Redskins

NFL hopes to deter players from faking injuries

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NFL hopes to deter players from faking injuries

When Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders suddenly dropped to the turf late in the fourth quarter, was helped to the sideline, returned after missing one play, then managed to be the first player down the field on punt coverage, announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth let NBC's audience know their feelings.

``Man,'' Michaels said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, ``I'm sure glad Sanders is OK.''

In a similar tone, Collinsworth chimed in: ``It's a miracle.''

Both chuckled. More guffaws and hearty mocking of Sanders came from ESPN's talking heads on a ``C'mon Man!'' segment a couple of days later.

Safe to say the NFL doesn't consider this a laughing matter: The league told Sanders it wants to chat about what happened in that Sunday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. When a reporter asked Sanders this week whether he really had a cramp against the Bengals, he didn't answer directly, saying: ``We're going to speak on it when we get to New York.''

At least one of the Bengals, safety Chris Crocker, was hardly bothered by the tactic.

```If you're not cheating, you're not trying,' I guess, is the old saying,'' Crocker said. ``So if you can slow the game down, why not?''

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis didn't really want to touch the topic, other than to say he thinks ``it's generally a rare occasion.''

All 32 teams' general managers and head coaches were sent a memo back in September by Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, reminding them, ``The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty. Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice.''

The league could fine coaches, players or clubs - or it could decide to take away draft picks. No one has been punished yet for faking an injury.

According to the memo, the ``Competition Committee has reviewed this issue several times, but has been reluctant to propose a specific rule, since assessing a charged timeout for every injury timeout would deprive a team of timeouts for strategic purposes. It also could encourage injured players to remain in the game at risk to themselves to avoid incurring a charged team timeout.''

It's a football strategy that's been around for years, in college and the pros: A player fakes an injury, stopping the clock - maybe it saves a timeout; maybe it slows an opponent's no-huddle offense.

As a receiver with the Bengals in the 1980s, Collinsworth grew accustomed to seeing opposing defenses have players pretend to be hurt.

``It would almost get to where you would laugh about it. It was ridiculous,'' he said in a telephone interview. ``Everybody on the field - including the referees - knew what they were doing.''

There have been other such episodes this fall, including when Washington Redskins defensive lineman Kedric Golston mysteriously went down on a play against a no-huddle offense, then came back in the game. In college, Wyoming coach Dave Christensen chewed out Air Force coach Troy Calhoun - earning a suspension and fine - after the Falcons' backup quarterback came in and ran for the winning score in place of a starter who went down on the field, saving a timeout.

Similar situations arise every so often. Last season, for example, the St. Louis Rams thought a New York Giants player faked an injury to slow down their offense. In college, after California limited high-octane Oregon to 15 points in 2010, Cal defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was suspended for a game after acknowledging he instructed a player to fake an injury.

There doesn't really appear a way to prevent it.

``Referees certainly don't want that burden of having to determine who's healthy and who's not. They're having a hard enough time with the concussion issue right now. And really, on almost any play, when you get right down to it, you could lie on the ground and say you have a concussion, and who the heck is going to say anything to that? So as long as teams are willing to do it, there's nothing really that I know of that can stop them,'' Collinsworth said.

``The only way you're ever going to get around it is in cases that appear to be fairly obvious,'' he said. ``You fine the teams an escalating amount of money and find out just how valuable those timeouts really are. You get a $100,000 fine for faking an injury, you're probably not going to take any more of those fake timeouts.''

Whether or not Sanders really was dealing with debilitating cramps, he caught the league's attention.

``It was fairly obvious what was going on,'' Collinsworth said. ``Every team has a signal: `Time to fake an injury.' And why not?''

The AP spoke to a handful of players around the league who said their team doesn't have such a signal - but players also indicated they didn't think that sort of formal instruction was necessary.

``Some guys are smart and just know when to do it,'' Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said.

``Everybody does it,'' Alexander added, ``so it's not like, `Aw, they're cheating.'''

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AP Sports Writers Will Graves, Joe Kay and Joseph White, AP National Writer Eddie Pells and AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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