Redskins

Lions WR Johnson living up to $132 million deal

Lions WR Johnson living up to $132 million deal

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Lions have gotten quite a return on the $132 million, eight-year investment they made in Calvin Johnson nine months ago.

``He's not trying to live up to a contract,'' Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Sunday. ``Personal records are great, and we certainly celebrate the season Calvin that has had, but it hasn't translated to enough wins.

``We need more help around him.''

That's a fact.

The Lions (4-11) have lost seven straight, the league's longest active skid, after reaching .500 at the midway mark of a disappointing season.

During the losing streak, Johnson has been perhaps Detroit's only bright spot.

He broke Jerry Rice's single-season yards receiving record of 1,848 in Saturday night's 31-18 loss to Atlanta.

``It's an accomplishment that took a lot of work,'' Johnson said. ``You can't take that thing away.''

Schwartz said Johnson hasn't racked up yards in blowouts because Detroit hasn't had many of them in a season filled with closely contested losses. He does acknowledge that the team's record doesn't let Johnson's accomplishment ring as true as anyone would like.

``It's hollow in the fact that we only have four wins,'' he said. ``You'd like for that production to translate to wins and you'd like to be able to celebrate that production with wins.''

In the win, the Falcons tried to take Johnson away as an option for Matthew Stafford in the passing game and couldn't do it.

With 11 receptions for 225 yards against Atlanta, he also became the only player in NFL history with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and with 10-plus receptions in four games in a row. He had seven receptions of 20-plus yards for the second time in his career, a feat no other player in the league has done since at least 1991, according to STATS LLC.

Johnson, who has tied another league single-season mark with 100 yards receiving in 11 games, can add to his record total of 1,892 yards receiving in Detroit's finale Dec. 30 at home against Chicago and could reach the 2,000-yard mark.

Johnson's 10th catch Sunday night was for a 26-yard gain with 2:57 left in the game. After breaking the record with that catch, he jogged over to the sideline to give the football to his father, Calvin Johnson Sr., and told him not to let it go.

Not even if someone from the Pro Football Hall of Fame wants it?

``Oh no,'' he said. ``That's my ball.''

Stafford has done a good job of getting the ball to Johnson despite every team trying to stunt their connections and not having to worry about other playmakers because of Detroit's injury-depleted receiving corps.

Stafford threw for 443 yards against the Falcons, setting an NFL record for the most yards passing in a game without a touchdown. With 4,695 yards passing and a game to go against the Bears, he and New Orleans' Drew Brees could become the first two NFL players to throw for 5,000-plus yards in consecutive seasons.

``I'd love to be able to be able to do it again,'' Stafford said. ``But I'd love for it to come with a win.''

Stafford, who thrown the ball 685 times this season, is seven attempts away from breaking the NFL single-season record for attempts set by Drew Bledsoe with New England in 1994.

Johnson and Stafford have not been able to overcome the team's minus-12 turnover ratio this season that ranks among the NFL's worst in perhaps the statistical category that is tied most to winning and losing.

Against Atlanta, the Lions turned the ball over three times and their defense didn't recover a fumble or make an interception.

``We lose by 13 and 17 points come off turnovers,'' Schwartz said. ``We need to do a better job of taking care of the football. And also on defense, we need to come up with some.''

Detroit's comeback hopes were definitely dashed after getting a safety with 1:21 left to pull within 13 points only to have Stefan Logan take a knee at his 4 on a free kick.

``That's probably the first time I've seen somebody concede a punt in the field of play,'' Schwartz said. ``It was a poor decision. Part of a returner's job is to know where he is on the field. Saying, `I didn't know where I was. I thought I was in the end zone,' is not a valid excuse.

``When that error was made,'' Schwartz added, ``it made it very, very difficult for the team to come back.''

NOTES: The Lions are hopeful TE Brandon Pettigrew will play against Chicago after missing the last previous two games with a sprained left ankle. ... Lions DT Sammie Hill was scheduled to have a foot injury examined, Schwartz said.

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Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the two games against the Eagles. 

Week 13 December 3 (Monday night), Lincoln Financial Field

Week 17, December 30, FedEx Field

2017 Eagles: 13-3, First in NFC East, Super Bowl champions 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 10.5

Early line: Week 13, Redskins +7.5; No lines established for Week 17

Key additions: DE Michael Bennett, WR Mike Wallace

Key losses: DE Vinny Curry, WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, DT Beau Allen

Notable: Quarterback Carson Wentz is aiming to be ready for Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL late in the season.  

