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3 things to watch as Nationals look to even series with Giants

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3 things to watch as Nationals look to even series with Giants

Following an impressive series in Philadelphia, things have not played out how the Nationals would have hoped. Dropping a home series to the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend was immediately followed by a 7-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. However, Wednesday is a new day and an opportunity for Washington to get back on track.

Here are three things to watch for:

1. Where's the relief?: The first couple weeks of the season didn't go well for the bullpen. Week three hasn't gone much better. The relief staff earned the loss on Sunday after allowing Pittsburgh to break the tie in the ninth with two outs and two strikes. On Tuesday, an inability to hold the Giants in the late innings hindered an opportunity at a comeback win. Besides Sean Doolittle, it's hard to think of a reliable and consistent arm in that bullpen. If the Nationals want to get back on track, they'll need some consistency from their late-inning guys.

2. Searching for Consistency: Speaking of consistency, it's something Washington has struggled to obtain on a larger level than just the bullpen. As NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas explained, the Nationals' season has been filled with ups and downs. Philadelphia seemed to be a potential turning point, but two straight losses have stifled that momentum. It's a long season, but it'll be interesting to see if the Nationals can begin to string wins together and build on positives.

3. Silent Bats: Despite a win on Saturday, the Nationals offense hasn't scored more than three runs in four straight games. This comes immediately after scoring 25 runs in two games (there's that inconsistency again). As of late, Anthony Rendon has been doing most of the heavy lifting on the offensive side. Howie Kendrick, Adam Eaton and Juan Soto have contributed at times, but the Nationals are still searching for more production throughout the lineup.

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If the Redskins want 'great value' on a Day 2 receiver, Hakeem Butler is worth looking at

If the Redskins want 'great value' on a Day 2 receiver, Hakeem Butler is worth looking at

The 2019 NFL Draft will be an incredibly important few days for the Washington Redskins. With numerous positions in need of an upgrade, the team will have plenty of options as to which prospects they may want to select.

One group that deserves some focus is wide receiver, an area that the Redskins have lacked production from in years past. While this year's receiver class may not offer a sure-fire option at pick No. 15 for Washington, there may be one underrated prospect that could be a valuable second-round selection, according to Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL expert Josh Norris.

"I kind of feel like I'm on an island here with Hakeem Butler because he's not being projected by the NFL until Round 2," Norris said recently on the MyTeams app with NBC Sports Washington Redskins Insider JP Finlay. "But he would be a great value in that round."

Butler, the 6-foot-5, 227-pound receiver out of Iowa State, is someone that Norris believes could be a strong addition to teams in need of another pass catcher. During his junior season, Butler recorded 60 receptions for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns while demonstrating his ability to be productive while lining up in different spots.

"Play him on the left side, you play him on the right side, you play him on the left slot, you play him on the right slot. He was one of the most productive slot receivers in this entire class," Norris said. "Not only was he productive in the slot, he actually led this class in 20-plus yard catches and 20-plus yard catch receiving yards. So he offers you the big play."

That type of production and versatility is something that should pique the interest of the Redskins. With the departure of Jamison Crowder in the offseason, Washington will look to fill his void in the slot. Additionally, Butler's big-play potential could offer the Redskins a much-needed scoring threat.

Despite all the positives Butler seems to offer, there is one concern and it's something the Redskins have become all too familiar with in recent seasons.

"He had a lot of drops," Norris mentioned. "He had 12 drops last year and it was like a 16-percent drop rate, which is massive."

However, Norris believes that while that part of his game may need some work, it shouldn't hinder the overall evaluation of Butler.

So, if the Redskins do decide to take a waiver on a pass catcher next week, Butler could be a solid option that doesn't cost them their first round pick. If he is there on Day 2, expect the Burgundy and Gold to be in the mix.

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John Wall tells Boogie Cousins to get well soon

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John Wall tells Boogie Cousins to get well soon

In Game 2 of the first round series between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, the underdog Clippers erased a 31-point deficit to steal a game on the road over the top-seeded Warriors. But that was just one of the two losses the defending NBA champions took. 

Center DeMarcus Cousins exited the game with a torn left quad and it out indefinitely. 

His former teammate and close friend John Wall took to Instagram on Tuesday to offer words of encouragement.

Cousins and Wall played together at the University of Kentucky during the 2009-2010 season, before both star freshmen took their talents to the NBA. Despite ending up in different cities following the draft, the two have remained close. This isn't the first time the tandem have supported each other through tough times, as Cousins recently spoke on how he believed Wall would come back from his Achilles injury.

The veteran big man was speaking from experience, as he just battled back from an Achilles injury of his own that forced him to miss time during the 2017-18 NBA season.

His injury also potentially forced him to miss out on a big payday during the 2018 Free Agency period. Rumored to have not received offers from many NBA teams, Cousins opted for a one-year, $5.3 million with the defending NBA Champions.

After further recovering from his injury and making his return in January, Cousins could now be in jeopardy of having that situation repeat itself as he is set to test the waters again.

In 30 games for the Warriors, Cousins is averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while playing around 25 minutes of play.

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