Wizards

Briggs says Bears' focus on Detroit, not changes

Briggs says Bears' focus on Detroit, not changes

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Bears linebacker Lance Briggs insisted all he's thinking about is Chicago beating the Detroit Lions and reaching the playoffs.

The idea that this could be the last go-around with his coaches and some teammates?

The seven-time Pro Bowler said he's not thinking about what might happen if the Bears (9-6) lose Sunday at Detroit. They're in danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, and even if they beat the Lions, they would need help from rival Green Bay.

If they don't reach the postseason, there is speculation that coach Lovie Smith could be gone. Brian Urlacher has an expiring contract and might be on his way out, too, but Briggs wasn't thinking about those possibilities.

``My job right now is to focus on beating the Detroit Lions,'' he said Thursday. ``I think that's what all of our jobs are right now. That's what we need to focus on - trying to get ourselves into the postseason.''

These are awkward times for the Bears. They're in a situation they never would have envisioned after a 7-1 start, trying to slip into the playoffs and in need of a big assist even if they do their part against the Lions. They would also need Green Bay to beat or tie Minnesota. Chicago could also get in with a tie if the Packers beat the Vikings, but if they don't make it, there's a feeling that an era could be ending.

If management is ready to pull the plug on Smith, special teams coordinator Dave Toub urged them to reconsider.

``Lovie's a great coach,'' he said. ``He needs to stay here.''

If the speculation is bothering Smith, Toub doesn't see it.

``He's been steady,'' Toub said. ``We've been very lucky - the Chicago Bears are very lucky - to have Lovie Smith. You better realize that. Everybody better realize that.''

It's not just Smith's job possibly on the line. The rest of the staff could be gone, too, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said he's not worrying about that. He sees a game coming up that the Bears can't afford to lose. He sees a once-promising season coming down to this - one final chance - and sees no time to worry about the what-ifs.

``To me, it's not difficult at all,'' he said. ``You've got a job at hand, do your job. Do what men are supposed to do.''

But what about human nature?

``You take human nature, I take a man's responsibility,'' Marinelli said.

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice seems to be taking more of a Zen-like approach. If he's feeling more pressure, he's keeping it to himself.

``That would be bad because then the guys would think I'm uptight,'' he said. ``So I don't want to be uptight. That's the worst thing that I can be is uptight.''

He paused, smiled and added: ``I have to come up with some new material.''

Briggs put in a plug for Smith and said the players want to win this one for him. More than that, though, he doesn't want to see the wrecking ball hit the Bears.

``More than just Lovie,'' he said. ``You want to win it for us. Win it for us. If you've enjoyed your time here in Chicago and the way that Lovie has treated you and us together and this camaraderie that we have then win for that. If Lovie is not here, that goes - that goes with him. I've enjoyed every moment of being here, here in Chicago. And I don't intend on that changing. So it's time to go out and beat Detroit, and then we'll pull for the Packers.''

Notes: RB Matt Forte went through a limited practice on Thursday after sitting out the previous day. He left last week's win over Arizona after injuring his right ankle for the third time this season, and the Bears hope to have him against the Lions. ``We're hopeful for him, which we thought all along,'' Smith said. ``I know he's been pretty optimistic about the plan. So hopefully that will be the case.'' ... The Bears continued to hold LB Brian Urlacher out of practice because of his hamstring injury, along with LB Blake Costanzo (calf), S Chris Conte (hamstring) and backup RB Armando Allen (knee). DT Henry Melton (chest) was limited again after missing the past two games.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Kelly Oubre Jr. signs multi-year shoe deal with Converse

Kelly Oubre Jr. signs multi-year shoe deal with Converse

Wizards forward and fashion icon Kelly Oubre Jr. is helping to bring  Converse back to the basketball world. The once popular basketball brand is making a major push to get back on the scene and is signing Oubre Jr. to a multi-year footwear and apparel deal, according to ESPN.

The multi-year shoe deal comes just after Oubre Jr.'s contract with Adidas expired Oct. 1, according to ESPN which first reported the news, leaving him as an attractive choice for shoe deals that came flooding in such as Puma and New Balance. Ultimately, the 22-year-old wing decided on Converse, in a one-of-a-kind deal that has Oubre wearing the Nike-owned brand on and off the court.

Converse, most known for their Chuck-Taylor All-Stars that have made a comeback in recent years, was famously worn in the 60's by NBA and college basketball players alike. 

Oubre Jr. is no stranger to fashion. In fact, he views himself as a kind of "rock star," and brings the swagger that comes with his sense of style to the court. In an interview with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller last year, Oubre said fashion is an important aspect to his game and looks to the rapper, Travis Scott for inspiration.

"I think I'm a rock star. That's how I kind of go about it," he said. "My game kind of represents my fashion, just going hard, raging and screaming to the crowd and all that stuff. I was a rapper, I would be Travis Scott. Just know that."

Converse is known for its rock star reputation, sponsoring big names such as Tyler the Creator more recently, and Kurt Cobain in the early 90s. The Ramones famously wore them on stage and in cover art, and Wiz Khalifa, Ice Cube and The Game have all worn them. 

The brand introduced Oubre Jr. as its latest sponsorship in a YouTube video featuring the song "Attitude" by The Misfits, which Converse also famously sponsored.

The Tsunami Papi's revival of Converse will bring a certain swagger to the brand that was lost on basketball stars in the early 80's. Now, the 22-year-old Oubre will have the opportunity to bring his creativity and style to the brand.

"They have dope canvases that a lot of people can make a dope creation on," said Oubre in an interview with ESPN. "I just want to continue to create that legacy and that wave to make the brand look good."

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

 

Quick Links

Almost a quarter into the season, Todd Reirden still does not have his full roster 

reirden-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Almost a quarter into the season, Todd Reirden still does not have his full roster 

In his first year as an NHL head coach, Todd Reirden is well aware that all eyes are on him. Stepping in to coach the defending Stanley Cup champions is a favorable position in many ways, but it does mean Reirden will be under more scrutiny than most coaches in their first year.

For a first-year coach already facing pressure to succeed, it does not help that the season has already thrown a number of curve balls in terms of the roster.

“Coaching the defending champions is a unique challenge in itself,” Reirden told NBC Sports Washington in a recent interview, “But I think for the most part that I haven't had much time to spend on that because I've been busy working on different lineups every night.”

With very few departures in the offseason, Washington was able to bring back the vast majority of its Stanley Cup winning team for the 2018-19 season, something that was considered a major strength of the team heading into the new season.

So far, however, we have seen much more roster attrition from the Caps than consistency.

Now 18 games into the season, Reirden has not had his full roster available to him at any point.

Tom Wilson missed the first 16 games of the season due to suspension, Brooks Orpik is currently on long-term injured reserve, Michal Kempny missed the start of the season because of a concussion and missed Wednesday’s game due to an illness, Travis Boyd has played in only five games due to a lower-body injury he suffered in training camp and Braden Holtby was a surprise scratch on Wednesday with an upper-body injury that required the team dress an emergency backup goalie in Winnipeg. Even John Carlson sat out a game with a lower-body injury.

Things may get worse before they get better given Evgeny Kuznetsov left Wedensday’s game early with an upper-body injury, T.J. Oshie appeared dazed after getting slammed to the ice by Josh Morrissey and Holtby is still considered day-to-day.

The rest of the league, however, does not care about the Caps’ suspensions and injuries. Washington does not get extra points in the standings because they have missed so many players and there are no asterisks next to Reirden’s head coaching record.

In the early part of the season, Reirden’s focus has had to shift from bringing the defending champs back to their championship form to simply surviving the team’s current roster attrition while facing questions as to why the team has been so inconsistent all the while.

Reirden has enjoyed the challenge.

“I think it's allowed us to really focus on what gives us the best chance to win, putting guys in different situations, manipulating lineups against other teams and what they have as the strengths in their lineup and how we can combat that,” he said. “So it's been a challenge from that standpoint in terms of moving our lines around and different components. That's made it a little bit more challenging, but that's the part I really enjoy is making those adjustments in house and figuring out how to set up things for success.”

Reirden has certainly not been shy about changing his line combinations or the defensive pairings early in the season as he searched to find the right fit for each spot, each situation. The return of Wilson certainly seems to have made things more clear on the offensive lines, at least in terms of the top-nine.

But while the early suspension and the team’s early injury woes have led to some early struggles and while this certainly is not the start that Reirden would have hoped for in his first season, he is taking a big picture view of it all and stressing the positives.

There’s not much more that this season could throw at the Caps that Reirden and the team has not already had to adjust to.

“It's probably been part of the reason we've had some inconsistency is because of the different changes we've had with different lines and different D-pairs,” Reirden said. “But in the long run, it'll actually help prepare us for adversity that comes to us down the road.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: