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Butler returns INT for score, Colts lead Jags 24-3

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Butler returns INT for score, Colts lead Jags 24-3

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Darius Butler intercepted Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown as the Indianapolis Colts increased their lead to 24-3 over the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of the third quarter Thursday night.

It was the second big defensive play of the game for the cornerback, who recovered a fumble in the second quarter that led to a score.

The Jaguars, who struggled offensively all game, seemed to finally be making some traction on their ensuing drive thanks to a 52-yard pass to Cecil Shorts that put them inside the Colts 30. But a sack and holding penalty on consecutive plays led to a punt.

Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck ran for two touchdowns and Adam Vinatieri added a field goal in the first half.

Luck was surgical in the opening half, keeping drives alive with several long passes.

He scored on a close 4th-and-goal sneak for his second touchdown, prompting Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey to throw his play sheet as he ran onto the field arguing for a review.

He was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and told the play was reviewed and the ruling on the field confirmed.

That seven-play, 61-yard drive was set up by the Colts winning a challenge on a fumble by Laurent Robinson.

It was a microcosm of another abysmal half for the Jags in recent weeks.

Aside from the coaching staff losing two key challenges, Gabbert also had several passes dropped, and there was a costly false start penalty late in the half inside the red zone that caused the Jags to settle for a field goal as the offense struggled.

The Jaguars went three-and-out on their first two drives of the game, before using a few long passes and a scramble by Gabbert to get inside the Colts 30.

The drive stalled, though, and kicker Josh Scobee missed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right. It would have given him a franchise-record 21 straight makes.

Jacksonville appeared to intercept Luck on the first play of the ensuing Colts series, but the interception was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty on defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.

The Jags' defense did intercept Luck late in the half, but otherwise put little pressure on him.

Indianapolis was without six starters, including both of its starting cornerbacks, two offensive linemen, their starting tight end and All-Pro defensive end Robert Mathis.

Still, they entered the night riding a three-game winning streak, including close wins in consecutive games engineered by the rookie Luck.

It was the sixth game the Colts played without coach Chuck Pagano, whose leukemia diagnosis in October has definitely inspired his team.

Playing in his first prime time game, Luck was one the most recent players to shave his head in his coach's honor, joining more than three dozen others.

The Jaguars came into the matchup hoping to continue their three-game win streak in the series.

Jacksonville had the advantage of home teams boasting a 6-2 mark in Thursday night games this season, after going 7-2 in those prime time games in 2011.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said before the game that fact hasn't been lost on him.

``We had some discussion about that this week. We're looking at that,'' he said. ``One of the things I want to try and do is get the analysis on how teams are performing outside of the Thursday games. We've got to be careful of making decisions quick without the data. We've got to analyze that.''

Home teams are 29-14 all-time.

``Yes, but that's not what I'm interested in,'' Goodell said. ``What I'm saying is how are they doing outside of that? In other words, those teams may have a higher percentage of winning anyhow. So, you just have to look at that.''

It was the Jaguars annual ``Salute to Service'' Military Appreciation Game.

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

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.

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Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.

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