Nationals

Browns say "premature" to name Weeden starting QB

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Browns say "premature" to name Weeden starting QB

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Norv Turner will call plays for the Browns' next season. It's not yet certain who will run them.

First-year Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Wednesday that ``it's premature'' to name Brandon Weeden as Cleveland's starting quarterback in 2013.

At a press conference to introduce Turner, San Diego's former coach as his offensive coordinator, Chudzinski would not commit to Weeden, who had an uneven rookie season after he was drafted in the first round last year. Chudzinski is keeping his options open, which doesn't mean he's opposed to Weeden keeping his job.

But Chudzinski wasn't involved in the process to select Weeden and it only makes sense that he will do his own evaluation before making decisions on any players. Cleveland could opt to sign a quarterback in free agency, draft another one - they pick sixth overall - stick with Weeden or promote backup Colt McCoy.

There's time and Chudzinski intends to use it. He's been too busy hiring his assistants to judge what he's inheriting, which is why he won't pencil Weeden in as the starter.

It's too early to be sure of anything.

``That's premature to say any of that,'' he said. ``Until we all get together, we get the staff set, we get a chance to sit down and talk through personnel and everybody's on the same page with those things. You don't know watching tape necessarily how guys are. Sometimes guys will get out there and they get into the system and maybe it's a better fit. Maybe you see some things that you didn't see from tape, whether its game tape or practice tape so you just never know.''

Weeden won't be handed anything by Cleveland's new regime and Chudzinski, who was hired as Cleveland's sixth coach since 1999 on Jan. 11, isn't rushing into such an important decision. The Browns have opened the season with a new starting quarterback in each of the past five years.

Weeden, who was part of a talented rookie class that included Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill, was equally promising and perplexing in 2012.

The 29-year-old passed for 3,385 yards but completed only 57 percent of his throws in Cleveland's West Coast system. He had 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and his 72.6 rating was 29th among the league's 32 starters.

Turner will also coach Cleveland's quarterbacks and is looking forward to working with Weeden, who made 15 starts before missing Cleveland's finale at Pittsburgh with a sprained shoulder. Like Chudzinski, Turner would not offer a strong opinion - positive or negative - on Weeden, but said he's got some intangibles to build upon.

``I look at things where I know he has to improve and needs to get better to do the things we want him to do, but I think he has a lot of the skill set that we're looking for,'' Turner said. ``Again, this is early in terms of an evaluation, but he does have a big arm and he can throw the ball up the field.''

Turner wasn't modest in predicting he can get the most out of Weeden's potential.

``There's a lot of guys that I've been with that I think have had their best seasons while I was coaching them,'' he said.

As far as play-calling duties, Chudzinski was happy to hand them over to Turner, who he said has been ``one of the best play callers in the league for a long time.'' They worked together in San Diego - Chudzinski coached the Chargers tight ends under Turner - and already have a trusting relationship.

Chudzinski said having someone with Turner's vast NFL experience is a huge plus, particularly for a rookie head coach.

``One of the things you want to do as a head coach is recognize the people that are around you and the talents that they have,'' Chudzinski said. ``With Norv here, there's no doubt in my mind he'll do a great job as the play caller. I'll still be involved. The way that we've done this is from a game-planning standpoint and on game day when I was with Norv when we we're in San Diego together is that everybody's really involved through the whole process.''

After he was fired by the Chargers, Turner went on vacation in Hawaii with his wife, Nancy. It was a chance to unwind and plan the next phase of a coaching career spanning nearly four decades.

Turner said Chudzinski made a convincing sales pitch to join the Browns, who had one of the league's youngest rosters last season.

``He really got to me,'' Turner said. ``The youth of the team was extremely exciting to me and it looked like a great opportunity. We share a philosophy in terms of offensive football and the way you play football. You want to be a team that the fans love to watch. You have to be able to score points, you have to be able to make explosive plays, big plays, you have to be a team that plays fast, plays hard, plays physical.''

Turner became familiar with many of Cleveland's players when the Chargers were beaten by the Browns 7-6 in October. It's when he got his first look at running back Trent Richardson, who scored the game's only TD on a 26-yard, tackle-breaking run.

``An impressive, young player,'' Turner said. ``I've been fortunate through most of my stops to be with outstanding running backs, great running backs. Guys who have characteristics like a Trent. I've been fortunate to be able to coach five backs that have led the NFL in rushing. That experience will help me in terms of understanding what we need to do.''

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Nationals coy about how starting pitching will lineup in World Series

Nationals coy about how starting pitching will lineup in World Series

WASHINGTON -- Mike Rizzo declined to say specifically Friday how the Nationals’ World Series rotation would line up. 

“Davey [Martinez] and I haven’t met officially yet,” Rizzo said. “I don’t think the pitching plans will come as any shock to anybody.”

Washington’s sweep of St. Louis in the National League Championship Series presents options. Everyone is rested. And, they needed it.

Despite the sweep, Stephen Strasburg is second in pitches thrown in the postseason, Max Scherzer fourth, Patrick Corbin sixth and Aníbal Sánchez 11th. Houston’s Justin Verlander is No. 1 following his Friday start in New York. Astros starter Gerrit Cole is third.

“You guys can figure it out,” Martinez said to reporters of the pending rotation. “You’ve been here all year. 

“For me, it’s making sure these guys are ready and healthy. These guys have pitched a lot. I want to make sure -- it’s not just about Game 1, it’s about Games 4, 5, 6, 7. We’ve got to make sure we prepare ourselves for seven games and that we do our due diligence on each one.”

The flat, and most likely, scenario is Washington simply decides to throw Max Scherzer in Game 1 and Stephen Strasburg in Game 2. Scherzer would be back in Game 5, if necessary, on full rest. Strasburg would return for Game 6 on an extra day of rest. They could also flip to give Scherzer the extra day. 

Here’s a wrinkle to consider: throw Aníbal Sánchez in one of the first two games. Why? 

Sánchez has been potent in the postseason. He has a 0.71 ERA in two starts. He’s struck out 14 and allowed five hits. Nothing about his ERA is a fib.

If he starts Game 1 or 2 in Houston, let’s say Game 1 for this what-if exercise, Scherzer is bumped to Games 2 and 6 -- with an extra day of rest. Strasburg opens Game 3 at home, then is in line to pitch Game 7 on the road on regular rest. Otherwise, the Nationals will have to massage the pitching later in the series to put their two best pitchers in the most important game.

Think of the argument this way: if the goal is a road split to start, what are the chances a Sánchez-Scherzer pairing could accomplish that? Based on the postseason so far -- and Sánchez’s 2.57 career postseason ERA -- it’s a reasonable consideration.

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5 prospects Ravens fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

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5 prospects Ravens fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

The Whiteout is one of the greatest atmospheres in all of sports. It will be on display Saturday as Penn State hosts Michigan (7:30 p.m., ABC). That alone is enough reason to Saturday's game, but for any Redskins fans out there who need more convincing, there are plenty of players playing who could be joining former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in Baltimore.

Hare the players Ravens fans should be watching.

DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Gross-Matos has been climbing the draft boards after a breakout sophomore season in which he blew apart opposing lines with a whopping 54 tackles, 20 for a loss and eight sacks. He has really good size at 6-foot-5 which comes with some big arms which he uses to initiate contact and work blockers. He has more penetration skills than a lot of edge rushers and sometimes comes from the interior at Penn State.  He is not the kind of lineman who needs to get a good jump and get around a block, he can go around you or through you.

See where Gross-Matos is projected to go in the latest NFL Mock Draft.

CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

With two interceptions this season already, Hill is a top cover-corner for Michigan. Most draft experts have him as a nickel corner in the NFL. That's because his best skill is covering receivers man-to-man. Line him up in the slot and have him cover a speedy slot receiver and he can shut it down. At 5-foot-11, he is definitely undersized for an NFL defensive back, but the talent is there.

Watching Hill lineup against Penn State's KJ Hamler will be one of the matchups to watch on Saturday.

OLB Cam Brown, Penn State

In terms of side-to-side vision, Brown is one of the best linebackers in college football. He recorded 63 tackles last season with two sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes broken up. The knock on him, however, is that he can be easily blocked. He needs to bulk up a bit and work at shedding blocks to be really effective at the NFL level.

G Michael Onwenu, Michigan

In terms of size and strength, Onwenu's got it. In terms of quickness and athleticism, there are a few question marks. Then again, Onwenu is a guard, not a tackle, so perhaps you can get away with a project at that position with questions about his shape. His power alone makes him an NFL player.

OLB Josh Uche, Michigan

Uche is a hybrid edge rusher/linebacker, but he definitely looks like he would be more of an edge rusher in the NFL. This guy's main job on the field and perhaps in life is to pressure the quarterback. He had only 15 tackles last year, but seven of them were sacks. This is definitely  a later-round project though. He had 1.5 sacks heading into last week's matchup with Illinois. He inflated his totals a bit with three sacks in that games so take his final numbers with a grain of salt and ask just where those sacks are coming from.

 

G Steven Gonzalez, Penn State

Gonzalez sounded like he was committed to entering the draft in 2018, but he elected instead to return to Penn State for a fifth season. He's an interior lineman, most likely a guard, which is an area the Ravens need depth in. 

Athleticism is a bit of a question. Gonzalez is good on the run at the first block, but you shouldn't really expect him to go to the second level. He is going to occupy his first block, but he is not going to plow his way to a second. He just doesn't have the speed or athleticism to do it.

Other potential NFL prospects to watch:

WR Tarik Black, Michigan
G Ben Bredeson, Michigan
RB Chris Evans, Michigan
P Blake Gillikin, Penn State
WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State
CB Lavert Hill, Michigan
S Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
WR Juwan Johnson, Penn State
S Josh Metellus, Michigan
K Quinn Nordin, Michigan
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB John Reid, Penn State
OLB Josh Uche, Michigan
DT Robert Windsor, Penn State

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