Redskins

Even with aching toe, Garcon makes Redskins better

Even with aching toe, Garcon makes Redskins better

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) From head to toe, three things are immediately noticeable when Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon takes the field.

- His mouthpiece looks like vampire fangs. Nothing special, he says. Just something the team dentist designed for him a few years back when he was with the Indianapolis Colts.

- He appears to be the only NFL player whose jersey has a cedilla, the curvy thing that dangles from the letter ``c.'' His parents are from Haiti, accounting for his French name. He speaks Creole and understands French, although he says the French class he took in college didn't help much at all.

- He's makes the Redskins offense a lot better, even though he's playing with a toe that hurts. And hurts. And hurts. And has been hurting for some 2 1/2 months.

``I think I'm going to make it through the whole season,'' Garcon said this week. ``Hopefully nothing crazy happens. But I've been dealing with the pain for so long now, it's only getting numb to it or getting used to it.''

When Garcon caught the first touchdown pass of Robert Griffin III's career - 88 yards in the season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints - little did anyone know that the moment would yield as much frustration as excitement. Garcon tore a ligament in the second toe on his right foot while sprinting to the end zone, and the intervening weeks have been flush with thoughts of how to play through pain, how best to avoid surgery and whether he should even try to play again this season.

``It is frustrating because it's just a toe,'' Garcon said. ``But it plays a big part. I need my toes to push off.''

Garcon returned for Weeks 4 and 5, but he clearly wasn't physically ready and served more as a decoy than anything else, catching four passes for 44 yards. It looked like more of the same when he returned for again this month against the Philadelphia Eagles, catching three passes for a tepid 5 yards.

Coach Mike Shanahan wasn't certain whether Garcon would be able to play again four days later against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving because of the possible effect of the stadium's artificial surface on his toe.

``No matter what, I have to go out there and play,'' Garcon said. ``If it's grass, turf, AstroTurf, concrete - I've got to be out there no matter what. It's going to be a pain throughout the year.''

Against the Cowboys, Garcon looked again like the player signed to a $42.5 million, five-year contract to fill the team's need for a No. 1 receiver. He had five catches for 93 yards, including a 59-yard acrobatic catch-and-run score that gave nary a hint of anything wrong with his foot.

``He just brings a different attitude to the receiving corps,'' Griffin said. ``He's our guy. Having him out there is definitely a plus. ... He was in his own world. That's how he is when he's out there. He plays in the zone and I think it helps the other receivers to have him out there.''

The Redskins (5-6) hope Garcon can play another key role in Monday night's NFC East showdown against the New York Giants (7-4), but the fickle foot means offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have to be flexible with the game plan.

``You never know because he's not 100 percent healthy,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ``But when he does feel good, he's a big-time player. And when he's not fully going, I still think (having) him out there help us. ... It makes me a little less decisive in what we're going to open up with and stuff we're going to do, but it's definitely a problem I don't mind having.''

Still to be decided is how and when the toe will heal. Garcon has never had surgery, and he's adamant that he'll opt for it only as a last resort.

``It's slowly going away,'' Garcon said. ``The surgery is not something I want to do. But if a few doctors say I need it, then I'll probably do it. But if I don't need it, I'm not getting it.''

Notes: LB London Fletcher (sprained left ankle) and LT Trent Williams (left thigh bruise) again did not practice. ... Griffin was chosen as the NFL's offensive rookie of the month for November. He also won the honor for the month of September.

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Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

Here's a small example of Dwayne Haskins' leadership, as told by Matthew Berry

ESPN Fantasy Football expert Matthew Berry was at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere last weekend in Los Angeles, where he got the chance to interview the three Redskins rookies in attendance: Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, and Bryce Love. 

Berry, who was a guest of JP Finlay's on the Redskins Talk podcast on Thursday, has been a fan of the Burgundy and Gold since he was a kid, so he was eager to talk to three of the team's newest players and learn more about them.

It was during those interviews where Berry got a quick glimpse of a side of Haskins that now has Berry really excited.

"I thought what was really cool was... When I was interviewing McLaurin, Dwayne Haskins came in and interrupted the interview to give him some crap," he told Finlay. "It was really a wonderful moment to see. Obviously, they know each other very well from Ohio State, but just the fact that they felt comfortable enough and he wanted to come over and mess with him a little bit and have some fun, I was impressed with that."

Once Haskins left, Berry explained how he asked McLaurin about the interaction. Redskins fans will like McLaurin's answer.

"That's Dwayne, Dwayne is being a leader," McLaurin said, per Berry. 

Haskins did something similar to Love during Love's interview as well. Berry even caught up with Colts receiver Parris Campbell, who also played with the QB at Ohio State, to inquire about the 15th overall pick. 

"I asked him, 'Listen, I'm a diehard Redskins fan, what am I getting?'" Berry said. "He couldn't have been more effusive. 'You're not only getting a guy who puts the ball where you want it, but you're getting a leader. You're getting a guy who makes sure everyone in the huddle is included.'"

You can be skeptical of how much these little moments mean, and that's fair. Ultimately, how quickly Haskins picks up Jay Gruden's playbook and how accurate his arm turns out to be will factor more into his success in the NFL than being able to joke around a bit with some of his guys.

But you can also hope that these little moments are hints of a bigger personality and approach, a look into an athlete who can get a football team to buy into him. That's the side Berry is on.

"I thought that was really cool, and just showed somebody who's very comfortable in the leadership position and who's trying to be inclusive of everyone," he said. "It's early in the process, but I have yet to hear somebody on or off the record say something bad about Dwayne Haskins."

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WNBA Finals loss only more fuel for Elena Delle Donne, Mystics heading into 2019 season

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WNBA Finals loss only more fuel for Elena Delle Donne, Mystics heading into 2019 season

For Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics, last season's heartbreak in the WNBA Finals is only fuel for another potential postseason run in 2019. 

"That's something I don't think I'll ever let go," Washington's star forward told Chris Miller on the latest episode of the Wizards Talk podcast. "It's always tough when you get to that Finals and you can't finish it off. But I think it's something that can fuel you. You don't want to let it just bring you down and depress you and make it so you can't get over that hump."

"If you use it as fuel and motivation, it can help you get better. I think that's what we're all gonna do."

The Mystics reached their first WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2018 but ultimately lost to the Seattle Storm. Delle Donne, recently named in WNBA.com's GM survey as the favorite to win league MVP, is back for her third season in Washington and headlines a strong team that has the talent to compete for the title again.

Her status for Saturday's season opener against the Connecticut Sun is up in the air due to a left knee injury, but Delle Donne believes the Mystics will have another great season given the continuity on the roster from last season and the return of All-Star forward Emma Meesseman. 

"We feel great. We've got our core back," said Delle Donne. "And to be able to add a superstar like Emma to that roster is pretty scary. Especially with her style of play and the way that our team started playing last season, where it was such positionless basketball. Spreading the floor, just spreading it, making it easy for one another to attack, get some threes. She's just gonna add so much to that."

NBC Sports Washington will be broadcasting 10 Mystics home games during the 2019 WNBA season. For the full regular season schedule, click here.

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