Redskins

Adams will demand effort from SC star Clowney

Adams will demand effort from SC star Clowney

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won't get any special treatment from his new position coach.

Deke Adams said he's continually been asked since becoming the Gamecocks defensive line coach how he'll handle Clowney, the dominant, 6-foot-6 pass rusher who finished sixth in this past year's Heisman Trophy voting.

``I think everyone else has thought about it way more than I have,'' Adams said. ``My personality won't change. I'll continue to be the person I am that got me to this point. I'll continue to coach hard and continue to demand perfection from my guys.''

And that includes Clowney.

That doesn't mean that Adams, who spent last season on North Carolina's staff, isn't much happier to have the junior standout on his sideline than playing against him. The Tar Heels and Gamecocks open next season at Williams-Brice Stadium on Aug. 31.

``That's always a bonus,'' Adams said of Clowney. ``He's a great kid and I've heard a lot of exciting things about him.''

The quick hire - Adams was named on Jan. 21, a day after longtime South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing took a similar position at Florida - has not left Adams much one-on-one time with Clowney. The two talked last weekend as South Carolina hosted several college prospects they hope to sign next week.

``I got a chance when I shook hands with him why that football looks so small in his hands,'' Adams said. ``He's a great athlete.''

Clowney seems poised for a special season in 2013. He closed last year by getting 4 1-2 sacks on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in the Gamecocks 27-17 victory over their state rivals, then perhaps had the highlight of New Year's Day with his helmet-popping hit on Michigan runner Vincent Smith.

Adams watched the game with his sons, Jaylen and Jordan, and all three jumped up after Clowney's tackle.

``It was just an amazing hit,'' Adams said. ``But the game is changing so much, and it was so fast and so violent, I thought, `OK, they're going to throw a flag.'''

But as the hit was replayed again and again at various speeds and camera angles, Adams marveled at the textbook hit Clowney made. ``It was perfect,'' he said.

Adams was also amazed Clowney had the presence and poise to think about the football, which was lying on the ground. Clowney casually picked the ball up with his left hand for the fumble recovery.

The coach saw up close last weekend how much bigger Clowney's hands look in person.

``When I shook hands with him, I saw why the football looked so small in his hands,'' Adams said.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier believes he and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward made a perfect selection in Adams as Lawing's successor. Lawing was the Gamecocks coach who first watched film of Clowney as a South Pointe High sophomore with uncommon speed and power for someone so young.

Spurrier said he did not think the team would miss Lawing, who spent the past seven seasons on South Carolina, with Adams on board.

``He's sort of my kind of coach, good family man, wonderful personality. I think our players are really going to enjoy playing for him,'' Spurrier said.

Expectations for Clowney next season already through the roof. Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projected Clowney as the top selection if he were eligible this year and Spurrier's frequently called his standout linemen a ``three-year player.''

Adams understands it's now his responsibility to help Clowney live up to those projections. The best way for Clowney to achieve all he can, Adams believes, is to work each on getting better. That ability and work ethic will come through on the field if it's evident in practice, Adams said.

Adams is confident he'll work well with Clowney.

``Oh yeah, I think we'll have a great relationship. You can hear in his voice he knows he can be so much better than he is right now,'' Adams said. ``That's my goal.''

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Redskins fans shouldn't hate the idea of Daniel Jones at No. 15 as much as they seem to

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Redskins fans shouldn't hate the idea of Daniel Jones at No. 15 as much as they seem to

For some reason — whether it's because they like another quarterback better, or because his college numbers don't exactly pop, or because he went to college at Duke — a ton of Redskins fans really don't like the idea of their team drafting Daniel Jones 15th overall.

In fact, its gotten to the point where some have even changed their handle on Twitter to names that reflect their anti-Jones stance. 

In a Mock Draft Special on NBC Sports Washington's MyTeams app, though, Charley Casserly has the Redskins taking Jones at pick No. 15. Now, before you punt your phone or spike your laptop, hear Casserly out on what there is to like about Jones. 

"He's the most pro-ready quarterback in this year's draft," the former GM explained. "Why do I say that? Vision and anticipation. Vision is the ability to see the field and go in a progression from one to two to three in the receivers. Anticipation — see the blitz coming, get it to the hot receiver, get the ball out before the receiver makes his break. He's very good at both of those things."

What Jones doesn't have, such as a top arm, is something you can see right away in workouts and on tape. But his strengths, such as his ability to find the right read or throw a wideout open, aren't as simple to notice.

Perhaps that's why 'Skins fans are so against him — because you have to do more projecting when it comes to his future as opposed to someone like Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins, guys with tons of college success and tape that will wow you.

Jay Gruden has mentioned this offseason how, if Washington does grab a QB, he expects that player to come in early and compete. They can't be treated like a minor leaguer, someone who can slowly work their way up to a place where they're ready for Sundays. 

According to Casserly at least, Jones won't need much grooming. Maybe that catches Gruden's eye.

In his mock, the analyst slotted the Duke product to the Redskins instead of Missouri's Drew Lock due to, among other things, Lock not being as accurate. Other players the Burgundy and Gold could've selected but didn't were Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell and DK Metcalf.

In the end, Casserly kept lauding Jones' readiness. In addition to his athleticism, Casserly expects Jones to come into the league and make a difference early with his eyes and his mind.

