Redskins

Patriots' playoff newcomers eager to face Texans

Patriots' playoff newcomers eager to face Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Across nine years and five teams, Brandon Lloyd never played in the postseason.

Now, in his 10th season, his wait is finally over.

Lloyd is excited for his playoff debut Sunday in New England's divisional round game against the Houston Texans. Cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive end Trevor Scott also are looking forward to theirs after four non-playoff years each.

Since he was ``a kid, the ultimate goal is to play in the Super Bowl and the only way to get to the Super Bowl is to make it to the playoffs,'' Lloyd said. ``This is a step along the way to the ultimate goal for all of us. For all the teams that have entered the playoffs, this is just the beginning.''

The Patriots wide receiver was with the Washington Redskins when they got there in 2007 but missed the last eight regular-season games and a wild-card loss with a shoulder injury.

But he made a smart decision this offseason. The likelihood of making the playoffs with the Patriots contributed to his choice of signing as a free agent. There was a good chance that a team that had reached the postseason in nine of the past 11 years would get there again.

The San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams never got that far while Lloyd was there. So he had little interest in watching the playoffs while on vacation all those years.

``If it was on the television in the hotel lobby or something'' he might take a peek, he said.

Lloyd, Scott and Talib all are eager for their first playoff action, hoping it will end with a trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

``Their sense of urgency is there,'' said defensive back Devin McCourty, in the playoffs for the third time in his three NFL seasons. ``They understand that they've played `X' amount of years in this league. I know a guy like B-Lloyd can't wait to step on that field and play in the postseason. Usually there isn't much you have to say to those guys. They're gamers and they'll be ready to go.''

Scott spent his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders and never even had a winning record. He's contributed this season as a backup with three sacks in the past five games.

``It's pretty different. I'm definitely excited,'' he said. ``I'm just happy to be where I am now.''

Scott chose to sign with the Patriots as a free agent last March.

Talib had no choice. They acquired him on Nov. 1 in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he played his first game for the Patriots on Nov. 11 after completing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

``I never got a chance to participate in the postseason,'' he said. ``First chance, I'm definitely looking forward to it.''

He expects the intensity to be heightened but his nervousness to be minimal.

``I've never been in the postseason but I'm not a rookie,'' Talib said. ``So once we get out there and the game starts, it's still football.''

Daniel Fells has some sense of what the playoff newcomers are feeling. He was one of them until last season, his sixth as a pro, when the Broncos made it.

``Being in a situation where you hadn't made the playoffs, you kind of felt empty at the end of the year,'' the backup tight end said. ``You get a little bit of fulfillment finally making the playoffs, (but) ultimately there's a bigger goal in mind. You have the excitement going into it but you've still got to keep your eyes on the prize.''

His Super Bowl hopes ended last season on the field where he now plays his home games. The Patriots beat the Broncos 45-10 in the divisional round.

``Pretty ironic, right?'' Fells said. ``I did think about that a little bit when the phone call came. `Oh, yeah, this is the team that knocked us off,''' he said.

``But I'm happy to be here.''

Fells was inactive for all 16 games as an undrafted rookie with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 then was on the practice squads of the Raiders in 2007 and Buccaneers in 2008. He finally played in 2009 when he caught seven passes with St. Louis then totaled 62 over the next two years with the Rams.

But he had started only 11 games in his three seasons with St. Louis.

``It was an all-around situation for me going to Denver and being the starter out there as well as making the playoffs,'' Fells said. ``So I was able to check a couple of things off my list, but there's one big box that still needs to be filled.''

Belichick has filled that box three times, leading the Patriots to Super Bowl victories in the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.

``He's a great teacher,'' Lloyd said. ``The way that he teaches the game, it's almost like I'm not being coached, I'm actually being taught. That's been the part of this experience that has stuck out the most to me.''

Lloyd caught 74 passes for 911 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games. On Sunday, he'll play a 17th for the first time after all those years of finding something else to do.

``I'd be at the Sundance Film Festival, on my way to the Bahamas, all kind of different stuff,'' Lloyd said with a laugh.

But a win on Sunday would keep him - and the Patriots - on the road to New Orleans.

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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

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Tomas Satoransky set to enter unpredictable free agent market for point guards

Of the Wizards' players set to hit free agency on June 30, one who has a good chance to return is point guard Tomas Satoransky. He and center Thomas Bryant are atop the team's priority list with Bobby Portis likely too expensive and Jabari Parker set to enter the market unrestricted.

Satoransky will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards can match any offers made by other teams. And in talking to members of the Wizards' coaching staff and front office, they speak of Satoransky like he is part of their future.

Still, nothing can be assumed and especially in a year in which many teams have money to spend. As Kevin O'Connor of the Ringer noted this week, there is more cap room available this summer than the previous two combined. That could lead to 2016-level contracts where role players get paid like starters and average starters get paid like stars.

What will make Satoransky's market interesting, though, is the fact there are some much bigger names available at his position. At point guard, teams with the most money can go after All-Stars like Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and D'Angelo Russell. There is then a robust second tier that includes Malcolm Brogdon, Terry Rozier and Ricky Rubio. Then you have Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, Patrick Beverley, Darren Collison and Rajon Rondo.

It is a great year to be a free agent, but maybe not the best year to be a free agent point guard. The position class is absolutely loaded.

Satoransky, though, will still draw plenty of interest and among the teams expected to check in on him are the Mavericks, Pacers, Magic and Celtics, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Celtics have already been tied to Satoransky by Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. But they also have their sights set on some of the bigger fish at point guard with rumors linking them to Walker, in particular.

The Utah Jazz were also set to pursue Satoransky, but their trade for Mike Conley Jr. has taken them off the list. The Phoenix Suns could also emerge as a suitor, though they are being linked to higher profile free agents at this point.

Both the Wizards and Satoransky expressed interest in a contract extension midway through the 2018-19 season, as NBC Sports Washington reported, but those talks didn't get much further. The Wizards ended up putting a lot of things on hold once they drifted out of the playoff race and ultimately fired team president Ernie Grunfeld.

With senior vice president Tommy Sheppard serving in the interim, though, Satoransky has a big proponent calling the shots in the Wizards front office. Sheppard scouted Satoransky before the Wizards drafted him and was key in convincing him to leave Europe for the NBA.

Satoransky likes playing in Washington and recognizes an opportunity at point guard with John Wall set to miss most of next season due to Achilles surgery. But he also recognizes this as a chance to earn the biggest payday of his career.

How much money Satoransky will ultimately receive is hard to predict. Those in his camp are apprehensive to throw numbers out there because even they aren't sure.

One potential comparison could be Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who makes just over $9 million per year. Though VanVleet is arguably better, Satoransky is hitting the market with more money to go around. 

Many have tried to project Satoransky's market in the past few months. Soon we will find out just how valuable he is.

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