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Lions looking healthier after open date

Lions looking healthier after open date

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Louis Delmas and Cliff Avril were on the practice field, looking healthy after a much-needed open date for the Detroit Lions.

Jahvid Best still can't play, but he's at least eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list next week.

The Lions are on the mend - physically, at least. It remains to be seen whether they can improve on their 1-3 start this weekend at Philadelphia.

``It's not health anymore,'' center Dominic Raiola said. ``It's just a matter of doing the right things. There's no excuse.''

Delmas hasn't played yet this season while recovering from left knee surgery, but the defensive back has been practicing lately and could give a boost to Detroit's secondary. Avril had to leave the Lions' loss to Minnesota two weekends ago because of a back problem, but he too seems fine now.

Not everyone is at full strength. Corey Williams, who is coming off knee surgery, stood off the to the side at the start of practice Tuesday. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew wasn't on the field at all during the portion open to reporters.

Coach Jim Schwartz didn't elaborate on Pettigrew's condition other than to say he's day to day.

Meanwhile, Best has been on the reserve-physically unable to perform list all season because of concussion problems, but he's eligible to return as early as next week. Whether he'll be able to is still an open question.

``He's going through some return-to-play protocol,'' Schwartz said. ``Those aren't done by the people here. Those are done by independent neurologists and everybody else. The only thing we can do is wait for their opinion on it. ... The next step is getting him cleared and then it would be off PUP and then practicing before any decision would be made of when he'd be ready to play.''

Best showed promise as a rookie in 2010 and started six games last season, but he hasn't played since a loss to San Francisco nearly a year ago.

``He's in better shape now than when he was a rookie. He's physically stronger. He's smarter in our schemes, done a really good job being at meetings and those kind of things,'' Schwartz said. ``This isn't a guy that's been on vacation for the last couple months. This guy's worked extremely hard. But we try not to get ahead of ourselves. He's doing what he can. When he gets clearance he'll be back.''

The secondary has been hit hard by injuries. Chris Houston missed two games because of a sprained left ankle, and rookie Bill Bentley missed one because of a concussion. They're back now.

Avril, who was sidelined in the second half against the Vikings, was one of several players who missed some practice time last week - with no game to prepare for. Now he's ready to chase Michael Vick and the Eagles around on Sunday.

``Feeling good,'' Avril said. ``I practiced, feeling good and ready to get rolling.''

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3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

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