Nationals

Osweiler: Nothing better than being Peyton's No. 2

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Osweiler: Nothing better than being Peyton's No. 2

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) All eyes were on Peyton Manning this season, especially Brock Osweiler's.

He's the Denver Broncos' OTHER first-year quarterback, a 6-foot-8 passing project from Arizona State who's the first signal-caller ever drafted with the intention of one day succeeding the league's most decorated passer.

Osweiler bears a striking resemblance to ``Twilight'' actor Robert Pattinson, but what he really wants is to look more like Manning.

So, he's taken advantage of his apprenticeship by watching Manning's every move, scribbling copious notes and mimicking his mentor's notorious work ethic and preparation.

``There's no greater blueprint,'' said Osweiler, who also hopes to pick up some pointers from another pre-eminent passer this offseason in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who waited in the wings for three years behind Brett Favre.

Osweiler said he's thrilled to be in Manning's shadow and insists he'll gladly bide his time while learning as much as he can from one of the game's greats.

Still, he says he's ready if needed.

``With my experience that I took being the backup at ASU, I understand what it's like to be thrown into the middle of a game,'' Osweiler said. ``So, I just study that game plan inside and out and prepare like I'm the starter so if anything ever did happen, I'm ready to go.''

If, heaven forbid, something should happen in the playoffs to the league's only four-time MVP, the next man up is a guy who's thrown all of four passes as a pro.

All of those throws came Sunday when Osweiler played the fourth quarter of Denver's 38-3 blowout of Kansas City, his fifth NFL game but the first in which he didn't just hand the ball off or line up in victory formation.

Osweiler, who handed off a dozen times before taking a knee three times, completed two passes for 12 yards in his three series of work Sunday.

``I'm not just here to hand off,'' he said.

Or take a knee, although he admits he's getting pretty good at that.

``I've got it down to where I'm taking only 1-yard losses,'' he joked. ``At first, I was taking 2-yard losses.''

All kidding aside, ``those are game reps and those are hard to come by,'' said Osweiler, who knows he might be called upon at some point to make sure Denver's Super Bowl aspirations aren't derailed.

Nobody, not even Osweiler himself, knows how he would handle the playoff pressure.

``I have confidence in how he prepares, I have confidence in how he conducts himself in meetings. I have confidence in how he conducts himself in this locker room, on this field,'' John Fox said. ``But as a coach, until you see a guy play live in a game, you don't know. That's not any kind of indictment, by any stretch. But until he gets out there and you watch him operate, you won't know. And neither will he, really.''

Osweiler takes no offense.

``Throughout the season I've made a great point to study the game plan each week inside and out so if anything did happen to him they could dial up whatever play they needed to and we wouldn't skip a beat. Now, would that happen? Shoot, we would only know if I get thrown into that situation,'' Osweiler said.

As Manning's backup, Osweiler only gets a handful of throws each week at practice, but he does get to pick the perfectionist's brain while Caleb Hanie runs the scout team. Osweiler doesn't just stay on the sideline, either; he stands behind the offense ``so I can try to see what Peyton's seeing and I use that as a mental rep and put myself through the play.''

Manning quickly answered all questions about his arm strength after missing all of last season while dealing with a nerve issue in his neck, putting up numbers this season worthy of a fifth MVP award while guiding the Broncos (13-3) to the top seed in the AFC.

He's also taken time to tutor Osweiler, who's almost 15 years his junior.

``I've always tried to choose the right time to ask it because he's very busy with very important things, but he's been more than happy to help me out,'' Osweiler said. ``There's even times where in a meeting he'll pause the tape and be like, `Hey, Brock,' and get my attention and point something out to me. And that's obviously not something that a lot of quarterbacks do, if any. And for him to take the time and do that is pretty special.''

Broncos boss John Elway loved Osweiler's size, strength and spunk and used a second-round pick on him last April after the tall passer threw for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns in his one season as the Sun Devils' starter in 2011.

Had he stayed in school for his senior season, Osweiler, who turned 22 last month, might have been a top-10 pick in this upcoming draft, which is light on marquee quarterbacks.

``To be honest, I haven't really looked back,'' Osweiler said. ``Obviously during the fall I would turn on an ASU game and wonder what would be taking place if I was the guy behind center, but you know, I'm a big believer in no regrets in life and just keep pushing forward.

``And so with me coming to Denver, I've been completely blessed in being put in such a great situation. This has been a huge year for me. And I'm extremely happy with where I'm at.''

Osweiler didn't throw overhand all the time at ASU, sometimes dropping his right elbow below his shoulder and winging it out a bit, which negated his height advantage over the Pac-12's pass-rushers.

So, after deciding to forgo his senior season in a new system under a new coaching staff, he went to work last spring with UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who was his offensive coordinator in college, to fix flaws in his passing game.

His education really ramped up when he started dissecting Manning's every move.

``I've learned so many things this football season that I wouldn't have if I'd stayed in school,'' said Osweiler, adding that deep down, he's sure ``it's a situation I think a lot of quarterbacks would do almost anything to have. I recognize that and that's why I try to soak it up every day.''

