Nationals

Palmer: Raiders need to stick with run

Palmer: Raiders need to stick with run

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Quarterback Carson Palmer is convinced the Oakland Raiders are doing the right thing by sticking with the running game, even though they have the worst ground game in the NFL this season.

With a running back like Darren McFadden to hand the ball to, Palmer says the Raiders would be foolish to do otherwise.

``Running the ball is what we want to do,'' Palmer said Wednesday. ``Obviously we want to do it better than we have and that's why we continue to work at it. But it's what gets the play-action game going, it's what gets explosive plays because Darren can score from anywhere.''

It makes even more sense this week facing an Atlanta defense that has struggled defending the run but has been sharp against the pass. The Falcons already have nine interceptions, second-most in the NFL behind the Chicago Bears.

Palmer is on pace for career highs in attempts, completions and yards passing but the big numbers haven't translated into wins. The Raiders are 1-3 coming off the bye heading into Sunday's game against the undefeated Falcons.

McFadden, who was supposed to be the centerpiece of Oakland's offense, has been a disappointment and the team's zone blocking schemes have been heavily criticized by fans and the media.

The fourth overall pick in 2008, McFadden missed 19 games over his first four season due to injuries but has had no health issues this year. Yet he's had just one 100-yard game this season and was held to under 35 in each of the other three. McFadden's 3.5 yards per carry are also 1.3 below his career mark heading into the year.

Overall, the Raiders are last in the NFL at 60.8 yards a game.

``It may not look it statistically but we talk about run game efficiency,'' Palmer said. ``I know a lot of people outside of this facility are discouraged in our run game but we're not going to stop running the football. If anything we're going to run (it) more. That puts the ball in our best player's hand.''

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said the Raiders made a few changes to the running game during the bye week in hopes of taking advantage of Atlanta's problems against the run.

The Falcons are giving up nearly 143 yards rushing per game and are 27th overall against the run.

``You can't throw everything out and just start over in the middle of the year,'' Allen said. ``There have been a few tweaks, a few emphasis points but nothing like a drastic change other than we've got to execute better. We'll see what it looks like when we play on Sunday.''

The lack of production from the ground game has forced Palmer and the passing game to pick up the slack. Statistically, at least, he has.

Palmer has completed 99 of 162 attempts for 1,081 yards in four games, with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

It should help that the Raiders' banged up receiving corps is starting to get healthy. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, the projected starters coming out of training camp, are expected to be in the lineup together in Atlanta for just the second time this year.

Heyward-Bey returns three weeks after sustaining a concussion and neck strain after being knocked unconscious by a helmet-to-chin hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Mundy.

``He caught the ball really well today,'' Palmer said. ``There wasn't one instance in practice or in meetings where he seemed a little foggy at all. That's always the issue. It's time. With the work we got in last week and this week we hope to really kind of take off with those two guys on the outside.''

Notes: Tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring), cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) and right tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) were held out of practice. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (groin) and defensive tackles Tommy Kelly (foot) and Richard Seymour (knee) were limited.

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the two games against the Eagles. 

Week 13 December 3 (Monday night), Lincoln Financial Field

Week 17, December 30, FedEx Field

2017 Eagles: 13-3, First in NFC East, Super Bowl champions 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 10.5

Early line: Week 13, Redskins +7.5; No lines established for Week 17

Key additions: DE Michael Bennett, WR Mike Wallace

Key losses: DE Vinny Curry, WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, DT Beau Allen

Notable: Quarterback Carson Wentz is aiming to be ready for Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL late in the season.  

Biggest questions: 

  • If Wentz isn’t ready, the Eagles have Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles ready. Is the real Foles the one who has been a journeyman or the one who starred in the playoffs? And will Wentz continue the freewheeling style that helped make him successful after the injury?
  • After winning Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, will the Eagles suffer from a hangover? 

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 82-75-6; the Eagles won both meetings last year after Washington had won five straight. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1937, Griffith Stadium — With the Redskins trailing 7-0, rookie Sammy Baugh twice led the Redskins deep into Eagle territory. Washington couldn’t push it across the goal line either time, though, and Philly got out with a 14-0 win.

The last time: October 23, 2017, Lincoln Financial Field — The Redskins took a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter, but Wentz and the Eagles took over after that, scoring 21 unanswered points. The Redskins got it back within a touchdown and on a third and eight play early in the fourth quarter, it looked like they had Wentz sacked. However, he scrambled out of trouble and ran for the first down. That drive ended with a touchdown pass and Philly went on to win 34-24.

The best time: January 5, 1991, Veterans Stadium — After getting pummeled by the Eagles in the Body Bag Game (see “The worst time” below), the Redskins qualified for the playoffs and got their shot at revenge. The seedings called for the Redskins to return to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest.

A near turnover that wasn't was the game's turning point. The Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball popped loose from Earnest Byner's grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia six. CB Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an apparent TD. 

Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short FG and instead of a six-point deficit, the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles' offense never could get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.

The worst time: November 12, 1990, Veterans Stadium — As the Redskins went into 1990, the core players on the team, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Don Warren, and Monte Coleman, were on or approaching the over the hill side of 30.  The team had gone from Super Bowl Champs in 1987 to a losing record in ’88 to out of the playoffs again in ’89. They were facing their last stand as they went into The Vet for a November Monday night game.

This one became known as "The Body Bag Game". Five Redskins had to be carted off of the field as Buddy Ryan's team knocked a total of nine out of the game, including both of the active QB's. The carnage induced one Eagle to yell, "Do you guys need any more body bags?'' as yet another injured Redskin was lying on the turf. The Eagles and Ryan taunted the Redskins after the game, a 28-14 Philadelphia win that was not nearly that close.

Redskins schedule series

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