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Falcons' Corey Peters makes 2012 practice debut

Falcons' Corey Peters makes 2012 practice debut

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons, the NFL's last unbeaten team, were rested and closer to full strength on Monday in their return from their bye week.

Defensive tackle Corey Peters, a starter the last two seasons, returned for limited activity in his first practice this season. Peters, on the reserve injured list with a stress fracture in his left foot, will be eligible to make his season debut on Sunday at Philadelphia.

Coach Mike Smith wouldn't comment on the chances Peters could play this week after missing the offseason team activities and training camp, plus the first six weeks of the season.

``We will up his participation as the week goes on,'' Smith said, noting the team has three weeks to either activate Peters or place the third-year player on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Peria Jerry has joined Jonathan Babineaux as the starting defensive tackles in the first six games. Babineaux had three tackles for losses as he was on the field for 69 of the defense's 73 plays in a 23-20 win over Oakland on Oct. 14.

Vance Walker and rookie Travian Robertson were the only defensive tackles to play behind Babineaux and Jerry, and Robertson logged only two plays.

Peters could be an important addition for the second half of the season as the Falcons (6-0) try to build on their strong start. He showed his knack for big plays last season when he had three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown.

Clearly, the Falcons would find room for Peters in the rotation at the position.

``It was nice to see Corey Peters with the football helmet and shoulder pads on the football field today,'' Smith said.

Smith said outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who played only on special teams against Oakland due to an ankle injury, was back at full speed. Also, backup tight end Michael Palmer returned from a shoulder injury.

Smith made a departure from his normal bye-week schedule last week. He usually schedules two practices in the team's open week, but instead gave the players the full week off.

Center Todd McClure, in his 13th season, said it was the first time he had enjoyed a full week off during a season.

``The thing about Smith is he knows this team and he knows that we need it,'' McClure said. ``He knows we need some rest. We've been working really hard and we need to recharge. He did what was best for us.''

Running back Michael Turner said he ``just chilled out'' last week.

``It was good to clear our heads a little bit,'' Turner said. ``Now we can refocus and finish the job we came here for.''

Smith and his coaching staff used the break to analyze the team's strengths and weaknesses. He is hoping for improvement in the Falcons' running game and run defense.

The Falcons worked in pads and helmets on Monday.

``We spent the week taking a good, hard look at things we've got to get better at,'' Smith said. ``We identified them and today was a Falcons day. We came out here and really worked on fundamentals.

``We worked on things we need to do to help ourselves play better through the last 10 games of the season.''

Smith said the Falcons will shift their focus to the Eagles on Wednesday as they begin their normal game-week schedule.

NOTES: CB Asante Samuel was in top vocal form as he fielded punts in practice and then called out to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who was watching from the sideline, that he would need more money for the new role. Dimitroff laughed and then asked a reporter ``Have you ever seen a player heckle the GM?'' Smith said after the Oakland game he might begin using Samuel on punt returns. Dominique Franks has been the team's only return specialist on punts. ... WR Harry Douglas (ankle), OG Garrett Reynolds (back) and RB Antone Smith (hamstring) did not practice.

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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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