Redskins

Auburn receiver offers blunt take on team, leaders

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Auburn receiver offers blunt take on team, leaders

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Wide receiver Sammie Coates figures he lost maybe six games in his high school career, one more than Auburn endured the previous two seasons combined before the recent nosedive.

It's not something Coates wants to become accustomed to - if he has a choice.

``We've got to get used to it. If we're going to play like this, we're going to keep losing,'' the Tigers' redshirt freshman said on Tuesday. ``We either have to step up and turn around ... We've got a good team. We've got good athletes. We've got some of the best athletes that you can ask for. It's just, is it in their heart that they want to win or do they just want to keep going down?

``With me, I think some of us just need to see the picture like it is. Some of these older guys, they want it but they don't want it bad enough. We don't have enough leadership on this team.''

It was a blunt assessment of Auburn (1-4, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) and why it's mired in a miserable start. The Tigers visit Mississippi (3-3, 0-2) on Saturday.

Despite the problems, coach Gene Chizik and linebacker Jake Holland disputed Coates' take on the lack of senior leadership. Still, the young receiver pulled no punches, even in talking about the veterans.

``The older guys, they put a lot on the older guys but they ain't showing much,'' Coates said. ``The coaches are always talking about leadership but nobody's really trying to be a leader. They talk about it all the time but you don't see it. We talk about how we want to be a better man, better football players and all that but nobody's stepping up to the plate to take advantage of that.''

Holland, a junior, took issue with that assessment.

``The overall state of this team has never changed,'' he said. ``We have leaders on this team. I have to disagree with Sammie on that. The leadership on this team has been the same since day one, you know, and the seniors are doing a good job of that. It's just about bringing the team together and just continuing to move toward that goal. I think when you don't start out the way you want, you kind of start pointing fingers, but you can't do that.''

Chizik said these questions surface at every level of football from high school to the NFL when teams start losing. He said he feels ``really, really good about the majority of our team being right on point.''

``Let me make this real clear: There is definitely an urgency around here to win and improve, and I like seeing that,'' Chizik said. ``Part of our job is to help our guys understand that when you're in a valley, which is where we are now ... you've got to find a way to persevere and work out of it. I don't think that message is a new revelation for anybody. I know our football team has heard that from me several different times. That's part of our job. I enjoy seeing us work toward that goal. ``

But the problems are many.

The Tigers' offense has been the least productive in the league. The defense has improved since giving up 528 yards in the opener to Clemson but allowed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to previously hapless Arkansas in Saturday's 24-7 loss to the Razorbacks.

Even more telling, Auburn is last among the nation's 120 teams in turnover margin, forcing just six and committing a whopping 17, including 10 interceptions.

Chizik said he wouldn't decide on a starting quarterback until after assessing practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Kiehl Frazier was benched at halftime of the Arkansas game and has thrown just two touchdown passes and been intercepted eight times. Clint Moseley was picked off twice in the second half but did throw for 163 yards and a touchdown.

It has all contributed to a dramatic fall for a team that won a national title two seasons ago and thought it set the stage for a youth-driven comeback with a strong performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia. That success didn't carry over.

``It's the inconsistency. It's on both sides of the football,'' Chizik said. ``It's really just execution of what we're doing and staying with the things that we believe in. That's really what it comes down to. It doesn't matter what happened two years ago. It only matters what's happening right now. Those are the problems we're working every day to get it fixed.''

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series


 

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Wizards plan to introduce Dwight Howard Monday

Wizards plan to introduce Dwight Howard Monday

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?