Nationals

Raiders playing out string of another lost season

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Raiders playing out string of another lost season

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders are desperately in search of some sort of positive news.

The Raiders (3-8) just finished perhaps the worst month in franchise history by losing all four games in November, capped by three straight losses by at least 21 points

The team's first four-game skid since 2008 assures Oakland of a 10th straight season without a winning record and has turned the focus to the future rather than a playoff run.

``It's been mind-blowing,'' defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. ``I would have never, in my wildest dreams, thought we would be 3-8 right now.''

Coach Dennis Allen said everyone is accountable for the problems that have turned a team that was one win away from a division title last season into an also-ran this year.

He said he will look at all options to get things back on track, including possibly finding a role for third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor has been inactive all 11 games this year and has been on the field only once in two seasons since being taken in the supplemental draft last year. He committed a false start before his only snap last year against Kansas City and then got limited duty in the preseason.

``He's working to get better and he's working to improve,'' Allen said. ``I've seen improvement in Terrelle. He's gotten better as a quarterback. He's continued to work. I don't think any of us feel like he's the finished product, including himself. But he has worked to improve.''

Starter Carson Palmer struggled Sunday in his homecoming to Cincinnati, throwing for a season-low 146 yards and turning the ball over twice in a 38-17 loss to the Bengals. But he has been far from the biggest problem on a Raiders team that has struggled to generate a consistent run game all season and been historically bad on defense.

If Pryor gets a chance to play down the stretch, it would most likely be in a limited role that took advantage of his mobility.

The situation at quarterback won't matter much if the Raiders can't get better play defensively. They have allowed 169 points over the last four games, the second most in a four-game span since the merger in 1970.

With the offense struggling to move the ball consistently the last few weeks, the Raiders have been blown out each time. They have been outscored by 70 points in the losses, falling by at least 21 points in three straight games for the first time in franchise history.

The Raiders have allowed 51 plays that have gone for at least 20 yards, including an NFL-worst 13 touchdowns on those big gainers as they have struggled to follow their assignments and tackle downfield.

``I feel like if we could just focus in and execute not 99 percent of the time, not 95 percent of the time, 100 percent of the time, we'd be a lot better on defense,'' cornerback Joselio Hanson said. ``That's just the way it has gone right now. We're not at 100 percent out there. If we get beat doing our job, that's the thing. Some of the plays we're beating ourselves and giving them plays.''

The frustration of losing has started to boil over as evidenced by a scrum that led to the ejections of defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly in Cincinnati.

Houston tackled quarterback Andy Dalton after the whistle for a false start penalty, leading to a fight with offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth. Both players got ejected as did Kelly, who joined the melee as he was coming onto the field for the next play.

``Once you're on the field and you see something going on, you want to help your teammate,'' Kelly said. ``You always want to help your teammate when you think he's in the kind of situation that Lamarr was in. You can't lose your cool because you get kicked out of the game, you hurt your team. You can't have that happen.''

One bit of good news for the Raiders is they get the next three games at home, starting Sunday against Cleveland (3-8). They also could get a boost if injured running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (sprained right ankles) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) are able to return.

The trio has missed the last three games but Allen said he's hopeful they will be able to practice Wednesday.

``We're starving for a win right now,'' Hanson said. ``Can't look in the past right now. Just have to move forward and look forward to this next game against the Browns.''

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

Over the last few weeks, the Nationals have finally started to get healthy. Slowly but surely, they’ve added stars like Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon back to their everyday lineup, and the wins have followed.

If everything goes according to plan, they could be close to adding yet another potential impact bat. This time, it’s Ryan Zimmerman.

The first baseman, who has been on the Injured List since April 28 while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, could begin his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, according to his manager.

Zimmerman is getting closer to full health but is still experiencing discomfort while running. During batting practice Thursday, Zimmerman resumed baseball activities, and the plan is for him to run the bases before his minor-league assignment.

"If you're going to be out there playing, you've got to be able at least score on a normal base hit if you're on second, go first to third,” Zimmerman said Thursday. “You might not have to be 100 percent on all that, but you have to do normal, everyday activities, or you're not really helping the team.”

The priority in the minors will be playing nine full innings.

"I think the biggest thing with the rehab games is just getting on your feet for nine innings so the first time you're out there for nine innings isn't here, and you can play some games and make sure it doesn't act up,” the longtime National told reporters. “Because once you're activated and once you're between those white lines, it's game on. It's more I think for Davey [Martinez]. You don't want to put him in a bad spot. If he is managing without knowing if I have restrictions or without knowing what's going to happen, that puts him in a bad spot. That's not what you want to do."

Davey Martinez has rarely had his full complement of players in 2019. Zimmerman himself has already missed 47 games.

Of course, once he returns, the Nationals will have more decisions to make. Not only do the Nationals need to find a roster spot for Zimmerman (Gerardo Parra is a candidate to be the odd man out, despite some flashes in his time in Washington), but they also need to figure out the playing time.

Matt Adams has hit with a lot of power this season, and without the DH in the National League, is limited to first base, same as Zimmerman. Howie Kendrick has been the Nationals’ second-best hitter in 2019 and is one of the best surprises in baseball, but is also limited defensively. Kendrick has more versatility, but with Brian Dozier’s recent surge (and superior defense), the Nats will likely want to keep him there. And, of course, Rendon and Turner are entrenched on the left side of the infield.

It’s something Martinez will have to figure out, he’s already begun speaking with players about what the arrangement will look like.

For right now, it’s a problem for another day, but if Zimmerman’s rehab goes well that won’t be the case much longer.

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2019 NBA Draft: Lakers take De'Andre Hunter with No. 4, will reportedly trade him to Hawks

2019 NBA Draft: Lakers take De'Andre Hunter with No. 4, will reportedly trade him to Hawks

De'Andre Hunter is a Los Angeles Laker...for now.

The Virginia star and reigning ACC Defensive of the Year was selected by the Lakers with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Thursday night. However, the Lakers will send that pick to the Pelicans in the agreed-to trade for Anthony Davis, New Orleans in turn reportedly trading it to the Hawks. Thus, Hunter likely ends up in Atlanta. 

If the trade goes through, Hunter will join a talented young Hawks core which already includes Trae Young and John Collins. He would bring a championship pedigree to the team, having just won an NCAA title with UVA this past season.

"Coming off a national championship, there's no better way to try to go into the NBA," Hunter told NBC Sports Washington during an interview for the I Am The Prospect series

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