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Bengals CB Kirkpatrick close to debut

Bengals CB Kirkpatrick close to debut

CINCINNATI (AP) Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is getting close to his injury-delayed debut.

The Cincinnati Bengals' top draft pick hurt his left knee while working out during the summer, forcing him to miss out on the chance to compete for a starting job during training camp. Finally, the knee is healed and the 17th overall pick in the draft is ready to get on the field for the first time.

It could happen Sunday night against Pittsburgh.

``It's possible,'' coach Marvin Lewis said on Wednesday. ``We'll see what happens through the week.''

The Bengals (3-3) have struggled to overcome a series of injuries to defensive backs all season, starting with Kirkpatrick's knee. They have only two interceptions, tied with Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Detroit for second-fewest in the league. Dallas has only one.

Cincinnati has repeatedly shuffled its secondary, finally deciding to start Terence Newman at cornerback opposite Leon Hall and moving cornerback Nate Clements to safety, which has been a problem area. They also brought back safety Chris Crocker, who has one of the two interceptions. Defensive lineman Michael Johnson has the other.

Kirkpatrick expected to be playing long before now. He recovered from the knee injury in time to practice in August and was hoping to play in the final preseason game at Indianapolis. He developed tendinitis in the knee after a few practices, forcing him to back off the workouts.

He was cleared to resume practice on a limited basis two weeks ago, and has gradually increased his number of plays.

``I'm coming along,'' Kirkpatrick said Wednesday before practice. ``I'm getting there. Every day is a process, and I'm managing it well and going as hard as I can every day.''

Kirkpatrick still gets treatment on the knee, but said it hasn't given him any problems. He found it easy to be patient when he was just starting his rehabilitation program.

``Early on it was because I knew I couldn't go out there,'' he said. ``Now it gets frustrating sometime, but my dad is a pastor and he is putting wisdom and the right things in my head.''

The Bengals have to decide whether to let him play on Sunday night against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers (2-3), or sit him one more game and then give him the bye week to do more catching up. The Bengals play against Denver and the Giants coming out of their bye.

Kirkpatrick knows that Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning will make a point to test a rookie cornerback.

``It's not going to be easy,'' he said. ``Every day is a challenge. That's why I look up to the leaders to help me in the film room and show me what I'm not doing right.''

Lewis likes how Kirkpatrick looks during practice, when he splits time with the starting defense and the reserves.

``I've been really impressed with Dre Kirkpatrick in practice - more impressed than any time he's been here,'' Lewis said. ``Even more impressive than when he was here in rookie minicamp. He's competing well, he's practicing very hard, he's getting his conditioning to where it needs to be to sustain playing in an NFL game, play after play after play.

``He said this is the best he's felt since 2010 at Alabama. He said the knee bothered him most of last year, so he's feeling good about it.''

Cornerback Leon Hall missed two games with a hamstring and calf injury. He has started the last two at right cornerback, with Newman across the field. Adding Kirkpatrick as an extra cornerback would give the Bengals another playmaker on passing downs.

Hall thinks the secondary is settling down after being in flux because of injuries.

``I think we are kind of getting into a little bit of a groove,'' Hall said. ``We are still making some mistakes that are pretty big within the game. As far as having the same people out there and having some confidence and trust in people out on the field with you, it is definitely better.''

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NOTES: RB Brian Leonard missed practice Wednesday with sore ribs, injured during the second half of the loss in Cleveland on Sunday. Lewis said he's day-to-day. Otherwise, the Bengals are in good health heading into the Steelers game. ... C Kyle Cook walked around the locker room without a boot on his right foot, a sign of improvement. Cook hurt his right ankle in the final preseason game. Although he went on injured reserve, the Bengals designated him as their player who could return to the active roster if he heals during the season.

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Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Realistically, the Miami Heat had no business even being in position to win on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

They shot just 39.2 percent from the field, compared to 46.9 percent for the Wizards, and had 19 turnovers. 

The Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost a tough one to the Magic the night before. They were missing a host of rotation players, including two of their regular starters.

Yet, the Heat pulled out a victory to stun the Opening Night crowd at Capital One Arena simply because they out-hustled the Wizards. They out-rebounded the Wizards 55-40, including a 22-7 margin in offensive boards. Those 22 offensive rebounds were tied for the most allowed by the Wizards since 2012.

"Rebounding the ball is really why we lost the game," Wizards guard John Wall said. "That's really where they killed us."

Miami's advantage on the glass allowed them to put up a whopping 16 more shots. That led to 27 second chance points compared to just 10 for Washington.

It was the central theme of the game, so naturally it played a role in how it was decided. After Wall forced a miss by Dwyane Wade on a fadeaway attempt in the closing seconds, Heat big man Kelly Olynyk was right there to catch the ball and scoop it in for two.

That score proved to be the go-ahead points as just 0.2 seconds remained on the clock. All night, the Wizards made plays on defense, only to have the Heat save themselves with second looks.

The Wizards had no better explanation postgame other than Miami simply tried harder.

"They out-hustled us," forward Jeff Green said.

"Rebounds come down to whoever wants it the most and tonight they wanted it more than we did," forward Otto Porter Jr. said.

It sounds simple, and perhaps it was indeed that easy to explain. But there were other factors at play, some in their control and some not.

For one, the Wizards were missing their best rebounder, Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained piriformis muscle. Even at 32, Howard remains one of the best rebounders in basketball and would have made a significant difference. 

It would have been nice to have him, a 280-pound giant in the paint to match up with Hassan Whiteside, one of the most physically imposing centers in the league.

With Howard out of the mix, the Wizards turned to Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith, but they each stumbled into early foul trouble. Head coach Scott Brooks had no other option than to go small with guys like Green and Markieff Morris at the five-spot.

Brooks wants to employ that strategy more often anyways, but not by necessity. And sure enough, it was Green and Morris on the floor when Olynyk broke loose for the final deciding play.

"The last rebound, we definitely need to put most of the ownership on me and Jeff because we were the biggest guys," Morris said. "I think that might have been the easiest layup of the game right there."

"I was surprised I was open," Olynyk admitted afterwards. "It kinda just popped open and I was kinda just standing right there."

Though many factors were at play, the Wizards' struggles rebounding the ball came down to the simple fundamentals of boxing out their opponent. As they learned last year, it's tough to be consistent when you can't take care of the little things that separate wins and losses. 

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After his buzzer beater, Kelly Olynyk is becoming one of D.C.'s top sports villains

After his buzzer beater, Kelly Olynyk is becoming one of D.C.'s top sports villains

Kelly Olynyk has done it once again to the Washington Wizards. 

The Miami Heat center ripped the heart of the Wizards just when it looked like it was going to be a new chapter for the team.

After leading a team to victory over the Wizards once again, he is starting to become one of the biggest sports villains in Washington D.C.

Olynyk hit a go-ahead layup with 0.2. second left to sink the Wizards in their 2018 season opener. Dwyane Wade had the first chance to win it for the Heat. He missed, but Olynyk was there for the rebound and uncontested layup.

For those that need a reminder this is not the first time Olynyk has torched the Wizards. 

Back in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Olynyk, then the Boston Celtics backup center, went off for 26 points, 14 coming in a tense fourth quarter. The loss ended the Wizards chance to get to the Conference Finals that year. If would have been the first time they reach that mark in the John Wall-era of the franchise.

Olynyk was also guilty of getting under the skin of Kelly Oubre Jr. The Wizards forward was sent to the floor following a big screen set by Olynyk. Oubre sprang to his feet and shoved Olynyk, leading to a minor scuffle. Oubre was ejected from the game and suspended for the following game.

With a reputation like that, Olynyk is starting to etch his name down on the wrong side of D.C. sports lore.

Who does Olynyk join among the ranks of most disliked athletes inside the D.M.V.? Here's our list:

Sidney Crosby

To the vast majority of Washington, D.C. sports fans, no one will ever be a bigger villain than Sidney Crosby. His rivalry with Alex Ovechkin is a major part of this, but being on the winning side more often than the Washington Capitals plays just as big a part. Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Capitals in three different Eastern Conference Semifinal series before Washington finally broke through last season.

Also it's Crosby. His incessant whinning and cockiness are overwhelming. 

Jaroslav Halak

At the time he was just an average goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but by the end of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jaroslav Halak was public enemy No. 1 in the nation's capital.

Against a Capitals team that won the Presidents Trophy, Halak stood on his head as the No. 8 seed Canadiens faced elimination with the Caps up 3-1 in the series. He had 37 saves in Game 5, an incredible 53 saves in Game 6, and clinched the series with 41 saves in Game 7. He allowed just three goals in those three games, and sent the Capitals packing earlier than expected.

Had it not been for Halak, the first Washington Capitals championship might have happened well before June 2018.

Jerry Jones

He owns the Dallas Cowboys. Need we say more? 

Jonathan Papelbon

For years Jonathan Papelbon was on the Philadelphia Phillies. That alone would be enough to be on the bad side of D.C. sports fans.

Then he came to Washington, as a member of the Nationals, and tried to choke-out Bryce Harper

An insider job? We think so. 

Albert Haynesworth

Albert Haynesworth drew a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. He ended up playing less than two seasons. 

He was so bad that NFL.com has listed him as one of the worst free agents signings in league history.

There are two things Albert Haynesworth is remembered for in Washington, D.C.
1: Taking a lot of money from the Redskins
2: This video 

Pete Kozma

Only on this list because some believe that Pete Kozma is the sole reason the Washington Nationals did not win a championship in 2012.

Aside from a three-run home run and then the game-winning runs in Game 5 of the NLDS, there has not been another chapter in the Kozma vs. Washington D.C. rivalry.

The real villain in all of this should be the Nats' pitcher, Drew Storen. He had a two-run lead before coming into the ninth in a winner-take-all Game 5. He gave the Cardinals four runs.

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So now that I've gone and despressed your day away, re-living terrible D.C. sports nightmares, just know that Olynyk is squarely on this list and just re-affirmed that with his latest buzzer-beater. 

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