Nationals

Cowboys Bryant gets another doc to look at finger

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Cowboys Bryant gets another doc to look at finger

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant went to see another doctor Wednesday to help determine if he can play the rest of this season with a broken finger on his left hand.

Coach Jason Garrett said the team was trying to get as much medical information as possible to make a decision for ``the best way to handle it for now and the future.''

Bryant broke his left index finger in Sunday's 20-19 win at Cincinnati, though he returned to the game after the injury and caught a touchdown pass. He has TD catches in each of the last five games.

During the portion of practice opened to the media Wednesday, Bryant was wearing his No. 88 jersey with no wraps or bandages on his left hand when he ran on the field. He spoke briefly with a strength coach, then went over to where the team was before going back into the locker room.

Afterward, when the locker room was open to media, Bryant said he ``really wanted to talk'' but couldn't. He showed his swollen hand, and said he was headed to the doctor.

Garrett hadn't anticipated Bryant practicing Wednesday because of the swelling.

``One of the things we know about Dez is he's a tough guy and he loves playing football,'' Garrett said. ``He's going to give himself and our team every chance possible to play in this ballgame and continue to play this season.''

The Cowboys (7-6), a game behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants, play at home Sunday against Pittsburgh. They have won four of their last five games, a stretch in which Bryant has 33 catches for 525 yards and seven TDs.

Among the biggest questions is if Bryant would be risking long-term damage to his finger if he plays, especially if the third-year pro was to reinjure it this season.

``I would say that's an overriding question with all injuries. And certainly the willingness of the player to play, the ability of the player to function like he needs to function are big questions as well,'' Garrett said. ``But certainly his health now, his health going forward are huge factors in making this decision.''

Garrett said they would wait and see what information they get from the doctor before making any decisions.

Before Bryant would be able to play against the Steelers, Garrett said the receiver would have to get to a point where he is functional to practice and then see how he does there.

On his twice-weekly radio show Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the decision on playing would be up to Bryant. Garrett said Wednesday that Bryant and ``a lot of people'' would be involved in the decision.

``Certainly the player has a lot to do with his willingness and ability to play. But again, the medical part is a big piece and his ability to function is a big piece,'' Garrett said.

When Terrell Owns was with the Cowboys in 2006, he kept playing after breaking a finger the first month of the season. He played the rest of the games without reinjuring it, then had surgery after that.

Bryant is having his best NFL season with 75 catches for 1,028 yards and nine TDs. He is 11th in the league in receptions, 10th in yardage and eighth in scoring for non-kickers.

``Dez has been outstanding. He's gotten better and better really each and every day since he's been here. I think he's understanding more and more how to prepare himself to play at a top-level week in and week out,'' Garrett said. ``Where he's made his greatest strides is day in and day out, play in and play out, game in and game out. He's just gotten better and better and better and it's shown in his results.''

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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says no new contract discussions, but he’s also not concerned

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says no new contract discussions, but he’s also not concerned

WASHINGTON -- Still percolating during this strangest of seasons is the contract status of Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez.

It’s Aug. 9 and nothing has changed.

Rizzo said Sunday he has not had discussions with Nationals ownership about a contract extension. His current two-year deal ends after this season.

“I’m not worried about it,” Rizzo said Sunday. “They’ll take care of it when they deem themselves ready to take care of it. So, I haven’t given it much thought. My focus is on winning a championship here in 2020. And I think that that’s going to be our sole focus going forward.”

Martinez has a club option in his contract for a fourth season. The organization is yet to pick it up despite the team winning the World Series in 2019.

“I don’t have a timeline [for that decision],” Rizzo said. “But Davey’s deserving of one. He’s earned it. He’s a great representative of the Washington Nationals.”

RELATED: ASTROS PICK UP DUSTY BAKER’S 2021 OPTION WHILE DAVEY MARTINEZ WAITS FOR NATIONALS TO DO THE SAME

The situations carry similarities and vast differences.

Both Rizzo and Martinez can return to the negotiating table with a dash of leverage they, or their predecessors, never had. The Lerner family discarded several managers because the team failed to meet their top goal: win the World Series. Rizzo and Martinez accomplished that via a most-unlikely path in 2019. So, their side of the argument can be, “We did what you asked, now we deserve new contracts in return.”

The decision to pick up Martinez’s option appears to be a simple one. He will remain one of the lower-paid managers in the league, especially relative to his success, and the outcome of a 60-game season should have little impact on determining his worthiness of retaining the position for another year.

The cost would be bargain-basement. Martinez signed a three-year, $2.8 million contract with a fourth-year option for $1.2 million. He would command three times that on the open market. It’s such a team-friendly deal, the Nationals may be well-served to try to tack on two years when discussing the option, let alone promptly pulling the trigger on the option year.

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However, slow-playing negotiations is a common tactic for Nationals ownership, despite the ugly public optics of doing so.

Rizzo’s next contract is much more complicated. His expectation will be a deal that vaults him into the top five of general managers/team presidents in the sport. He has an argument for it. All the regular-season winning finally produced a championship. He’s developed prospects, executed trades well and kept a modern balance between analytics and scouts. Rizzo’s development of the baseball infrastructure in Washington has produced one of the most successful organizations in the league.

So, the Lerners have to decide if they will pay him a large amount for a long time. They have to determine if they want to quickly assure their manager will be back next year. Thus far, they have done neither.

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Let's have a conversation about expectations when it comes to Reuben Foster

Let's have a conversation about expectations when it comes to Reuben Foster

Sunday's news that Reuben Foster is off the PUP list and ready to start working on the field with the Washington Football Team will enliven many fans, and rightly so. The former first-round pick has been oft-discussed since the franchise claimed him in November 2018 and now he can try to get his career back on track.

That said, it feels like the perfect time to have a conversation about expectations when it comes to what Foster will add to the defense, at least right away. So let's have that talk.

Should he be able to get through camp and find himself in the lineup for Week 1 — that's not exactly a given, by the way, considering he just regained feeling in his toes in January following that awful 2019 injury in OTAs and he missed six games as a rookie with the Niners for health issues and he's had his fair share of other troubles — Foster will no doubt help.

Washington's linebacker group, with Thomas Davis, Jon Bostic and Cole Holcomb slated to lead the way, appears solid yet also a bit lacking in game-changing ability and dynamic traits. Foster was known for those qualities at Alabama and had at least hinted at them in San Fran, which means he should easily find a spot in Ron Rivera, Jack Del Rio and position coach Steve Russ' rotation.

But should that be the limit to what people are looking for out of the 26-year-old in 2020, as opposed to the missing piece label that some are putting on him?

At the risk of having this story referenced in October when Foster is balling out, it's not hard to find reasons to still be wary of what he'll end up providing.

As already referenced, Foster is coming off a traumatic torn ACL and LCL that took him nearly 15 months to recover from. How will that knee handle camp? How will that knee handle games? And, more importantly, how will Foster handle that knee? Will he still be the contact-seeking missile he was in college and early on as a pro? 

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It's not like he's trying to come back from a simple sprain. He may have a lot of work to do before he is fully confident in his body again.

Going off of that point, Foster's last NFL appearance was Oct. 28, 2018. This is someone who didn't play at all last season and who missed the back half of the previous one, too. That's an enormous layoff. How quickly will he be able to reacquaint himself to life on Sundays?

Beyond the injury and time off concerns, Foster's past contributions can be debated as well. Yes, as a rookie, Pro Football Focus rated him as the sport's 10th-best linebacker, but he's still quite young in terms of his development. In fact, an ex-teammate once flat-out called him "undisciplined" and criticized him for having "no technique to his game."

With Foster sidelined for this long and the team's defense struggling in his absence, a chunk of fans have allowed themselves to bill him as an All-Pro just waiting to happen. He certainly has the talent to one day deliver on that lofty idea, though he also has more growing to do to get there. Maybe even a lot more growing. Don't overlook that.

The amount of drama that's surrounded Washington this offseason has been ridiculous, even by the ridiculous standards that the organization has set. Therefore, if supporters want to celebrate that Foster is activated and heading toward his long-awaited debut, go for it.

Don't let the celebrations get too out of hand, however. There is a large gap between Foster leaving PUP and Foster really, positively impacting the defense. He took the first step across that gap on Sunday, but there are many more to go.

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