Redskins

In final week, Cardinals have QB issues, as usual

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In final week, Cardinals have QB issues, as usual

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals entered the final week of the season with uncertainty at quarterback.

How fitting for a team that's misery on the field has been defined by poor play at that position.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday he wasn't ready to say whether Brian Hoyer would be the choice. It seems a pretty good guess considering the problems Ryan Lindley has had, and the fact Hoyer was active and John Skelton inactive Sunday, when Chicago handed the Cardinals (5-10) their 10th loss in 11 games.

Hoyer, claimed off waivers by the Cardinals from Pittsburgh two weeks ago, would be making his first NFL start if he's the choice for Sunday's game at San Francisco, where the 49ers will be looking to clinch the NFC West.

With the 49ers certain to be cranky following their one-sided loss at Seattle, it's not exactly an ideal location for an opposing quarterback to make his debut.

But after spending three seasons as a backup in New England and a mere three weeks with the Steelers this season, Hoyer would cherish any chance he gets. He had some good moments, and one very ill-advised throw, in relief of Lindley on Sunday.

In what he considered an audition, Hoyer completed 11 of 19 for 105 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. In fact, the Cardinals have failed to throw a TD pass in the last six games.

``Anytime you're out there on the field, it's your resume,'' Hoyer said. ``You have to go out there and take advantage of every opportunity you're given. In New England I didn't get many opportunities to get on the field. I was excited to play the game (Sunday). It has been a while since I got to play and play an extensive role.''

It's not overly simplistic to say that Arizona's season could have been far different with consistently solid quarterback play, rather than just the opposite. Kevin Kolb had the most success. From the time he took over late in the season opener against Seattle to the moment he went down with a rib injury that ultimately ended his season in Week 6, Arizona went 4-2. He threw eight touchdown passes with three interceptions.

The trio of Skelton, Lindley and Hoyer has a combined two TDs and 17 interceptions. Several immediately became touchdowns. In the last five games, Arizona quarterbacks threw 11 interceptions and four of them have been brought back for scores. The latest, a 10-yarder by Charles Tillman, sent Lindley to the bench in favor of Hoyer early in the second half Sunday.

``There's no question that we've got to have more consistency from the quarterback position, that's the No. 1 thing,'' Whisenhunt said at his weekly Monday news conference . ``You look at last night's (Seattle-San Francisco) game and what a difference Russell Wilson has made in Seattle with all the plays that he makes. That's what you have to have.''

Quarterback will be near the top of the to-do list when the season is over, and just who is in charge of that list is an open question. Cardinals President Michael Bidwill says he will assess the situation after the final game to determine if Whisenhunt comes back for the last year of his contract. General manager Rod Graves also might be gone. If Whisenhunt stays, some of his assistants almost certainly won't.

Kolb, plagued by injuries in his two seasons in Arizona, probably would have to take a pay cut to return.

Running back is another issue.

Will the Cardinals stick with Beanie Wells one more time? Plagued by injuries much of his pro career, Wells handed the Bears their first touchdown when he slid to his backside near the Arizona goal line and dropped the ball although no one had touched him. Zack Bowman gathered it and lunged across the goal line for the score.

Wells barely played after that, although he said he wasn't hurt. His gained 3 yards, helping to cement Arizona's status as the worst running team in pro football.

Whisenhunt agreed with the characterization it was a ``strange'' play by Wells.

``If you have the ball, that's your responsibility. You can't turn it over. I don't care who you are. I don't care what position you play,'' Whisenhunt said. ``In the NFL, if you turn the ball over, you're not going to play. That's the way it goes. That's been through history. There have been guys who have been good players that couldn't hold on to the football.''

It would be helpful if Arizona could ease out of its season against a team that had secured all it could and might be resting some of its best players. The 49ers' loss in Seattle ruined that.

Now safety Kerry Rhodes said the Cardinals could be in for an embarrassing afternoon if they just go through the motions to get the season finally over.

