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Bedlam brings final home start for Sooners' Jones

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Bedlam brings final home start for Sooners' Jones

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Landry Jones wouldn't consider his career as Oklahoma's starting quarterback to be a mixed bag.

Entering his final home game Saturday night against No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12), Jones chooses to focus on the highs he's experienced with the 14th-ranked Sooners (8-2, 6-1) and not the occasional fierce criticism he's endured.

Jones has won one Big 12 championship and is trying to keep Oklahoma in the mix for another, and he'll be going for his third Bedlam rivalry win - to go with three rivalry victories against Texas.

He's won the most games in school history and ranks fourth in Bowl Subdivision history with 15,624 yards.

That hasn't always been enough to win over his team's faithful followers because he's never put the Sooners in position to play for a national championship.

``There's been a lot of great players here, especially the guy I came after. Sam had done so many good things around this place. There are some high expectations of me here,'' Jones said. ``But at the end of the day, I wanted to be who I was.

``I didn't want to be Sam. I didn't want to be Jason. If you try to do those things, you aren't going to live up to the capabilities of who you are as a player and as an individual.''

As Jones makes his 48th career start, he'll be opposing Clint Chelf - who has gone from third-stringer to cult hero while winning his first two starts for Oklahoma State. He's earned an oddball nickname - ``Choo Choo'' - that's been perpetuated on Twitter, but more importantly the trust of his teammates and coaches.

After dancing around quarterback questions for months while dealing with injuries to starter Wes Lunt and backup J.W. Walsh, coach Mike Gundy has named Chelf his starter even though he says both of the others are available to play.

To some degree, it's vindication for Chelf after he waited his turn for two seasons behind Brandon Weeden and then finished third in a three-way competition this spring.

``That was the coaches' decision. You have to go with it sometimes, and it doesn't always work out for you. You've just got to keep working hard, and that's what I tried to do,'' Chelf said.

``I'm just happy that we're winning.''

A Bedlam victory would be a big addition to either quarterback's resume. Jones won his first two starts against Oklahoma State before committing four turnovers in last year's 44-10 blowout loss.

The Sooners had a chance to earn a split of the Big 12 championship in that game, but instead allowed Oklahoma State to snap an eight-game losing streak in the series and win its first conference title outright.

``Beating OU was great and I think it just kind of proves that OSU isn't the little brother anymore,'' Cowboys defensive end Cooper Bassett said. ``We're a team that's nationally ranked every year, we're at team who gets great recruits every year, we're a team that won the Big 12.

``We're the defending Big 12 champions. So, it's not the big brother-little brother effect anymore. I think that the gap is being closed immensely.''

Jones and his Sooners are again flirting with the Big 12 title entering this year's game. They're currently tied with No. 6 Kansas State but could claim an outright championship by closing the season with back-to-back wins against OSU and TCU, plus a K-State loss to Texas.

At best, Oklahoma State can earn a share of the Big 12 title.

``It's kind of out of our hands, the Big 12 championship. But that would be huge for our program if we're able to sneak in there and get one this year,'' said Jones, who's 37-10 as a starter. ``Some things have to happen for us to have that possibility. But you never know what's going to happen in college football.''

Although his defense was shredded for a school-record 778 yards in a 50-49 win against West Virginia last week, Jones comes in on a high. He passed for an Oklahoma-record 554 yards and threw for six touchdowns, the last one a game-winner with 24 seconds left.

Even better, Jones' pass to Kenny Stills came after he audibled at the line on a fourth-and-3 play with the Sooners needing a touchdown.

``It didn't surprise me at all. Landry is one of the most productive players in the history of this conference, so for him to make those types of plays doesn't surprise me at all. He's capable of doing that all the time,'' co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said.

``He's finishing his career, he's a fabulous player and I know he's going to be like a lot of the great players that have played here. When they're gone, you miss him.''

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AP freelance writer Murray Evans contributed to this report.

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Need to Know: Redskins stock watch—Three up, three down

Need to Know: Redskins stock watch—Three up, three down

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 22, 34 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins stock watch: Three up, three down

For some Redskins players, the outlook looks much brighter now than it did when last season ended. Others have seen their stocks decline. Here is a look at three players in each category.

Stock up

CB Quinton Dunbar—His rise started the day after the season ended when he signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract. It continued when the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland opened up more opportunity at his position. Then the only additions at corner were veteran Orlando Scandrick and seventh-round pick Greg Stroman. Dunbar has a clear path to a starting job, perhaps for the next few years. 

G Shawn Lauvao—At the end of the season, he was coming off of injured reserve. It was the second time in his four seasons in Washington that he finished the season on the sideline. He turned 30 last year and as the prime weeks of free agency passed he didn’t get much attention. His fortunes started to turn when the team didn’t sign or draft a guard. Then on May 4 when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Washington. Shortly after that Arie Kouandjio, his primary competition at left guard, was lost for the season with a quad injury. While there is no guarantee that the Redskins won’t look at other options at left guard, for right now it’s Lauvao’s job to lose. 

S Montae Nicholson—It was hard to make much out of his rookie 2017 season as he spent half of it on the sideline with injuries. But early in the offseason, Jay Gruden said that Nicholson was as important to the defense as Jordan Reed is to the offense. Given that Reed has made one Pro Bowl on his resume and could get more if he stays healthy and that his presence on the field tends to lift his teammates, that’s high praise. It means that Nicholson is at the top of the depth chart in Sharpie. He still needs to stay healthy but he is not a player who is at risk of losing his job due to an injury. 

Stock down

RB Rob Kelley—This one of pretty obvious. He finished the year on injured reserve and a couple of the running backs signed as injury replacements, Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall, looked pretty good. Then came the draft and Derrius Guice as the second-round pick. Right now, he looks like the No. 4 back and he will have to fight hard to keep a roster spot. 

DL Ziggy Hood—Most expected the Redskins to draft a nose tackle early and that’s what happened when they took Daron Payne in the first round. That didn’t hurt Hood’s stock much. But they followed up by taking Tim Settle later in the draft and that made the depth chart very crowded. Hood is the seventh D-lineman and they usually only keep six. Even if he makes it he could spend a lot of time on the game-day inactive list. 

S Deshazor Everett—Nobody expected the Redskins to draft a safety, but they found the speed and athleticism of Troy Apke too attractive to turn down in the fourth round of the draft. The rookie needs some work on his game, so it appears that Everett, who started eight games last year, will be the first safety off of the bench early in the season. But it’s likely that they will want to get Apke in games as soon as he’s ready and that could leave Everett on the bench. 

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 Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey was born on this date in 1978. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 34
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 48
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 71

The Redskins last played a game 173 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 79 days. 

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller analyze the Wizards' two picks the night of the draft.

They went in-depth on first round pick Troy Brown, Jr. and why the Wizards took him when some big names were still on the board. They also broke down why the Wizards chose to pick a draft-and-stash guy in the second round.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!