Biggest questions: 

  • If Wentz isn’t ready, the Eagles have Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles at the ready. Is the real Foles the one who has been a journeyman or the one who starred in the playoffs? And will Wentz continue the freewheeling style that helped make him successful after the injury?
  • After winning Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, will the Eagles suffer from a hangover? 

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 82-75-6; the Eagles won both meetings last year after Washington had won five straight. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1937, Griffith Stadium—With the Redskins trailing 7-0, rookie Sammy Baugh twice led the Redskins deep into Eagle territory. Washington couldn’t push it across the goal line either time, though, and Philly got out with a 14-0 win.

The last time: October 23, 2017, Lincoln Financial Field—The Redskins took a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter, but Wentz and the Eagles took over after that, scoring 21 unanswered points. The Redskins got it back within a touchdown and on a third and eight play early in the fourth quarter, it looked like they had Wentz sacked. However, he scrambled out of trouble and ran for the first down. That drive ended with a touchdown pass and Philly went on to win 34-24.

The best time: January 5, 1991, Veterans Stadium—After getting pummeled by the Eagles in the Body Bag Game (see “The worst time” below), the Redskins qualified for the playoffs and got their shot at revenge. The seedings called for the Redskins to return to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest.

A near turnover that wasn't was the game's turning point. The Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball popped loose from Earnest Byner's grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia six. CB Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an apparent TD. 

Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short FG and instead of a six-point deficit, the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles' offense never could get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.

The worst time: November 12, 1990, Veterans Stadium—As the Redskins went into 1990, the core players on the team, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Don Warren, and Monte Coleman, were on or approaching the over the hill side of 30.  The team had gone from Super Bowl Champs in 1987 to a losing record in ’88 to out of the playoffs again in ’89. They were facing their last stand as they went into The Vet for a November Monday night game.

This one became known as "The Body Bag Game". Five Redskins had to be carted off of the field as Buddy Ryan's team knocked a total of nine out of the game, including both of the active QB's. The carnage induced one Eagle to yell, "Do you guys need any more body bags?'', as yet another injured Redskin was lying on the turf. The Eagles and Ryan taunted the Redskins after the game, a 28-14 Philadelphia win that was not nearly that close.

Redskins schedule series

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

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keita Bates-Diop

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keita Bates-Diop

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Keita Bates-Diop

School: Ohio State
Position: Small forward/power forward
Age: 22
Height: 6-9
Weight: 224
Wingspan: 7-3
Max vertical: 35

2017/18 stats: 19.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.6 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 35.9 3PT% (1.9 3PT/5.4 3PA), 79.4 FT%
Player comparison: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 26th, NBADraft.net 41st, Bleacher Report 21st, Sports Illustrated 31st

5 things to know:

*Bates-Diop is a uniquely versatile player who could fit in very well with positionless basketball. He is the size of a small forward, but has the wingspan to play bigger and the athleticism to guard multiple positions. Defense could be the way he makes his name early on in his NBA career. He has proven uniquely adept at blocking shots for his size, averaging 1.6 per game as a redshirt junior. Whether that will translate to the NBA level, however, is a question. He will be guarding bigger, smarter and more athletic players.

*He is a very good rebounder, especially for his size. Bates-Diop grabbed rebounds consistently throughout his career and as a redshirt junior pulled in 8.7 per game. He had 20 games of double-digit rebounds in college and three times had 14 in a game. He had seven offensive rebounds against Robert Morris in a game last November.

*Bates-Diop was the Big 10 player of the year for the 2017-18 season. Some recent winners of the award include Denzel Valentine, Frank Kaminsky, Draymond Green, Trey Burke and Evan Turner.

*He was able to redshirt because he missed most of his junior season with a stress fracture in his left leg.

*Bates-Diop wasn't an elite three-point shooter in college, but he did make strides throughout his career. As a redshirt junior, he shot a modest percentage of 35.9, though the volume he made them was noteworthy. Outside shooting is always important for NBA wings and Bates-Diop would benefit from developing a consistent three-point shot. He will probably need to simplify his motion because his release is a bit slow.

Fit with Wizards: Bates-Diop would give the Wizards depth at two positions where they need it. He could slide into Mike Scott's role as the backup forward, spending much of his time behind Markieff Morris as a smaller four while giving them insurance at the three position behind Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Bates-Diop would add length and athleticism to the second unit and he and Oubre could make a dynamic combination defending the perimeter. They would have over 14 feet of wingspan between them.

Bates-Diop would have to prove himself at power forward at the NBA level before he can be projected as a starter in the long-term. Right now they have small forward solidified with Otto Porter.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

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