Redskins

Monday's Sports in Brief

Monday's Sports in Brief

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Doctors say Colts coach Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia.

On Monday, Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano's physician, told The Associated Press that the illness that has sidelined Indy's head coach for more than a month was in ``complete remission.'' Cripe said a morning exam showed Pagano's white blood cell count and bone marrow tests were normal as he prepares to start a second round of chemotherapy.

The doctor explained patients typically undergo three rounds of treatment to wipe out any potentially lingering cancer cells. The second round of chemo is scheduled to start later this week and will last four to six weeks.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former Saints safety Steve Gleason was taken to a New Orleans hospital after becoming unresponsive at the Superdome while watching Monday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gleason suffers from the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He underwent treatment in the emergency room at Ochsner Hospital. His wife reports through the Saints that Gleason is alert and ``doing well.''

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Dismissing speculation that Sean Payton may leave New Orleans because of a glitch in his contract, Drew Brees has no doubt he'll be reunited with the suspended Saints coach in 2013.

``I absolutely believe he'll be back,'' Brees said after guiding the Saints to a 28-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Payton was suspended for the season by the NFL for his role in the bounty scandal. The league has taken issue with a clause in the contract extension he agreed to more than a year ago, which was to have kept him in New Orleans through 2015.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Sunday he does not know if Payton might become a coaching free agent after the season.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without running back Maurice Jones-Drew for Thursday night's game against Indianapolis.

Coach Mike Mularkey ruled Jones-Drew out, no surprise since he's wearing a walking boot on his sprained left foot and using a push cart to get around the facility.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Chiefs made another round of sweeping changes in an attempt to lift themselves out of a season-long funk.

Coach Romeo Crennel sacked himself as defensive coordinator, and plans to spend more time with the team's inept offense, while cornerback Stanford Routt was waived and defensive tackle Shaun Smith was signed.

BASEBALL

BOSTON (AP) - David Ortiz, the face of the Red Sox since helping Boston end an 86-year World Series drought in 2004, completed a $26 million, two-year contract, a deal that could be worth up to $30 million if he avoids another significant Achilles tendon injury next year.

The soon-to-be 37-year old had expressed his preference for a two-year deal the past two seasons.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Pitcher Bartolo Colon's new $3 million contract with the Oakland Athletics could pay him an additional $1.2 million as a starter.

The AL West champion A's announced Saturday they had reached agreement on a one-year deal with the right-hander, who still must sit out the final five games of his 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Cardinals promoted John Mabry to hitting coach as the replacement for Mark McGwire, who told St. Louis he won't return after three seasons and appears headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 42-year-old Mabry, whose 14 major league seasons included three stints with St. Louis, and was assistant hitting coach last season.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL and the players' association stuck to their word and made quick plans to get back to the bargaining table.

After all-day negotiations Saturday, the sides agreed Monday to resume talks on Tuesday in New York. Both sides said the discussions over the weekend were good, creating some optimism that perhaps a deal could soon be reached to save the already truncated hockey season.

The NHL and union hadn't met since Oct. 18 when each side turned down offers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is hopeful injured quarterback Collin Klein will be available for Saturday's game at TCU.

The Heisman Trophy candidate was hurt during the third quarter of the No. 3 Wildcats' 44-30 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday. Snyder did not discuss the nature or severity of the injury, but all indications point toward a possible concussion.

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Washington State star receiver Marquess Wilson was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules, and will miss Saturday's game against No. 17 UCLA.

Cougars coach Mike Leach declined to say why Wilson was suspended, although he said the punishment would last at least a week.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - The NBA issued flopping warnings to Minnesota's JJ Barea and Cleveland's Donald Sloan, the first two under a new policy designed to end the act.

Barea threw his upper body backward after contact while defending Sacramento's Jimmer Fredette in the fourth quarter Friday. Sloan tumbled wildly to the court a few feet from contact after a pick set against him by Chicago's Nazr Mohammed on Friday.

TENNIS

LONDON (AP) - Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray won their opening matches at the ATP finals, setting up a showdown between two of the top three players in the world.

The top-ranked Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (4), 6-3 in Group A, hours after third-ranked Murray rallied to defeat Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic and Murray will play Wednesday.

CYCLING

GENEVA (AP) - Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov is being investigated for allegedly bribing a rival to fix a race, becoming the latest of cycling's big names to be threatened by the ongoing fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping affair.

The International Cycling Union pledged to open a probe into revived allegations that the London Games gold medalist from Kazakhstan paid off his opponent in a two-man breakaway to ensure he won the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic.

OBITUARIES

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) - ESPN radio announcer Jim Durham, who called NBA games for the network, died. He was 65.

ESPN said that Durham died over the weekend at his home in Tomball, Texas. A cause of death was not announced.

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) - Jim Flick, a golf instructor for more than 50 years whose clients included Tom Lehman and Jack Nicklaus upon joining the Champions Tour, died of pancreatic cancer, his family said. He was 82.

HORSE RACING

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Havre de Grace sold for $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton November sale, fetching the highest price for a horse since 2008.

The 2011 Horse of the Year was bought by Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm. The 5-year-old mare was from Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm.

