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Rams focus on Bills and not slim playoff hopes

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Rams focus on Bills and not slim playoff hopes

ST. LOUIS (AP) The word ``playoffs'' isn't being mentioned often around the St. Louis Rams' training facility unless asked by an outsider.

``This team is focused on Buffalo. It's our next opponent,'' coach Jeff Fisher said Monday at his weekly media gathering at Rams Park. ``There's too much that could happen right now. I don't even know what the record is of some teams in the division. So, we just go play.''

The Rams have made themselves into a playoff contender - albeit an outside one - with two consecutive divisional victories. Their 16-13 overtime win against San Francisco on Sunday comes a week after winning at Arizona and leaves them as the only NFC West squad undefeated against division opponents with one game to go.

St. Louis (5-6-1, 4-0-1) would need to leapfrog four teams to make the postseason, including the Seattle Seahawks, who host the Rams the final weekend of the regular season. This newfound hope of extending the season comes on the heels of a five-game stretch during which St. Louis went 0-4-1 and fell to 3-6-1.

``Regardless of whether we've won or lost the week before, our focus has gone on to the next week and that's exactly what we're going to continue to do,'' said quarterback Sam Bradford, who completed 26 of 39 passes for 221 yards against San Francisco. ``Our focus now is going to Buffalo and getting another win.''

Fisher said that despite the positive results the past two weeks it matters little if his team doesn't get a victory at Buffalo. The Rams have won just one road game and they followed up a 24-24 tie at San Francisco with a lackluster 27-13 home loss to the New York Jets.

The lack of consistency is one reason the Rams aren't talking about making the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

It's been a long road since. They went 29-83 without a winning season from 2005-2011, with their best finish coming in 2006 at 8-8 when the won their final three games. A victory Sunday will give St. Louis a non-losing record this late in the regular season for the first time since then.

``It feels pretty good,'' running back Steven Jackson said. ``We have a lot of room to grow, but the one thing about this team that we learned about the personality of it that guys are going to continue to fight. Guys are going to continue to bring their `A' game despite what it looks like, despite what people may think. This group of men believe that we can compete at a high level.''

Fisher said he likes the growth of his young team, but would like to see more from his offense in the final three games of the season.

The offense has struggled scoring this season and the Rams needed two defensive scores - a fumble returned for a touchdown and a safety - and two field goals from beyond 50 yards to get past the 49ers. Fisher gave credit to San Francisco's defense, ranked second in the NFL for total defense. He also readily offered up the need for the offense to provide some breathing room for the defense.

``We'd like to think we'd end up with balance in the game. We'll score points and play good defense. That was a situation (Sunday) where we found a way to win a game against a good team under difficult circumstances,'' he said. ``But offensively, we need to pick things up here. We made plays in the passing game. Sam played very well against a difficult defense but we need more balance and more chunks and more scoring.''

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Tim Connelly won’t take top Wizards job, to stay in Denver

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Tim Connelly won’t take top Wizards job, to stay in Denver

There won’t be a Tim Connelly reunion with the Washington Wizards after all.

Connelly passed on the opportunity to become the Wizards President of Basketball Operations, and instead will remain in the same capacity with the Denver Nuggets, a source confirms to NBC Sports Washington. ESPN first reported on Connelly's decision.

Washington received permission to meet with Connelly late Thursday evening. He left the NBA Combine in Chicago and flew to Washington Friday for a discussion with Leonsis, a source told NBC Sports Washington. On Friday, Connelly reportedly received the offer to fill the front office vacancy created by the firing of Ernie Grunfeld on April 2.

While the interest in the Wizards was genuine from the Baltimore native, Catholic University alum and former member of Washington's front office, Connelly could not leave the "stable" situation with significant promise in Denver, a source told NBC Sports Washington.  

Connelly, 41, was named Denver’s general manager in 2013. The Nuggets won 54 games and finished the 2018-19 regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The roster, headlined by All-NBA center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, is the second-youngest in the NBA. "Tough to give that up," the source said. "Too much to risk."

The Wizards are coming off a polar opposite campaign that ended with a 32-50 record. Significant uncertainty exists going forward with five-time All-Star John Wall expected to miss a large chunk of the 2019-20 season as his four-year, $170 million supermax contract extension kicks in.

Leonsis began a deliberative search process for a new President of Basketball Operations after dismissing Grunfeld, who held the position for 16 years.  While other candidates were interviewed during the process, including interim GM Tommy Sheppard, Connelly’s name was linked to the opening almost from the start.

Connelly considered Leonsis' handling of the discussions first class, according to a source.

Sheppard, former Hawks GM Danny Ferry and Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver are the other known primary candidates.

In April, NBC Sports Washington first reported Connelly considered the Wizards his “dream job,” according to sources. The Catholic University alum began his NBA career as an intern with Washington in 1996 before holding various full-time front office positions under Grunfeld. He left for New Orleans in 2010.

The Wizards face significant challenges before re-entering contention in the Eastern Conference. With Wall injured, two-time All-Star Bradley Beal is the only healthy returning starter. 2018 first round pick Troy Brown Jr. is the only other valued long-term asset beyond the ninth overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft,

More than half of last season’s roster is entering some form of free agency. Washington could have limited salary cap space depending on which players return.

The situation requires the kind of roster-shaping creativity Connelly demonstrated in Denver. The Wizards now must look elsewhere for their new front office leader.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Roster is set heading into start of OTAs

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Roster is set heading into start of OTAs

Kick off your Monday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including the full 90-man roster heading into the beginning of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. Ravens OTAs begin Monday.

2. With the return of Pernell McPhee and the addition of Shane Ray, it's clear that the Ravens are searching for the right pass rushers for their defense. The two veterans join draft pick Jaylon Ferguson in the quest to create a dynamic defense.

3. Marquise Brown is expected to miss OTAs due to continued rehab on his foot from Lisfranc surgery. However, Brown is expected to be ready by the start of training camp in August.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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