Redskins

Justin Smith questionable for 49ers

Justin Smith questionable for 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois has been preparing all week to start in place of All-Pro Justin Smith on the NFL's second-ranked defense.

The 49ers remain uncertain whether that will actually happen Sunday night in their NFC West showdown against the Seattle Seahawks.

Smith's availability is in question after he missed practice Friday for the third consecutive day because of an elbow injury, placing his streak of 185 consecutive starts in jeopardy.

The 49ers listed Smith as doubtful on an injury report they submitted to the NFL office Friday morning. He was upgraded to questionable later in the day, even though he didn't participate in the team's afternoon session.

Coach Jim Harbaugh, who indicated earlier in the week he expected Smith to play against the Seahawks, didn't elaborate on Smith's status other than to say ``he's done quite a bit, rehab, strengthening, conditioning.''

Smith has the third-longest active starting streak in the NFL behind Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber (213 consecutive starts) and Washington's London Fletcher (197). A 12-year veteran, Smith hasn't missed a start since early in his rookie season with Cincinnati.

Jean Francois is ready if Smith misses this one.

``Just another start,'' Jean Francois said. ``I'm not going to be sitting on the bench, not able to get in the game. So the preparation this week was a little different. I'll see a lot more action.''

Jean Francois ended up playing 48 of San Francisco's 92 defensive plays last week in a 41-34 victory over New England. Smith left that game early in the third quarter, got his elbow taped in the locker room and returned to the San Francisco sideline. But he never went back in the game.

The Patriots scored 28 straight points with Smith on the sideline to erase a 31-3 San Francisco lead, rolling to touchdowns on consecutive drives of 73, 86, 66 and 92 yards.

But Jean Francois and left tackle Ray McDonald both came up with big plays as the 49ers stopped New England on its next two offensive series late in the fourth quarter after San Francisco regained the lead.

Jean Francois and McDonald had back-to-back sacks of quarterback Tom Brady to halt New England's momentum on the first of those series. Jean Francois beat New England left tackle Nate Solder on third down for his second career sack, forcing New England to punt for the first time since the second quarter.

``Ricky played well,'' 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ``He had a critical sack there when we finally got them stopped, which were critical drives. He's a well-rounded player that can play both the banging game and he's got a little bit of athleticism, too. He's the one guy on our front that can play all three spots and nothing will change with him in there.''

Jean Francois has started at both nose tackle and left tackle in San Francisco's 3-4 defensive scheme since being drafted by the 49ers in 2009. Smith's presence on the right side hasn't given him many opportunities there.

Jean Francois has become a regular part of San Francisco's defensive line rotation that includes McDonald and starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. His 34 tackles this season already are a career high, and Jean Francois had 11 tackles over a two-game stretch in September which included one start in place of an injured Sopoaga.

``I'm just trying to show my coaches that I'm someone you can trust when the times get really tough,'' Jean Francois said. ``You can put me in and the ball will never drop. That's the biggest thing, just making sure the ball keeps rolling whether it's Ray out or Justin out.''

Smith is a key cog in San Francisco's third-ranked rushing defense that will collide Sunday with Seattle's third-ranked rushing offense. Smith's 130 tackles rank third on the team behind All-Pro linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis.

But if Smith's not there, the 49ers are confident Jean Francois can hold the line.

``Ricky's a very good player who could start for a lot of football teams in the NFL,'' said 49ers Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Staley, who lines up against both Smith and Jean Francois in practice. ``He fits the scheme really well and he knows exactly what he's doing. Obviously, Justin is Justin Smith, one of the best players in the NFL. But Ricky does a terrific job going in there, and if he's in there we expect him to do great things for us.''

Quick Links

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

go-go_white_logo.png
Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE WIZARDS NEWS