Redskins

Little running back coming up big for Green Bay

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Little running back coming up big for Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) DuJuan Harris wasn't much of a car salesman. Didn't sell a single one, in fact, in the week he was working at a Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership in Jacksonville, Fla.

``I came close a few times,'' he said. ``I don't want to say I was nervous, but people would ask me about the cars and I didn't know much about it. I was just like, `Man, I'm not going to sell the cars.'''

That's OK. As the Green Bay Packers have discovered - and the rest of the NFL is quickly learning - the pint-sized running back is far better suited for a job in the NFL.

Elevated from the practice squad Dec. 1, Harris' speed, elusiveness and surprising power have helped give the Packers the consistent run game they've been trying to find all season. And after catching a team-high five passes Saturday night, Harris also gives Aaron Rodgers yet another option in what was already the NFC's deepest receiving game.

The Packers (12-5) play at San Francisco (11-4-1) on Saturday in an NFC divisional game.

``He's kind of a Transformer,'' Rodgers said last week. ``There's more than meets the eye with DuJuan. He's a very tough guy. He's got great athleticism, agility; he makes some great jump cuts. ... He's done some nice things for us.

``You have to give him a lot of credit,'' Rodgers added. ``He's learned the offense the last few weeks and studied, obviously, and the package for him is just going to continue to grow.''

Signed by Jacksonville last season as an undrafted free agent out of Troy, Harris spent most of 2011 on the Jaguars' practice squad. He played his way onto the active roster by the end of the season, running for 42 yards on nine carries in Jacksonville's last five games. After the Jaguars cut Harris at the end of training camp, he was picked up by Pittsburgh.

But he was with the Steelers only four days before being cut again, and he went back to Jacksonville to wait for his next opportunity.

``I was just working out, staying in shape and pretty much just chilling,'' Harris said.

As the weeks passed and his phone stayed noticeably silent, Harris decided he needed to do something else. A friend had connections at a Mercedes-Benz dealership, and got Harris an interview.

It was clear immediately that wasn't going to be a good fit.

``They asked me if I would consider cutting my hair,'' said Harris, whose dreadlocks reach all the way to the middle of his back. ``I was like, `No, I know my career in football is not done.'''

Another friend put him in touch with the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership, which has hired a few other NFL players. When they told Harris they needed him to take a drug test, he laughed.

``I was like, `Really, I have to go take a (urine) test? I'm clean. I don't smoke or none of that. I'm clean. I've got to be clean to do workouts for the NFL,''' Harris said. ``But to get a job in the real world, you have to do all of that other stuff. So, I did it.''

He put on a shirt and tie every day, too.

``I was never used to coming to work in a shirt and tie unless it's for game day,'' he said. ``I enjoyed it.''

After a week, though, Harris got a call from the Packers. He was signed to the practice squad Oct. 24.

``I felt like it was a test of my faith and I kept faith. When I got signed, I knew it was time to stay,'' he said. ``I had to come in and get to work and do whatever I had to stay.''

By the end of his first week in Green Bay, the Packers knew they had a keeper.

Though Harris is only 5-foot-8, he packs the power of a lineman. Listed at 208 pounds, his arms are massive and his legs even bigger. Combine that with his speed and elusiveness, and the Packers' defensive players found themselves clutching air any time they tried to bring Harris down.

``He was tough to tackle in open space, one on one,'' said Alex Van Pelt, Green Bay's running backs coach. ``After about the first two or three practices, you start to hear little mumblings in the back, `Oh, this guy's got a little something to him.' It was our job to get him up to speed within the system to get him out there on the field.''

And fast, considering the struggles the Packers have had on the ground.

With Rodgers at quarterback and a laundry list of targets, Green Bay is assured of having one of the NFL's most potent passing games. But teams need balance, and the Packers didn't have anything close to it the first half of the season. They cracked the 100-yard rushing mark just three times in the first eight games, and were averaging about 3.7 yards per carry. They had two touchdowns - count `em, two - on the ground through the first 11 games.

