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Back with Jets, Edwards expected to play Monday

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Back with Jets, Edwards expected to play Monday

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Braylon Edwards was sticking up for his former teammate, taking to Twitter to back Mark Sanchez and bash the team he once played for.

Don't blame the quarterback for the New York Jets' struggles, the wide receiver wrote last week. Rather, people should blame ``the idiots calling shots'' in the organization. A few hours later, Edwards was cut by the Seattle Seahawks - and he quickly apologized to the Jets for a mistake made ``in the heat of the moment,'' thinking he blew any chance of a return with his stinging 140-character criticism.

``After the tweet, I was like, `Yeah, I burned that bridge,''' Edwards said with a smile Thursday - back as a member of the Jets with all apparently forgiven and forgotten.

Edwards was claimed off waivers from Seattle on Tuesday, reuniting the veteran wide receiver with Sanchez and the team he helped lead to consecutive AFC title games in 2009 and 2010.

``I felt as though,'' Edwards said, ``this was home.''

But first, there was a potentially uncomfortable moment Wednesday when Edwards ran into general manager Mike Tannenbaum, someone who calls those ``shots'' for the Jets, in the team's cafeteria.

``The relationship that we developed here is that we're all kind of goofy among each other,'' Edwards said. ``Everybody has a weird, funny or cool interaction. There actually wasn't a moment of awkwardness. ... I saw him and he was just as happy as me, or so it seemed. The awkwardness wasn't there.''

Edwards was a limited participant in his first practice Thursday with a hamstring issue, but passed his physical and coach Rex Ryan was optimistic about his chances to play Monday night at Tennessee.

``Just based on the progression that I see, I hope I can go,'' Edwards said.

Edwards' presence certainly could help a low-scoring offense that has been dealing with a thin receiving corps all season. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee at Jacksonville on Sunday, and will likely miss the game against the Titans. With top receiver Santonio Holmes out for the season with a foot injury and Clyde Gates is still dealing with a concussion, that left only Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, journeyman Mardy Gilyard and rookie Jordan White as healthy players at the position.

``It's great news,'' Sanchez said of Edwards' return. ``It's exciting to have somebody like that back. We're going to work him in slowly and hopefully get him ready to play.''

Edwards was released Monday from the Seahawks' injury-reserve list after less than one unproductive season in Seattle. He had just eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown in 10 games after signing a one-year deal in July. He spent last season in San Francisco, catching 15 passes for 181 yards in nine games with the 49ers.

``I feel great and I wished I had the chance to show it more, and now I do,'' Edwards said. ``I feel good. I feel like I have the same speed and I feel like I have the same strength, if not better, and I feel like I still have that same understanding of the game.

``I'm ready, and you'll get a chance to see.''

Following the 2010 season, the Jets had to make the difficult choice of keeping either Holmes or Edwards since they wanted to have the money to be able to pursue other free agents to fill needs. New York considered Holmes the bigger playmaker and signed him to a five-year deal, while Edwards made it clear he'd prefer to return to the Jets at the right price.

That never came, and Edwards eventually signed with the 49ers. During the past offseason, Edwards tweeted regularly about his progress in his recovery from a knee injury that cut short his stint in San Francisco. But, the wide receiver still never heard from the Jets, who went out and drafted Hill - a similar-type receiver - out of Georgia Tech in the second round.

``To not get a phone call or not get an invite to see what was going on,'' Edwards said, ``that's when I mentally (thought), `Well, it's not going to happen. Let's move on and get myself prepared to play in another situation.'''

So, he signed with Seattle and had a limited role there before tweaking his hamstring while running a route on Dec. 2 at Chicago. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Seattle-area reporters Wednesday that the team thought Edwards would be sidelined another three weeks, so it decided to move on.

``I don't think Pete has an M.D.,'' Edwards said with a laugh. ``I'm just joking. That was what they thought. That was his opinion and everybody is entitled to their (opinion). The Jets have a different opinion.''

The 29-year-old Edwards, who had no catches against the Jets in Seattle back on Nov. 11, is still a terrific blocker. And he is a good fit for Tony Sparano's run-first offense. He also has a good history with Sanchez, catching 88 passes for 11 touchdowns in two seasons with the Jets. The two also linked up for an 80-yard reception, the longest in the team's postseason history, against Indianapolis in the 2009 playoffs.

``He's one of those guys that knows how to run routes,'' Sanchez said. ``He's played for a long time, understands coverages and picks up things quickly. We're excited to have him back,''

Edwards has also been a personal favorite of Ryan, who routinely praised the receiver during his first stint in New York.

``I was happy to see him, despite the obvious comment,'' Ryan said with a smile, before adding later: ``He knows what I've always thought about Braylon. I've always been a big fan of Braylon's because I like the way he plays. So I think that comment, please. ... There's things privately where I've been called a lot worse from players.''

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Three ways the Redskins helped Dwayne Haskins truly shine for the first time

Three ways the Redskins helped Dwayne Haskins truly shine for the first time

Dwayne Haskins played really well Sunday against the Eagles, and it wasn't just on certain drives or in specific situations. Haskins put together a complete and encouraging performance in Week 15, and for that, he deserves a lot of credit.

But the Redskins' coaching staff, and most notably Kevin O'Connell, should be praised as well for setting Haskins up to shine versus Philly.

Here are three things O'Connell and the offense did at FedEx Field that contributed to the rookie's best effort as a pro.

They were more aggressive on early downs

The following two things are true: 1) Bill Callahan loves Adrian Peterson, and 2) Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at rushing for more than 1,000 yards this season. Because of those two facts, it felt like Sunday was setting up to be the Peterson Show, especially on first down.

It wasn't, though, and that greatly benefitted Haskins.

No. 7 found Terry McLaurin for a nine-yarder to start the contest, a throw that allowed the QB to settle into a nice rhythm from the start. The 75-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McLaurin was also a first down toss, one that featured play-action:

A first down pass in the second quarter, meanwhile, led to a defensive pass interference that advanced the ball 14 yards. On that possession, Haskins would eventually find Steven Sims for a score. 

Throughout the matchup, the Burgundy and Gold seemed more comfortable with trusting Haskins to attack the Eagles, and that's something he very much enjoyed.

"I hope to continue to do it," he told reporters postgame.

They targeted Steven Sims a bunch

Want another example of O'Connell's influence over the gameplan? Look no further than how much Sims was involved.

Overall, Sims was targeted 11 times, and while he only hauled in five of those passes, he's a guy worth looking to often. O'Connell has talked for weeks now about how much he wants to use Sims, and while it may sound odd to say that an undrafted receiver from Kansas deserves lots of chances on a unit that includes McLaurin and Peterson, it's true.

He's really difficult for defensive backs to stay in front of and he's shown a penchant for making some tremendous grabs, including his toe-tapper for his first career receiving TD on Sunday.  

"I'm seeing everything and I'm playing faster," Sims said in the locker room. 

O'Connell and Haskins are seeing him, too, and his larger role is giving Haskins another weapon to rely on.

They introduced a creative option play

In addition to the uptick in aggressiveness, the Redskins also were more creative against the Eagles than they had been lately. The best example of that is the option they introduced and executed perfectly on two separate snaps.

On the first option, Haskins fake-tossed it to Peterson before lateraling it to him a second later. The fake from Haskins was a nifty way to buy more time for the play to develop and it set Peterson up to pick up a first down:

They went back to it again in the third quarter, but this time, Haskins kept the ball and cut upfield for a 23-yard gain:

Watch any NFL game on any weekend, and you'll see offenses trying new concepts and surprising defenses with those concepts. In Week 15, the Redskins were finally one of those offenses, and the group as a whole was the most effective its been under Haskins. And for that, both the player and the staff should be recognized.

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Mark Lerner reflects on Bryce Harper’s departure in free agency

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Mark Lerner reflects on Bryce Harper’s departure in free agency

For seven seasons, the Nationals and Bryce Harper enjoyed a happy marriage that included four NL East division titles, an MVP award and the respect from the rest of the league as legitimate playoff contenders year in and year out.

But principal owner Mark Lerner knew their relationship might not last forever. In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Donald Dell, Lerner talked about how the team balanced making a business decision with the personal side of hoping to extend Harper when he hit free agency last offseason.

“We all like Bryce but at the end of the day, there’s the economic factor, there’s other factors that come into it: clubhouse, interaction with teammates, everything you could imagine in a decision about a free agent,” Lerner said.

Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, which at the time was the record for the most expensive contract in MLB history. The Nationals reportedly made him an offer for 10 years and $300 million that included $100 million in deferrals at the end of the 2018 season.

“He [was] a free agent for a reason, he earned that right,” Lerner said. “It’s his decision and his family’s decision where they play. And he chose to move on. He obviously got an incredible offer.

“Everybody seems to forget it’s not just a bidding war to get the players, the player has to want to play here and sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

By the time Harper signed with Philadelphia in early March, the Nationals had already reported to Spring Training with starter Patrick Corbin signed to a six-year, $140 million deal as well as a slew of new faces on the roster that had joined the club through free agency. Lerner said Washington never heard back from Harper and didn’t want to wait for him to make a decision.

“We were moving down a different path at that point anyhow,” Lerner said. “Because, as you may recall, Bryce had not given us a response through his agent Scott Boras and we had decisions we had to make so we didn’t get caught waiting too long for him to find out we can’t get other players to replace him.

“And our choice at that point in time was either wait for him or we had the opportunity to sign Patrick Corbin. And we chose to sign Patrick Corbin and get another great starter, which has worked out great, and it was really more us at that point to say, ‘We have to move on.’”

The Nationals went on to win the World Series in 2019 while Harper posted an .882 OPS with 35 home runs in 157 games for the 81-81 Phillies. But as division rivals, Harper and the Nationals will see each other plenty over the next 12 years he’s locked into Philadelphia.

Only time will tell which side ends up wondering what could’ve been.

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