Lions WR Titus Young isn't flying under radar now


Lions WR Titus Young isn't flying under radar now

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Titus Young has moved up the Detroit Lions' depth chart.

And on scouting reports.

Young has 15 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games - surpassing his production from the first five games combined - by taking advantage of the attention Calvin Johnson gets and increased opportunities he's getting without Nate Burleson in the lineup.

The second-year pro has been under the radar for much of his short career, but he isn't anymore.

``He's a guy we have to be aware of with his speed and his ability and what he can do with the ball afterwards,'' Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday. ``He's definitely an issue.''

The Lions (3-4) hope Young can keep making the most of all the double- and triple-coverage schemes Johnson will likely see from the Jaguars (1-6) on the road Sunday.

Young is coming off the best game of his career, making nine receptions - catching every ball thrown his way - for 100 yards and two scores, including the winning grab with 20 seconds left against Seattle.

He recalled teammates telling him before that game that it was his turn to step up and make plays.

``I just saw it in the guys' eyes and saw a lot of guys just looking to me during the week to see how I'd respond to our adversity and losing a great leader in Nate Burleson,'' Young said Sunday. ``I just took it upon myself to do the best I could and be there for my team.''

Young came through for the Lions for the second straight week after a slow start this season. He had six receptions for 81 yards in a loss on Oct. 22 at Chicago, where Burleson broke his right leg and was lost for the season.

``When Titus is doing that, our offense flows,'' Johnson said. ``That helps out a ton.''

It also helps that Young was ready for his shot to shine because he didn't get too discouraged about catching just 11 passes for 123 yards and only one score in the first five games.

That wasn't what the former Boise State standout - or the team - had in mind for the second-round pick this season after he had 48 receptions for 607 yards and six TDs last year as a rookie.

When Matthew Stafford threw a 1-yard slant toward Young to beat the Seahawks, the receiver said he had a message for his quarterback.

``I just told him, `Thank you for believing in me,''' Young recalled. ``I've had a couple games this season where I struggled and really wasn't getting all the plays I wanted to get, and I was kind of a little down. I was down for a little bit.''

The Lions seem to be on their way back up as a team - winning two of three - and have pulled within a victory of getting back to .500 after a three-game losing streak dropped them to 1-3 in a season that started with high expectations.

It has helped that Detroit has found someone to make teams pay for focusing too much on Johnson.

His name is Young.

``Somebody has to make plays when Calvin is getting doubled, and Matt has to look for the next guy and so far that's been Titus,'' tight end Brandon Pettigrew said. ``It helps when somebody else is stepping up out of the bunch. Titus can fill that void that we've got without Nate because he's got great hands and runs great routes.''

NOTES: Lions coach Jim Schwartz declined comment on Mike Thomas after Wednesday's practice because the receiver hasn't passed his physical. Jacksonville traded Thomas to Detroit on Tuesday for an undisclosed pick, potentially putting him on the field against his old team just days after it dealt him. ``I have not been involved in anything like this,'' Mularkey said.


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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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Before Capitals' Barry Trotz, here are other coaches who didn't return after a championship victory


Before Capitals' Barry Trotz, here are other coaches who didn't return after a championship victory

 Barry Trotz resigned as the coach of the Washington Capitals, the team announced Monday, less than a week after the team's Stanley Cup championship parade. 

In part of a statement via Trotz's agent, the departing coach said:

After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals. When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.

As shocking as the news may be to fans who are still celebrating the team’s first Stanley Cup championship, Trotz isn’t the first coach to not return to a team following a title.

He joins a handful of hockey coaches who have made similar moves for differing reasons, including:

— Scotty Bowman (1978-79 Montreal Canadiens)

— Bob Johnson (1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins)

— Mike Keenan (1993-94 New York Rangers)

— Scotty Bowman (2001-02 Detroit Red Wings)

But this isn’t exclusive to hockey.

Multiple coaches in other sports have also called it quits after raising their respective trophies, and here are some of the notable ones.

Most recently, Zinedine Zidane caught everyone by surprise when he resigned as Real Madrid’s manager five days after leading the team to a third straight UEFA Champions League title.

After the Chicago Bulls’ 1998 NBA championship — also Michael Jordan’s final season in the Windy City — Phil Jackson resigned and took a year off before returning to coaching.

In 1990, Bill Parcells won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants and didn’t return, while Dick Vermeil did the same thing with the then-St. Louis Rams in 1999.

Jimmy Johnson led the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons before parting ways with the team.