Redskins

QB Locker will start vs Dolphins barring setback

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QB Locker will start vs Dolphins barring setback

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said quarterback Jake Locker will start against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday barring any setbacks.

Locker worked with the starters on Wednesday, and Munchak said the Titans will see how he responds to practicing with the first-team offense. Matt Hasselbeck also took snaps during Wednesday's practice.

``If we think he's ready to go, he'll play,'' Munchak said after practice. ``I mean we'll see how he feels after today and how he does tomorrow in third-down stuff and just get a feel for just kind of the whole dynamic there. And then if he's ready, we'll give him a chance to start.''

Locker has missed five straight games after injuring his left, non-throwing shoulder Sept. 30 against Houston. The second-year quarterback returned to practice Oct. 17 on a limited basis and built up to working with the scout team. Munchak said Locker will have to be honest with coaches on how he feels if the quarterback feels limited in any way.

The Titans (3-6) have their bye after Sunday's game with Miami (4-4), but the coach sees no reason to wait with doctors saying Locker has healed as much as possible right now.

``We all know there's going to be rust on a guy. If he waits two more weeks, he's going to be even rustier,'' Munchak said. ``The advantage of waiting, there's really not an advantage to wait till after the bye because it would be a longer period of time since he's actually played in a game. Physically, we've been told he's fine to play.''

Locker started the first four games, completing 63.2 percent of his passes in going 67 of 106 for 781 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked three times, the last Sept. 30 by Glover Quinn in the first quarter of a 38-14 loss in Houston.

That hurt Locker's shoulder for the second time in four games, sidelining him so that he didn't even dress the past five games. Locker said he feels good with Munchak allowing him to work his way back over the past couple weeks, though he knows some things can't be simulated in practice.

``Physically I was able to keep myself in shape, and I was able to throw for most of it,'' Locker said. ``Just kind of making sure that you're in the mental grind of it . but, you know, I tried to do that as well as I could too. I prepared as if I was playing and tried to help Matt anyway I could. Those were things I tried not to get lackadaisical on so I didn't have to adjust to that.

Hasselbeck is 0-2 in his career against the Dolphins, while Locker has never played Miami.

The Titans currently rank 18th in the NFL in passing, averaging 228.6 yards per game. They rank just 26th in passing yards per play at 6.2 yards. Receiver Nate Washington said Hasselbeck did a good job filling in at quarterback and compared a change to bringing in the relief pitcher.

``We'll try to make sure everybody's doing their part, doing their job,'' Washington said.

Having lost two straight and with owner Bud Adams evaluating everyone over the final seven games, the Titans desperately need a win Sunday. Munchak said the change might help provide a bit of a spark.

``If we feel he's healthy and he can help us win this game, we're going to go with it,'' Munchak said.

The challenge is for Locker to avoid being injured again. Munchak said the smartest thing they can tell Locker is not to tackle anybody and let go of his aggressiveness. Locker originally hurt his shoulder in the season opener tackling a defender after an interception on a play later ruled an incompletion.

``He needs to avoid those kinds of things and taking useless hits and he'll be smarter getting rid of the ball quicker and moving around, and we have to be smarter with what we do with protections. We do that generally, so I think he'll be fine.''

Locker's mobility will be key against the Dolphins, especially with Cameron Wake and his 8.5 sacks. Miami coach Joe Philbin said they would prepare for both quarterbacks.

``Whoever's going to line up there both guys are good quarterbacks so we'll have to prepare for both of them,'' Philbin said.

Notes: LB Colin McCarthy did not practice Wednesday, and Munchak said they didn't want to aggravate his right ankle practicing indoors. The coach said the linebacker may not practice in weeks until Friday or Saturday since he'll be dealing with the injury the rest of this season.

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Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 25, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Fan questions—The secondary

To be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the secondary and we’ll get into those in a bit. But the popular notion that the secondary struggled last year is not accurate.

Do you want to go standard stats? They were ninth in the league in passing yards allowed and 10th in opponent passer rating last year.

Do you prefer more advanced analytics? They were sixth in defensive passing DVOA and 11th in adjusted net yards per attempt.

That’s not a great pass defense but it was a pretty good one. It should be noted that they also benefited from a solid pass rush; they were seventh in the league in sack percentage. Still, you don’t finish in the top third of the league in pass defense without at least a competent secondary.

The question is, will it remain competent? Kendall Fuller was indeed a key player, one of the best slot corners in the league. Bashaud Breeland was inconsistent, but he did shine on occasion. But the fact that he is still available as a free agent indicates what the league thinks of him, problems passing the physical notwithstanding. Those two will have to be replaced.

It is likely that Quinton Dunbar will take Breeland’s spot on the outside. That is at worst a lateral exchange if not an improvement. Dunbar has been working for three years to get this opportunity and there is confidence among the coaches and, perhaps more importantly, the players that he is ready.

Orlando Scandrick is the probable starter at slot. He is a downgrade from Fuller, no question about it. If he is healthy—a big if—Scandrick is good enough to get the job done. Don’t let the star he wore on the side of his helmet for so many years blind you to the fact that he’s a solid player.

The depth at slot consists of second-year player Josh Holsey, who played all of nine snaps on defense last year, and rookie Greg Stroman. That’s not ideal but most of the other teams in the NFL have a similar depth chart.

The wild card who could be the difference between this secondary being better than last year or worse is Fabian Moreau. He played only 59 defensive snaps as a rookie but he did show off his speed and hard-hitting style on some of his 349 special teams snaps. During the offseason practices that were open to the media, Moreau was mostly Josh Norman’s backup at left cornerback. The feeling is that he won’t remain a reserve. We will have to see how things sort out during training camp.

There should be some improvement at safety if Montae Nicholson figures out how to stay on the field in his second year. If he struggles with injuries again and Deshazor Everett has to line up alongside D.J. Swearinger for a good chunk of the season, the safeties are no worse off because that's what happened last year. 

The bottom line is that a secondary that was good last year may take a step down in 2018 but the decline should not be steep. And if Moreau can be the player the organization thought he could be when they used a third-round pick for him, it could be just as good if not better.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

I tweeted this in response to a discussion about the relative popularity of the NFL and NBA. Albert Breer’s tweet on the TV ratings for the leagues’ respective drafts was the nexus of the discussion.

Timeline  

Redskins cornerback Josh Holsey was born on this date in 1994.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 31
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 45
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 59

The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 76 days.

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Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

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USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.