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Redskins' RG3 crashes Shanahan's news conference

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Redskins' RG3 crashes Shanahan's news conference

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Robert Griffin III crashed Mike Shanahan's news conference, slipping in the back door to take an aisle seat in the Washington Redskins auditorium. Soon, the franchise quarterback had a microphone in his right hand, ready to ask the next question.

Shanahan, who is hard to rattle, couldn't help but laugh.

``You got me by surprise there,'' the coach said. ``Who is this guy?''

``What did you do for New Year's?'' Griffin asked.

``I tried to put a good game plan together. I wasn't sure how healthy you were, so it was hard without you calling me,'' answered Shanahan, still chortling away. ``You got me good.''

Griffin has hardly behaved like a rookie all season, so there's no reason to think it'll start now as he prepares for his NFL playoff debut. He was as loose as anyone Wednesday, whether it was playfully shoving Jarvis Jenkins into the defensive lineman's locker or simply radiating the smile that has rarely been missing during his initial run through the NFL grind.

It was the first practice for Sunday's matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins' first home postseason game in 13 years. If the excitement was getting to either half of Washington's rookie backfield - Griffin or running back Alfred Morris - it wasn't showing.

``I've been playing football since I was 5 years old. I just go out there and go have some fun. That's what I do. So I'm not going to think about, `It's the playoffs,''' said Morris, who added that he doesn't really care for the attention he's getting for a 1,613-yard regular season bettered only by Adrian Peterson.

The performances of Morris and Griffin has cornerback DeAngelo Hall proclaiming: ``These aren't ordinary rookies.''

``I haven't seen a moment this year where they've been caught up in the moment,'' defensive tackle Barry Cofield said, ``or they've seemed like the moment's been too big for them.''

To a man, the Redskins say the entire team shouldn't be caught up in playoff nerves because they've been playing win-or-else games for nearly two months. Every victory in the season-ending seven-game streak was necessary to get to 10-6 and win the NFC East. Notable stat: Washington is 7-0 since Griffin was selected as a team captain.

Also, it helps that the Redskins have a routine week to prepare for the Seahawks. Griffin will take that over the weekslong wait for college bowl games.

``For bowl games, most of the time you're doing way too much thinking,'' Griffin said. ``Trying to devise the perfect play for the perfect defense. And you get in a game and they do something totally different because they're doing the same thing for the past month. So (this is) like a regular-season game, but with a playoff-game atmosphere.''

Griffin gave the latest update on the sprained lateral ligament in his right knee, which caused him to miss one game and has limited his explosive running ability in the two games since he returned. He's still sporting a brace, which he adjusted while stretching at the start of practice.

``A lot of people talk about the limp with the brace,'' Griffin said. ``But any time you wear a brace like that, it's to protect you, so it's going to cause a natural limp. You're not going to be able to bend your knee. ... But at the same time you can still generate power.''

Griffin said he's ``pretty close'' to the point where he's being limited by the brace more so than the actual injury, but that the doctors won't let him go without the extra protection.

``So I try to do as much as I can without the brace,'' he said with a smile. ``And then whenever they find out that I don't have it on, I have to throw it on.''

The bum knee has prompted Griffin to refine his play without much of a drop-off. He had a 102.4 passer rating in his first game after the injury, and he ran for 63 yards on just six carries in the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.

``If anything, the injury's shown me a lot, just from a quarterback perspective,'' Griffin said. ``This game's not easy, but it did show me some things that I can do to make the game easier for myself, easier on my body. Ironically I've done a better job of protecting myself since the injury, sliding, getting down, getting all the possible yards I can and getting out of bounds.

``And sometimes things have to happen like that for you to really, really grasp that, and it's shown me a lot. I don't think I've ever rushed for 10 yards a carry in a game, and I did that in this past game, so that was kind of funny.''

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‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

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Capital City Go-Go

‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

The Washington Wizards G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, held their second open local player tryouts at the Entertainment and Sports Arena Saturday morning in Southeast D.C.

