Redskins

Pistons open at home vs. Houston

Pistons open at home vs. Houston

DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Pistons wrapped up their preseason last week with an impressive win over Atlanta.

Now, the slate is wiped clean.

Detroit hosts the Houston Rockets in Wednesday night's season opener, which the Pistons hope will be the start of a season that returns them to relevance in the Eastern Conference. Detroit started 4-20 in last year's lockout-shortened season but went 21-21 after that. The Pistons are hoping to make a run at a playoff berth this season behind young big man Greg Monroe.

``We obviously have a lot of work to do,'' coach Lawrence Frank said. ``You always have to be real, you can't get a false sense of what it is and we have a lot of work to do.''

That comment came after a 104-88 win over the Hawks in the preseason finale, a game that will be pretty well forgotten by the time the Pistons and Rockets finish up Wednesday night. Frank is in his second season as Detroit's coach. He had a more normal preseason this time around, with no labor dispute to shake up the league.

``What I'm pleased about is that I like our spirit, and I like our group,'' Frank said. ``I like the fact that our guys support each other, and the fact that our guys know that we have a lot of things to work on to get better, and they're willing to do it.''

First-round draft pick Andre Drummond, taken by the Pistons to help support Monroe around the basket, had 13 points and 10 rebounds in that last exhibition game, playing extended minutes with the starters.

``We play well together,'' Monroe said. ``As we get more comfortable playing with each other, I think we will make a good pair.''

Point guard Brandon Knight showed promise last season as a rookie, and he'll face an interesting matchup right from the start against Houston's Jeremy Lin. The Rockets also acquired James Harden from Oklahoma City recently after the Thunder were unable to work out a contract extension with the NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Monroe enters his third season looking like a potential star. He averaged 15.4 points per game in 2011-12 and is already a smart, polished offensive player.

Rodney Stuckey can provide scoring punch from the backcourt, and Tayshaun Prince is the last remaining on-court link to Detroit's championship team of 2004.

The Pistons haven't made the playoffs since 2009.

``We have a long way to go,'' Monroe said. ``I definitely think we are a good basketball team. I don't think we've reached our full potential yet, and there are some places we can get better. ... We need to focus on one game at a time instead of thinking about the long term or making predictions.''

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Recent Redskins roster decisions at WR, RB baffling in light of Simmie Cobbs departure

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USA Today Sports

Recent Redskins roster decisions at WR, RB baffling in light of Simmie Cobbs departure

The Redskins lost practice squad wide receiver Simmie Cobbs this week after the New Orleans Saints claimed the undrafted rookie. 

On its own, that's not major news. Cobbs showed promise in training camp and many around Redskins Park believe he has made a lot of progress working on the scout team this fall. 

Losing practice squad players happens, but the circumstances around Cobbs' departure are unique. For starters, the Redskins tried to keep Cobbs, but he decided to leave for New Orleans anyway.

On the surface, that move is obvious: Play with Drew Brees on a Super Bowl contender or play with a fourth-string QB on a team riding a four-game losing streak. 

Dig deeper, however, and it's not that simple. None of this is. 

Cobbs chose to go to a new team and a new city rather than the squad that signed him out of Indiana University.

Cobbs chose to learn a new playbook and new terminology with just three weeks remaining in the regular season rather than play in the offense he knows and has been practicing since May. 

As Cobbs explained, it bothered him that the Redskins did not want to sign him until New Orleans made a move. He called it a "no-brainer" to go to New Orleans. 

Frankly, Cobbs is right. 

For weeks, the Redskins have carried a bizarre five running backs on their 53-man roster, even as injuries forced significant churn on the offensive line. Washington has not kept more than three running backs active on game day, yet two more sit occupying roster spots. Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson are absolute roster locks, but beyond that, none of the other rostered players have performed in a manner forcing the 'Skins to keep them. 

Samaje Perine has only been active four games this season, and those were mostly due to injury. He has five carries this year. The Redskins decided to use one of their two injured reserve return designations for Byron Marshall, who has three carries on the season and is best known at this point for a key block he missed on the play that broke Alex Smith's leg. Kapri Bibbs has played relatively well in limited work, but in last week's loss to the Giants, he was inactive with Perine. 

