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Eagles not discussing plans for Lions WR Johnson

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Eagles not discussing plans for Lions WR Johnson

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Calvin Johnson's nickname is enough to scare opponents, even if he's not finding the end zone with regularity.

The All-Pro wide receiver will try to catch his first touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford this season when the Detroit Lions (1-3) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) on Sunday.

``When they give you the nickname `Megatron,' that means you're pretty good,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Johnson. ``He's a really good player.''

Johnson has a tough challenge going against a secondary that features a pair of accomplished cornerbacks: two-time All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a 2009 Pro Bowl pick. Rookie Brandon Boykin may even line up against Johnson at times.

``These guys have corners that can play,'' Stafford said. ``You look at them on tape, they're shutting guys down.''

Whatever the Eagles plan to do to cover Johnson, they're not letting on.

``I don't want to give away what we're going to do,'' defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said. ``Hopefully we can talk about it after the game, and you can say, `Juan, that was a good game plan that you all had.'''

The Lions use Johnson in various formations, lining him up inside, outside and wherever they think they can draw a mismatch. He has 29 catches for 423 yards, but his only TD catch was thrown by Shaun Hill.

When Johnson is in the slot, Asomugha probably will move over to cover him instead of Boykin, who usually plays there. Rodgers-Cromartie had a tough time adjusting to playing nickel cornerback last year, making Asomugha more likely to get the assignment. Rodgers-Cromartie has outplayed Asomugha in man-to-man coverage, so he should be on Johnson when he's outside.

Like other teams, the Eagles may also use a safety to double-cover Johnson.

``Normally people are looking to cover him with a couple of people,'' coach Andy Reid said. ``He has earned that respect and that's what teams have done. That doesn't mean that is what you have to do, but that is what teams have tried to do against him. That has been going on not just this year but the last few. They still try to find ways to get him open and get him the football.''

Rodgers-Cromartie indicated the Eagles will put two guys on Johnson.

``You just have to keep a couple of people on him,'' he said. ``You have to keep him out of the game and don't even allow him to get started. Frustrate him early.''

The Lions have an idea of what the Eagles might try to do. Even though Johnson has only scored once, Detroit is moving the ball. The Lions are third in the NFL in yards and second in first downs.

``They've got great corners. I think they're a matchup kind of a defense,'' offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. ``They're not just going to go out and play straight man-on-man. They're going to have guys accounting for the receivers in close coverage. I would expect more of that than any of the games we've had so far.''

Stafford connected with Johnson for two TDs in each of the first four games last year and nine times in five games to lift the Lions to a 5-0 start en route to their first playoff appearance since 1999. Johnson finished with 96 catches for 1,681 yards and 16 TDs.

But with Stafford off to a slow start - he has fewer TD passes (three) than interceptions (four) - and Johnson not making big plays, it's no wonder the Lions are struggling. Johnson, though, is due for a breakout performance.

``He can run, he can jump, and he has great hands,'' Castillo said. ``He does a great job running routes and catching the football in traffic and over the middle. The quarterback trusts him.

``Stafford will throw to him even if he is double covered.''

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NOTES: The Eagles have no injuries and everyone should be ready to play vs. the Lions. ... Eagles QB Michael Vick carried a football around with him all week, even taking it to breakfast. Teammates tried to strip it away whenever they saw him holding it around the practice facility. Vick has fumbled eight times, losing five of those. ``There was a bounty on the ball,'' he joked.

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter:https://twitter.com/RobMaaddi

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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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