Redskins

Lions fall short against Packers again 27-20

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Lions fall short against Packers again 27-20

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) New week, same ole story for the hapless Detroit Lions.

After scoring on their first two drives, the Lions could manage only a pair of field goals as they fell to the Green Bay Packers 27-20 on Sunday night.

Calvin Johnson had 118 yards receiving to put him over 1,500 for the season, but it wasn't enough to keep the Lions (4-9) from dropping their fifth straight. It's the third straight loss in which the Lions have blown a lead of 10-plus points, tying an NFL record.

``We've been in every single game this year. But being in games doesn't mean (anything) in this league,'' said Matthew Stafford, whose fumble in the second-quarter helped spark Green Bay's comeback. ``It's about getting wins and we understand that as a locker room and as a team.

``It's tough when the ball isn't going your way,'' he added. ``But we're not helping it go our way. We're doing it to ourselves as well.''

The loss also extended Detroit's futility in Wisconsin. The Lions (9-4) have not beaten Green Bay at home since 1991, back when the Packers (9-4) were still playing some of their games in Milwaukee.

The Packers moved within a victory of the NFC North title. Beat the Bears next week in Chicago, and the division title is theirs for a second straight year.

``We're first in the division by a game and we put ourselves in good position, not only for the division but potentially for a first-round bye. The division is our first goal,'' Aaron Rodgers said. ``We can wrap things up next week. It's a tough opponent, a tough place to play. There's a lot on the line.''

There is little but pride left for the Lions, who have taken a step backward after making the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season.

``We're probably the best three-quarter football team in the league,'' Stephen Tulloch said. ``And then in the fourth quarter we don't find a way to win games. Unfortunately, that's the way football is, sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't. This season, that hasn't gone our way. We haven't had a break and we just haven't finished.''

The latest Lions slide began with Stafford's fumble midway through the second quarter. The season's first significant storm dumped almost 3.5 inches of snow on Green Bay, making Lambeau Field look like a snow globe for most of the night and the balls glisten with moisture.

As Stafford drew his arm back to throw midway through the second quarter, the ball slipped out of his hands.

``That was a big play. We had all the momentum,'' Stafford said. ``I don't really have much of an explanation for it. I wish I could have gotten on top of it. It squirted away from me again.''

And Mike Daniels was right there to scoop it up, rumbling nearly half the length of the field for the score that pulled Green Bay within 14-10. Daniels is Green Bay's first rookie defensive lineman to return a fumble for a TD since 1941.

``Mike Daniels' play was the momentum shift for us that we needed,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ``That was a big play.''

So was Rodgers' 27-yard scoring run.

Still trailing in the third, Rodgers was trying to find someone - anyone - to throw to on third-and-4. With Lions defensive end Willie Young closing in, Rodgers scrambled away and found a hole on the right side. He ran untouched down the sideline, holding the ball out as he crossed the goal line.

It was the longest scoring run of Rodgers' career, and the Packers' longest this season.

``For him to score from that distance speaks volumes about his athletic ability,'' McCarthy said. ``He's our guy, he's our ace, it's built around him and he played well again tonight.''

But it was the go-ahead drive that was most frustrating for the Lions.

The Packers have struggled to run the ball all season because of injuries and inconsistency. Yet they ran it on seven straight plays, and picked up at least 2 yards on each play. They had double-digit yardage on three of the carries, including DaJuan Harris' 14-yard scoring run.

Not bad for a guy who was elevated from the practice squad eight days ago.

``It's very frustrating, especially when they're not a run team. They're a predominantly pass team,'' Tulloch said. ``We're a much better team than that drive showed.''

Added Lions coach Jim Schwartz: ``It was poor defense. We had a chance to go out and get a stop, and they just ran the ball down our throats.''

The Lions pulled within a score on Jason Hanson's 34-yard field goal with 7 seconds left. But the onside kick went out of bounds, and the Packers ran out the clock.

``We're fighting tooth and nail to get wins,'' Stafford said. ``There's no lack of effort there. Guys are giving everything they've got. We're playing as a team and doing everything we can. The ball isn't going our way right now.''

Notes: The Packers scored twice on the ground for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011. The two TDs almost doubled their total for the season, giving them five touchdowns on the ground. ... Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew did not return for the second half after injuring his ankle. ... Green Bay is 13-1 against Detroit under McCarthy.

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that hit the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side but since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact, there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball, but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat, the whole offense will be harder to defend.

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

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

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My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:

Timeline  

Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

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