Joe Haden's return to secondary likely for Browns

Joe Haden's return to secondary likely for Browns

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Joe Haden is ready to rejoin the Cleveland Browns' secondary.

The veteran cornerback said Friday he is ``90 percent'' recovered from a strained abdominal muscle and will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

``It's good enough,'' Haden said. ``I can do everything.''

Even if he can't, his presence is welcome. Cleveland is 0-5 this year when Haden has been out. He missed last week's overtime loss in Dallas and replacement Buster Skrine committed three key penalties in his place. The depleted secondary made seven of Cleveland's 12 total penalties, including two each by veterans Sheldon Brown and T.J. Ward.

Skrine sustained a concussion in Dallas and was held out of practice earlier this week, yet intends to play.

``I feel good and passed all my tests,'' Skrine said. ``I got hit and was out for a second or two. It happened and I've moved on.''

Haden nearly faced the Cowboys and said the week off should have him stronger against the Steelers.

``I was real close,'' he said. ``I went out early and was running around. The first time I really went for a ball, I wasn't quite ready. Coach was like `Look, Joe, you know we need you to cover Dez (Bryant) and if you can't do that, then just shut it down. I was like `Yeah, that's probably best.'''

This week, speedy Mike Wallace will present an outside challenge and the Browns will be wary if newly-signed Plaxico Burress is active.

``They have a lot of guys who can make plays,'' Skrine said.

That holds true on defense, where All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu practiced Friday for the first time in seven weeks but remains doubtful due to a strained right calf.

``That defense has been together so long, their coordinator (Dick LeBeau) has been there forever that they just keep going,'' Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said.

The Browns have little sympathy for the banged-up Steelers, who will start third-string quarterback Charlie Batch with starter Ben Roethlisberger and backup Byron Leftwich sidelined.

``This is going to be a battle,'' coach Pat Shurmur said. ``I've seen it before, I know it's the case: Veteran quarterbacks that have been in the league a long time find a way to come in and be very efficient.''

Shurmur expects the Steelers to run shorter routes and not necessarily because the Browns put so much pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. Cleveland had seven sacks and forced Romo to hurry several other throws.

``Generally speaking, they have a quick passing game,'' Shurmur said. ``They like to run the football. I think we'll see that. I'm sure Charlie's going to understand the timing of the routes that they're running for him. You're seeing more quick timed throws, where the ball gets out quicker.''

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said Batch, at age 37, has been around long enough to know better than to force passes. He expects him to execute the Steelers' offense with efficiency.

``I think they are going to run the ball a ton,'' Jackson said. ``Our linebackers and defensive line have to control this game.''

Having Haden back will help, according to Jackson. Strong coverage of Pittsburgh's passing attack should let Cleveland's upfront players concentrate on stopping the Steelers' run game.

``To get Joe back is huge,'' Jackson said. ``You know he will challenge his tail off. He helps us do a little more defensively.''

Haden is eager to make a play or two.

``We know it's Pittsburgh and we know what this game means to the city and what it would mean to win,'' he said. ``The season hasn't gone the way we wanted, but a win would make it better.''

NOTES: Only DBs Dmitri Patterson and Ray Ventrone did not practice and are out. Patterson has missed five games with an ankle injury and Ventrone has a calf problem. ``I think we're getting about as healthy as we can be, especially at this point in the season,'' Shumur said. ... Jackson is not fond of a team promotion in which Cleveland fans will be given inflatable white flags with the Browns' logo to wave in an effort to counteract Pittsburgh fans waving their venerable gold and black ``Terrible Towels''. ``I'm not a fan of white flags,'' Jackson said. ``It's just not a message I like.''


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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played and had he been able to play in 16 games he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did


A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby Win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.