Since Dec. 2, however, the Packers are averaging 112 yards rushing per game. They've scored nine touchdowns on the ground, including two in Saturday's wild-card victory over Minnesota.

``(Opponents) have a little bit to do with it, DuJuan Harris has something to do with it,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the improvement. ``I'm excited about what he's given us.''

Though Harris is only rushing for about 40 yards per game, he's averaging 4 yards a carry. That's not Adrian Peterson-like production, but it's enough to force defenses to not load up in the secondary.

He's also been a brute in pass protection, and has sure enough hands that Rodgers didn't hesitate to go to him.

``He's doing a good job and we're pretty extensive with what we ask our backs to do in pass protection,'' McCarthy said. ``I'm very pleased and impressed with his growth when his opportunity came so late in the year and what he's been able to do over the last three to four weeks.''

While Harris appreciates the faith the Packers have in him, he doesn't feel as if he's made it. Not after where he was only a few months ago.

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Redskins vs. Jets Week 11: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Redskins vs. Jets Week 11: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

At 1-8, the Redskins have several changes to make if they hope to end the season on a high note. That has started by making a change at quarterback, as interim head coach Bill Callahan has named rookie Dwayne Haskins the team's starting QB for the rest of the season.

Haskins will make his first home start this Sunday, as the Redskins host the 2-7 Jets. The rookie will hope to end a 13-quarter touchdown drought the Burgundy and Gold are currently in, as Washington has not punched it in the end zone since their Week 6 victory in Miami.

Second-year running back Derrius Guice, who hasn't played since Week 1, returns on Sunday. The LSU product should help the Redskins in multiple ways, taking some of the load of veteran Adrian Peterson and also in the passing game as well.

New York is coming off their second victory of the season, defeating their cross-town rival, the Giants, 34-27.

The Redskins lead the Jets in the all-time series, 8-3, but New York has won the past two contests. Here's everything you need to know.

REDSKINS vs. JETS WEEK 11

Who: Washington Redskins (1-8) vs. New York Jets (2-7)

What: Week 11 of the 2019 NFL regular season

When: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, 1 p.m. ET

Where: FedExField, Landover, Maryland

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Stream on FuboTV, Pregame and postgame coverage streaming on NBCSportsWashington.com

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Spread: Redskins, -1.5

Over/Under: 38.5

Weather:  43 degrees, cloudy

REDSKINS vs. JETS TV SCHEDULE:

8:30 a.m.: Pro Football Weekly

9:00 a.m.: Redskins Talk: Week 11

10:00 a.m.: Inside the Redskins

11:00 a.m.: Redskins Coaches Show

11:30 a.m.: Redskins Nation

12:00 p.m.: Redskins Kickoff Live

4:00 p.m.: Redskins Postgame Live 

REDSKINS 2019 SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Redskins at Eagles (L, 32-27)

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Cowboys at Redskins, (L, 31-21)

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 23, Bears at Redskins, (L, 31-15)

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Redskins at Giants, (L, 24-3)

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Patriots at Redskins, (L, 33-7)

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Redskins at Dolphins, (W, 17-16)

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, 49ers at Redskins, 1 p.m. (L, 9-0)

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 24, Redskins at Vikings, 8:20 p.m. (L, 19-9)

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Redskins at Bills, 1 p.m. (L, 24-9)

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Jets at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Lions at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Redskins at Panthers, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Redskins at Packers, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Eagles at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Giants at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Redskins at Cowboys, 1 p.m.

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Scott Boras is once again in place to control the Nationals’, and baseball’s, offseason

Scott Boras is once again in place to control the Nationals’, and baseball’s, offseason

The calendar has once again put Scott Boras into the spirit. 
 
Coming holidays have nothing to do with his joy. He’s giddy, revved, his premium salesman self again because the regular season is over, which means free agency has begun.
 
