Redskins

Georgia still recovering from 'toughest loss'

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Georgia still recovering from 'toughest loss'

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Less than two weeks after Georgia finished 5 yards away from a berth in the national championship game, it's still tough for some players to shift their focus to their Capital One Bowl matchup with Nebraska.

The sting from the Bulldogs' 32-28 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game lingered as bowl practice began Wednesday.

``It was the toughest loss I've ever been a part of,'' said senior receiver Tavarres King.

Quarterback Aaron Murray usually can't wait to devour game film. This game was different.

``I dreaded watching it, but I did,'' Murray said.

Murray said Georgia still has a lot to play for. The Jan. 1 bowl game in Orlando is not a BCS bowl, but Murray said the game will define the Bulldogs' season.

Murray said No. 5 Georgia (11-2) can reach 12 wins for only the third time in school history and finish in the top five of the polls, ``which is an unbelievable season.''

``It can definitely hurt us is we don't win the game,'' Murray said. ``We drop out of the top 10 and it becomes just another season.''

Time expired in the loss to Alabama after receiver Chris Conley caught a deflected pass and was tackled at the 5. Murray's pass was intended for Malcolm Mitchell.

The plan was for a touchdown or incompletion, leaving time for another play. The tipped pass, and subsequent catch, was the worst ending for Georgia.

``I think most of them understand that you can't turn the clock back,'' said coach Mark Richt. ``We fought hard, we had a great plan, we did what we could do that day. We just couldn't get it done. We didn't do enough to get it done, but everybody knows that you have to move on.''

Richt's news conference, designed to preview the bowl game, was dominated by questions about the loss to Alabama.

``There were three teams left. We were one of them,'' Richt said, referring to teams still in the national championship race before the SEC championship game.

``I'd say the same thing I said after the game. I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the game, but not disappointed one bit in our players and coaches and how we battled.''

Richt said he wouldn't change his calls in the final seconds, including his decision to have Murray run a play with 15 seconds remaining instead of spiking the ball.

``If you run a system when you are used to going fast, it's no big deal to just call the next play,'' Richt said of Georgia's no-huddle offense. ``It's what we do. If we spike it, strategically you give them time to gather up and get their senses and get their calls in.''

Richt and Murray defended Conley for catching the deflection when an incompletion would have given Georgia another play.

Murray said he told Conley ``Don't even think about blaming yourself.''

``All of a sudden to see a ball right on you, it's hard to not catch it,'' Murray said.

Added Richt: ``A wide receiver catches the ball. That's his nature. For any wide receiver, if that ball hits in front of his face, he's going to go get it and go catch it.''

Murray, a junior, said he will study his NFL draft options after the bowl game.

``I'm going to think about it and pray about it and sit down with my family,'' Murray said.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Tuesday Murray could be a second- or third-round pick.

``I would go back another year if I were Aaron Murray because if you're not guaranteed a first-round pick it's wise to go back, especially if you play at Georgia with the talent around the quarterback there,'' Kiper said.

Kiper said there will be questions about Murray's size and inability to beat top teams like Alabama.

``Is he going to be 6 feet or a little over?'' Kiper asked. ``He's not going to be 6-2 or 6-3.''

Murray is listed as 6-foot-1.

``I am 6-1,'' he said with emphasis.

Asked about Kiper's comments, Murray said ``I don't know. He's not the one drafting anyone.''

Kiper projects three Georgia defensive players as first-round picks: junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, junior inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and senior nose tackle John Jenkins. Kiper ranks Jones No. 1.

Murray said he has good reason to push back his draft decision.

``I know personally I want to win a bowl game,'' he said. ``I haven't won one.''

Georgia lost to Central Florida in the 2010 Liberty Bowl in Murray's freshman season and lost to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl after last season.

Richt said he will challenge the team's leaders ``to finish better than we did a year ago and to solidify the job that they've done, because I think they've done an outstanding job to this point.''

Senior linebacker Christian Robinson said the challenge includes moving past the loss to Alabama.

``We want to be a team that finished, we don't want to be a great team that just gave up and laid down because their ultimate goal didn't happen,'' Robinson said. ``We were five yards from being somewhere else but we don't want to show that we weren't worthy of it by not finishing.''

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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USA TODAY Sports

GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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