Redskins

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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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.