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Palmer headed back to Cincy for awkward reunion

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Palmer headed back to Cincy for awkward reunion

CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton has never spoken to Carson Palmer, the quarterback he replaced last year. Coach Marvin Lewis has limited his interaction with the former franchise player to a few texts.

None of the Bengals has stayed in close contact with Palmer since they parted ways a little more than a year ago. And there's not a whole lot to say about their slightly awkward reunion Sunday.

The Raiders (3-7) are coming to Paul Brown Stadium with the quarterback who led the Bengals (5-5) to some of their best moments of the past 20 years, then decided he wanted out because he was worn out.

Palmer is looking forward to his first visit to the area since the Bengals finished 4-12 in the 2010 season, prompting him to demand a trade.

``I'm excited,'' he said during a 23-minute conference call with Cincinnati writers on Wednesday. ``One of my favorite stadiums to play in, great atmosphere, beautiful stadium. Obviously, with the past it adds a little bit on it. They need a win, we need a win. It's a big game for both sides.

``I expect it to be loud and extremely electric. I'm not exactly expecting a welcome back.''

For the Bengals, it's less about Palmer and more about the playoffs. They've played their best games of the season back-to-back, leaving them one game out in the wild card race. That makes it much easier to focus on something other than the notable visitor.

``We moved on past the Carson situation a while back,'' safety Chris Crocker said. ``It's really about who's next, and the Oakland Raiders are the next team up. I'm sure the Raiders are going to come in and here and be jacked and be excited to play.

``Really it's not about him this week.''

Not even a little?

``It's not just talk, it's really the truth,'' left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ``Nobody has talked about it.''

The community doesn't seem all that interested in it, either. The Bengals hadn't sold out the game by midweek. The fans that do show up can be expected to boo the quarterback who brought hope to one of the NFL's worst franchises - three winning records in the last 21 years - before deciding he needed out.

``Just a culmination of things,'' Palmer said Wednesday. ``Some things that I had learned that ownership ... Just some things that built up over time and it was just time for a change.''

Asked to complete the sentence about ownership's plans, Palmer said, ``No, I'm not going to go into that.''

He told the media in Oakland on Wednesday that his former teammates understood.

``I think that anybody that's ever played for that ownership knows what I was doing and why I was doing it,'' Palmer said.

His standoff with owner Mike Brown ended when Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone midway through last season and Oakland offered a first-round and a conditional second-round pick. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson - a former Bengals assistant who scouted Palmer in high school - strongly supported the move.

Jackson was fired after an 8-8 finish in Oakland. He came back to the Bengals as an assistant coach for special teams and defensive backs. He's trying not to get wrapped up in his reunion week.

``Honestly, it's really another football game,'' Jackson said after practice. ``For me, it is. It has to be. You can't get caught up in the emotional part of it because that's not what this is about.''

Dalton has managed to avoid the drama, too.

Knowing that Palmer had threatened to hold out, the Bengals took Dalton in the second round of the 2011 draft and installed him as the starter. When Dalton looked good at the start of the season, the Bengals became open to trading Palmer.

One advantage to how it worked out: Palmer's status wasn't a distraction to Dalton because he was never around.

``Everything's worked out,'' said Dalton, who led the Bengals to the playoffs with a 9-7 record and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. ``For me, it's perfect. I got to play all last year, got to start and didn't have to worry about all that stuff.''

Notes: CB Adam ``Pacman'' Jones (calf) and WR Andrew Hawkins (knee) didn't practice on Wednesday. Hawkins missed the win over Kansas City on Sunday with his injury, sustained during practice. ... C Jeff Faine was limited in practice by a hamstring injury. S Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and CB Terence Newman (concussion) practiced fully.

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Moses, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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 @TandlerNBCS.