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Panthers break 5-game skid, top Redskins 21-13

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Panthers break 5-game skid, top Redskins 21-13

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) After Robert Griffin III was buried in a pile near the goal line, Cam Newton took over and led a 98-yard drive - bloody thumb and all.

His abilities as a leader in question and his team in desperate need of positive morale - not to mention a win - Newton got the better of the first NFL matchup between the last two Heisman Trophy winners Sunday as the Carolina Panthers broke a five-game losing streak, beating the penalty-prone Washington Redskins 21-13.

Newton threw for 201 yards and ran for 37. DeAngelo Williams, dealing with a recent demotion to second-string, tiptoed down the sideline for a 30-yard score - his longest run of the season - and Steve Smith hauled in his first touchdown catch of 2012.

The Panthers (2-6) held Griffin and the Redskins (3-6) to long drives that were short on points in a game that Washington coach Mike Shanahan had declared a ``must-win.''

Newton ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown and completed 13 of 23 passes, including a 17-yarder to Greg Olsen and the 19-yard toss to Smith on the game's turnaround drive in the second quarter.

Griffin had been stopped for no gain trying to run wide on fourth down with the Redskins trailing 7-3, and the Panthers responded by marching downfield, aided by personal foul and pass interference penalties, to take an 11-point at halftime. Newton's thumb was bleeding during the drive, and he stained his white uniform as he kept wiping the thumb on his pants.

This marks the second straight season the Panthers have pulled themselves out of the doldrums with a win over the Redskins. Last year they snapped a three-game losing streak; this year they came in demoralized by four consecutive losses by a total of 12 points, a skid that had players questioning whether the team had any leadership.

Newton, as usual, took a seat on the bench with a towel over his head after every drive Sunday, but this time no one mistook it for a scene of dejection.

Griffin completed 23 of 39 passes for 215 yards, ran 11 times for 53 yards and was sacked four times as the Redskins lost their third straight. His failed fourth-and-goal run ended a drive that lasted 10 minutes, 11 seconds - with no points to show for it.

Shanahan declared this week that the second half of the season was the time when players need to ``step up or shut up.'' Instead, his team was shut down and undisciplined. The Redskins entered the game as the most-penalized team in the NFL - a particular point of embarrassment to the coach - and they added 13 more infractions for 97 yards against the Panthers. The flags included two pass interference calls on Josh Wilson, a roughing-the-passer whistle on London Fletcher and a holding call on Will Montgomery that negated a touchdown run by Griffin.

The Redskins cut the deficit to 14-6 with a field goal in the third quarter, but the worst pass defense in the league yielded another big play to put the Panthers firmly in command once again. On first down at the 9-yard line, Newtown hit Armanti Edwards for an 82-yard pass - Edwards' second career reception. Newton capped with drive with a 1-yard run to give Carolina a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Washington's only touchdown came on Evan Royster's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:28 remaining.

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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USA Today Sports Images

Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

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Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game 

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series