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Inside the numbers: Will a 1,000-yard receiver make or break the 2018 Redskins?

Inside the numbers: Will a 1,000-yard receiver make or break the 2018 Redskins?

In 2017, the Redskins missed the playoffs while no receiver went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Jamison Crowder led the team with 789 receiving yards.

In 2016, the Redskins missed the playoffs while two receivers went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Pierre Garçon gained 1,041 yards that year while DeSean Jackson posted 1,005 receiving yards. 

In 2015, the Redskins did make the playoffs. That season the team had no receivers go for 1,000 yards, though Jordan Reed got close with 952 receiving yards. 

Is there a lesson here? Is there a takeaway that can help to predict the 2018 season?

Going into this season, no Redskins wideout has ever accounted for 1,000 yards in a single season. In their career.

Former first-round pick Josh Doctson accounted for just more than 500 receiving yards last season, catching 35 of the 78 balls thrown his way.  Crowder was mostly productive, but there was an expectation, fair or not, he would make more of a jump in 2018 than he did. Jordan Reed hardly played. 

To help the group, the Redskins added Paul Richardson in free agency. Last year playing for the Seahawks, Richardson went for 703 yards on 44 catches. The speedster gives the Redskins a true downfield threat the team lacked in 2017, and that could help the whole offense. In fact, it better help the whole offense. 

Still, looking at a top three of Doctson, Crowder and Richardson, it's hard to confidently predict a 1,000-yard receiver from the bunch. 

Could it happen? Absolutely. Any of the three could pop to a four-digit total.

Would you put your own hard-earned cash on the line? That would take some guts. 

Though the Redskins have a new quarterback in Alex Smith, head coach Jay Gruden has been crystal clear the team is not in a rebuilding mode. Washington must win, now, this season, and a minimum goal should be a Wild Card playoff spot. 

How imperative is a 1,000-yard wide receiver to that goal? Let's look back at the past 12 NFC playoff teams. 

Only three of six NFL playoff teams in 2017 had a 1,000-yard wideout. The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles did not, but the Vikings, Saints and Falcons all did. 

In 2016, however, five of six playoff teams had 1,000-yard receivers. The only team that didn't, the Cowboys, deployed a heavy run offense that resulted in Ezekiel Elliott going for more than 1,600 rush yards. 

Added together, in the past two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver on their squad go at least four digits. 

One more note: the New England Patriots played in the last two Super Bowls, winning one and losing one. Both years they had at least one receiver get to 1,000 yards (Julian Edelman in 2016, Brandin Cooks in 2017). In 2017, tight end Rob Gronkowski broke the 1,000-yard mark too.

Again, what's the takeaway? Having a 1,000-yard receiver is certainly good, but it's not a must for a playoff berth or a deep playoff run. The Eagles proved that. 

On some teams, an elite wideout makes a huge difference. Watch Giants tape and it's clear what Odell Beckham does for the offense. Watch Falcons tape and Julio Jones does the same. 

On other teams, an elite quarterback makes a huge difference. Duh.  

Of the teams examined, the 2016 Packers came the closest to the 2017 Patriots with having two players go for over 1,000 yards.

2017 New England did it with Cooks (1,082) and Gronkowski (1,084), 2016 Green Bay almost got there with Jordy Nelson (1,257) and Davante Adams (997). 

While Gronkowski and Nelson are excellent players, the common denominator is obviously the elite play of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. 

For the 2018 Redskins, what does it mean?

The Redskins don't have an elite wideout like Jones or Beckham. The Redskins don't have an elite quarterback like Brady or Rodgers. 

The best path for Washington's offense might be balance, and trying to emulate the Eagles model from 2017. Carson Wentz played most of the season at an elite level, but he spread the ball around to a number of targets and leaned heavily on his tight ends. It helped that the Eagles ran the ball very well too. 

Could the 'Skins do something similar? Alex Smith is known to spread the ball around, and if Jordan Reed and Derrius Guice can produce this fall, the offenses might be similar. 

The answer can't be force enough balls to one wideout to ensure a 1,000 yard season. That won't work. 

There might be another way to consider. Of the three NFC teams that made the 2017 playoffs without a 1,000-yard wideout, two found a lot of success throwing to a running back.

The Panthers leading WR was Devin Funchess with 840 receiving yards. Their second best receiver? Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey. 

The Rams leading WR was Cooper Kupp with 869 receiving yards. Their second best receiver? Running back Todd Gurley.

See a pattern?

Before breaking his leg in November, Chris Thompson had more than 500 receiving yards. He still finished as the team's fourth-leading receiver despite playing only 10 games. 

The offensive path to playoff success for Washington might not hinge on a true 1,000-yard wideout like it does for many teams. Full, healthy seasons from Jordan Reed or Chris Thompson could make up for deficiencies at other skill positions. It also remains possible Doctson, Crowder or Richardson make the four digit leap. 

Having a 1,000-yard receiver seems like a nice option for a good offense, and that's proven by nearly 70 percent of recent NFC playoff teams. Still, other paths remain to the postseason, and increased production at tight end and running back can go a long way. 

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— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

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USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.

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