Redskins

49ers TE Davis practices again after concussion

49ers TE Davis practices again after concussion

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Vernon Davis is anxious to get back on the field with the San Francisco 49ers and help them build momentum for the playoffs during Sunday's regular-season finale against Arizona.

He still has to be cleared to play first.

Davis practiced in a non-contact black jersey for the second consecutive day Friday and is taking the necessary steps, according to NFL-mandated protocol, to return from a concussion he sustained during last week's loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers have a pressing need for their starting tight end to return after the team placed starting wide receiver Mario Manningham on injured reserve early Friday, leaving San Francisco without its second-leading receiver for the rest of the season.

Manningham tore knee ligaments after catching a pass in the third quarter of San Francisco's 42-13 loss at Seattle. Davis was hurt in the first quarter after absorbing a crushing hit from safety Kam Chancellor that dislodged the football from Davis near the goal line. Davis left the game after that play and did not return.

Chancellor was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Davis said Friday the hit was ``brutal'' and one of the hardest he ever has taken in seven NFL seasons. Davis, who gained clearance from an independent neurologist and the 49ers' team physician to resume non-contact activity Thursday, could be cleared to play if he passes the final step in protocol - contact simulation - before Sunday's game.

``Tomorrow he'll go through the final progression,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday. ``He's on course, but that's something the doctors have full control over.''

When asked if he felt 100 percent recovered, Davis said, ``I'm all right.'' But he made clear his intention to play against the Cardinals as the 49ers look to clinch their second consecutive NFC West title. San Francisco also can capture the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs with a win Sunday and a Green Bay loss at Minnesota.

``I'm thinking I have to be ready for this game,'' Davis said. ``That's the way I'm approaching it. There's a lot on the line. No matter what happens, we have to win this game. So my mind is focused on getting out there and helping my teammates win this game any way I can. I'm ready to play.''

Davis, a Pro Bowler in 2009 who led the 49ers in receptions twice in the past three seasons, has seen his production drop significantly this year, most notably since he recorded a season-high six receptions during a Nov. 19 victory over Chicago.

Davis has just five catches for 56 yards in San Francisco's five games since then.

The Niners figure to get Davis more involved when he does return with Manningham joining backup receiver Kyle Williams on injured reserve. Davis was San Francisco's top receiving weapon in the playoffs last season, when he caught 10 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns in two games as the 49ers reached the NFC championship game.

``You're definitely right that I want to contribute in that way,'' Davis said. ``My time will come when I'm getting more balls.''

If that time isn't Sunday, and Davis is unable to play against the Cardinals for the first time this season, the 49ers likely will give more playing time to their two backup tight ends, Delanie Walker and undrafted rookie Garrett Celek.

With Davis on the sideline last week, Walker had a season-high four receptions for 54 yards and Celek had a career-high two catches for 41 yards - Celek's first receptions in nine games.

``My job every week is to prove I can play and be the No. 1 tight end,'' Walker said. ``With Vernon down, it just gives me more opportunity to get the ball. I'll take Vernon's (position), and when we go with two tight ends, (Celek) will take Vernon's and I'll do the same role I usually do.''

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman - who since late November has lost three of his regular contributors in Manningham, Williams and running back Kendall Hunter - is prepared to get his other tight ends involved if Davis is held out against the Cardinals.

``They'll probably split different things,'' Roman said. ``Delanie is such a valuable asset as the (No. 1) tight end and also as the second tight end. He can do both and does do both at times. You can build a lot of different formations with him and do a lot of things. It will definitely be a mix and match.''

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

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USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

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