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Play or Sit: the coaches' quandary

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Play or Sit: the coaches' quandary

NEW YORK (AP) At some point, an injured player, even a star like Robert Griffin III, is too hampered to help a team. Deciding when enough is enough is the problem.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan became the target of widespread criticism after Griffin reinjured his right knee in Sunday's 24-14 wild-card loss to Seattle. The questions have ranged from whether Shanahan made his sensational rookie's health his No. 1 priority to whether the protocol for dealing with injuries was followed.

Coaches who have been in such tricky situations say the solutions aren't complicated.

``You have to rely on the doctors, the health always has to come first,'' said Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy. ``If the doctor says he can go or he can't go, you don't argue, there's not even a discussion.

``If the doctors say, `Here are the limitations, he can go,' then you have to judge for yourself. How is he mentally? How limited is he physically?''

Dungy recalls many times when players wanted to go and he had to say no. While coaching the Buccaneers, Dungy told Warren Sapp he wouldn't be suiting up for a national TV game against Miami because Sapp had cracked a bone in his hand.

Sapp wanted to wear a splint, but team doctors said it was too soon for him to play.

``Warren was upset,'' Dungy said.

``If you ask the player, it means nothing. It's rare a player will tell you he can't do this or this or that.''

Shanahan said Monday that Griffin will see renowned orthopedist James Andrews for more examinations on the knee, leaving open the possibility the quarterback will be sidelined for a lengthy period.

Shanahan added he thought he made the ``right decisions'' and it would be ``crazy'' to think he would purposely sacrifice Griffin's career to win a game.

But Shanahan admitted he did not talk to team doctors initially after Griffin was hurt in the first quarter.

``I went up to Robert. I said, `You OK?''' Shanahan said. ``And he said, `I'm fine.'''

Not exactly the way some coaches would have handled it.

``You never put a player in harm's way,'' said Herm Edwards, who defended how Shanahan handled the situation during his ESPN show.

``It starts with the medical staff on the sideline. They advise you if a player is able to go back in. If they say, `Yea,' you put him back in. If he can play, you keep him on the field.''

Players don't ever want to come out, and Dungy says some will even try to hide medical problems. Or at least minimize them.

San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis suffered a concussion on Dec. 23 at Seattle and returned to play in the season finale against Arizona. He admits to being a little ``woozy'' during his limited reps, but insists sitting should not have been the first option.

``You trust the player. A player knows his body better than anyone,'' Davis said. ``If he's feeling a certain way, then I don't think you can go against that. He knows he can play.''

But he could be placing himself in greater jeopardy, whether in the short term or for his entire career. For every Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles who makes a stunningly quick recovery, there are dozens of players who are never the same.

Some don't even get back in uniform again.

Or they come back too quickly, as Griffin's teammate, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, did in 2010.

Hall missed practice leading up to a game against the Colts. Usually, Shanahan bars players from suiting up when that happens, but Hall was allowed to play.

``I gave up a couple of touchdown passes,'' Hall said. ``And Mike was just like, `That's my fault, you shouldn't have been out there. I respect you wanted to be out there, but I could tell you just couldn't go.'

``You always want to be out there. It's nothing against the guys behind you, but just that competitiveness in you. You want to compete, you want to be a part of it, especially this run we've had.

``Man, it would have been hard for that guy (RG3) to say, `Nah, coach I can't go' or `pull me.' Everything was going so special, he wanted to be a part of it.''

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AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Joseph White contributed to this report.

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NBA offseason grades: Thunder stood out in Northwest Division

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NBA offseason grades: Thunder stood out in Northwest Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Northwest Division...

Portland Trail Blazers, C+

2017-18 finish: 49-33, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Seth Curry, G Nik Stauskas, G Anfernee Simons, G Gary Trent, Jr.
Out: F Ed Davis, G Pat Connaughton, G Shabazz Napier

The Blazers are about as cash-strapped as anyone out there, so they had very little room to work with in free agency. They made some minor moves but nothing of real note. They had a solid draft, but picked Simons who is a long-term project. And they had to let some decent players go in free agency. The best thing that happened to the Blazers this summer was re-signing Jusuf Nurkic. Other than that, it was a pretty mediocre offseason for Portland.

