Redskins

Dolphins fear Long's arm injury is season-ending

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Dolphins fear Long's arm injury is season-ending

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Tackle Jake Long's absence from the lineup will help the Miami Dolphins decide whether to keep him next year.

Long hurt his left triceps in the first half of Sunday's loss to New England, and the Dolphins fear he'll miss the rest of the season. That means Long might have played his final game for Miami, because he can become an unrestricted free agent this winter.

Rookie Jonathan Martin moved from right tackle to the left side to replace Long against the Patriots, and if he plays well in the final four games, the switch could become permanent.

Long, a perennial Pro Bowl tackle since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, earns a base salary of $11.2 million this season. He would receive $15.4 million next year if the Dolphins give him a franchise tag. That's likely more than Miami will be willing to spend, given that Long has battled injuries for much of his career and has endured a disappointing season.

The Dolphins (5-7) have lost four of their past five games, and their already slim playoff hopes might be quashed Sunday, when they play at NFC West leader San Francisco. So the timing's right to start thinking about next year.

Aside from addressing the situation at left tackle, upgrading the offense will be the priority, and the 23-16 loss to New England reinforced that notion. The Dolphins are averaging 18.9 points per game, sixth worst in the NFL.

``It's hard to win a lot of games scoring that many points,'' coach Joe Philbin said Monday. ``It probably would stand true in high school football.''

And now the Dolphins are prepared to move forward without their star offensive lineman.

`If that's the case, we'll go to work and get five guys ready to go up front,'' Philbin said. ``He has been an excellent leader. He's a valued member of the offense. However, injuries occur with every team. Ours is no different.''

Martin, a second-round draft pick, protected Andrew Luck's blind side as a left tackle at Stanford. He has started every game this year at right tackle, and Philbin said the rookie fared well after Long went out.

``He did a good job. He played well,'' Philbin said. ``He has a bunch of reps in his history from college playing over there. Here he doesn't get a lot of repetitions over there, but I thought he made a good adjustment in the middle of the game.''

Nate Garner, who has nine career starts, took over at right tackle.

Long has missed only two games in five NFL seasons. He was chosen a Pro Bowl starter each of the past three years and was a front-runner to be selected this year.

``He has been a good player for a long time, and he's the leader on the offense,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ``So it's tough to replace him.''

Even so, Long has become a less dominant blocker as his injuries accumulate. He was slowed by an ankle injury as a rookie and hurt his shoulder in 2010. Last year he battled back trouble, then missed the final game with a torn right biceps. He missed practice time this season because of a right knee injury.

Revamping the line would present yet another challenge for an offense that has sputtered. Tannehill ranks 31st in the 32-team league in passer rating, and Miami ranks 21st at 3.9 yards rushing per attempt.

A little more production might make a big difference, because five of the seven losses have been by a touchdown or less.

Against New England, the Dolphins totaled only 277 yards. Tannehill went 13 for 29, the third time he has finished below 50 percent, and twice missed an open Brian Hartline deep.

``You can't play the coulda-woulda-shoulda game,'' Hartline said. ``But they were big plays, and to beat a team like that, you have to make those kind of plays.''

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.