Annually, Boras has a large grip on the market and the Nationals’ future. This year, he’s in a white-knuckle place. Boras represents both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. He also represents starter Gerrit Cole. Those three are the top free agents -- by a wide swath -- this offseason, putting Boras in a place of leverage he may always talk from but likely has this time.
 
The Nationals have long felt Boras’ influence, on both good and bad fronts. He convinced Nationals founding principal owner Ted Lerner that Max Scherzer was worth $210 million and, more importantly, a seven-year commitment when other teams did not believe that to be the case. The contract has been a coup despite its hefty numbers. But, Boras also provided underwhelming veterans to the Washington roster. Matt Wieters and Jeremy Hellickson are among those who come to mind.
 
This time around, he has curious clients. They’re different. Neither is Bryce Harper in flamboyance or age. Both have established relationships with the Nationals. The vetting process is unnecessary and even an exchange of numbers is probably well in the past. Two huge, but somewhat reticent, stars coming from the same team after winning the World Series will be new for everyone.
 
Rendon has used his own leverage on Boras. Back in spring training, when Rendon told NBC Sports Washington negotiations with the Nationals “hit a wall,” he also made clear how he perceived the agent-player relationship when it came to him and Boras. 
 
“What everyone has the misconception of is they think that we work for Scott,” Rendon said. “Like, no. That’s not the way it works. Like, I’m telling him how it’s going and you can ask him. We’ve gotten (into) some jibber-jabbers before, too. Like, I’m paying him. Nah, [debates] don’t fly with me.”
 
Move to Media Day at the World Series. Rendon was asked if he thought Boras would be busy this offseason. He quickly answered, “yeah,” then added this poke.
 
“He’s about to be even richer, too, probably,” Rendon said. “Must be nice.”
 
Strasburg undermined one of Boras’ prime tenets in 2016 when he signed an extension early. Washington had to trade back-end opt-outs as the cost of keeping Strasburg from the open market. Negotiations then worked from spring training into the first month of the season. Strasburg wanted nothing to do with them until both sides were very close to an agreement.
 
“I pretty much told Scott to kind of leave me alone as much as possible,” Strasburg said then. "To be honest, it’s hard to block something like that out. It’s your future and your kid’s kids future, too. I think one thing that kept me centered, kept me focused, was why do I play this game. Bottom line was I play this game because I’m a competitor.”
 
The deal gave Mike Rizzo a chance to crow a tad.
 
“I think we had a discussion with Scott,” Rizzo said then. “He works for the players. I think this was player-driven -- the agreement. I think that Stephen wanted to be here and he expressed that to Scott. We hammered out the best deal that we could.”
 
Strasburg agreed with that sentiment at the time, before the World Series, before he found a formula for good health which allowed him to lead the National League in innings pitched in 2019. It's one of the tenets which makes Washington hopeful Strasburg will return.
 
“I think what they believe in and what I believe in kind of coincide,” Strasburg said of the organization.
 
Strasburg chose to exercise his first opt-out opportunity. However, what he listed as causes for signing the extension -- level of comfort, opportunity to win, quality of life outside of baseball -- remain in place. The wrinkle is Boras will be working the open market with both of the top-tier pitchers under his guidance. 
 
Typically, competition between agents to define the market can drag out free agency. This offseason, Boras will simultaneously be handling the clients whose markets play off each other. Strasburg’s numbers will influence Cole’s numbers. Their age -- Strasburg is a little more than two years older -- should be the defining point for gap in payment and years. Boras will argue up Strasburg in order to later obtain more money for Cole. Waiting could be beneficial to both players and laborious for fans.
 
Boras is again in command no matter the ultimate process. Washington’s most pressing issues are in his hands. The league’s most in-demand players are in his hands. So is the future. Juan Soto, a client of the Boras Corporation, becomes a free agent in 2025.

 

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