Redskins

Raiders hopeful McFadden will return

Raiders hopeful McFadden will return

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders running game, which struggled so much the first half of the season when Darren McFadden was healthy, showed signs of life in recent weeks after the star back sprained his right ankle.

With McFadden poised to come back this week, the Raiders are excited to see what he will be able to do now that the offensive line is adjusting to the new zone blocking scheme.

McFadden missed the last four games with the injured ankle, including last week when he practiced but was unable to play in a loss to Cleveland. But running backs coach Kelly Skipper said he is seeing much more burst from McFadden in practice this week and is optimistic he'll be able to play Thursday night for the Raiders (3-9) against the Denver Broncos (9-3).

``We're very excited,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said. ``I can't wait to watch him. We were kind of working through a lot of things when he was healthy in the new scheme and a lot of guys doing a lot of different things that they haven't done in their careers. But now with as many games as we have underneath our belt up front, getting him back will be a big bonus for us.''

McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry before spraining his right ankle early in the eighth game against Tampa Bay. McFadden had averaged more than 5 yards per carry over the previous two seasons, but struggled to adjust to the team's new zone blocking system.

He had two 100-yard games before the injury and averaged 4 yards a carry in just one game this season. He also had only three runs that went for at least 20 yards in 139 carries after being one of the league's top big-play backs the past two years.

With converted fullback Marcel Reece and undrafted free agent Jeremy Stewart sharing the load the last four weeks, the Raiders (3-9) averaged 4.2 yards per carry as the blocking up front started to click.

``We've improved so much, and now he gets to step in and be able to see the holes and see the improvement we've done,'' Skipper said. ``He's been watching film, he's been studying a lot, so he's been seeing it, `There it is, OK. Good.' So I think it will help him a lot. He'll be right on point.''

While the running game has improved, the Raiders have struggled as a whole without McFadden, losing the past five games to get knocked out of playoff contention with a quarter of the season left.

McFadden has missed 23 games in five NFL seasons with a variety of injuries. He said sitting out is difficult and that he just tried to keep a positive mindset during the team's skid.

He did like seeing the improved run game with bigger holes to run through than he had when he was healthy.

``It's one thing I'm looking forward to, is to get out there and try to get into some of them,'' he said.

The Raiders also hope to get backup running back Mike Goodson back this week as well. Goodson sprained his right ankle later in the same game that McFadden got hurt in and has been out ever since.

He also practiced last week but did not play against the Browns. He is also expected to be back Thursday.

``Getting Goody back is great, too, because that's another change-up for us,'' Palmer said. ``It's not like Darren is going to go in and get 50 carries. He has to work his way back into this thing, too. Having another guy on third down to come in like Goody and kind of spell everybody gives us some more rest.''

NOTES: S Matt Giordano and S Mike Mitchell have passed all their tests after leaving the last game with concussions and practiced on a limited basis. ... CB/PR Phillip Adams, who also got a concussion in the game, has not been cleared. ... DT Richard Seymour (hamstring) also missed practice and could miss his fifth straight game. ... The Raiders signed RB Jamize Olawale from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad to their 53-man roster.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

scherffvideo102918.jpg
USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

anibal_sanchez_nationals_pitching_usat.jpg
USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

 

NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.