Nationals

Injuries piling up for Raiders

Injuries piling up for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) When the Oakland Raiders signed Shawntae Spencer as a free agent in March, coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie hoped the veteran cornerback could help stabilize a secondary that underwent significant changes in the offseason.

Instead, Spencer has spent more time in the trainer's room getting treatment for a sprained right foot than he has on the field.

He's had plenty of company, too.

The Raiders listed 20 players on their injury report Friday. That doesn't include linebacker Aaron Curry, who is a roster exemption for one more week after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list. Cornerback Ron Bartell is also on the temporary injured reserve list.

Allen slightly altered Oakland's practices this week to accommodate the injuries, none of which appear serious. Spencer and right tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) are the only players listed as out for this week's game in Kansas City.

``We've got some guys with some soreness,'' Allen said. ``It's just a matter of making sure that they're ready to go come Sunday, so we listed a few of them as questionable.''

Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and backup defensive tackle Desmond Bryant are among the seven Oakland players listed as questionable. Another 11, including running back Darren McFadden, defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, and kicker Sebastian Janikowski, are probable and likely to play.

Just when Spencer can get on the field remains uncertain.

Spencer, who opened the season with Bartell as the Raiders starting cornerbacks, hurt his foot early against Miami on Sept. 16 and initially needed crutches to get around. He also wore a protective walking boot. Since then, Spencer has made progress but not enough to be cleared to play.

``I'm not in control of the timetable,'' Spencer said. ``Whatever they say is whatever they say. I come to work, do whatever I've got to do, do what they ask. Whenever doc clears me, he clears me.''

The situation with Curry is a little bit easier to figure out.

Allen said Friday that the veteran linebacker, who underwent knee surgery in the offseason, has been taking reps with the Raiders defense in practice and is getting closer to returning.

``He's looked a little bit better every day in practice,'' said Allen, adding that he expects Curry to be added to the 53-man roster by next week when his exemption expires. ``That's our anticipation. There are a lot of things that have to happen between now and then.''

Bartell suffered a broken shoulder blade in the season opener against San Diego and was placed on temporary injured reserve on Sept. 15 and can return to practice on Saturday. He'll be eligible to play against Baltimore on Nov. 11.

McFadden, Kelly and Shaughnessy are nursing shoulder injuries, Seymour has knee issues, Janikowski a sore groin while Bryant hurt his right elbow in last week's win over Jacksonville.

The rest of the walking wounded included running backs Mike Goodson (hip) and Taiwan Jones (knee), tight ends Richard Gordon (hamstring) and Brandon Myers (knee), linebackers Miles Burris (elbow), Travis Goethel (back) and Keenan Clayton (shoulder), defensive end Dave Tollefson (shoulder), wide receivers Juron Criner (hip) and Rod Streater (knee), center Alex Parsons (back) and safety Mike Mitchell (ankle).

``Most of those injuries are not anything that I would believe would keep us out of a lot of games,'' Allen said. ``The guys are banged up a little bit. We took the pads off of them a little bit this week trying to get some of them back.''

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Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

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USA Today

Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career against the Braves Thursday night, going 3-3 at the plate with two singles and a 420-foot three-run bomb. 

He didn't just set personal records but reached rare air in baseball history. He's the second pitcher ever with at least three hits, a HR, and five RBI since the DH debuted in 1973 and the fifth pitcher in the last 50 seasons to get two hits in an inning including a home run. 

Strasburg set franchise firsts with his performance, dating all the way back to the Expos. 

An extraordinary milestone for the Nationals' ace, hopefully Strasburg's performance will inspire the team during a crucial four-game series with Atlanta. 

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‘The Redskins love Alabama guys’: Washington could run old draft playbook in 2020 to fill huge need

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‘The Redskins love Alabama guys’: Washington could run old draft playbook in 2020 to fill huge need

Perhaps no position group on the Redskins has more questions or uncertainty than the wide receivers.