"Super smart guy," he said. "He's a natural at that stuff. That's not natural. That's stuff you have to learn."

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Oshie is out, Smith-Pelly is in for Game 5: What that means for the Caps’ offense

Oshie is out, Smith-Pelly is in for Game 5: What that means for the Caps’ offense

ARLINGTON – The Capitals forward lines will look very different when they take the ice for Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. T.J. Oshie will be out after suffering an upper-body injury late in Game 4 while Devante Smith-Pelly, who was called up from the Hershey Bears on Friday, will be in.

“I do expect him to go right into the lineup,” head coach Todd Reirden said.

Smith-Pelly was one of the team’s playoff heroes in its 2018 Stanley Cup run, scoring seven goals in 24 games. After a rocky regular season, he was sent down to Hershey prior to the NHL trade deadline where he has scored six goals and eight assists in 20 games.

“To get his game back to where it was last year around this time, it was important for him to play a lot of minutes,” Reirden said. “He went down to Hershey, and he played a lot of minutes, helped them have success, helped them get into the playoffs. When an injury and a chance for him to step into our lineup was available, then we were going to recall him. That's been our plan all along. Now he'll get that opportunity."

Whether the Caps are getting playoff Smith-Pelly or the player who struggled this season remains to be seen, but his pending return seems to have provided a boost to the locker room.

“He was with us all the way last year, so that’s huge,” Chandler Stephenson said. “He knows playoff hockey.”

“He can step up in the important moments,” Jakub Vrana said. “He showed it last year and we’re happy to have him back.”

Getting that boost from Smith-Pelly is important for the team after losing one of its leaders and locker room personalities in Oshie.

Reirden said Oshie was still meeting with doctors and could not give a definitive timeline yet. He did say, however, that Oshie was out indefinitely and would not be playing Saturday.

"He's certainly, I feel, one of the top leaders in the entire league,” Reirden said. “Not just with how he plays, who he is as a human being on the ice, off the ice, role model. You can go on a lot of different ways with the type of person that T.J. Oshie is and not having him around your players is not great. That loss will be felt.”

The Hurricanes certainly will not be crying over the loss of Oshie, however, and it falls now on Reirden to adjust. That will be no easy task.

The Caps have been held to one goal in the past two games, have gotten virtually no secondary scoring in the first four games of the series and now will be without the team’s second-leading goal scorer from the regular season.

“It has been top heavy,” Reirden said of the offense. “Just even 5-on-5 scoring is not where we need it to be and particularly, obviously, the last two games. We've got to find ways to generate offense. It's always tougher to create in the playoffs. You know, teams don't give up quite as much on the rush. They're a lot more committed to not giving up odd-man rushes to the opposition. We've got to find a way to get in on the forecheck more and impose a little bit more of a physical style of play on their defense and that comes with our puck management and putting pucks in behind them. Then when we have space, we've got to use it.”

Friday’s practice was an optional skate meaning we did not get to see any lines or how Reirden may be planning to shift the offense. With Oshie out, this could give Reirden an opportunity to reunite the Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson line that was so effective in last year’s postseason. Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly and Carl Hagelin, meanwhile, seem like the most likely candidates to move into a top-six role in Oshie’s absence.

Washington struggled immensely trying to replace a top-six right wing early in the season when Tom Wilson missed 16 games due to a suspension. Reirden tried to plug in Connolly, Chandler Stephenson and Dmitrij Jaskin, among others. Nothing seemed to work until Wilson returned.

The addition of Hagelin at the trade deadline means Washington is dealing with more offensive depth now than when Wilson was out. Plus, past experiences both from this season’s multiple injuries and last postseason give the team confidence that it can overcome any loss to the roster.

“We've been in situations where we've lost one of our leaders,” Vrana said. “We have a pretty good group of players here and anybody can fill-in and bring their A-games to the game."

“I think just a handful of games where we actually had our actual opening day roster that we wanted to have in front of us,” Reirden said. “It's something we've gone through a lot this year. We've done a good job, our team has of stepping up in those situations and taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Smith-Pelly will likely slot into the bottom-six upon his return to the lineup. Reirden acknowledged it had been a while since Smith-Pelly had played in the NHL and said he would ease him back in. But he is still expecting him to make a big impact, regardless of what line he plays on.

Reirden hopes that Smith-Pelly’s playing style can help improve the team in some of the areas it has struggled in the past two games.

"I don't think we've been as physical on our forecheck as we could have hoped after four games of evaluating,” Reirden said. “Some of it is that we're not getting in enough to forecheck and when we are, we haven't been as physical as maybe we have been in past series in a prior time. This is an impact that [Smith-Pelly] can have. They're a high shot-volume team as we talk about, so in D-zone coverage he's an excellent shot-blocker, pays the price that way. And when things get more difficult, he seems to relish in that and step up to the plate and obviously delivered some big goals for us. Those are some things we're looking for.”

But Washington’s success will not be dependent solely on the addition of Smith-Pelly. The rest of the forwards know they have to step up as well.

“I haven’t found the net lately, I know that,” Vrana said who has yet to score this series. “I’ve been working on it in today’s practice and tomorrow is a new game. Come with a positive mind and go period by period and focus on winning the game.”

“I think there's another level from everybody,” Reirden said. “Some guys have played better than others, but I don't think we're at our peak by any means yet.”

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