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Full-go for Redskins' RG3, bad haircut for Cousins

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Full-go for Redskins' RG3, bad haircut for Cousins

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Robert Griffin III had a full practice and looked pretty good. Kirk Cousins had a full haircut that looked so bad he had to apologize for it.

The Washington Redskins quarterbacks were back to their regular pecking order Wednesday. Griffin went through a regular full practice with first-team receivers for the first time since spraining his right knee, while Cousins was an affable undercard whose hilariously hairy moment was more interesting than anything he had to say about football.

Griffin said he ran plays at full-speed, hoping to persuade doctors to clear him for this week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has made known his unhappiness over sitting out Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns, and he's clearly frustrated that the final say is out of his control.

``I'm ready to play whenever they want me to play,'' Griffin said. ``So if it's this week, next week, next couple of weeks. Whatever they say goes, so I'll be ready.''

Coach Mike Shanahan said doctors will see how Griffin's knee responds to the practice, particularly as to whether there's any swelling when the rookie shows up at work Thursday.

``Hopefully they'll look at it tomorrow and tell us it is full-go,'' Shanahan said.

Still, the signs are much more positive for Griffin than last week, when the Redskins sent out mixed signals in an effort to the keep Browns guessing. Griffin moved relatively well during the portions of practice open to reporters throughout the week, but then Cousins would take the first-team snaps once the session was closed.

Wednesday didn't have the same smoke-screen feel. After playing decoy for a week, Griffin talked about throwing passes to receiver Pierre Garcon with an arm that was ``a little bit more juiced up and ready to go.''

Griffin said his relationship with Shanahan hasn't been strained by having to sit out a game - and that it was important not to let personal emotions bring down the team.

``You don't take those things to the field and try to become a cancer or a distraction to the team,'' Griffin said. ``You support the team. ... You can be unhappy about something, but you've still got to learn, and that's what I did. I was upset, but I never let that show on the field and just watched and was able to see it from a different perspective.''

Griffin, the No. 2 overall draft pick and No. 2 in the league in passer rating, was hurt late in the fourth quarter of the win over the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 9. Fellow rookie Cousins led the Redskins to victory in relief, then threw for 329 yards in the 38-21 victory over the Browns.

The win (8-6) put the Redskins in control of their playoff fate. Their five-game winning streak has them tied with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants atop the NFC East, and Washington holds the tiebreaker over both clubs.

The victory also gave Cousins a chance to bask in the glow of being a winning starting NFL quarterback. His run of fame continued Wednesday when he showed up for a session with reporters with his mop of hair gone, replaced by a close-cut `do that - from the eyebrows up - made him look at least 45 years old.

``I have to apologize to my family and friends back home,'' he said. ``I think I'm embarrassing them. I try to represent them well, and my haircut's not doing it.''

He then explained that when he went to get a haircut on Monday, he had a ``communication breakdown'' with a female barber whose English wasn't the best. She also took off his glasses, so he couldn't see what she was doing.

``She wheels me back around,'' Cousins said. ``I look at the mirror and I realized I had a Mohawk. So I tell her, `Just shave it off. I don't know what to tell you.' So she just buzzed it off, and I have to live with this for the next couple of weeks until it grows back. ... The tough thing was that I didn't realize until that moment that I do have a receding hairline. That was tough to take. My dad is more-or-less completely bald, and I was hoping I wasn't going to get his genes.''

Cousins' remarks were televised live on national television, and soon he was trending on Twitter. Griffin called the haircut ``bad.'' Shortly afterward, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was looking at a photo of the haircut on the Internet and discussing it on the phone with Redskins writers.

``Wow,'' Foles said. ``I'm going to have to do that to mine - cut it all off.''

Notes: The injury news was good all-around for the Redskins. In addition to Griffin, C Will Montgomery (Grade 2 sprain of left MCL) took part in the full practice, while RT Tyler Polumbus (concussion) was able to participate in the walk-through and said he expects to be cleared to play. ... DE Stephen Bowen was limited with an upper biceps tear, but Shanahan said it won't keep Bowen from playing. ... LB Lorenzo Alexander wore a non-contact jersey at practice because of a shoulder injury. ... The Redskins signed LB Vic So'oto to the active roster from the Green Bay Packers practice squad. Washington also signed G Pat Boyle to the practice squad and released LB Kourtnei Brown from the practice squad.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to the Raptors, including Kelly Oubre Jr's putback slam

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USA Today

5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to the Raptors, including Kelly Oubre Jr's putback slam

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 117-113 on Saturday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

1. Early on in this one, there was a difference in Otto Porter Jr. He came out firing from long range after not taking a single three in the Wizards' season-opening loss to the Heat earlier in the week.

This was Porter's best play. Off an incredible fastbreak pass from John Wall, Porter knocked down a near-corner three and got the and-1:

It's often you see a four-point play. Porter finished with 11 points in 24 minutes after fading in the second half.

2. This may have been the best play of the night for the Wizards. Wall zoomed down the floor and missed a contested transition layup. But Kelly Oubre Jr. was there to clean it up with a vicious putback slam:

Oubre had eight points and six rebounds, but shot 3-for-8 and had two turnovers in 19 minutes.

3. It was a bad overall night for the Wizards, but Bradley Beal did provide a great moment in the second half when he knocked down his fifth three of the game. That one passed Gilbert Arenas on the Wizards/Bullets all-time list for career threes:

Beal had 32 points in 35 minutes on 12-for-21 from the field and 6-for-11 from three. He also added six rebounds, a steal and a block.

4. Per usual, Wall made a lot of plays attacking the rim on Saturday night. On this one, he got the bucket and the foul:

Wall finished with 25 points, six assists and four steals.

5. Those were the good moments for the Wizards. But the play of the game was by Raptors guard Fred Van Vleet.

On a broken play with the shot clock ticking down, Van Vleet threw up a desperation shot that went in and sealed the victory:

It has only been two games, but the Wizards failing to execute late to secure victories has been an early season theme. 

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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

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USA TODAY

What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”