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Arizona's Kolb says he's fine, ready to face Bills

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Arizona's Kolb says he's fine, ready to face Bills

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) When last seen by most of the country, Kevin Kolb was probably on his backside after absorbing one of a multitude of hits in the Arizona offense's worst performance of the season.

Kolb pronounced himself fine Wednesday, fully recovered from the punishment he endured in that 17-3 Thursday night loss at St. Louis, Arizona's first defeat of the season. The Cardinals scored the fewest points in a game since they lost 13-3 to the New York Jets in 2004, Dennis Green's first season coaching the Arizona

It helps that Kolb had a couple of extra days to shake off the effects of that physical drubbing the Rams put on the Arizona offense.

``It is nice. It was nice for everybody, not just myself,'' Kolb said after practice. ``We've got a lot of little of dings, as does every team in the NFL, but as hard it was to play in that turnaround Thursday night, it is nice to have a few days off to relax and get your body back right.''

An already sputtering offense took a hit when running back Ryan Williams injured his left shoulder, putting him out for the rest of the season. The team already is without running back Beanie Wells for at least five games with a turf toe.

Their absence from already was an anemic ground game and the presence of a porous offensive line leave Kolb in a precarious spot.

Then there is the improving health of John Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the starting job this year. Skelton went down with a sprained right ankle late in the game and Kolb came on to direct the winning drive in the season opener over Seattle.

Skelton said he's about 90 percent healthy and could play if circumstances warranted it this weekend.

Kolb threw 50 passes against the Rams, and was slammed down on most, if not all, of them. Fifty passes are too many, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

``That's going to give you issues. I don't want to do that,'' Whisenhunt said. ``I'd like to sit here and say if we have to do it, we'll do it, but I don't want to do it.''

Kolb, a football gunslinger by nature, says he will throw 50 again, if necessary.

``You don't want to, especially in this league'' Kolb said, ``but you do what you have to do. We've seen teams win a lot of ways in this league, so we'll do whatever it takes.'

The Cardinals' offense could get some reinforcement this week. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, out for two weeks with a hip injury, ``participated fully'' in practice, Whisenhunt said, although he was listed as limited in the injury report.

Tight ends Todd Heap and Jim Drey also were limited. Their return would double the number of tight ends available to help with the blocking, especially on the edge where tackles D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie have struggled so much.

Keeping tight ends in to help protect Arizona's quarterback is an option, although like anything else, a team can't rely on it too much. The same, Kolb said, goes for a three-step drop.

The sack issues, Kolb said, are the responsibility of the entire team.

``Obviously, the line, they get blamed for it,'' he said. ``It's on me. It's on communication from the very beginning, which has been good most of the time, from backs, the tight ends. It's a team effort, and unfortunately the offensive line, they take the brunt of that whenever we have games like that.''

Whisenhunt said improvement on the line can come with scheming the opposition and get better play from the linemen.

``A little bit of both,'' he said. ``I think that there is only so much you can do when you're down and you're trying to catch up. You have to spread it out and throw it, and that's where we've given up some of those sacks.

``There's no question we've got to do a better job in our protection schemes and we've got to do a better job in our techniques. That's what we've been working on and we worked on it some today.''

Despite all those issues, the Cardinals are, after all, 4-1 and tied with San Francisco for first in the greatly improved NFC West. They haven't been 5-1 in 36 years.

Kolb knows that the offense has to get it going against a Buffalo team that has been outscored 90-17 in the last six quarters.

The Cardinals didn't add a running back after Williams went down, choosing to get by with what they have - the trio of Stephens-Howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith.

The versatile but small Stephens-Howling stepped out of his situational duties to become the No. 1 back when Wells was sidelined in last season's finale against Seattle. He gained 93 yards in 23 carries, both career highs, in Arizona's 23-20 overtime victory.

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NASCAR at New Hampshire: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

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Brian Fluharty/USA Today Images

NASCAR at New Hampshire: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

Still not over that finish from Kentucky Speedway? Good, us either. NASCAR is right back after it this weekend in the Granite State and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for some short-track summer action.

Here's what we're watching for on Sunday afternoon in the Foxwoods Resort 301 (3 p.m. EST on NBCSN).

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATISTICS
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, N.H.
Race information: 318.46 miles, 301 laps
Stage lengths: 75 laps, 75 laps, 151 laps
Defending winner: Kevin Harvick
Most wins: Jeff Burton (4)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Friday, July 19

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)

Saturday, July 20

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. – Cup practice (CNBC)

11:15 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

4 p.m. – Roxor 200 Xfinity race (stages 45/90/200 laps = 211.6 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, July 21

3 p.m. – Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (stages 75/150/301 laps = 318.46 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Is It Time For SHR To Panic?

Past the halfway point in the 2019 season, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Motorsports (!) have visited Victory Lane.

Notably absent is Stewart-Haas Racing.

2014 Monster Energy Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick had five wins at this point last season, Clint Bowyer had two, and the duo of Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch had been running consistently inside the top five and top 10. This season, they're a step behind.

Whether it's the adjustment to the new Ford Mustang or the new aerodynamic rules package for this season, SHR is behind, there's no sugarcoating it.

Although Harvick is safely in the playoffs, Almirola is in but does not have a large buffer, Bowyer is on the bubble and Daniel Suarez is on the outside looking in.

Harvick did win this race last season, and another checkered flag for the No. 4 camp this weekend would go a long way confidence wise for the organization.

More Sticky Stuff

PJ1 is back, and it seems here to stay.

The sticky adhesive that was put down last weekend in Kentucky, as well as multiple times last season, has been applied at NHMS and will be applied next weekend at Pocono Raceway as well. The adhesive is in hopes to create more racing lines and in turn, a better on track product.

With temparatures this weekend reaching upwards of triple digits, the PJ1 will become more active earlier on. The hotter it is, the more grip the substance has.

Lobstah

New England NASCAR trips and somewhat cringeworthy New England NASCAR accents go hand in hand. Like it or not, that's part of it, right?

The winner of each NHMS race gets a big ole lobster to celebrate with. But don't give one to Denny Hamlin. We remember what happened to him a couple years back, right?

2019 NASCAR STANDINGS

Next week, NASCAR heads to the Pocono Raceway for the second time this season for the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, July 28 at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: