Green Bay still looking for back-to-back wins


Green Bay still looking for back-to-back wins

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Stringing wins together was something the Green Bay Packers did with ease last season.

This year, not so much.

Fresh off their rout of the previously unbeaten Texans, the Packers (3-3) head to St. Louis looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

``It's just playing good football,'' offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga said. ``If we play the way we know we can play, which Sunday was a good picture of that, we can stack these successes. Yeah, we had a good game. But that game's over. Now it's time to go out this Sunday and do it again. It's going to be important to do that, and it's going to be a challenge.''

Green Bay has largely avoided long stretches of losses under coach Mike McCarthy. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Packers' longest losing streak since 2008 is two games, and it has happened only three times. (Four if you count the loss to San Francisco in this year's season opener, which followed a loss in the playoffs last year.)

The difference this year, though, is that the Packers aren't putting together long stretches of victories, either. No stretch, actually, as Green Bay has alternated wins and losses each week.

Yes, one of those losses was courtesy of the Inaccurate Reception in Seattle, while another was on a last-minute score by Indianapolis. The Packers have been hit hard by injuries, too; starting inside linebacker D.J. Smith, who had already been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

But a loss is a loss, no matter the circumstances.

``We obviously haven't had two consecutive wins this season, and we want to get back on that track,'' said defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who missed Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. ``Last week was a great start, but it doesn't mean too much if you don't keep (it up).''

The win over the Texans could prove to be a turning point, though, with the Packers showing the kind of dominance, on both sides of the ball, that's been expected of them all season. Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes. He finished with a lofty 133.8 quarterback rating after going 24 of 37 for 338 yards passing and no interceptions.

Alex Green gave the Packers some balance, rushing for 65 yards on 22 carries.

The defense sacked Matt Schaub on each of Houston's first two series, one fewer sack than he'd taken in all of the first five games put together. Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward had two picks, and Sam Shields also had an interception.

``It's about consistency,'' said Rodgers, whose performance earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors. ``That was a good game for us offensively last week, but it doesn't really mean a whole lot unless we can get on a roll here and put two, three, four, five games in a row where you're playing like you want to on offense. So it's going to be about doing the things that we've done here in the past to be successful, to be consistent.''

That's exactly what McCarthy stressed last week following that disappointing loss in Indianapolis.

With everyone else in the country wondering what was wrong, the Packers insisted there was no reason to panic. They weren't happy with how they were playing, and even Rodgers said he had room for improvement. But rather than make any big changes, McCarthy had them focus on the details, little things that, taken together, can make a big difference.

And did against Houston.

``We just played a good football game,'' Bulaga said. ``I don't think the confidence of this team was rattled before it. We just needed to come out and play a good game, and we did.''

Now it's simply a matter of doing it all over again.

``There isn't a secret formula for urgency,'' Bulaga said. ``It's not something you turn on and off. It has to be a mindset thing, and I think this team has that mindset. It's just a matter of having a great week of practice and going out there Sunday and playing.''

Notes: Raji did not practice Wednesday, but said he hopes to Thursday. ... Rodgers was limited in practice because of a sore calf, but neither he nor McCarthy are concerned about the injury. ``I'm getting older. Taking it smart,'' Rodgers said. ... Rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and Shields (shin) did not practice, and McCarthy did not sound optimistic they'll be able to play Sunday. ``I think both those guys will be stretched to make it this week,'' he said. ... Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, was selected as player of the week for the second time in three weeks, and seventh time in his career.


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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.


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Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.