Add all of that up and it appears the Redskins have at least one more running back than they need. In their defense, Thompson's lingering ribs injury forced Washington to play it safe at running back for a number of weeks, but Thompson has now been back on the field for the last two games.

What does all of this mean for Cobbs? 

Building a 53-man roster is like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece must fit with the others, and players on the back end of the roster must be able to help on special teams. 

Cobbs would fit that bill. And this week seemed like the obvious time to bring him up as Josh Doctson worked his way back from the concussion protocol and the team was carrying just five WRs total. 

It's not like Washington was getting a lot of production at the receiver position anyway. Doctson's roster spot is locked in, as is Jamison Crowder's but after that are questions. Mauirce Harris has always shown great hands but he's been on and off the Redskins roster. Veteran Michael Floyd was a midseason addition that has five catches in 10 games. Brian Quick and Jehu Chesson are both primarily special teams players. 

Cobbs, on the other hand, is an intriguing rookie with size and potential. The Redskins are 6-7, and while still in the hunt for the final Wild Card spot, the team is starting a fourth-string QB and playing their fifth and sixth-string guards.

Now isn't the time to take chances on an undrafted rookie; two weeks ago was.

Remember two weeks ago, when the Redskins only used 52 of 53 roster spots for a Monday night loss in Philadelphia? The team literally didn't fill out their full roster. 

Let's not confuse Cobbs with Jerry Rice quite yet, but at the same time, let's look at the big picture.

The Redskins roster has been a mess due to injury, that's understandable. The team has been forced to carry more offensive linemen than expected, and the running back situation clearly dragged longer than the brass could have expected. At least, that's what fans should hope happened with the running back situation. 

Regardless, the Redskins reluctance to give Cobbs a chance, even without much production or potential on the bottom of the WR depth chart, made his decision to join the Saints an easy one. 

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Jonas Siegenthaler earns first NHL point and plays like he belongs in win over Carolina

Jonas Siegenthaler earns first NHL point and plays like he belongs in win over Carolina

The Capitals released the unfortunate news on Friday that defenseman Christian Djoos is out indefinitely after undergoing a surgical procedure in his left thigh. It is rare that a team can lose one of its top-six defensemen and not miss a beat, but if Friday’s game is any indication, the Caps will be just fine with keeping Jonas Siegenthaler in the lineup.

“He’s got a pretty calm mentality and I think he’s found ways to ramp it up a bit to play in the NHL level,” Braden Holtby told reporters Friday. “It’s a good quality to have.”

Siegenthaler turned in another strong performance in Friday’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, just the sixth NHL game of his career. He also recorded his first career point, a primary assist on Alex Ovechkin’s first goal.

The rookie defenseman grabbed the puck at the blue line in the first period and skated in. Ovechkin turned his body to face Siegenthaler and held his stick up waiting for the one-timer. Siegenthaler fed him the puck which Ovechkin rocketed past goalie Scott Darling.

Ovechkin made sure to grab the puck as a keepsake for the rookie on his first point.

The assist was Siegenthaler’s only point of the night, but he was also instrumental in setting up Ovechkin’s second goal of the game.

Ovechkin held the puck near the blue line, closely guarded by defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Siegenthaler crossed in front of Ovechkin and knocked into Hamilton which opened up plenty of space for Ovechkin to make a play.

To be fair, the call could have easily been called for interference and Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour voiced his displeasure to the referees over the no-call on the bench. At best it was a pick play, but considering the erroneous holding penalty Ovechkin was called for earlier in the second which resulted in a goal for the Hurricanes, things certainly leveled out.

Siegenthaler’s play on Ovechkin’s second goal was notable because that is more of the type of impact you can expect to see from him. He is a physical presence on the ice and he’s not afraid to show it despite only being a rookie. Just as importantly, however, is that he also is not reckless with it.

Young, physical players can often make the mistake of being too timid when they enter the NHL, thus negating a strength of their game, or they can be reckless with throwing their body around leading to mistakes such as taking bad penalties or playing out of position to make a hit. Siegenthaler has done neither since getting recalled and his steady demeanor on the blue line certainly has caught the attention of his netminder.

“He doesn’t panic or anything and he’s making quicker plays now too,” Holtby said. “He’s got an NHL talent, that’s for sure. He’s still extremely young and the way he’s playing, he’s going to be a really good D-man. He’s already there. He’s filled in really well.”

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