Capitals

Bills getting healthy in time for late-season push

Bills getting healthy in time for late-season push

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay is set to return after missing two games with a partially torn ligament in his neck. And running back Fred Jackson could soon be ready for action, too.

The Bills' bulging list of injured players is suddenly growing shorter, and just in time for a team attempting to mount a late-season playoff push.

``We're pretty healthy I think for the most part, and we've got some other guys that are coming off injuries,'' Kelsay said Monday before he returned to practice for the first time in nearly two weeks. ``If we can win these ballgames coming down the stretch, and get healthy to make a push for the playoffs, that's huge.''

Kelsay declared himself ready to play in revealing the nature of the injury that's sidelined the 10-year veteran since Nov. 8, when he felt something pop in his neck while he was pushing a sled in practice.

With 10 days' rest, Kelsay feels significantly better, and added he's been assured by team doctors that he doesn't risk further damage.

``Structurally, everything's sound,'' Kelsay said, describing the injury as a minor tear. ``I definitely plan on playing. ... I have a lot of confidence that it's not going to slow me down.''

Kelsay was limited to taking part in only individual drills in practice Monday, when the Bills returned from an extended weekend break following their 19-14 win over Miami on Thursday. If all goes well, Kelsay expects to practice Wednesday and be ready for Sunday, when the Bills (4-6) play at Indianapolis (6-4).

The Bills are already depleted at defensive end, with starter Mark Anderson (left knee) expected to miss at least one more game since having surgery.

The news is promising for Jackson, too, after the running back missed last week's game since sustaining a concussion in the final minutes of a 37-31 loss at New England on Nov. 11.

Coach Chan Gailey said Jackson is expected to complete his NFL-mandated post-concussion tests on Tuesday, which would clear him to return to practice the following day.

``Everything's on track for him to be ready to go Wednesday,'' Gailey said. ``He says he's feeling well.''

Jackson attended a morning walk-through and then watched the afternoon practice from the sideline. NFL rules exempted him from speaking to reporters - or host his weekly TV show broadcast on Monday night - because of his concussion. Jackson did appear to be in an upbeat mood after he playfully grabbed a teammate in a headlock while heading out the locker room door.

The mood is significantly brighter in Buffalo since the win over Miami. The Bills snapped a three-game skid and won for only the second time in seven games to stay in the fringes of the AFC playoff hunt.

With six games left, Buffalo is in the mix of five teams at 4-6, with only three teams ahead of them competing for the conference's two wild card playoff spots. Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are both 6-4, while Cincinnati's 5-5.

That's enough for the Bills to believe they've got a shot, while acknowledging they've left themselves very little margin for error.

``Last week, it was keeping the season alive, and it's the same thing now,'' receiver Stevie Johnson said. ``If we win, we know we still have hope of the playoffs.''

Getting healthier is a switch for a team that's previously unraveled because of injuries. That includes last year, when a mounting number of injuries led to the Bills losing eight of their last nine following a 5-2 start.

Knock on wood, Gailey's hoping the trend reverses this year.

``When you can start to get healthy toward the end, that's always big,'' Gailey said. ``And if we can continue to do that, and we don't lose any more, that bodes well for us.''

Gailey confirmed the Bills placed tight end Mike Caussin on season-ending injured reserve because the player's surgically repaired right knee has not yet fully healed. The Bills had until Monday to determine whether to activate Caussin, who opened the season on the unable-to-perform/reserve list.

The second-year player accepted the team's decision, saying his knee was not yet strong enough to handle the extra workload of practice over the past three weeks.

``It was a little too much, too quick,'' Caussin said. ``It's the best thing for me, really. It gives me a chance to get back, get healthy and perform better for this team.''

Caussin had surgery in late January after tearing two ligaments in a 40-14 win over Denver on Dec. 24.

``He never got appreciably better,'' Gailey said. ``He told me in his own words he was 75-80 percent, and that's not good enough. We weren't going to release him, so we just put him on IR.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

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

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

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