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After "positive" day, Roethlisberger nears return

After "positive" day, Roethlisberger nears return

PITTSBURGH (AP) Steelers coach Mike Tomlin challenged Ben Roethlisberger to prove his sprained right shoulder is ready to go before handing the keys to the offense back to his franchise quarterback.

A few dozen passes Wednesday appears to have provided a pretty compelling argument.

Admittedly a little rusty while going through his first serious workout since injuring his shoulder and dislocating a rib during a 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City on Nov. 12, Roethlisberger reported no major issues after letting it loose following a three-week layoff and seems on track to start on Sunday against San Diego.

``I'm getting there,'' Roethlisberger said. ``I've got to talk to (tight end) Heath (Miller). He's my barometer. He lets me know how close I am to 100 percent on velocity and stuff like that.''

Tomlin declined to name Roethlisberger the starter against the reeling Chargers (4-8) but sounded very much like a coach running out of reasons to keep his team's most valuable player on the sideline.

``I thought it was a positive day for Ben,'' Tomlin said. ``He threw the ball around both vertically and horizontally. I thought the ball had good velocity, particularly in a few instances. So, it was positive.''

The Steelers (7-5) are 1-2 since Roethlisberger was slammed to the turf by Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali, though the one victory came in a 23-20 upset of rival Baltimore last weekend that revived Pittsburgh's season.

Veteran backup Charlie Batch played well against the Ravens, passing for 276 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Still, Tomlin stressed his decision on whether Roethlisberger will play depends entirely on Roethlisberger's health and not Batch's growing confidence.

``We'll see what (Thursday) holds for us,'' Tomlin said. ``We'll make sure that there (are) no steps backward (Thursday) morning.''

There didn't seem to be any during a brisk afternoon session in which Roethlisberger worked with reserve wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Jerricho Cotchery while starters Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace sat out to rest various aches and pains.

Roethlisberger estimated he threw ``roughly'' 3-4 passes in each practice period while leading the first team. Though the two-time Super Bowl winner experienced ``a little bit'' of pain and tightness in the shoulder, there were no red flags even if Sanders thought his quarterback is still working back into shape.

``He's still getting back into his rhythm,'' Sanders said. ``This is his first time really throwing and the wind is out there so he's going to be off a little bit (but) ... we're very optimistic about the direction he's going to go.''

It's a direction that will send Batch, who turned 38 on Wednesday, back to the bench. It's a place Batch goes with no regrets after a redemptive performance in Baltimore that atoned for a three-interception debacle two weeks ago in a loss to Cleveland.

``You always want to play but my role is the backup,'' Batch said. ``So, if he's ready to play you can't be sad about that. Ben is the guy. So, whenever Ben is ready to go he's going to be out there and he's going to do everything in his power to be out there.''

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NOTES: Brown (ankle), Sanders (shoulder) and Wallace (knee) were held out of practice as a preventative measure but all are expected to play against the Chargers ... S Troy Polamalu also did not practice, but it was not injury related ... Backup QB Byron Leftwich (fractured ribs) also returned to practice but will likely be inactive on Sunday.

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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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