New surroundings for Rams tackle Barksdale


New surroundings for Rams tackle Barksdale

LONDON (AP) Joe Barksdale is finding himself in a lot of new situations these days.

The second-year tackle is with a new team, learning a new offense - and doing it in a different country.

Barksdale was picked up off waivers by the rebuilding St. Louis Rams last month after being dropped by Oakland, and was given his first career NFL start last weekend in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.

As if that wasn't enough of a whirlwind, he then had to hop on a trans-Atlantic flight with his teammates to London, where they'll face the New England Patriots at Wembley on Sunday.

``Hey, it's never a dull moment,'' Barksdale said, looking around at the lush surroundings at the luxury resort the team stayed at this week outside the British capital.

This is no time for the Rams to be tourists, though - and that may be especially true for Barksdale, who was already doing his best to get used to new surroundings even before the London trip.

``All I can do is pretty much roll with the punches,'' he said. ``Study as much as I can, as often as I can, rest when I can. Get ready to perform when I have to.''

He performed quite well last weekend, as Barksdale and guard Shelley Smith - another newcomer who made his first start - helped limit the Packers to three sacks.

``I thought those guys did a great job,'' quarterback Sam Bradford said. ``It's not easy to come in and play against Green Bay, who going into last week was No. 1 in the league in sacks. They got put in on a short notice, but I thought they handled everything extremely well and played at a high level.''

And the whole travel part is just an added bonus for Barksdale. The Rams signed up last year to go to London for the sixth annual regular-season game to be played at Wembley Stadium, and Barksdale is happy to be along for the ride.

``I've always wanted to come to London,'' he said. ``So I was definitely excited when I found out we'd be coming to London. But I'm just thankful for the opportunity, and that football has (allowed) me to be able to go so many places and experience some new things.''

The Rams might be an easy team to fit into these days with all the new faces this season. St. Louis has 14 rookies on the active roster but coach Jeff Fisher - also in his first year with the Rams - has found a way to fit all the new pieces together. The 3-4 Rams have already exceeded their win total from last season, when they were tied for the league's worst record at 2-14.

``We're not opposed to changing this roster on a weekly basis if we get an opportunity,'' Fisher said. ``We did so last week, we made another move by bringing in (guard) Chris Williams, who was released by the Bears. The building process is ongoing.''

Fisher sees the offensive line as one of the keys against the Patriots, knowing his team will need to establish an effective run game to extend their possessions and keep Tom Brady and the explosive New England offense off the field.

According to running back Steven Jackson, Barksdale and Smith are up to the task.

``It's only been one week, but for them to come in and learn the offense relatively fast, they've done a great job,'' Jackson said. ``Both guys are very athletic, pretty sound in what they're doing with their feet and their hands, and they have another tough challenge against this New England defense.''

Barksdale certainly could have asked for an easier opponent as he continues to learn a new system. But he's not about to.

``It's the NFL,'' he said. ``No game is easy.''

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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-AnalysisFive Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler


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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!