Nationals

QB Vick, RB McCoy out for embattled Eagles

QB Vick, RB McCoy out for embattled Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles handing off to Bryce Brown in front of a national television audience wasn't the way the Philadelphia Eagles envisioned their season going.

The two rookies will be starting again Sunday night when the struggling Eagles (3-8) visit Dallas (5-6) because Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are still sidelined by concussions. Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, is missing his third straight game and McCoy, the All-Pro running back, his second in a row.

Neither Vick nor McCoy has even been cleared to begin practicing since getting hurt. Vick remains in stage four of five in his recovery and McCoy is in stage two, according to head athletic trainer Rich Burkholder. The team has a five-phase recovery protocol, which is separate from the NFL-mandated concussion program.

Both Burkholder and coach Andy Reid flatly denied a television report that Vick has complained of being a ``victim of politics.''

``Michael has hit a plateau in his rehab,'' Burkholder said. ``There is no conspiracy here. We do not grade the ImPACT test, which he has not gotten back to baseline. I send that paper from the computer off to the people in Pittsburgh. They come back and say he has not passed baseline. That is an NFL rule. That has nothing to do with anything with us. He has to pass that before we can ever entertain the fact of him playing.''

Burkholder said Vick is expected to take the test again on Monday. If he doesn't pass, it's possible the team will send Vick to Pittsburgh to meet with concussion specialists. Burkholder identified the issue being related to Vick's eye movement and his balance.

``He's leveled off,'' Burkholder said. ``We recognize the problem. We're going to rehabilitate it.''

Vick issued a statement after Friday's practice thanking fans and the organization for their support.

``I feel strong and healthy,'' he said. ``As a professional athlete, I want to play in every game but the NFL has a specific protocol to protect players. My focus is to complete this process successfully, so I can rejoin my team on the field.''

Said Reid: ``Everything is in the best interest of him right now.''

Foles, a third-round pick who had an impressive preseason, has 542 yards passing, one touchdown, three interceptions and a 65.3 passer rating in 2 1/2 games. Only Arizona's John Skelton has attempted more passes with a lower rating (64.4) than Foles.

``Getting better every day on the practice field, working as hard as I can in the film room and everything and that's all I can do,'' Foles said. ``Just work better every day to improve.''

Brown, a seventh-round pick who had only three carries in college since 2009, ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns Monday night against Carolina in his first start since his senior year in high school. But Brown also lost two fumbles.

``I'm excited, ready to get back out there,'' Brown said. ``Anxious. Really desperate for a win. That's what I really, really want to get.''

Brown mishandled a handoff earlier in the season on a carry inside the red zone and lost the ball, but the fumble was credited to Vick. Coaches emphasized ball security to Brown throughout the week.

``Fumbling isn't a habit that I have,'' he said. ``That's not something that I normally do. I've just got to be cautious and be more careful. It's football; things are going to happen. Just go in this week and know that guys are going to be after the ball this game.''

The Eagles have a seven-game losing streak entering their divisional rematch against the Cowboys. They'll also be without two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who is out for the rest of the season after injuring his ribs in the 30-22 loss to the Panthers.

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NOTES: Starting center Dallas Reynolds (ankle) and rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (tailbone) are questionable. Reynolds practiced Friday. Left guard Evan Mathis took snaps earlier in the week and could start if Reynolds couldn't play. Former starting right guard Danny Watkins would replace Mathis. ... Wide receiver Jason Avant (hamstring) is expected to play after missing the previous two games. ... WR Marvin McNutt, a sixth-round pick, was promoted from the practice squad to take one of two remaining roster spots.

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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.

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Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

As June minicamp concluded, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden pulled no punches when asked about expectations for new quarterback Alex Smith. 

"He has got to get it down by the first game," Gruden said of Smith. 

While that might not sound overly demanding, remember this is Smith's first season in Washington. The QB will be playing with new teammates and implementing new terminology. 

Still, Smith is a veteran with a lot of experience, and frankly, it seems like Gruden isn't worried about a transition period. 

"We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now," the coach said. "This isn’t a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

Gruden made things quite clear. He expects the best from Smith, yesterday. 

Those comments created headlines, but there was something else the coach said about his passer that also stood out. Asked about Smith's veteran presence, Gruden talked about what the quarterback might mean for his teammates. 

"The whole job a quarterback has is obviously getting the most out of the people around you. That’s what I think he does as good as anybody," Gruden said. "He’ll get the most out of the tight ends. He’ll get the most out of the backs."

The coach continued, and things got a bit more interesting.

"He’ll get the most out of the receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out."

Redskins fans are often a weirdly divided bunch. Many liked former QB Kirk Cousins but plenty did not think he was worth the type of money he was paid the last two seasons. Along the way, some fans will read Gruden's comments about making something happen and taking responsibility as a jab at Cousins. That's probably wrong. 

Remember, Trent Williams played through a serious knee injury last season. Asked why, Williams said he wanted to be out there to protect Cousins. Guys played for Cousins. 

The responsibility comment might mean something else, though. Their was a rather hostile back-and-forth last season between Gruden and Cousins last season, when the QB and coach disagreed about taking more risks with the football. A quick reminder of the scene: Cousins told a reporter that he would throw 20 interceptions if he played like Gruden wanted. The coach responded that while the interceptions might pile up, the QB would also throw 60 touchdowns. (Relive it here)

Throughout his career, Smith has thrown less interceptions than Cousins. But that doesn't mean Smith doesn't take risks or put his receivers in position to make plays. 

It's entirely possible Gruden simply expects Smith, a veteran, to be a responsible player and leader. And it's likely that comment had nothing to do with the Redskins previous quarterbacks. 

The bottom line is that Smith better be ready to go Week 1, and his coach made that clear. And if Smith isn't, Gruden expects his quarterback to take responsibility. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

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

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