I feel like I'm playing well and I have a chance.''

Westwood, though, has yet to replace Cowen and isn't looking to overhaul his swing like Tiger Woods has in the past. The Englishman has been practicing more and ``doesn't feel rusty at the moment.''

``I haven't really changed coaches but done away with a few,'' he said with a smile. ``That is a big difference. I'm not going to another coach and trying a new method. I'm not making any big changes as such.''

Westwood, who turns 40 this year, said it seemed ``like the right time'' to move to the United States. He said his two children, who were 8 and 11, were young enough to make the adjustment to a new school, and the new location allows him to play more on the U.S. tour without being away from his family for long periods.

``I played the PGA Tour last year and really enjoyed it and fancied a new challenge with the family,'' Westwood said. ``Fancied making a move and being somewhere warm.''

And with every new season, Westwood has to contend with questions of whether this might be the year he finally wins a major. He finished tied for third at last year's Masters, but fared poorly in the other three. Time was of the essence, he admitted, but he wasn't about to let his age influence his play.

``That would be putting a bit of pressure on myself,'' he said. ``No, I try hard year every year to win a major, so just need to find a little spark that takes me from finishing second or third to winning one.''

Westwood won twice in 2012, once on the European Tour and once on the OneAsia Tour. But for a man who has 22 victories on the European Tour, it was a less than stellar season. He struggled at times with his putter and saw his ranking slip from third to seventh. He ended the year tied for a disappointing 48th in the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

MORE 2018 NFL DRAFT:
- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

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Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.