Wizards

Colts new coach eager to reunite with Luck

Colts new coach eager to reunite with Luck

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Pep Hamilton already knows what he wants to do with the Indianapolis Colts offense.

He'll build around Andrew Luck, take advantage of all that young talent in Indy and do everything he can to keep Luck out of harm's way. He can't wait to get going.

Just minutes after the Colts made Hamilton's hiring official Saturday afternoon, the former Stanford offensive coordinator got on a conference call with local reporters and started outlining the plans he has for a team that went from 2-14 to 11-5 in less than 12 months.

``It will be a variation of it,'' Hamilton said when asked about bringing the West Coast offense to Indy. ``Short passing game, high completion rate. But I enjoy watching our guys coming off the ball and trying to knock the opponent back. I'm a big believer in the power-running game, I believe that opens it up for your passing game. I want to be flexible schematically in that we find ways to get the ball into playmakers' hands.''

This is no rebuilding project now.

In 2012, Luck set NFL rookie records for attempts and yards passing, fell just short of breaking the NFL's rookie marks for completions and TD passes, tied the league's single-season record for most winning drives in the fourth quarter (seven) and produced a league-high nine wins in one-possession games. Plus, the Colts had more combined yards rushing and receiving by rookies than any team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

They also have a Pro Bowl receiver in Reggie Wayne.

Hamilton doesn't want to break all of that up.

But those who know him best do expect changes. Under Bruce Arians, the Colts took more chances down the field than just about any team in football. Hamilton may not be as likely to do that, though he did acknowledge he wants to take ``shots'' down the field.

Other tinkering with the Indy's new offense may be more subtle.

``I would say, first and foremost, every time you bring in a new offense, you have a new language,'' tight end Coby Fleener said. ``Fortunately, Andrew, I and Griff Whalen have been in that offense so we can kind of tutor guys on that. I'm not sure yet how much we'll be running from last year.''

Fleener, Luck and Whalen were all Colts rookies last season after playing at Stanford, where Hamilton ran the offense each of the past two seasons. Whalen spent the season on injured reserve.

Though Luck repeatedly said he was hoping Arians would stay, having Hamilton running the offense may turn out to be the next best thing.

``First of all, I'm very happy for Coach Arians and I wish him nothing but the best in Arizona. I really enjoyed working with him this season, and I'm very thankful for all of his guidance,'' Luck said in a statement released by the team. ``I'm thrilled to be able to reunite with Coach Pep here in Indianapolis. He was a tremendous mentor of mine at Stanford and he is going to have our offense playing at a high, energetic level.''

Hamilton joined Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford in 2010 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011 when Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers and David Shaw took over as Stanford's head coach.

Stanford is one of only three schools - Oregon and Wisconsin being the others - that earned BCS bowl berths the past three seasons. The Cardinal routed Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl two years ago and lost in overtime to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl in Luck's finale. The Cardinal have won at least 11 games each of the past three years after doing that previously only three times in school history (1992, 1940 and 1926).

Hamilton said he spent four hours interviewing for Oregon's head coaching job this week, too.

So Colts coach Chuck Pagano wasted little time determining who would replace Arians, who took the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job Thursday.

``He's had success everywhere he's been and his familiarity with guys like Andrew and Coby will make him a great fit for our team,'' Pagano said. ``I can't wait to start working with him as we get ready for next year.''

But NFL rules will prohibit how much work Hamilton can do with Luck, Fleener and the rest of the offense until offseason workouts begin in the spring.

For Hamilton, the work can't begin soon enough.

``I spoke with him (Luck) this morning. He's excited,'' Hamilton said. ``I'm very excited to have an opportunity to work with Andrew again, and I can't wait to get started.''

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

nassir-little-unc-auburn-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

Best highlight video:
https://youtu.be/oGIQDUttG8I

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Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Redskins officials fear that linebacker Reuben Foster has torn the ACL in his left knee, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Additionally, there is concern about a more significant injury that could include the artery in his left leg, sources said. 

Foster went down on his first snap in a non-contact drill during OTAs on Monday after stepping on the leg of guard Tyler Catalina. Immediately, Foster fell to the ground, and it was obvious he was in intense pain. He was audibly screaming and crying while writhing in pain on the field. 

Moments later, the Redskins medical staff rushed out to Foster, and within a matter of minutes, his leg was placed into a stabilizing device. He was then helped onto a cart and wheeled off the practice field. 

After practice, Jay Gruden said the team was unsure of Foster's prognosis but did say, "I’m just very disappointed in what happened in his first rep as a Redskin. He runs through the gap and gets injured."

The Redskins took a major public relations hit by signing Foster last fall, and the team's belief was that his play on the field would be worth the controversy that enveloped his signing. Foster won't be playing in 2019, but remains under contract for 2020, and Washington will have the option to keep him in 2021. 

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