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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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.