Celski, Gehring win national short track titles

Celski, Gehring win national short track titles

KEARNS, Utah (AP) A year ago, JR Celski barely could get to the start line at the U. S. short track speedskating championships because of a painfully swollen broken ankle suffered at a World Cup event in Japan.

Now Celski is good as gold, with a national championship to add to his list of accomplishments during this record-setting season.

His wins in the 500, 1,500 and 3,000 along with a fifth-place finish in the 1,000 helped him lock up the national title Saturday. Lana Gehring won the women's title with wins in every event the past two days.

Both earned spots for the U.S. in the final two World Cups of the season and a chance to compete in the world championships in Hungary in March.

Jeff Simon, Travis Jayner, Chris Creveling, Ed Alvarez and Kyle Carr round out the men's World Cup team, while Jessica Smith, Alyson Dudek, Emily Scott, Sarah Chen and Kimberly Derrick complete the women's. Alvarez qualified for his first World Cup team.

``It was hard not to compete (in this event last year), but it was the right thing to do. I honestly couldn't have skated because it was so painful,'' Celski said of the broken ankle and torn ligaments. ``It was so swollen, I'm surprised I could fit it into my boot.''

He laced up just so he'd be allowed to compete in the relays at the 2012 worlds - not defend his individual title.

Coming into nationals this year, he still wasn't sure he'd be able to compete after suffering a concussion two weeks ago at a World Cup in Japan. He fell in the semifinals of the 1,500, slid into the boards and had his knee pop straight back at him into his eye socket.

``Same place, same rink, so I was worried about being able to get back in time for this one,'' Celski said.

``I never really dealt with a head injury before and from what the doctors said, the only thing to really cure a concussion was rest. I trained and rested. Those were the only things I focused on,'' he said.

Considering the injury he is most remembered for, this one was almost minor.

He had survived a life-threatening high-speed crash at the U.S. trials leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Games, needing 60 stitches to close a six-inch wide-by-two-inch-deep gash where a skate impacted his right thigh.

Still, he made sure the concussion symptoms were pretty much gone before he laced up this week.

``I was really relieved to be able to skate,'' said Celski, who has been a beast on the World Cup circuit and clocked the first-ever sub-40 time in the 500 this fall.

Now, after taking care of business at the Utah Olympic Oval, it's time for a little R&R before training begins in earnest for the stretch run.

He is headed home to Seattle to take in Sunday's Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers game in a battle of NFC West playoff contenders.

``I'm a loyal fan in heart and it's just like ride or die for me,'' Celski said of the Seahawks. ``I'm with them until the end.''

He's also excited about the next World Cup, Feb. 1-3 in Sochi, Russia - site of the 2014 Winter Games.

``It's always good to go and test the waters,'' Celski said. ``We went to Vancouver at the end of 2008 and got to skate at the (site) that was going to be the Olympics. So it was really cool just to see that, experience that and know what you're going to get yourself into.''

The same might be said for two-time Olympian Guy Thibault, who now takes over as head coach of a team that because of scandal had been as fractured as Celski's ankle.

Some athletes continue to have their own coaches, including Gehring, who is back working with Jae Su Chun at a Salt Lake City rink even though he has been suspended and resigned as U.S. coach.

The arrangement (he technically is volunteering as a coach but is allowed into the stands at Utah Olympic Oval like any other spectator) has worked well for Gehring, who said her performances the previous few months weren't ``world worthy.''

She's intent on changing that the next three months and going forward to the Sochi Games.

``I broke down more times this season than I have my entire life,'' Gehring said of the emotions dealing with the controversy and previous poor results. ``It was realizing what I had was gone, things I took for granted. It changed me. I'm such a different athlete, a different person in general.''

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Saints sign intriguing receiver off Redskins' practice squad

Saints sign intriguing receiver off Redskins' practice squad

The Redskins were overloaded with interesting wide receiver prospects back in training camp. Not all could make the 53-man roster initially. Simmie Cobbs landed on the practice squad and remained there.

Buzz this week centered on whether Cobbs might finally land a promotion. He did, just not with Washington.

The New Orleans Saints signed Cobbs off the Redskins practice squad Friday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington.

Receiver injuries spiked for the NFC South leading-Saints in recent weeks, the result of which led the Drew Brees-led squad to poach Cobbs. The Indiana product had 72 receptions for 841 yards during his final season with the Hoosiers. He surprisingly went undrafted but joined a Redskins squad with uncertainty at receiver.  

Josh Doctson’s status remains unclear after suffering a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the Giants. He remains “questionable” for this Sunday’s road game at Jacksonville, head coach Jay Gruden announced Friday.

Washington is already down three receivers from the Week 1 roster. Paul Richardson, Cam Sims and Trey Quinn landed on injured reserve. Quinn went down twice after an in-season return. The Redskins added Brian Quick for a few weeks and signed Jehu Chesson to help fill in rather than promote Cobbs or Darvin Kidsy from the practice squad.

Doctson’s status put forth the potential of Cobbs finally joining the 53 this week. It’s possible injuries elsewhere, namely to tight end Jordan Reed (toe) and long snapper Nick Sundberg (back) hampered the Redskins’ chances of adding another receiver.

"Simmie has been great. He's been great,” Gruden said Wednesday. “Kidsy has been great also, so if need be if one of those guys needs to be called up, I won't hesitate for a second. Like I said though, it’s a matter of roster spots. We don’t have a whole lot available so, we'll figure it out.”

Though the 6-foot-3 target made his shares of impressive catches during the summer, Washington kept another pair of rookies instead. Quinn was the Redskins’ final selection in the 2018 draft. Sims, also an undrafted free agent, wowed throughout training camp and the preseason before his season ended with a Week 1 foot injury.  

It’s unclear how Cobbs fit into Washington’s plans seeing as it never promoted him. The Redskins have questions going forward at receiver, concerns beyond this season. Whatever the solution, the interesting prospect won’t be part of them.

The New Orleans Advocate first reported the Saints signing Cobbs. 


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Mason Foster apologizes to Redskins fans in wake of private message controversy

Mason Foster apologizes to Redskins fans in wake of private message controversy

After private comments on Instagram made significant waves among Redskins fans, Mason Foster addressed the media to explain how much he regretted his actions. 

"People know I love the fans," Foster said Friday. 

In a wide-ranging interview where Foster explained his missteps on social media, the linebacker said he deeply apologized for the comments attributed to his account. 

Foster owned the first conversation that emerged this week on Twitter, where he wrote, "F*** this team and this fanbase" but said that subsequent conversations that leaked out were written by his cousin. Allowing his cousin control over his account was another major mistake, Foster said. 

For Foster, all he can do now is try to do right and prove to his teammates and fans that he's committed to the franchise and doing good in the community. 

On the season, Foster has 108 tackles and two interceptions. He's the Redskins defensive captain and tied for 7th across the NFL in tackles.