Capitals

Lattimore dislocated knee and has ligament damage

201210271247460212819-p2.jpeg

Lattimore dislocated knee and has ligament damage

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Marcus Lattimore had his right knee dislocated and sustained ligament damage against Tennessee, yet South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier believes the junior could eventually return to football.

Spurrier visited Lattimore on Sunday and said the running back displayed a good attitude about his condition. Spurrier said team doctor Jeffrey Guy was able to put Lattimore's knee back in place soon after he was taken from the field to the hospital.

Guy said in a statement that Lattimore's knee was hyperextended and resulted in injuries to several ligaments. Guy said there were no fractures, broken bones or other injuries and Lattimore's surgically repaired left knee was not affected.

``Marcus has already begun the process of prehabilitation prior to surgery and to his eventual return to football,'' the statement continued.

Spurrier said the injury was significant, but discounted speculation Lattimore would never play football again. Lattimore has not used a redshirt season so he could take as long as necessary to recover and still return to the Gamecocks for the 2014 season.

``We're optimistic his football days are ahead of him,'' Spurrier said.

Spurrier hasn't yet talked with Lattimore, who turns 21 on Monday, about his future. Spurrier said recovery will take some time, perhaps more than one offseason.

``He knows what the road ahead is,'' said Spurrier. ``We're all hoping and praying he'll be back.''

That didn't seem possible to anyone who watched Lattimore fall or saw the slow-motion replays of the second-quarter hit. Lattimore is wrapped up from behind on a 2-yard run when Vols defensive back Eric Gordon comes in low. Lattimore's right leg sickeningly flops over and slams against the turf.

Trainers immediately surround Lattimore. Eventually, players from both sides come out to comfort Lattimore and surround him as he is lifted into a cart before being taken away by ambulance.

``I saw the look in his eyes when he was on the ground,'' South Carolina receiver Ace Sanders said. ``He was really heartbroken about the injury. We were just trying to keep him strong.''

A host of sports figures and other celebrities sent Lattimore support via Twitter, including New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, and Hootie and the Blowfish singer and South Carolina alum Darius Rucker.

``Praying for Marcus Lattimore. Hate to see the best RB in college go down. Keep ya head up my man!'' said Dallas runner DeMarco Murray on Twitter.

Spurrier said he's gotten so many messages of support, he believes Lattimore may be the most popular player in South Carolina history.

Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw said the team played for Lattimore in the second half, South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) holding on for a 38-35 win over Tennessee (3-5, 0-5). The Gamecocks moved up six spots to No. 11 in the latest rankings. They don't play again until Nov. 10 against Arkansas.

University President Harris Pastides visited with Lattimore Sunday and announced a rally would be held in the player's honor on campus Monday.

The Gamecocks had to play without Lattimore the second half of last season, too, after he tore ligaments in his left knee against Mississippi State. South Carolina went 5-1 with their star rusher on the sidelines, an experience Spurrier hopes they can draw on down the stretch this year.

``We'd rather have Marcus on our team, that's for dang sure,'' Spurrier said. ``In life, sometimes you've got to move on with whatever hand you're dealt.''

Senior Kenny Miles will be South Carolina's starter with freshman Mike Davis serving as backup.

Lattimore is expected to be re-evaluated this week. He's already made it back once through the gut-wrenching rehab process, returning as one of the SEC's top backs this season. He finishes this year with 662 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lattimore scored on a 28-yard run against Tennessee, adding to his school record of 41 career TDs.

Vols receiver Justin Hunter said Tennessee players wanted to show their respect for Lattimore.

``We felt for him. We knew he came off a knee injury and for this to happen to him is bad,'' Hunter said. ``The whole team just wanted to go out and show support.''

Whatever decisions Lattimore makes about his future, he's got Spurrier's blessing.

``We'll just go a day at a time and allow the doctors and Marcus and a lot of prayers do their work,'' Spurrier said.

Quick Links

Key Caps questions: How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

usatsi_8176632.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Key Caps questions: How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: How will the Caps look different under new head coach Todd Reirden?

Tarik: It’s an important topic, but let’s not overthink this one. Since winning the Stanley Cup on June 7, the organization has pretty much telegraphed EXACTLY what it hopes will occur in 2018-19. Consider:

  • Todd Reirden was promoted after spending four years as Barry Trotz’s assistant, including the last two years as an associate coach with an expanded role. Reirden already knows everyone, from the players to the trainers and other support staff. He knows what buttons to push and when to push them. There’s a built-in comfort level and trust that should allow everyone to hit the ground running in September.
  • Four of Reirden’s assistants are holdovers, too. The one newcomer, Reid Cashman, is joining the group from Hershey and is a Reirden disciple. So, no adjustment period there, either.
  • Assuming restricted free agent Tom Wilson re-ups (and that would seem to be a very safe assumption), the Caps are bringing back 11 of the 12 forwards that were on the ice for Game 5 in Las Vegas. They’re also bringing back five of six defensemen. And the starting goaltender. Chemistry is a hard thing to explain and/or quantify. But you know when a team has it. And the Caps had it at the end of last year.

So if you look at what GM Brian MacLellan has been doing in recent weeks—and have been listening to what Reirden has been saying publicly—you can only come to one conclusion. The decision-makers feel they discovered the right mix of personnel and systems play at the end of the playoffs, from the defensive structure to special teams. In fact, they were first in goals per game, second-best on the power play and the fourth stingiest team in the postseason.

