Nationals

Giants turn to rookie RB Wilson for stretch run

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Giants turn to rookie RB Wilson for stretch run

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants no longer have the time to groom rookie running back David Wilson.

The first-round draft pick is going to have to start contributing as Ahmad Bradshaw's backup in the final five games of the regular season, starting Monday against the Washington Redskins.

Wilson was thrown into the role Sunday, when Andre Brown broke his left leg in the fourth quarter of New York's 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.

On most teams, the backup spot might mean a couple of carries a game.

For the Giants (7-4), though, the role is different because of Bradshaw's foot problems. He has dealt with them for years, usually playing in pain. One bad step, and Wilson becomes the No. 1 back ... in the middle of a playoff race.

``Andre played a big role in our offense, so with his absence somebody's going to have to definitely step up on the offensive side of the ball,'' Wilson said. ``And, you know, the coaches told me that I'm the next guy, so I've been preparing and hopefully I'll be ready when they call my number.''

When they took Wilson with the final pick of the first round, the Giants believed that the Virginia Tech product would add a breakaway dimension to the run game. He had the speed to go run inside and outside, and during preseason, he displayed it at times.

Wilson, however, lost a fumble in Dallas territory in the season opener and his role in the offense disappeared. Brown snapped it up and received 73 carries, in which he compiled 385 yards, before the injury.

Through 11 games, Wilson has had 24 carries for 102 yards, with 40 coming on his only touchdown of the season. His biggest contribution has been on kickoff returns, where he has averaged 25.3 yards on 40 attempts. He was close to breaking a few early in the season but he hasn't been as dangerous lately.

Brown's injury has changed everything, which is something that Bradshaw knows about. In his rookie season of 2007, Bradshaw was the Giants' No. 3 running back behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. He received his chance when Ward broke his leg late that season. Bradshaw relayed that story to Wilson earlier this season, reminding him to just keep working.

``I think he can be (ready),'' Bradshaw said. ``Once we get him going and get him learning a little more and different things in different areas, I think he'll be a great asset to our offense. ``

Wilson has been working with second-year fullback Henry Hynoski after practice for the past couple of weeks. The two head to a classroom and spend an hour with Hynoski quizzing the rookie on blitz pickups and assignments.

``He's done a pretty good job so far,'' Hynoski said, ``and I'm going to be extra hard on him this week getting him prepared. And I know coaches will be too.''

Wilson plans to spend his off days Tuesday and Wednesday at the Giants headquarters putting in some extra work.

``The other weeks, you come in hoping and just trying to be persistent, and hoping and wishing you get your opportunity, and now you know this week, you will,'' Wilson said. ``You automatically take a different approach.''

Wilson actually had time to warm up on Sunday, noting the coaches had told him he was going to replace Brown on the play after he was hurt. As Wilson jogged onto the field, he saw Brown getting up slowly and knew he was hurt. He didn't learn until later that the injury would open the door for him.

Wilson ended up getting six carries against the Packers. He gained 11 yards.

``It's his time,'' coach Tom Coughlin said of Wilson. ``The timing as far as where he's coming from couldn't be any better, I don't think. If he's been very vigilant, and paid attention to the way that people have been corrected in front of him, then he's going to give himself the best opportunity. It is a great opportunity for him and I think for our team as well.''

Coughlin did not say who would take over Brown's roll near the goal line. He ran for eight touchdowns this season, most from inside the 5-yard line. The powerful Bradshaw, who has run for 733 yards and five touchdowns, would seem to be the go-to guy now.

``I'm just going to go out there and play football,'' Wilson said, ``and play as hard as I can and provide production for my team.''

The Giants signed running backs Ryan Torain and Kregg Lumpkin on Tuesday, and terminated running back Joe Martinek's practice squad contract.

Torain played one season with Denver and two with Washington, running for 1,011 yards in 20 games. Lumpkin has played for Green Bay and Tampa Bay.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

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USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite as clear anymore. 

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

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

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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