Redskins

12th-ranked Gamecocks back from off week, injuries

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12th-ranked Gamecocks back from off week, injuries

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said his 12th-ranked Gamecocks are refreshed and ready to finish the season strong after a much-needed week off.

South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) had climbed to third in the Top 25 and was in the thick of the national title chase a month ago. Then came defeats at LSU and Florida. And the Gamecocks managed to end that losing streak against Tennessee two weeks ago, it came at a terrible price - the loss of star tailback Marcus Lattimore for the season with a gruesome knee injury.

``I think our team and players enjoyed the week off,'' Spurrier said Tuesday. ``I think we needed it.''

The down time gave banged up players like defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and running back Brandon Wilds the chance to heal. It also allowed the team to deal with the devastating news of Lattimore's absence.

``The bye week gave us the time to get everything right,'' said tight end Justice Cunningham, like Lattimore a Gamecock captain. ``Me personally, I was trying to let everybody know what we've been talking about all year in the weight room, we've got to finish.''

That starts Saturday when the Gamecocks close the SEC season against up-and-down Arkansas (4-5, 2-3). The Razorbacks opened the year 1-5 after an offseason of upheaval with former coach Bobby Petrino at the center of it. But they've won three of their past four games and quarterback Tyler Wilson leads the league in passing yards per game.

South Carolina's pass defense was non-existent in its last game as Tennessee's Tyler Bray threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Gamecocks safety DeVonte Holloman said the team addressed that performance during the time off, too. The defense has spent more time in the film room and paid more attention to technique since the last game, Holloman said, adding the fresh legs should also help.

``Having nine games back to back to back wore us down a little bit,'' he said.

Most eyes at Williams-Brice Stadium will be on the Gamecocks backfield where fifth-year senior Kenny Miles will start for Lattimore.

He was among the players who attended a rally on Lattimore's 21st birthday on Oct. 29 to show their appreciation and support for the tailback.

Miles was South Carolina's leading rusher in 2009 before Lattimore arrived on campus and has been a backup ever since. He took part in senior day festivities last year as he considered finishing his career somewhere else, yet chose to return and end things where he began.

He said is ready to carry the load again.

``I'm just going to go out there and make sure the offense keeps rolling and not miss a beat,'' he said.

There'll be a place for Lattimore this weekend, too.

Spurrier said Lattimore had successful surgery on his right knee last Friday and is now recuperating. It could take more than a year for Lattimore, who's told Spurrier he'd return to football, to make it back on the field.

Spurrier said Lattimore will attend the Arkansas game and have his name unveiled on the inside of the stadium as South Carolina's all-time leader with 41 touchdowns, including 38 rushing TDs.

``So I think our fans need to know that Marcus will be here and I'm sure he'll get an ovation maybe like there's never been one at Williams-Brice,'' Spurrier said.

The coach was concerned with a few injury situations. Quarterback Connor Shaw probably wouldn't have been able to play if the Gamecocks had a game last week because of sprained foot.

Shaw stood in the pocket at Monday's practice, but could not run well, Spurrier said.

``Hopefully, by the middle of this week, he'll be full go,'' the coach said.

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will likely need surgery in the offseason to correct a foot injury that's bothered him for weeks, Spurrier said. The condition isn't painful, but Clowney hasn't only worked about 50 percent of the time at practice, the coach said.

South Carolina has struggled with Arkansas in recent years, losing three in a row and five of the past six games. Razorbacks coach John L. Smith says that past success is a big part of the game plan this week.

Smith wants his players to understand ``traditionally we play hard and play well against these guys,'' he said.

Spurrier's calling on the past a bit, too. The Gamecocks have won 10 straight at home and are hoping to finish with six SEC wins for the second consecutive year, something the program's never done before. Should the Gamecocks win out - they face FCS opponent Wofford and No. 10 Clemson after Arkansas - there's a chance at an at-large berth in the BCS.

``I think our guys realize that we've lost to two top-10 teams at their place,'' Spurrier said. ``So if we can finish strong, we'll see where it leads us.''

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 

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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

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Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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