“Many of my [philosophies] were involved in how we were going to play, how our team was going to look, the identity that we had,” Reirden said on The Junkies recently, referring to last year’s game plan. “So, from a systems standpoint, I would say not much is going to change, at least initially, just because it seemed to work. …You’ll see much of the same.”

That doesn’t mean Reirden won’t make adjustments. He will because he’ll have to over the course of an 82-game regular season and, hopefully, another long postseason run. But it does underscore the fact that the foundation upon on which last year’s championship team was built is going to look awfully familiar. And that's clearly by design.

JJ:  The message from the Caps ever since Reirden was promoted to head coach has been one of consistency as they try to make a seamless transition to the new head coach. In that sense, we probably won't see many changes at all to start the season.

The Capitals just won the Stanley Cup and general manager Brian MacLellan worked to bring almost the exact same roster back for next season. Coming into the locker room saying there's a new sheriff in town and making drastic changes is not the way to go here

But that doesn't mean Reirden will do things the same way.

Reirden has coached at the college, AHL and NHL level. He has seen firsthand how Dan Bylsma won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins and how Trotz did it in Washington. He also saw what didn't work.

Reirden got to this point by developing relationships with the players. He is much more of a players' coach than Trotz and that will be evident in training camp. I also expect there will be a much greater emphasis on development. Trotz famously said to the media that the NHL was not a development league, but a performance league. I expect Reirden to take a different approach.

After failing to win with veteran-laden teams, the Caps finally hoisted the Cup last season after getting significant contributions from young prospects such as Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey. Like it or not, the Caps' core will not last forever. Every year those players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson get another year older. I do not believe a coach who is as good at reaching players and developing them as Reirden is will be quite as reluctant to reach down onto the farm and sprinkle youth throughout his lineup whenever the team needs a spark.

It should not be lost on anyone that one of Reirden's new assistant coaches this year will be Reid Cashman, promoted from being an assistant with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. This is all good news for players like Lucas Johansen, Jonas Siegenthaler and Connor Hobbs, the team's three best defensive prospects who are hoping to have an impact at the NHL level sooner rather than later. The Caps roster is pretty loaded, but at the very least you can expect Reirden to have a hand in helping those players along at training camp.

Ultimately, the product on the ice is going to look almost exactly the same at the start of the season with the biggest changes coming off the ice. We won't see who Reirden is as an NHL coach, however, until we let the full 82-game season play out.

MORE CAPS NEWS:

Quick Links

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

redkins_d-line_vs_sd_usat.png
USA Today Sports Images

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming week, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Additions: Daron Payne (drafted in first round), Tim Settle (drafted in fifth round)
Departures: Terrell McClain (released)

Starters: Payne (NT), Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis
Other roster locks: Stacy McGee, Anthony Lanier, Settle
On the bubble: Ziggy Hood, Phil Taylor

How the defensive line compares

To the rest of the NFL: We are going to have to see about this. Over the last couple of years the D-line has been transformed from an aging group into one where youth is in good supply. Ioannidis is the oldest of the starters at age 24. Allen is 23 and Payne just turned 21 in May. It looks like there is great potential there but we haven’t seen enough of it on the field to make solid comparisons to other lines around the league. Allen missed 10 games of his rookie year with an injury and Ioannidis missed two and was hampered in a few more with a broken hand. Payne, of course, is a rookie. Let’s check back in late October and see how things are going then. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  The primary reason that the line should be significantly better this year is the presence of Payne and Settle on the roster. That means that it is very unlikely that Hood will have to play nose tackle. He has been the starter there for the past two years, forced there by injuries. Jim Tomsula that Hood is not well suited to play the nose. So they have an improvement there. If they get a mostly healthy season out of Allen and if Ioannidis continue to improve this will be the best defensive line they have had since moving to the 3-4 defensive in 2010. 

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: As noted, Payne just turned 21. He seems to have a rare understanding of the game for a rookie. You often see rookies just trying to survive on physical ability early one. Payne has plenty of that, but he also seems to realize that strength and ability alone won’t let him thrive at this level. He pays close attention to his technique during drills, making sure he does things the right way the first time. If he builds on this for the next year or so the Redskins could have a legitimate star. 

Most to prove: Since so many Redskins fans are accustomed to seeing veteran defensive linemen the team signs as free agents play poorly, they automatically put McGee in the “bust” category. But many of his teammates said he was the most consistent player on the line last year. It’s safe to say that he played better than the popular perception. Next year, he will carry a $4.8 million salary cap number and like most players who are not starters but making good salaries, he will need to play well enough to justify that cap number.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins did not expect Settle to be available in the fifth round and he was too good to pass up when he was still on the board. He should get some opportunity as a rookie. He is likely to be the only other nose tackle on the roster besides Payne (sorry, but the numbers make it unlikely that Phil Taylor will make the roster). That could have him active on many game days and that usually means getting some snaps in the rotation. We will see what he can do with his chances. 

Bottom line: The Redskins were last in the league in rushing defense in 2017. It wasn’t all on the line—in particular, injuries to the inside linebackers hurt a lot—but the simple fact is that the organization long neglected the line. The philosophy was to create a patchwork unit from aging free agents. That has changed now with three homegrown players set to start and Settle and 2016 undrafted free agent find Anthony Lanier providing reserve help. It’s going to be a better unit, no question. But improvement over the last several years is a low bar and we’ll find out if this develops into a quality line over the next few months. 

Quote-unquote

Greg Manusky on Payne:

Payne is doing a great job. He’s trying to get acclimated to some of the calls, hasn’t had a lot of mental errors. He’s done a great job. Physical player.

2018 position outlook series

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