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Broncos LB Mays out for season

Broncos LB Mays out for season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Joe Mays is out for the season after suffering a serious injury to his lower left leg in the Denver Broncos' 34-14 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Mays fractured the fibula just above his left ankle while blocking for punt returner Trindon Holliday in the fourth quarter Sunday night when a Saints player inadvertently leg-whipped him.

Coach John Fox said it's doubtful Mays was a candidate to be placed on recallable injured reserve ``just because of what's left in the season.''

``We're going to miss Joe,'' linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. ``Things definitely aren't going to be the same without having him out there, his presence, his leadership and his ability to go out there and make plays.''

Mays has had a rough season since signing a three-year, $12 million deal in the offseason. He was suspended for a game and docked $50,000 for an illegal hit on Houston QB Matt Schaub and lost his starting middle linebacker job two weeks ago to veteran Keith Brooking following a poor performance by the defense in a 31-21 loss at New England.

That relegated Mays, who was making $4.5 million this season, to special teams duty. But he maintained his locker room leadership, teammates said.

``He didn't get down on himself. He continued to pick his teammates up and that's one thing you look for as a good teammate, whether throughout the tough times whether you're going to be the same person or you're going to be a different person,'' Woodyard said. ``He was sad but he continued to work hard every day and he came out here and pushed everybody else, and that's the big thing we were proud about.''

Brooking, in his 15th season, said he spoke with Mays after the game and told him about how he went on IR his third year in the league with a foot injury and missed 11 games but returned the next season and ``I haven't missed a game since.''

``You hate to lose a guy that we were all counting on. He's been a very big part of this football team,'' Brooking said. ``The main things are for him just to keep his head up, keep fighting, believing and don't allow this to get him down. More than anything, it's just motivation for him to come back even better than he was before.''

The Broncos could promote Mike Mohamed from their practice squad to take Mays' roster spot. They'll also get D.J. Williams back from his second suspension in a couple of weeks.

The team's leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, Williams is serving an NFL-mandated three-game ban over his August conviction for driving while ability impaired. This is on top of the six-game suspension he completed for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. He's eligible to return for the Broncos' game Nov. 18 against San Diego.

``It's always good to have a guy that can roll in,'' said Woodyard. ``D.J., with his experience, that allows us to be able to play a lot of different things and do a lot of different things with him.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

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!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.