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Jenkins, Givens back after 1-game suspensions

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Jenkins, Givens back after 1-game suspensions

ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Rams rookies Janoris Jenkins and Chris Givens are back on the field, and eager to produce after serving one-game suspensions.

Coach Jeff Fisher said after practice Wednesday that both would play Sunday against the New York Jets, but didn't say whether they'd be starting. They were suspended for violating undisclosed team rules, and neither player said he was surprised by the punishment.

``I made a mistake and coach did the right thing by disciplining me, and I can't question how he did it,'' Givens said. ``I just take it how it comes and move forward, learn from it.''

``Nothing I can do about it, I put myself in that situation,'' Jenkins said.

Teammates weren't too hard on the youngsters.

Quarterback Sam Bradford said Givens would have been a big part of the game plan for Sunday's overtime tie at San Francisco, but said disappointed was a better word than upset. He spoke with Givens after practice and thought the team wouldn't have further issues with either player.

``I don't know if they have to earn back respect,'' Bradford said. ``I think the big thing is showing everyone they're going to be accountable. Obviously, those are two of our key guys and when they're not in the lineup we're not as good as we could be.''

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan, whose locker is next to Jenkins, has served as a mentor for the rookie. He referred to the suspension as a ``minor hiccup.''

``You know what, we're all human, we all make mistakes,'' Finnegan said. ``He's a great kid, he's done everything we've asked him to do on and off the field. We're still standing behind him. I love him, I told him that first and foremost.''

Givens, a wide receiver who was a fourth-round pick, is the first rookie in NFL history with a 50-yard reception in five consecutive games. He started four games at wide receiver while Danny Amendola was out with a collarbone injury, but Amendola returned last week with 11 catches for 102 yards.

``Everyone was upset and everyone was understanding at the same time,'' Givens said. ``I'm young, I make mistakes. But it's up to me to grow up early, grow up fast.''

Jenkins, a cornerback who was a second-round pick, started the first nine games and has been erratic with a collection of big stops and blown coverages. He's sixth on the team with 46 tackles to go with an interception and 11 passes defensed.

He said it was tough watching from the sideline in San Francisco as fellow rookie Trumaine Johnson got his first start and can't wait to play again.

``I felt terrible,'' Jenkins said. ``It was eating me up in my stomach the whole game. If I can get out there Sunday, I'll be ready.''

Givens has a 25.6-yard average and two touchdowns on 13 catches. All season he's been running ahead of second-round pick Brian Quick, who caught his first touchdown pass of the year last week but was on the field for just seven plays.

Quick said it's been tougher than anticipated making the jump from Appalachian State, a smaller school, to the NFL.

``I wish I would have known more,'' Quick said. ``But I couldn't help where I came from and it's about where I am right now. And I'm willing to get better.''

Another second-round pick, running back Isaiah Pead, also has gotten extremely limited playing time after getting beat out by Daryl Richardson, the next-to-last pick of the draft, in training camp. Pead was on the field for just four snaps Sunday and lost a fumble on a kickoff that led to a 49ers touchdown the next play.

``I felt like I was down, but the refs and video said otherwise,'' Pead said. ``It's very frustrating. But at the same time, all you can do is continue to come to work every day and wait for that moment. And if it never comes, then you just learn from riding in the back seat.''

Fisher showed confidence in Pead by putting him right back on the field for the next kickoff.

``You always want to redeem yourself,'' Pead said. ``You don't mean to mess up, you don't mean to fumble.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.