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Mauti injury hits Penn State hard at season's end

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Mauti injury hits Penn State hard at season's end

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Surrounded by microphones and recorders, Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof stared into the distance as if in a daze. Tears welled up in Roof's eyes when the subject turned to injured senior Michael Mauti.

The fiery Mauti is so much more than a linebacker to the Nittany Lions (7-4, 5-2).

``He means so much to me, personally,'' Roof said in a soft voice. ``From Day 1 ... our relationship has gotten nothing but stronger, stronger and stronger. I totally trust him.''

Coach Bill O'Brien didn't have more details on the injury after Mauti was carted off the field late in the first quarter of Saturday's 45-22 win over Indiana. Mauti was being blocked by an offensive lineman when it appeared that Hoosiers running back D'Angelo Roberts went low and hit Mauti's left knee.

Beaver Stadium grew silent. O'Brien, Roof and another standout outside linebacker, Gerald Hodges, were among the Nittany Lions to come to Mauti's side. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Mauti was slowly and carefully loaded on to a cart that quickly came on to the field to pick up the fallen leader.

``Michael Mauti! Michael Mauti!'' the student section yelled in unison after Mauti returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter walking with crutches while the team gathered to sing the alma mater.

Serious injuries cut off two seasons earlier in his career - one to each knee. O' Brien got testy at one point after being asked if Mauti has played his last down in a blue-and-white uniform.

A team spokesman said Sunday there was no new information on Mauti. An injury report is usually released by Tuesday.

There's just one game left this year for Mauti , running back Michael Zordich and the other seniors who helped keep most of the team together after the NCAA's landmark sanctions in the offseason. Wisconsin visits next weekend.

``All I can say is, in your career, I've been fortunate to be around some special players,'' O'Brien said. ``There's a bunch of special players in that (senior) class. He embodies, in my opinion, what Penn State's all about: he's tough, grind it out, smart.''

By the tears flowing down the eyes of Mauti's mother during the singing of the alma mater, to the heartfelt messages of support from teammates on Twitter - it's clear those close to Mauti fear he may not return for what's already expected to be an emotional season finale against the Badgers.

``I'm praying for my boy Mike Mauti, and y'all do the same,'' redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes posted on Twitter after the game. ``One of the best players (I have) ever seen play the game.''

Hodges, who finished with 12 tackles and an interception, combines with Mauti to form one of the best outside linebacker tandems in the country. Hodges' No. 6 jersey and Mauti's No. 42 jersey are popular sellers at downtown State College stores.

``If I could give my knee to my brother(hash)42 he (would have) had it by the end of the game,'' Hodges wrote on Twitter.

In some respects, the bittersweet victory over the Hoosiers was representative of the challenging year.

The win clinched a winning record for Penn State, an accomplishment that few college football observers thought could happen in the wake of sanctions.

Quarterback Matt McGloin and receiver Allen Robinson combined to torch overwhelmed, poor-tackling Indiana defense in a record-setting day. Robinson had 10 catches for 197 yards and three entertaining scores that showcased his uncanny knack to make mid-air adjustments and twist away from tacklers for big plays.

The emergence this season of Robinson and two other sophomores in bruising 6-foot-1 tailback Zach Zwinak (five 100-yard games in last seven contests) and linebacker Mike Hull are two bright spots for a future that's still cloudy overall given the sanctions. Among the NCAA penalties are a four-year bowl ban and steep scholarship cuts, and players will once again be eligible to leave the program without penalty after this season ends. The exception expires at the start of the 2013 preseason next August.

Hull, who has shown promising glimpses all season as a top reserve, took over on the weak side after Mauti went down and finished with 11 tackles and a sack. He gave some thought to leaving this past offseason after the sanctions were announced. Mauti helped convince him to stay.

``His impact was huge,'' Hull said. ``He talked to me every day and was constantly telling me how important I was to the team and what my role would be.''

Now it could be Hull that takes over early as the starter earlier than expected, in the finale against Wisconsin if the worst feared about Mauti's injury comes true.

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Follow Genaro Armas athttp://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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

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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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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

We're just a couple of weeks away from the midway point of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, which means many casual fantasy baseball players have collectively turned their attention to the gridiron. This is good news for those of you still interested, because outside of the truly competitive leagues, it's about to get much easier to navigate the waiver wire and make winning trades.

That said, we'll still be here all season long, providing advice for anyone looking to gain a competitive edge in their fantasy leagues. There's a lot to digest in the upcoming week, as many teams (including the Washington Nationals) will play a full seven game slate. It's an especially great time for stars in baseball, as a whopping six players are on pace to record seasons with 8.7 Wins Above Replacement or higher, but there's still plenty of great options beyond the obvious guys.

NOTE: Don’t expect to see guys like Bryce Harper or Trea Turner mentioned too often. They are clear must-starts every week. Don’t overthink it.

Week 12 (6/18-6/24)

One Nationals pitcher to start: Max Scherzer

We won't often include a guy on the level of Mad Max in our recommendations, but consider this a statement against the other pitchers. With Stephen Strasburg on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is really the only other startable option in the rotation, and while he's a fine play against the Orioles, he's not a sure thing. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, so when in doubt, it's easy to fall back on his name. For now, feel free to use Gonzalez if needed, but the only clear, recommendable one this week is Scherzer.

