Wizards

Fisher regime quickly producing results

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Fisher regime quickly producing results

ST. LOUIS (AP) Jeff Fisher began rebuilding the St. Louis Rams' confidence when he was hired in mid-January. Now they've got the results to back it up.

Heading into a three-day break and a 10-day gap between games, the Rams (3-2) have more to savor than just knocking off previously unbeaten Arizona. They've already topped their win total from the dismal 2011 season with 11 games to go, and they're 3-0 at home for the first time since 2003.

``To be in this position and to have this franchise above .500 is a beautiful thing,'' middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. ``I'm happy to be a part of it.''

Far from satisfied, too. Never too early to start thinking about next weekend's game at Miami.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Laurinaitis, an Ohio State alum, are driving to Columbus, Ohio for the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday.

``But I'm downloading all the Dolphins stuff,'' Finnegan said. ``So, football won't be too far away from me.''

The key to the 17-3 victory over the Cardinals was a fast-improving defense that sacked Kevin Kolb nine times, the Rams' best total in 14 years, with very little blitzing. End Robert Quinn, one of three first-round picks on the line, had a career day with three sacks.

The Rams, who totaled six sacks the first four games, stopped Arizona twice inside the 20 in the final minutes.

``It's a new mindset overall,'' Quinn said. ``We knew we had it in us, it's just really fitting the pieces and getting them to click together. Everything is starting to jell.''

On his third sack, Quinn stripped Kolb and Williams Hayes recovered at the Arizona 47 with less than two minutes to go to stop the Cardinals' final chance.

``We knew they were going to come,'' Fisher said. ``I hope keep coming.''

Rookie corner back Janoris Jenkins had his best game of the year with three pass breakups, and also filled in ably on punt returns after Amendola was injured in the second quarter.

``He's just coming right along,'' Finnegan said. ``It's just exciting to have somebody like that you can mentor to, but doesn't really need it.''

Amendola could be out several weeks with what the Rams have described vaguely as a shoulder injury. Amendola, who was second in the NFL with 31 receptions after Week 4, was seen pointing to his right collarbone before leaving for X-rays and could be out a month.

``Obviously, losing Danny is big,'' quarterback Sam Bradford said. ``Everyone knows that he's a big part of our offense. A lot of what we do runs through him.''

Fisher was mum on the injury, saying he'd have an injury report on Wednesday. Amendola showed his emotion before heading in for X-rays when he flung his helmet into a wall with his left arm.

``I'm not commenting on any injuries from the game,'' Fisher said. ``It's a competitive issue. If Danny's going to miss a game, I'll discuss the timing, which I'm sure that he's going to miss a game.''

The defense took the pressure off an offense that's scuffled lately. Tight end Lance Kendricks' first-quarter touchdown reception was the first TD for the offense in three games.

Bradford had one of the worst days of his career, completing only 7 of 21 passes for 141 yards and enduring an 0-for-12 funk that included an end zone interception by Patrick Peterson. There were some drops, but he also threw too high, led receivers by too much, or not enough.

``A lot of little things. It was nothing major,'' Bradford said. ``We just never really got ourselves in rhythm. Fortunately, our guys up front were able to get the run game going in the second half when we needed it.''

Bradford emerged in time to hit rookie Chris Givens, the fastest player on the team, in stride on a 51-yard touchdown pass that put St. Louis up by 14 points early in the fourth quarter. Givens had a few drops earlier in the game.

``I told him I was going to come back to him,'' Bradford said. ``I'm never going to lose confidence in those guys. He's young, he's learning.

``Obviously, he made a great play for us when we needed it.''

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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."

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Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.

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