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Giants' offensive line now solid

Giants' offensive line now solid

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) During the first half of the season, tinkering and maneuvering along the New York Giants' offensive line has been common.

In the last three weeks, though, the group has played extremely well together - so well that there doesn't seem to be room for veteran David Diehl to return to a starting role.

The Giants (5-2) have won three straight and four of the five games the starting line has consisted of Will Beatty and Chris Snee at guards, Kevin Boothe and Sean Locklear at tackles and David Baas at center. The moves were made when Diehl, the 10-year vet and a staple on both Giants' Super Bowl championship teams, went down with a sprained right knee.

After practice Thursday, Diehl declared himself 100 percent healthy, but knows his recovery doesn't guarantee playing time considering the rest of the line has played well without him.

``Of course I want to play,'' Diehl said. ``I want to do whatever I can to contribute. And of course, I'd like to be starting, but that might not be the case. I'm not going to sit and sulk about it. I'm going to help out any way I can. I can play guard, tackle, tight end. It doesn't matter to me. It's just terrific to feel good again.

``The team is playing well and that's the most important thing. I want to go out there and start, but if that's not going to happen, I'm going to support my teammates. Whether I start or not doesn't matter. The team always comes first.''

Diehl said Thursday brought a major accomplishment: full participation in practice.

``It means that my name can finally come off the injury list,'' Diehl said. ``Reading that every week drove me crazy.''

The Giants head to Dallas (3-3) on Sunday with a bit of revenge on their minds. The Cowboys won the season opener 24-17 at MetLife Stadium. In that game, the Giants allowed six sacks, a stat that the offensive line vividly recalls.

``We have watched that first game a lot of times and we haven't forgotten that,'' said Snee, the Giants' Pro Bowl guard. ``We knew that we had to do things to improve ourselves. We feel better about ourselves, but this team presents a major challenge, because they have a lot of elite guys across the board who can all get after the quarterback.''

Snee, who also started for both Super Bowl-winning teams, knows things improved immensely since the first meeting with the Cowboys.

``I think that first game, we came out flat and didn't have a lot of energy,'' Snee said. ``I like to think we've been doing better. We definitely need to do a better job than we did the last time we played them. We've definitely improved, but we can still improve more. I'm excited about the way we've played and I think there's more to come.''

The Giants received good news when Baas returned to full participation Thursday.

``I think he's ready to go,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said about Baas, who was hampered by a sore knee. ``It's always nice to see that injury list dwindle, that's for sure.''

Beatty is feeling more comfortable with his linemates.

``As we play more games together, we've grown together. I think we've shaken off the cobwebs and we're playing well together,'' said Beatty, a fourth-year tackle. ``It's not like a magic trick. We've worked hard to get going. We saw a lot of things we did wrong in that first game against Dallas. We've seen the things where we messed up.

``We still have a strong offensive line. We're all veteran players and having Diehl as our sixth man is a great option. It's not like we've brought in someone new and thrown them into the fire. We've all been here.''

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out practice Thursday with an injured foot but vows to practice Friday, likes the way the line is blocking for him.

``They're really coming together and you can see the results,'' said Bradshaw, who is just 125 yards shy of passing Ron Johnson for sixth on the Giants' all-time rushing list. ``They're getting great movement off the ball and creating big holes. They're all helping each other and will give anything to help each other.''

NOTES: Bradshaw, who would not say which foot is bothering him, didn't think it would keep him out of action Sunday. ``I'll practice tomorrow (Friday). I'm not having as much pain with it as I had, but I didn't want to have a setback. I'll be 100 percent by Sunday.''. TE Martellus Bennett is not getting overly excited about returning to Dallas, where he played last year. ``I have nothing to show the Cowboys or anything like that,'' Bennett said. ``All my emotions are to this organization and to the things that we're trying to build. It's about relationships I'm trying to build with these guys here, so I have nothing to show them. I have nothing to show to anybody else outside this organization and myself.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Aaron Holiday

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

School: UCLA
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (turns 22 in Sept.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 187
Wingspan: 6-8
Max vertical: 33

2017/18 stats: 20.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT% (2.7 3PT/6.2 3PA), 82.8 FT%
Player comparison: Darren Collison
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 23rd

5 things to know:

*Holiday played big minutes in all three seasons for the Bruins. As a junior, he broke out as an elite scorer, averaging 20.3 points while also dishing 5.8 assists per game. Holiday scored in a variety of ways, including at the free throw line where he averaged 5.8 attempts per game and knocked them down at 82.8 percent.

*He is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in this draft class based on his college numbers. He hit 42.9 percent of his shots and on 6.2 attempts per game. Holiday shot 42.2 percent from long range in his three-year college career and never shot below 41 percent in a season. He had some games where teams just couldn't stop him from long range. He made four threes or more in 13 college games. Twice he went 5-for-5 and he once made six threes against USC.

*Though he has the skillset to play off the ball as a shooting guard, his size will limit him at the NBA level. Holiday is just under 6-foot-1 in shoes and doesn't have the vertical leap to make up for it. He does, however, have a plus wingspan. At this point, Holiday seems to be solely a point guard, though as long as he's good at the position there is nothing wrong with that.

*Holiday worked out for the Wizards at Capital One Arena. He was part of their first week of predraft workouts and by all accounts had an impressive visit. He hit a lot of shots and fared well in the interview process.

*Holiday has two brothers currently in the NBA. Jrue is a former All-Star who starts at point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin is a shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls. His sister-in-law, Lauren, is a former member of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards already have a point guard in John Wall, so Holiday would have no long-term path to starting. That said, he would shore up a need the Wizards have been trying to address for years.

Backup point guard has been a real void for the Wizards for most of Wall's tenure. This past season they tried out all sorts of options between Tomas Satoransky, Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson. Though Satoransky remains on the roster, the Wizards don't appear content with their depth at the position.

Holiday's ability to hit threes is very attractive to the Wizards who could conceivably play him off-the-ball alongside Wall, or even Satoransky. Given Wall (6-4) and Satoransky (6-7) are taller than most point guards, they could theoretically guard shooting guards on the other end.

Holiday would add smarts and shooting to the Wizards' bench in the short-term. In the long-term, he could help lengthen Wall's career by taking some of his workload away and also give the Wizards more options once Wall enters his 30s.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

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  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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