Redskins

Pats QB Brady readies for loud crowd at Wembley

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Pats QB Brady readies for loud crowd at Wembley

LONDON (AP) With the experience of playing in London still fresh in his mind, Tom Brady has been focusing on some special preparations for his return to the British capital.

The New England Patriots (4-3) will play a regular-season game in London for the second time in four years on Sunday when they face the St. Louis Rams (3-4) at Wembley Stadium, the iconic venue that is the home of England's national soccer team.

``It was loud last time,'' Brady said Friday, remembering back to 2009 when the Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 in the NFL's annual trip across the pond. ``You never really know when they're going to be cheering, so you got to prepare for both without crowd noise and with crowd noise.''

A sellout crowd of more than 80,000 is expected for the sixth NFL regular-season game at Wembley.

The Patriots arrived in London on Friday morning, three days after the Rams made their way over to Britain. Although they did not schedule a practice session for Friday afternoon, coach Bill Belichick said the team still had a lot of work to do.

``We'll get done what we feel like we can get done,'' Belichick said. ``Today is kind of a transition day for us.

``Normally it's the middle of the night for us. But it's not, it's early in the morning. So try to spend the day as the day and then sleep the night and hopefully tomorrow our body clocks will be back on normal schedule.''

New England's three losses this season have been by a combined four points, but two of them came against NFC West opponents - the same division the Rams play in.

Last week, the Patriots beat the visiting New York Jets 29-26 in overtime.

For Brady, the key this weekend will be trying to keep things as normal as possible.

``The most important thing is using these next few days to prepare and not necessarily get distracted by all the different things that you could possibly go out and do,'' Brady said. ``It's not like this is a vacation.''

Not only is this a work trip, it's an important one.

``You look at this game as a very critical point in our season. If we can just get to 5-3, we feel like we're at a decent point,'' Brady said, looking ahead to next week's bye. ``You can move forward with mental toughness and play Patriot football.''

Belichick is also all about the work at hand.

When asked by local media about football's impact overseas, the Patriots coach was less than eager to get involved in the discussion, saying ``I have no idea.'' A few minutes later, he was asked about racism in soccer, which has been a hot topic in Britain over the last year with several high-profile cases.

``I don't know anything about the soccer league here,'' Belichick said in his usual monotone voice.

How about having a full-time NFL franchise based in London?

``Yeah, I'm not really sure,'' Belichick said. ``I'm just trying to coach a team that I'm on. And I don't really know about all the rest of it.''

But if you want to talk football - or American football, at least - you'll get plenty about Sunday's game, even if it's not exactly incisive.

``The Rams present a lot of issues. They're very good defensively, fast, good pass rush team, good coverage team, got a lot of good corners,'' Belichick said. ``Offensively, running backs are very talented ... they got explosive receivers, good kicking game, good punter, good kicker, good returner. They're good in every area of the game.''

This weekend's NFL game will be the first in London since the city hosted the 2012 Olympics. Wembley Stadium was used for some soccer matches, including the men's and women's gold-medal games, while the adjacent Wembley Arena hosted badminton and rhythmic gymnastics.

Brady said he watched the London Games on TV, but he was somewhat stumped when asked what Olympic sport would suit him best.

``I'm not the most athletic person in the world,'' Brady said, ``but I got a decent arm so it works for me as an NFL quarterback.''

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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 tying them to Walker, in particular.

The Utah Jazz were also expected 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. He wants a long-term deal and his fit in the rotation is a big consideration, according to someone familiar with his plans.

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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