One Nationals position player to start: Adam Eaton, OF

Consider this your reminder to not get cute and just start Adam Eaton whenever he's healthy. When he can manage to avoid time on the disabled list, he's consistenly been one of the best players in Washington, and an absolute must-start in fantasy. Yes, he's hitting "just" .286 in five games since returning from the DL, but there's no reason to believe he won't bounce back to one of the top hitters in the National League once he gets back in the swing of things. As long as he's hitting at the top of the Washington lineup, he'll be one of the top run producers in baseball.

One Nationals pitcher to sit: Erick Fedde

We likely would have advised against starting Fedde regardless of matchup, given his relative struggles in his two starts with the Nats this season. He's got a nice 9:2 strikeout-to-walk rate, but the ERA sits at an unsightly 5.91. What makes matters worse is the matchup; Fedde is once again slated to face the vaunted New York Yankees lineup. In New York, he allowed two home runs in just five innings, and while Nats park isn't the hitter's haven that Yankee Stadium is, the sluggers in their lineup make for a daunting matchup in any city.

Fedde probably isn't owned in most leagues, and there's no reason for that to change, even with his spot in the rotation likely secure as long as Strasburg isn't throwing.. 

One Nationals player to sit: Daniel Murphy, 2B

Nats fans were understandably rejoicing when Daniel Murphy returned to the lineup last week. It's always fun when one of your stars is back on the field after missing so much time. Still, like most players who haven't face in-game pitching in several months, Murphy has been slow to re-adjust at the plate. He's recorded just two hits in 15 at-bats, has only walked once, and has yet to notch an extra-base hit of any kind. His OPS is below-.200, and while no one should expect that to last, there's no need to rush him back into your lineups either.

It would be pretty tempting to slot Murphy into your 2B or middle infield spot now that he's healthy, since you likely drafted him to be one of your studs, but given his lengthy absence, the nature of his original injury, and his slow start since returning, it's probably a good idea to leave him on your bench for a week or two. Once he starts driving the ball again, he can start to return value for you, but there's no reason to let him drag you down in the meantime.

Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?

Given that the rotation is currently in a state of flux, we can't confidently say any starter will get two starts. Fedde looks like the most likely candidate, but as we outlined above, he's still a pitcher you want to avoid for now.

Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?

One of my favorite sleepers this week is Domingo German. One of the most surprising stats in all of baseball right now is that among starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, German has the second best swinging strike rate, behind only Max Scherzer. Swinging strike rate is a great stat to use when projecting future strikeout potential, and German's 15.9% is mighty impressive. German has a start at home against the Mariners and on the road against the Rays, so while it's not a cakewalk week, it's not especially daunting either. As an added bonus for those in points leagues, German is RP-eligible, giving you some extra roster flexibility.

The walks are a little high (21 in 53.3 innings) which has let to an elevated WHIP and ERA, but it's a good rule of thumb to follow the strikeouts when identifiying quality fantasy pitchers, and considering most of the two-start guys this week are obvious studs who are certainly already owned in your league, German is the exact type of option you should be looking to stream.

One player you might not realize you should pick up: John Hicks, C/1B (Tigers) 

This is a sneaky move, the kind that could easily get overlooked in most fantasy leagues but could provide a great return on investment. With Miguel Cabrera's unfortunate season-ending biceps injury providing an opening in the everyday lineup in Detroit, Hicks (who is catcher elgibile) will be taking most of the team's at-bats at first base going forward. While he's probably not worth rostering as a first baseman in most leagues, catcher is a notorious black hole in fantasy baseball in recent years, and this season might be the wost yet.

Hicks will maintain catcher eligibility all season long, yet he'll play the far less demanding first base every day, giving him less wear and tear on his legs, less concern with running the pitching staff, and most importantly, regular at-bats in a surprisingly not-atrocious lineup. Hicks isn't the type of guy you'd refer to as a league-winner prior to Opening Day, but he could make a real impact on a championship roster in the second half of the season.

One player you might not realize you should drop: Jake Junis, SP (Royals) 

Junis isn't the type of pitcher that I'd classify as a must-drop, but you shouldn't hesitate to move on if there's a clear better option on the waiver wire. Junis started the season strong and looked like a legitimate breakout player, but he's allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts. A poor two-start stretch isn't the end of the world, which is why I'm not suggest that everyone jump ship regardless of team context. That said, he doesn't have the pedigree of a top pitching prospect, and he plays for one of the five worst teams in baseball, meaning you can't expect many wins even when Junis is throwing well.

At the very least, you prbably should leave Junis on the bench for the time being, and again, if there's an option you've been eyeing on the waiver wire, now is the time to strike. Don't feel bad if that means leaving Junis behind to free up a roster spot for your team.

MORE NATS NEWS:

- Nice Threads: MLB reveals All-Star jerseys
- Rankings Update: Where did the Nats fall?
- On the Farm: Latest Nats prospect report