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Red Sox eye Farrell for vacant manager's job

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Red Sox eye Farrell for vacant manager's job

BOSTON (AP) John Farrell sat in the visitors' dugout at Fenway Park as talk intensified that he might be working in the other dugout next year.

The Toronto manager looked up at two dozen reporters a month ago and told them that as Boston's pitching coach for four years under Terry Francona he learned an important lesson: think of the players first in making managerial decisions.

If you do that, he said, ``you probably are guided in the right direction to do the right thing.''

Since that session before the opener of the Blue Jays' three-game sweep of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine has been fired as Boston's manager and Farrell has emerged as the leading candidate to take over. But he has a year left on his contract and the Red Sox would have to discuss compensation with the Blue Jays to make him available.

Valentine didn't always make the players his top priority before he was fired on Thursday after going 69-93 in his only season, Boston's worst record in nearly 50 years.

He said in April that Kevin Youkilis wasn't as physically or emotionally into the game as he had been, kept Jon Lester in a game long enough to allow 11 runs and said as the miserable season kept getting worse that the Red Sox had ``the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball.''

Valentine's predecessor, Francona, rarely criticized players in public. Management likely is looking for the same from Valentine's successor.

That's not the only difference in this year's managerial search from last year's, when Valentine wasn't hired until Dec. 1. That was 64 days after Boston's last game and 62 after Francona was let go.

``I'd prefer to have it done in less time,'' general manager Ben Cherington said of the current search, but it's more important to get the right person.

The Red Sox likely will look for a person with different attributes this time than they did during last year's search, especially with a younger roster after the team traded high-priced, underperforming veterans Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August.

``The team is in a different point than it was last year when we hired Bobby,'' Cherington said. ``The roster was fairly mature and we felt, mistakenly in retrospect, but we felt at the time, that we had a chance to win and the team was ready to win and we're now at a different point.''

But he refuted the suggestion that the Red Sox aren't ready to win next season.

``To be elite again we needed to make more than cosmetic changes,'' Cherington said. ``So now we're very early in the process of doing that and we're going to work our tails off to put the best team we can out there in 2013 and build the next great Red Sox team. We don't know exactly when that will come to fruition.''

Others who could be candidates for the job are Cleveland interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., Detroit third-base coach Gene Lamont and Toronto first-base coach Torey Lovullo, a former manager of the Red Sox Triple-A team at Pawtucket. All were interviewed by the Red Sox last year before Valentine was hired.

Boston bench coach Tim Bogar and Baltimore third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, Francona's former bench coach, also could be considered.

The Red Sox wanted to talk with Farrell last year but were rebuffed. The Blue Jays may be more willing after his second losing season in his two years in Toronto.

Farrell was Boston's pitching coach from 2007, when the Red Sox won the World Series, to 2010 and helped Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz develop into productive pitchers. He's also familiar with many veterans and minor leaguers in the Red Sox system.

And, as Cleveland's director of player development from November 2001 to the end of the 2006 season, he worked with current Boston assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who held scouting and player development positions with the Indians from 2001 to 2005.

Farrell also worked with many current members of Red Sox management.

``Not only are they professional colleagues, on some level they became personal friends and we had success,'' he said on Sept. 7 as he sat in the third-base dugout. ``We shared a lot of challenges along the way.''

That familiarity would make him a much safer choice than Valentine. Cherington preferred Dale Sveum, who ended up as manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, a strong backer of Valentine when he was hired, said on Thursday, ``as well as you may know someone casually or through the interview process, you get to know them better when you have a full season together. So, of course, (there were) some surprises, positive and negative surprises.''

The Red Sox would like fewer surprises and more stability from their next manager.

``I don't think there's a certain resume or background'' necessary, Cherington said. ``These jobs bring all sorts of challenges. There's a person who's right for the Red Sox job in 2013 who isn't right for another team's job or who might not have been right for our job last year or the year before.''

Farrell may be the right person this time, if the Blue Jays let him go to a team with a larger and more demanding group of fans and media contingent.

``Having worked in Boston,'' he said a month ago, ``there's a tremendous fan base that is very passionate. The expectations are always very high, but, as a competitor, that's what you aspire to do.''

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.