Oklahoma City Thunder, A

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Dennis Schroeder, C Nerlens Noel, G Hamidou Diallo
Out: F Carmelo Anthony

GM Sam Presti deserves high praise for another strong offseason. Most of the acclaim comes from the Thunder re-signing Paul George despite the assumption of many he would leave in free agency. But OKC also snagged Noel on a cheap deal, adding more athleticism and depth behind center Steven Adams. And they got Schroeder back in the deal for Anthony when they could have shed his salary for nothing in return. They also added three second round picks, including Diallo who looked good in the Summer League. It's hard to imagine the Thunder doing better than they did, given the financial resources they were working with.

Utah Jazz, B

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 2nd round of playoffs
In: G Grayson Allen, F Tyler Cavanaugh
Out: F Jonas Jerebko

The Jazz get most of their points from re-signing players like Dante Exum, Raul Neto and Derrick Favors. Though the price tag for Favors is a little high, they did a nice job of bringing the band back together, knowing they have an opportunity to get better this season simply by having Rudy Gobert stay healthy. The Allen pick has potential to work out very well for them. He looked good in the Summer League and should complement Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio well at the guard position. All in all, there was nothing flashy for the Jazz but they made some solid, smart decisions.

Minnesota Timberwolves, C

2017-18 finish: 47-35, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Anthony Tolliver, G Josh Okogie, F Keita Bates-Diop
Out: F Nemanja Bjelica

The Wolves have enough salary committed to where they could only do so much this summer. Tolliver is a nice pickup and should add shooting to their frontcourt. Bates-Diop gives them nice value as a second round pick. It would have been nice to see the Wolves change something via trade, but they have reason to believe they can get better if Karl-Anthony Towns continues to ascend and Andrew Wiggins reclaims his form as a scorer.

Denver Nuggets, B+

2017-18 finish: 46-36, missed playoffs
In: G Isaiah Thomas, F Michael Porter, Jr. 
Out: F Wilson Chandler, G Devin Harris

The Nuggets had a solid offseason just as they get ready to make a big leap forward as a franchise. They re-signed Nikola Jokic to a long-term deal, added Thomas on a low-risk contract and took a chance on Porter in the draft. They lost Chandler in a salary dump, but have the tools to win 50-plus games next season. Thomas could be a big difference maker if healthy and Porter gives them another building block for the future. If he can get past his back injury, he will fit in nicely with their young core.

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Contract makes Adrian Peterson a no-risk acquisition for the Redskins

Contract makes Adrian Peterson a no-risk acquisition for the Redskins

Adrian Peterson is truly a no-risk acquisition for the Redskins. 

The 33-year-old running back signed with the Redskins for one year at the NFL minimum salary of $1.015 million according to Field Yates of ESPN

The contract structure means that the Redskins can have him practice for the next week and a half, play in the two remaining preseason games, and then let him go prior to Week 1 and walk away owing him nothing. 

If they do keep him for Week 1, his salary for the season will become guaranteed. But if they decide to let him go at some point in the season the payout of the remainder of his salary will be a drop in the bucket of a $176 million salary cap. There is no signing bonus, roster bonus, or other guaranteed salary. 

One more team friendly aspect of this deal is that Peterson will cost less against the cap than the Redskins are paying him. The NFL has something called the veteran minimum benefit, designed to encourage teams to keep older players rather than the younger and cheaper one. Under this benefit, Peterson will count just $630,000 in cap space. That is the same cap charge as Byron Marshall carries. So, if it comes down to choosing between the Marshall and Peterson for a roster spot, the salary cap will not be a factor. 

Apparently, Peterson is anxious to play football and after spending the entire offseason as a free agent who wasn’t drawing much interest, a player who received $11 million guaranteed from the Vikings two years ago will go to work for a fraction of that. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler