Redskins

Green Bay RB Benson goes on IR, could still return

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Green Bay RB Benson goes on IR, could still return

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers are dealing with yet another loss.

Running back Cedric Benson, who has had 71 of the team's 111 carries, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday because of a sprained left foot, but was designated to return. He must sit out eight games before he can play again, though he will be eligible to practice after six weeks.

``We feel that he can come back,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ``A foot sprain is definitely a tough injury to come back from, but within that time frame we feel that he definitely has a chance. ... He's a true pro. He's been excellent. He spends a lot of time in the weight room. I could see him being one of those guys that comes back and plays the last four weeks of the season.''

But Benson's injury is another blow for the struggling Packers (2-3). Since opening last season with 13 straight wins, Green Bay has dropped five of its last nine games, including a 30-27 loss in Indianapolis on Sunday on a last-minute touchdown by rookie Andrew Luck. The defense, which gave up the most yardage in the NFL last season, again ranks in the bottom half of the NFC.

The bigger problem, however, is the offense. The Packers aren't putting up anywhere close to the points they did last year, and Aaron Rodgers has yet to show the form that won him the MVP title last year. Though he is third in the league in completion percentage (68.8), he is 21st in average yards gained (6.92).

Now the Packers are without Benson until December, at the earliest. They travel to unbeaten Houston for the Sunday night game.

The running game may seem like an afterthought in McCarthy's offense - he acknowledged there's a temptation to give his quarterback ``too much'' - but Green Bay needs some balance, and Benson was a good fit. He had revived his career in Cincinnati after early struggles - on the field and off - with the Bears, and seemed to grow more comfortable in Green Bay's offense with each game.

He'd clearly gained the trust of Rodgers and McCarthy, too.

``Ced's been great for us,'' Rodgers said. ``He's been a leader. He's had a great attitude. He's been a great example for those young guys about what a professional looks like.''

Making Benson's injury even more troublesome is the deep drop-off that occurs after him. His 248 yards rushing was more than the rest of the Packers combined, and Rodgers is the only other Packer in triple digits (108 yards). Alex Green is the hottest of the running backs left, and he's had all of 11 carries - nine of which came in Indianapolis. Of his 57 yards rushing, 41 came on one play.

``I feel good, I feel confident,'' said Green, who missed the last nine weeks of last season with a knee injury. ``The opportunity has presented itself. I have to do my job as a teammate and step up to the plate and help my team win.''

The Packers also have James Starks, their leader in rushing yards last season. But he has yet to play this year after missing the preseason with a toe injury. Brandon Saine, used primarily on special teams until now, could get some looks, too.

``We've all got to pick each other up,'' receiver James Jones said. ``There's no magic to it, we've just got to go out there and be the Green Bay Packers.''

NOTES: WR Greg Jennings (groin), DT B.J. Raji (ankle) and TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder) all missed practice, and McCarthy said he will wait until later in the week to decide if they'll play in Houston. But Finley promised he'll be ready. ``If it's my call,'' Finley said, ``I'm playing.''

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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 @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.