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Giants offensive line keeps Eli standing, scoring

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Giants offensive line keeps Eli standing, scoring

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Opposing defenses are not only having a tough time stopping Eli Manning this season, they are barely touching the New York Giants quarterback,

The two-time Super Bowl MVP has been sacked a league-low five times through the first six games of the season, and he's been hit only 11 times - total.

Even more impressive heading into Sunday's game against Washington (3-3) is this: The offensive line has not allowed Manning to be sacked in the last three games.

Manning can't explain the recent run, but he is not complaining.

``They're playing great,'' Manning said. ``We're running the ball well, the pass protection has been good, and the receivers have been getting open.

``It's been pretty smooth, and hopefully, we keep it that way.''

One of the rarest sights in the past three weeks came in the first quarter of New York's 26-3 win over San Francisco Sunday. Manning dropped back to pass and was drilled by linebacker Ahmad Brooks after letting the ball go. It would be the 49ers' only hit on him.

Backup quarterback David Carr, who got sacked an NFL-record 76 times in his rookie season with the expansion Houston Texans in 2002, said Manning helps his line keep him clean as much as any quarterback in the league. He studies opposing defenses, knows where the ball needs to go and makes them pay with big plays when they try to put too much pressure on him.

``The biggest thing that stands out about him, and it's hard to notice, (is) after he throws the ball,'' Carr said. ``If he gets hit, he looks at the number: `Who hit me?' It catalogues and registers in his brain. `Where was that protection? Where were we weak a little bit? Maybe it's not that guys' fault. Where was that breakdown and how can I get rid of the ball faster?'''

The line - ever shuffling - deserves credit, as well. The interior hasn't changed with Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee at the guards and David Baas at center. But the tackles have changed since the Super Bowl. David Diehl, who started the season at left guard, finished at left tackle after Will Beatty was injured. Kareem McKenzie played the right side.

McKenzie was not re-signed in the offseason and Diehl switched from the left tackle to right. That allowed Beatty (eye), who started at left tackle for the first 10 games before being sidelined, to return on the left side.

However, the season did not open that way. Beatty was bothered by back spasms most of training camp and free-agent signee Sean Locklear started for him. Diehl injured his right meniscus in the second game and missed the next three games. That forced Locklear to move to right tackle, where he had played for almost all of his nine seasons, and for Beatty to play left tackle.

The lineup has gotten better with each week and one has to wonder whether Diehl will have a starting job now that he is healthy again.

``We've been playing together now for a little while,'' Boothe said. ``I think last year, not having the offseason and a shorter preseason for those of us that signed contracts in August, I think it could make life difficult. It was kind of going uphill.

``But we got better as the season went on last year and I feel that's just been a growth from there to this year. We're all comfortable playing next to each other.''

The tight ends and running backs have helped as well, particularly halfback Ahmad Bradshaw, who has picking up blitzes with the best of them.

``We work hard on to notice it before it happens and we take pride,'' Bradshaw said. ``I love the contact, so I'm always willing to meet the linebackers in the hole and cut down the big guys, but we take pride in protecting Eli because he's a great quarterback and he can do a lot of things with great protection.''

Manning's statistics reflect that. His 1,772 yards passing is second in the league behind New England's Tom Brady. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

``I think it's a good combination,'' Snee said. ``We have done a pretty good job of holding our blocks and he's done a good job of getting rid of the ball. The running backs and tight ends have done a good job of chipping, and that's a big part of everyone's pass protection these days. But I'm going to say the same thing I said when things were bad. We're not going to get too excited.

``We're just going to keep working.''

The good news for the offensive linemen is that they get to practice every day against some of the league's top pass rushers - defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

``They're an outstanding team,'' Umenyiora said. ``They play very well together and obviously they've practiced against some of the best defensive players in the game.''

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. 

Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history. 

Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.

Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."

Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.

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