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ACL in question as Redskins' RG3 has more tests

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ACL in question as Redskins' RG3 has more tests

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) It doesn't sound good for Robert Griffin III.

An injury that sidelines RG3 well into next season is a very real possibility - or at least it seemed that way Monday after coach Mike Shanahan described the results of tests on the rookie's right knee.

Shanahan said the results are prompting the team to send Griffin to Florida on Tuesday to see renowned orthopedist James Andrews for more examinations, essentially a second opinion that will decide the team's fate for the 2013 season.

``There is a concern,'' Shanahan said. ``That's why he's going to see him.''

Griffin tore his ACL while playing for Baylor in 2009, and Shanahan said that old injury caused Griffin's latest MRI to prove inconclusive and produce ``differences of opinion'' in those who have looked at it.

``They want to take another look and have a physical exam with him,'' Shanahan said, ``to make sure they're not looking at old injuries.''

A torn ACL typically requires a rehabilitation period of nine to 12 months, although some players don't return to full health until their second season after the injury. On the other hand, one of this season's most remarkable stories was Adrian Peterson, who returned about eight months after tearing an ACL and nearly broke the NFL's single-season rushing record.

Notably, Shanahan referenced Peterson on Monday, pointing out that the Minnesota Vikings back had the big season without the benefit of an offseason practice program. It could be a possible scenario for Griffin.

Shanahan was grilled about his handling of Griffin's injury. Already playing with a heavy black brace in his third game since spraining a lateral collateral ligament, Griffin hurt the knee again when he fell awkwardly while throwing a pass in the first quarter of Sunday's 24-14 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Griffin stayed in the game, but he was far from his usual self, clearly favoring the knee and unable to run with the world-class speed that helped define his play early in the season.

Then, in the fourth quarter with the Redskins trailing by seven, the knee buckled the wrong way when Griffin tried to field a bad shotgun snap. The Seahawks recovered the fumble deep in Washington territory, setting up a short field goal that helped put the game out of reach. Griffin was done for the evening.

Shanahan said he thought he made the ``right decisions'' to keep Griffin in the game and that it would be ``crazy'' to think he would purposely sacrifice Griffin's career to win a game. He said he did not talk to team doctors initially after Griffin was hurt in the first quarter, instead relying on Griffin's word.

``I went up to Robert. I said, `You OK?''' Shanahan said. ``And he said, `I'm fine.'''

Griffin was also feeling the criticism for not taking himself out. He did not appear in the locker room during the two hours it was open to reporters Monday morning and instead made his public statements via Twitter.

``Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers. But few have been in the line of fire in battle. ... I thank God for perspective and because of that I appreciate the support from everyone. I also appreciate the criticism. ... When adversity strikes you respond in one of two ways....You step aside and give in..Or you step up and fight,'' Griffin tweeted.

Teammates defended Griffin's desire to play hurt, saying it's part of an athlete's competitive nature.

``It's a slippery slope, I guess you can say, because you want to help the team,'' said receiver Pierre Garcon, who faced a similar dilemma this season while dealing with a painful toe injury. ``But you want to help yourself in the long run and your career.

``You want to look out for all sides, but it's hard to really know exactly if you're doing the right thing because if you sit out and the team losses, it's like `I could probably have helped.' If you go out there and don't help the team, it's like, `I probably should've sat out.' You've just got to make a decision and live with it.''

Shanahan's take on Griffin was also muddled by details that have emerged from the game in which the quarterback originally hurt the knee last month against the Baltimore Ravens.

The coach said at the time he was told by Andrews on the Redskins sideline that Griffin was cleared to return to the game, but Andrews told USA Today over the weekend that he didn't get a chance to examine the knee during the one play Griffin sat out after the initial injury.

Shanahan explained the apparent discrepancy.

``I don't sit down with him and say, `Hey, did you give him a proper evaluation?''' Shanahan said. ``I ask him, `Is it OK if he goes back in the game?' He says yes or no. He said yes.''

Either way, the various versions of what happened cast more intrigue on the protocol NFL teams use to determine whether someone is fit to keep playing. Redskins left guard Kory Lichtensteiger had to leave Sunday's game in the first quarter because he could no longer play on a sprained left ankle that kept him out of practice all week.

``I went out there,'' Lichtensteiger said. ``But, in hindsight, I probably shouldn't have done it.''

Griffin's injury and the playoff loss put a damper on the end of one of the best Redskins seasons in two decades. Washington rallied from a 3-6 start to win the NFC East after four straight last-place finishes. Assuming Griffin's knee will again be fully healthy, the future looks brighter than at any time since the Super Bowl era under coach Joe Gibbs in the 1980s and early 1990s.

``I think people have really learned around here - if you're down by seven, people aren't packing it in,'' said safety Reed Doughty, wrapping up his seventh season in Washington. ``People aren't getting that `Oh, the way things used to be' kind of feeling.''

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Real Marquee Matchup: Wizards face Jimmy Butler, Heat team that has set good example to follow

Real Marquee Matchup: Wizards face Jimmy Butler, Heat team that has set good example to follow

The 2019-20 season for the Wizards can be viewed as somewhat of a gap year, in that they hope their current organizational reset doesn't take long. It seems to be their goal to be back in the playoff mix next season with John Wall back and Bradley Beal operating through his prime.

Their best path towards doing that may look a lot like the team they face on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat (7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington). After missing the playoffs last season with a 39-43 record, the Heat are now 30-13 and second in the Eastern Conference.

The jump they have made is unusual, so don't focus too much on the standings. Instead look at how they have improved and how parallels could be drawn to the Wizards.
The Heat are led by Jimmy Butler, an All-Star wing who is a level above everyone else on their roster. The same could be said about Bradley Beal.

They have a point guard in Goran Dragic, who is still effective despite not being the 20-point scoring All-Star he used to be, now that he's lost a step. The way he plays could be a reasonable expectation for Wall as he works his way back to All-Star form coming off an Achilles injury.

Miami has assembled a deep and multidimensional roster around them. They have an ascending young frontcourt player in Bam Adebayo. Rui Hachimura could follow a similar trajectory, albeit as a different style of player.

Miami also has an array of shooters. Duncan Robinson was undrafted, then signed to a two-way contract. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn are rookies. The Wizards have their own group of emerging perimeter threats in Davis Bertans, Garrison Mathews and Jordan McRae.

The way the Heat win is with an efficient offense that includes deadly-accurate outside shooting and a slightly above average defense. They rank seventh in offensive rating (111.7) and 13th in defensive rating (108.1). And they are second in the NBA in three-point percentage (37.6) and eighth in threes made (12.7/g).

The Wizards are, of course, nowhere near even average on defense. Their defensive rating is 30th in the NBA and they possess none of the traits that make the Heat the defensive team they are. Miami, for instance, is first in opponent three-point percentage (32.7) and also first in defensive rebounding (32.3).

The Wizards, though, do already check off some boxes on offense. They are 11th in offensive rating (110.7) and eighth in three-point percentage (36.5). 

The Wizards have a long way to go to reach Miami's level, but the Heat's approach in a macro sense could be worth following and especially once Wall returns. Though Butler is their clear-cut best player, he only attempts 13.4 shots per game, second-most on the team. Dragic, despite being a former All-Star, takes only 12.1 per game.

The Wizards have long done things differently. Back in 2016-17, when they had their best season in many years, Wall averaged 18.4 shots and Beal took 17.2 per game.

Despite taking fewer shots, Butler is still able to put up numbers. He is averaging 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game. Combined with his defense, that is plenty to compete for the All-Star team and maybe even All-NBA honors. Meanwhile, he gets credit for being the face of a winning team.

The Heat have a roster that is a bit top-heavy that has been filled out nicely with unheralded moves and young players. That is how the Wizards' roster might be described a year from now. In order to make it work and win some games, they might want to pay attention to how Miami is doing it.

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'MLB The Show 20' features the 'Soto Shuffle' and iconic moments from Nationals' World Series season

'MLB The Show 20' features the 'Soto Shuffle' and iconic moments from Nationals' World Series season

One of the first things some Nationals fans noticed about PlayStation's trailer for the "MLB The Show 20," which was released Wednesday, was the inclusion of the "Soto Shuffle" after Juan Soto takes a ball.

Back in November one (possibly psychic?) Nationals fan tweeted his hope that the newest edition of the game would include Soto's iconic move at the plate, which the outfielder uses to psych-out opponents.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas wasn't too happy with the "Soto Shuffle," but Soto never stopped the move.  

According to the preview, the new video game also includes a Trea Turner dugout dance party at Nationals Park and former National Anthony Rendon in his new Los Angeles Angels garb.

No word yet as to whether Gerardo Parra's "Baby Shark" or Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick's "Clutch and Drive" made the cut. 

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