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Facing star back Peterson a tall task for Texans

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Facing star back Peterson a tall task for Texans

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans can't help but be impressed by what Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is accomplishing this season.

On Sunday when they face the Vikings, the Texans want to make sure they aren't on the wrong end of history. Peterson enters the game against Houston just 188 yards shy of becoming the seventh 2,000-yard rusher in NFL history.

``This year he's definitely the best,'' veteran Houston linebacker Bradie James said. ``I played against Ricky Williams in his heyday when he would just run over everybody. I played against the Bus (Jerome Bettis), the Bus was great in short yardage. I played against Mike Alstott. I played against all these guys, and what Adrian Peterson is doing right now, I hadn't seen it before.''

``We don't want to be on the end of his record setting,'' he continued. ``We've got to do our job and really not get caught up in all that.''

The Texans (12-2) need a win to secure both a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. To do that they'll have to slow Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher.

``It's going to be the biggest challenge we've had around here in a while,'' Houston coach Gary Kubiak said.

The Texans' defense led by star defensive end J.J. Watt is fifth in the NFL in yards rushing allowed a game with 93.2 - and Peterson is averaging 129.4. But he's been even more dominant of late, averaging 162.4 yards over the last eight games with two 200-yard performances.

``Peterson is a great running back,'' Watt said. ``He's playing as good as anyone in the league right now.''

When asked how to slow Peterson down, Watt had a simple answer.

``Tackle him,'' he said with a chuckle. ``We just need to play sound defense and execute our assignments and we'll be just fine.''

That's certainly easier said than done, and Kubiak is a bit concerned because he thought his team didn't tackle very well in Sunday's 29-17 win over Colts. He said that he's putting extra emphasis on better tackling with Peterson coming to town.

He's also hoping the Texans adjust well to facing a run-first team after weeks of dealing with pass-happy offenses.

``The thing that's really difficult is we've been playing teams that are a lot different,'' Kubiak said. ``We've been playing teams that kind of spread us out, throw the ball. Now all of the sudden we've got to line up and tackle the best in football. So we've got our work cut out for us.''

It isn't just the defensive front that is concerned about Peterson. Houston's secondary knows the entire defense must be aware of what Peterson is doing at all times. Houston's defensive backs know the Vikings could hurt them through the air, but with a passing offense that ranks last in the league, they're much more worried about the running game.

``Obviously he can't score a touchdown without running past the back end, and we know the secondary is the last line of defense,'' cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. ``You have to be on top of your tackling game 100 percent this week.''

Houston's defense could get a boost this week by the return of linebacker Brooks Reed, who started the first 11 games for Houston before missing the last three with a groin injury. Kubiak said he returned to practice Wednesday and that he has a ``good shot'' of playing Sunday if he doesn't have any setbacks in practice this week.

NOTES: Houston RB Arian Foster gifted each of his offensive linemen with a Segway personal transporter on Wednesday. The lineman squealed with delight when they discovered their presents, and learned how to ride them with help from Foster, who has had one for a while. ``I can't do anything without them,'' Foster said of Houston's linemen. ``It was just my way of giving back to the big fellas.''

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Nuggets select Michael Porter Jr. just one pick ahead of Wizards

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USA Today Sports

Nuggets select Michael Porter Jr. just one pick ahead of Wizards

So close yet so far.

The Washington Wizards fell just one pick short of selecting once-coveted top prospect Michael Porter Jr., who almost fell outside of the lottery in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

But the Denver Nuggets selected the forward with the No. 14 pick.

A back injury led to widespread concern throughout NBA front offices and, as a result, Porter Jr. had the draft’s biggest slide.

In his first game for Missouri, Porter Jr. left two minutes in with injury. He underwent back surgery and would return for the last two games of the season: an SEC tournament loss to Georgia and a first-round exit to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.

During the loss to FSU, Porter Jr. shot 4-of-12 with 16 points and 10 rebounds over 28 minutes. The 6-10 forward added three steals in the 67-54 loss.

Porter Jr. finished his freshman season averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds over just 17.7 minutes per game. He shot just 35 percent from the field.

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Wizards take Oregon's Troy Brown with No. 15 pick in 2018 NBA Draft

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Wizards take Oregon's Troy Brown with No. 15 pick in 2018 NBA Draft

The Wizards may have filled several needs in one pick by selecting Oregon's Troy Brown 15th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Brown, just 18 years old, plays both shooting guard and small forward. The Wizards need depth at both positions and Brown could give them insurance for Kelly Oubre, Jr., who is set to be a free agent after next season.

He also helps shore up shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. That will be extra important early in the 2018-19 season as Jodie Meeks is due to miss 19 games while serving a suspension.

Here's what you need to know about Brown...

Height: 6-7
Weight: 208
Wingspan: 6-10
Max vertical: 33
2017/18 stats: 11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.2 bpg, 44.4 FG%, 29.1 3PT%, 74.3 FT%

*Brown was a one-and-done player at Oregon who in his one NCAA season showed that he can do a lot of thing on the court. He played some at shooting guard, some at small forward and says he's comfortable at point guard as well, having played there plenty in the past. Brown could be a perfect for positionless basketball.

*He is an excellent rebounder for his position. Brown pulled in 6.2 boards per game and five times had 10 or more. One of those games, on Dec. 13 against Portland State, showed well how many ways Brown can affect a game. He had 10 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, a block and a steal. Brown is also an adept passer. He prides himself on being able to set others up and has a knack for threading the needle in passing lanes.

*The biggest question for Brown is his shooting. He shot just 29.1 percent from the perimeter and 44.4 percent from the field. After his predraft workout with the Wizards, Brown blamed his percentage on shot selection. He is confident he can be a better shooter as his career goes on.

*Brown had a solid combine, measuring in over 6-foot-7 in shoes and with a 6-foot-10 wingspan. But his 33-inch max vertical leap was not great. Perhaps that will improve with time and through strength training.

*Brown's parents and sister were all college athletes and both of his parents were Nevada state correction officers. That latter fact may be the reason why Brown is mature beyond his years. Though he's 18 years old, he carries himself and handles the media as if he's a longtime NBA veteran.

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