Redskins

Lynx beat Sparks 94-77 in Western finals opener

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Lynx beat Sparks 94-77 in Western finals opener

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Playing strong close to the basket has the Minnesota Lynx one win away from a return trip to the WNBA finals.

Maya Moore scored 20 points, Rebekkah Brunson had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the Lynx beat the Los Angeles Sparks 94-77 Thursday night in the opener of the Western Conference finals.

Seimone Augustus added 16 points for the defending champion Lynx.

Candace Parker scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds for Los Angeles. Alana Beard added 16 points, but Kristi Toliver, who came in averaging 26 points in the playoffs, was held to 12.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Sunday in Los Angeles, where the Lynx are 4-21 all-time.

``It was a really good team win,'' Moore said.

Minnesota held a 37-25 rebounding edge, outscored the Sparks 46-34 in the paint and held a 20-2 advantage in second-chance points to improve to 19-1 at home this season.

``We did not answer or match their physicality and we paid for it,'' said Sparks coach Carol Ross. ``We ended with four offensive rebounds, just one at halftime. You can't survive that way.''

Parker had 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, but only one other Sparks player had more than two - reserve Nicky Anosike with four.

``We really have to put a lot of our focus on our effort and what we do once the ball is shot and it hits the rim,'' said DeLisha Milton-Jones. ``They cannot get second-chance points, because it puts us in a world of trouble.''

Besides Brunson, who has 46 rebounds in four playoff games, including three double-doubles, Augustus had six rebounds for Minnesota, Moore had five, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Amber Harris each had four.

``We just kept going. We never gave up. We never gave in. We knew that was going to be key for this game, to limit their second chance points. They crash the boards pretty hard,'' Brunson said. ``We really locked in. We focused in. We did a great job.''

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was especially impressed by the 42-year-old McWilliams-Franklin keeping rookie Nneka Ogwumike in check. The latter was averaging six boards a game.

``Ogwumike is just so impressive athletically. She has a lot of fast-twitch muscles and Taj doesn't have any, but Taj has intelligence and she plays on angles. And like she said, `Coach, I may not get a rebound, but I will block her out.'''

Minnesota, which averaged a WNBA-best 86 points during the regular season - just two more than Los Angeles, took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Sparks 32-16 for a 48-31 halftime lead.

As part of a 14-2 run, the Lynx scored six points on the break and added another down low before a 3-pointer by Moore finished the surge. After Milton-Jones missed a long jumper for the Sparks, Harris scored her first postseason points with back-to-back layups for a 38-23 lead.

A 3-pointer by Candice Wiggins, steal and layup by Monica Wright, and a 3-pointer by Augustus put the Lynx up 46-26. After Parker scored five straight points for the Sparks, Lindsay Whalen scored on a putback at the buzzer.

Playing with a broken left ring finger and a bruised left wrist, Whalen finished with 12 points.

``She plays with so much heart and it's contagious,'' Moore said.

Minnesota increased its lead to 24 in the third quarter before Parker, who is averaging 27.3 points in the postseason, began to find success down low. She scored eight points during a 16-5 run that got the Sparks within 66-53 late in the quarter.

``This team didn't wait for us to wake up,'' Parker said. ``For three-fourths of the game we laid down and took it.''

Los Angeles pulled to 73-63 midway through the fourth, but the Lynx answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Moore and Wright.

Moore was 5-for-5 from the field in the final quarter.

``She was tremendous. She hit back-breaking shots,'' Ross said. ``She wants the ball and knows what to do with it when she gets it.''

Toliver was quiet through three quarters, with just two points and no assists, before getting 10 points in the final 10 minutes.

``One thing I know about Kristi is that she'll come back stronger in the next game,'' Parker said.

McWilliams-Franklin set a league record by playing in her 59th career playoff game.

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

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Various sources

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 18, 38 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—offense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on offense; defense up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks (2)
Alex Smith, Colt McCoy

I think that Kevin Hogan is very much on the bubble as the third quarterback. They got along with two QBs last year, and with Alex Smith having demonstrated great durability during his career, Hogan may well get bumped off. 

Running backs (4)
Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley

I’d say that this is 95 percent locked in. Maybe Kapri Bibbs or Byron Marshall can make a push for Kelley’s roster spot but his history with Jay Gruden will make it very hard for him to get knocked out. 

Wide receivers (6)
Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Trey Quinn

The first time I did this back in April I didn’t have Quinn on the roster. That was before he was a man among boys at rookie camp and a player who looks like he belongs when the veterans showed up. I don’t know if he’ll have the impact that many fans think he will, but he’s certainly going to get his chance. Brian Quick could steal a roster spot from Harris or Davis.

Tight ends (3)
Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

The Redskins did not draft a tight end or sign one in free agency so there seems to be faith that Reed will be healthy. We’ve heard that before and it seems somewhat risky to leave Davis, who has Father Time nipping at his heels, and the inexperienced Davis as the only two backups. They may try to make room for an undrafted rookie like Hudson Garrett.  

Offensive line (9)
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Geron Christian, Tyler Catalina, Tony Bergstrom

I think that Gruden is probably happy with the starters here but the depth is shaky, especially in the interior. The key could be whether Christian is ready for prime time as the swing tackle. That could allow Nsekhe to fill in at guard. Bergstrom is fine as the backup center, although I wouldn’t want to have to count on him for more than a few games. 

Offensive players: 24
Rookies (3):
Guice, Christian, Quinn
New to the organization in 2018 (5): Rookies plus Smith, Richardson 
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (11): Rookies plus new plus Harris (practice squad), R. Davis (practice squad) and Bergstrom (not on the team). 

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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An Indiana state police officer tweeted that he pulled a driver over for going too slowly in the left lane. I believe this person is a national hero. 

Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 38
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 52
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 75

The Redskins last played a game 167 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 83 days. 

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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USA TODAY Sports/@TerrellePryor

Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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