``You'd better come ready to play. You'd better be prepared,'' he said, ``or it could be another Seattle episode.''

The score of that one just two weeks ago, should anyone have forgotten, was Seattle 58, Arizona 0, the most one-sided loss in Cardinals history.

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Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Redskins head coach Ron Rivera was asked a plethora of questions when he addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, such as what impressed him about quarterback Dwayne Haskins and what players the team will consider with the No. 2 pick.

While Rivera talked in detail about meeting with top quarterback prospects and what his view on free agency is, the head coach did not offer much insight about two offensive linemen: Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff.

Rivera confirmed recent reports that he had spoken with Williams, the team's cornerstone left tackle, but would not go much further than that.

"Trent Williams and I have talked. We had a good conversation," Rivera said. "Again, that's a work in progress and we'll see how things unfold. It's a fluid situation."

Williams, of course, did not play a snap for the Redskins in 2019, holding out after believing Redskins doctors misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his head for nearly six years. But after the organization had practically a complete reboot this offseason, firing longtime team president Bruce Allen and athletic trainer Larry Hess.

Rivera stated he has a plan to get Williams to return. A report last week stated No. 71 will return to the Redskins because of Rivera. But thus far, nothing has amounted.

"I think where it is, we're still working through details," Rivera said. "We're in a good place. We had a good conversation and we're going to go from that."

The head coach was also asked questions about right guard Brandon Scherff, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Scherff reportedly turned down a hefty extension last year that would have paid him upwards of $13 million annually, but did tell NBC Sports Washington last October he wants to remain in Washington for the entirety of his career.

Rivera was asked about his plan with Scherff and whether the franchise tag was a potential option. The head coach gave a vague response while avoiding answering the question directly.

"Well, the biggest thing again, is that we like our guys," Rivera said. "We like our guys that are free agents. We want to try to bring those guys back, we'll see how things go."

The head coach's answer did not sound like he's confident the Redskins will be able to retain the three-time Pro Bowler.

"You have to look at everything," Rivera said. "What happens if they don't come back? It's a pretty fair free agency, but you never know, because guys are trying to re-sign their own players."

The Redskins have until March 12 to place the franchise tag on Scherff, should they decide to go that route. Until then, the two sides are expected to continue to work on reaching a long-term deal.

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Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom is getting his chance.

The 22-year-old infield prospect is competing for the Nationals’ starting job at third base this spring following the departure of Anthony Rendon in free agency. A natural shortstop, Kieboom has started just nine games at third in his professional career but is shifting across the infield because that’s where the Nationals need him.

So far, the early returns have been—well, not great. On Sunday, Kieboom dropped a line drive off the bat of Miami Marlins slugger Jesús Aguilar then sailed the throw over the head off first baseman Eric Thames for his first error of the spring. He picked up his second miscue against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, when he charged a groundball and missed his target while throwing on the run.

The plays aren’t pretty, but that’s what spring training is for.

Competitions are held, young players get their shot, everyone has something they’re working to improve. Kieboom is trying to earn a job at a position he hasn’t played regularly since he was a kid. Mistakes shouldn’t be reasons for alarm, they should be expected.

That being said, Kieboom will only be granted the it’s-still-early grace period for so long. Opening Day is less than a month away, meaning manager Davey Martinez is going to have to make a decision in the next few weeks about what he’s going to do with Kieboom.

If these errors continue, then he won’t be forced into playing Kieboom in the majors. The Nationals have a backup plan in Asdrúbal Cabrera ready to assume the position should Kieboom need more time in the minors to work at the position. Washington is already faced with few clear opportunities for Howie Kendrick to get at-bats, so sending Kieboom down makes it easier for him to make regular starts.

But for now, there’s no reason to panic over Kieboom’s first few errors. As NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes pointed out on the Nationals Talk podcast, the Nationals’ spring training leader in errors was none other than Victor Robles (he had three). You know, the Victor Robles who was a Gold Glove finalist in center field?

Kieboom is getting his chance. It’s just a question of how many the Nationals are going to give him.

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