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Nationals fall to Mets as postseason chances continue to slip away

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USA Today Sports

Nationals fall to Mets as postseason chances continue to slip away

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jacob deGrom turned in a record 23rd consecutive quality start, lowered his ERA to 1.77 and boosted his record to .500 as he bids to earn the NL Cy Young Award, allowing one run in seven innings to help the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday night.

Throwing fastballs in the 97-99 mph range, deGrom (9-9) struck out eight and walked one while allowing just one run and three hits, all singles. Bob Gibson (in 1968) and Chris Carpenter (2005) each had single-season runs of 22 quality starts, the previous major league mark.

The right-handed deGrom has given up as many as four earned runs in only one of his 31 starts in 2018, back on April 10 against Miami. He's now up to 28 in a row allowing three runs or fewer, the longest single-season streak in major league history.

So this game was pretty much wrapped up by the third inning, which ended with the Mets ahead 4-1. Jay Bruce had two run-scoring hits, and Devin Mesoraco and Dominic Smith also delivered RBIs, all off Joe Ross (0-1).

Robert Gsellman worked around Anthony Rendon's RBI single in the ninth for his 12th save.

Washington began the day in danger of being officially eliminated from contention in the NL East, which it won the past two seasons under then-manager Dusty Baker. A loss by the Nationals plus a victory by the Braves would end any chance Washington has of catching Atlanta.

DeGrom is locked in what's considered a tight race for Cy Young honors -- and perhaps league MVP consideration, too -- with Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who is 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Scherzer has won the past two Cy Young Awards in the NL, plus one in the AL when he played for the Detroit Tigers.

In the Mets' 5-4 victory in 12 innings Thursday, Scherzer gave up three runs in seven innings and struck out 13.

Entering Friday, deGrom boasted a majors-leading 1.78 ERA, 251 Ks and 45 walks, and ranked No. 1 in various other categories.

"I think that it says a lot about who he is as a worker. I think it says a lot about who he is as a competitor," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He tends to step it up when it matters the most, and this is probably mattering the most out of all his starts, and he continues to pitch just as dominant as he was before. That's the definition of a true ace."

DeGrom looked good from the outset, striking out leadoff hitter Victor Robles with a 98 mph fastball, then getting Bryce Harper to swing through a 99 mph offering to end the first inning. Harper missed a 93 mph slider to strike out again in the fourth, then grounded out on a chopper fielded by deGrom in the sixth.

Washington's only run off deGrom came on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly on a ball hit to the warning track in deep center field in the second.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: Mesoraco hadn't played since leaving a game Sept. 3 because of a bulging disk in his back. He was 3 for 3 with a walk.

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in five games, because of what manager Dave Martinez said was a sore and stiff left knee, the one surgically repaired last season.

WE'RE GOING STREAKING!

Nationals 3B Rendon's second-inning walk extended his streak of reaching base safely to a career-best 29 games; he came around to score.

UP NEXT

RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.31 ERA) will start for the Mets on Saturday, while the Nationals wouldn't commit to a starting pitcher before Friday's game.

 

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3 players who impressed in the Capitals’ preseason loss to Carolina

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USA Today Sports

3 players who impressed in the Capitals’ preseason loss to Carolina

It was another rough start for the Capitals who not only have lost every preseason game they have played, but have still yet to hold a lead. Washington was only able to put one goal past the Carolina Hurricanes as a 3-1 first period deficit gave way to a 5-1 loss.

Despite the ugly result, however, there were some bright spots. Here are the players who impressed.

Liam O’Brien

In an era where everyone is trying to get faster, it really can make the physical players stand out. O’Brien certainly stood out on Friday and looked like the Caps’ best player. He threw his body around against the Hurricanes, but he wasn’t reckless either. O’Brien’s physicality opened up offense for his line. He finished the game with four hits, but also had six total shot attempts, three of which were on net.

At 24, it is critical for O’Brien to show he still has something to offer at the NHL level as the team adds more and more young prospects. He is unlikely to make the roster, but he is certainly making a case for a call-up this season.

Aaron Ness

Ness had the play of the night for the Capitals with his assist in the first period. He took a pass at the blue line and found some room to work in front of him. He skated up, drew the defense in with a head fake and fed Nicklas Backstrom with the no-look pass. Backstrom netted the easy goal against the fooled Petr Mrazek.

Ness made the Caps out of camp last season and played eight games with the NHL squad. If the Caps are in need of a defenseman for a long-term call-up, some of the prospects are more likely to get the nod over Ness, but he remains a viable call-up for short-term spot duty.

Ilya Samsonov

In the first game of the Prospects Showcase tournament earlier this month, Samsonov had a shaky outing allowing five goals. He followed that game with a 21-save shutout in his second start of the tournament. In his first preseason contest on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, Samsonov allowed two goals on 11 shots and never really looked comfortable. On Friday, however, Samsonov came on for the third period and turned aside six of the seven shots he faced. The lone goal he allowed came on the power play as Valentin Zykov knocked the puck out of a scrum in front of the net to Jaccob Slavin on the back door.

The quick improvement from game to game from Samsonov has been impressive and he looked much more comfortable in net in his second preseason appearance.

Madison Bowey’s pants

Way to block that shot.

 

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