Josh Doctson enters the final year of his rookie contract, and has yet to record over 550 yards in any of his three professional seasons. Washington signed Paul Richardson to a five-year deal in 2018, but he just played in just seven games for the Burgundy and Gold in 2018 before having season-ending shoulder surgery. Second-year receiver Trey Quinn is expected to fill the role in the slot after Jamison Crowder departed for the New York Jets this offseason but has yet to prove anything on the NFL level. 

The Redskins addressed the position during the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting Terry McLaurin in the third round and Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round. But it's unclear how much either one will contribute to the Washington offense in 2019.

So, it's likely the Redskins will need to address the position during the 2020 NFL Draft, and probably very early on it. Well, this works in Washington's favor, because the 2020 wide receiver class is loaded. 

On a recent episode of the Redskins Talk podcast, J.P. Finlay and Pete Hailey spoke with NFL Draft expert Jordan Reid (no, not the Redskins' tight end) about the top wide receiver prospects heading into next year's draft, and which players the Redskins could potentially target.

Before diving into the top 2020 prospects, Reid gave an initial assessment of the current Redskins' receivers.

"The Redskins just don't have that headliner, top go-to guy," Reid said. "They were expecting Josh Doctson to be that when they did draft him in the first round of 2016. But he's had some injuries, and he's already come out and said he's looking forward to free agency. That just not something you want to hear."

Reid was high on McLaurin, though, the first receiver the Redskins selected in 2019.

"They drafted Terry McLaurin in the third round, I liked him a lot even going back to the Senior Bowl," he said. "I think he's going to have a really good year, not just as a receiver but the special teams phase as well. He's going to flash in a lot of ways."

As far as the 2020 draft wide receiver class, one school stands on top, and it's a school the Redskins are very familiar with: Alabama. The Redskins used their first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 on 'Bama guys and signed another Crimson Tide alumni this offseason in safety Landon Collins.

"We know the Redskins love Alabama guys, and there's a lot of [wide receivers] coming out this year," Reid said. "It's not just Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs is another guy that's getting a lot of steam. They're going to have the chance to get the receiver they want. This is a very special wide receiver class."

Crimson Tide receiver Jerry Jeudy is the consensus top receiver in next year's class, but Reid believes his speedy teammate could challenge him for that spot by season's end.

"With Ruggs, I think he's a bit more as far as polished a route runner [than Jeudy]," he said. "I think his hands are a bit better, and I wouldn't be shocked if he runs below a 4.3 at the combine. He can absolutely fly."

If the pair of Alabama receivers currently hold the top two spots for best wide receiver prospect, there's another guy who's right on their heels: Oklahoma's Ceedee Lamb.

"He reminds me a lot of DeAndre Hopkins coming out," Reid said on Lamb. "He's not a thick guy, but he plays much stronger than what he indicates. Very reliable hands, and his body control is out of this world. He had a one-handed catch against UCLA, it didn't count, but it's truly amazing."

As a true sophomore, Lamb totaled 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018. Sure, it may have helped to have Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray under center, but Lamb has proven he's an elite talent.

Two other prospects Reid is keeping an eye on are Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. and Texas' Collin Johnson.

"He's not as polished as some of these other guys, but he's more of a do-it-all type of receiver," Reid said on Shenault Jr. 

Where Shenault may be a do-it-all receiver, Johnson plays to his 6'6 size.

"He's a really good route runner," Reid said on Johnson. "It's just a matter of how consistently can he separate, and how fast he is. If he goes to the Senior Bowl, I think he can light it up."

While many of these guys seem like sure-fire guys, there's still a full season of football to be played before the draft. Players will rise, but just as many, if not more, will fall off.

"You just have to let this play out, that's what happens with the draft process," Reid said. "Guys fall off, and then you have guys that come out of nowhere. Quinton Williams from last year is a prime example. He was a 270-pound defensive end at this time last year; we had no idea who he was and he ends up being the No. 3 overall selection."

But if everything plays out close to how it's expected to, this wide receiver draft class will be one to remember. 

"This class is special man," Reid said. "I think it's going to rival 2014, with Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and all those guys, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams too. It's going to be very similar to that. It's very special."

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