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Auburn's Chizik coping with death of mother

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Auburn's Chizik coping with death of mother

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gene Chizik is dealing with another blow during a miserable season. This time, it's deeply personal.

His mother, Rita, passed away Monday morning.

``It's been a tough 24 hours for me personally and my family with the passing of my mother,'' Chizik said on Tuesday. ``That's never easy, no matter how old you get. It's been quite challenging, but I do want to say on an encouraging note it was really good to hear from so many great Auburn people that were very supportive, and people outside the Auburn family as well. It was very encouraging to hear the different thoughts and prayers that went out for me personally and my personal family.''

Chizik said the family will have a private ceremony at some point, but not necessarily this week.

It has been a trying four-plus months for Chizik and the Tigers since two former players - Ed Christian and LaDarious Phillips - were killed at a pool party near campus in June.

On the field, Auburn is 1-6 for its worst start in 60 years and has dropped its first five Southeastern Conference games. The Tigers host No. 22 Texas A&M Saturday night in a game that will present a huge test on both sides of the ball for beleaguered Auburn.

Chizik deflects questions about the personal toll all that has taken.

``I'm the leader of the program,'' he said. ``I'm the leader of Auburn football. That's my job. Your jobs aren't easy sometimes. My job's not easy sometimes, what I do, but I love my job and I love being a part of Auburn. And it's all my responsibility. Have there been difficult times? Of course there have. Have there been some great times? Absolutely, too.

``We don't look at the past and the woe is me. You've got to take it one day at a time and you've got to keep moving forward. That's the name of the game for me, and I've got a lot of faith in these young guys and I've got a lot of faith in Auburn and I've got a lot of faith in our coaches. We've got to keep plugging along.''

Now, one of the most experienced offensive players, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, is set for surgery this week on a season-ending hip injury. Lutzenkirchen is the team's No. 2 receiver.

Auburn is facing the prospect of going winless in SEC games this season with the Aggies, No. 12 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama left on the schedule. This comes after losses to Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Arkansas - a collective 5-6 in SEC games, compared to 10-3 for the remaining league opponents

Quarterback Clint Moseley, who has started the past two games, said the team has to show its maturity.

``We're just at a point where the leaders really have to emerge right now and make sure that nobody gets down,'' said Moseley, who will likely start again on Saturday. ``It's just natural for you to want to take the easy way out. It's a real test of our leadership and how many men, grown men we have on our team.''

Moseley said it makes it harder given that the Tigers were 14-0 two years ago and have fallen further, faster than any national champion since the AP poll started in 1936.

``There's really nothing positive from this situation but that can be a positive in revealing your true character,'' he said. ``This is a time when true leaders lead so this is a time we need everybody on the team and myself to step up.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

In this week's mailbag podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir answer several questions about the Caps' prospects and Hershey.

How does the future look on the farm? Plus, they talk about potential weaknesses, their biggest surprises and more!

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: The best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 16, 10 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the quarterbacks are up. They are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. 

Aaron Rodgers, Packers—An injury-plagued 2017 season actually pushed Rodgers near the middle of the pack in DVOA. But we know better than that. We have every expectation that he will be back throwing for around 4,000 yards, 35 touchdowns, and a half-dozen or so miracle comebacks. The Redskins had better hope they have a big lead late in their Week 3 game. 

Drew Brees, Saints—The last time Brees failed to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season we were in the first year of the second term of George W. Bush and Joe Gibbs was in the second year of his comeback stint with the Redskins. Brees gives the Saints a chance in every game and nearly every situation (as the Redskins found out in New Orleans last season. 

Matt Ryan, Falcons—The first $30 million man in NFL history is everything you want in a quarterback. He’s productive, with at least 4,000 passing yards every season since 2011. Ryan also is durable; he hasn’t missed a game this decade. The only thing he is missing is a ring but he didn’t call passes when the Falcons were set up for a clinching field goal and he wasn’t on the field when Tom Brady shredded the Falcons defense in the fourth quarter. 

Carson Wentz, Eagles—The Redskins experienced their share of frustration in trying to deal with Wentz last year. They weren’t the only ones as Wentz was a prime MVP candidate before he missed the last three games and the playoffs with a torn ACL. I am not buying into the notion that there will be any quarterback controversy in Philly. When Wentz is healthy, Nick Foles will step aside. 

Deshaun Watson, Texans—Perhaps the hype train was getting a little bit out of hand for the rookie last year. After all, the Texans were 3-3 in his six starts and he was on pace to throw 21 interceptions. Still, he should be a good one. His mobility is a huge asset and we have seen the problems that the Redskins have had dealing with quarterbacks who can scramble in the pocket and take off and run. 

Best of the rest: Cam Newton, Panthers; Jameis Winston, Bucs; Marcus Mariota, Titans; Dak Prescott, Cowboys; Andrew Luck, Colts (if healthy)

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller, who outscored the entire Baltimore Colts team in the 1991 season, was born on this date in 1966.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 10
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 47

The Redskins last played a game 197 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 55 days. 

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