Over 100 hopefuls filed into the arena with plans to impress Go-Go General Manager, Pop Mensah-Bonsu, head coach Ryan Richman, and his staff. 

Although each player in attendance has a unique path that’s led them here, they all shared one simple, yet intricate goal:

One shot in the G League. 

Adam Stanford, a prospect from California, traveled on a red eye to make the tryout on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep.

“My plane left at midnight from LAX, I had a two-hour layover in Denver, made it to Reagan National at five, checked into my hotel at six, took an hour nap and then Ubered here for tryouts,”  he said. 

“If I made this team it’d be big. Not just for me but for everyone who knows what I’ve been through from college to now.” 

Stanford is a 6-foot-4 wing from Campbellsville University, where he averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds, and was an academic All-American. 

Even with his positive outlook on the process, and an impressive showing Saturday morning, Stanford’s name wasn’t called for a follow-up workout later in the afternoon. 

The harsh reality that your chances are extremely slim to make a G League roster from an open tryout can be a tough pill to swallow, but as a guy who’s been on the opposite end of the chopping block, Mensah-Bonsu had an immense amount of respect for those who showed up to compete Saturday.

“Personally it’s tough because I never wanted to be that guy to read out the numbers of those who did make the team, and skip over those who didn’t,” Mensah-Bonsu said, “it’s heartbreaking. We always anticipate what the DMV has to offer in terms of the wealth of talent in this area.

"I was pleasantly surprised because we ended up selecting 15 guys to stick around for the afternoon portion, but going into this we were only planning to pick five.” 

Those who made the cut won’t be announced until a later date, which leaves the larger point of how those who were passed on respond?

The all-time leading scorer in Peach Sun Belt Conference history, Detrek Browning, was in attendance Saturday and put on a show. His combination of quickness, deep range shooting ability, and a knack for loose balls/putbacks captured the attention of every media member in attendance. 

However, his name wasn’t called for the next round of tryouts. 

Still, in a state of shock, he delivered words of encouragement not just for his self, but others to turn to after a similar letdown. 

“I for sure thought I was going to get a place here, but you just gotta focus and move on,” Browning said. “I quit my job in June to focus on basketball and it’s been paying off. I’ve seen my game increase exponentially.

“I did my best and that’s what matters,” he added. “I appreciate them not picking me up, it’s just going to make me work even harder.”

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Ravens looking to make a statement in Kansas City against the unbeaten Chiefs

Ravens looking to make a statement in Kansas City against the unbeaten Chiefs

Depending on who’s asked, Sunday’s game is either a statement waiting to be made, or just another game to play. 

In perhaps the weekend’s most anticipated game, the Ravens will head to Arrowhead Stadium to face the unbeaten Chiefs on Sunday at 1 p.m. It’s an opportunity for the Ravens to stake their claim as one of the NFL’s best, against the league’s most explosive offense.

“Every game for us is a statement game,” Ronnie Stanley said. “We’ve been downplayed since the beginning of the season. Every game (is), and this just happens to be the next one.”

But while it’s being billed as a game between two of the NFL’s hottest offenses led by two bright stars at quarterback, it’s still just the third game of the season. 

“Not really,” Marshal Yanda said on if this game is a measuring stick. “We focus on the gameplan. We focus on practice and sharpening things up, just getting better every single day. Obviously, we know that they’re a good football team, and we’re going to respect them. But we’re just more worried about what we can control in this building and just getting better every day.”

There’s two mindsets, but it’s impossible to look past what Sunday’s matchup could mean. 

Firstly, it would be at least a modicum of revenge for last year’s 27-24 overtime loss, a loss which Ravens players and coaches have said still sticks with them. 

But perhaps more importantly, it would give the Ravens a leg up early in the season on one of the favorites in the AFC. 

“We’re trying to make our way,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There will be a lot at stake at the end of the year when you count them up, but right now, both teams are trying to find who they are and are trying to win an early AFC matchup. It’s just kind of an early-season game.”

At 2-0, the opportunity is there on-paper for the Ravens to state their claim atop the conference, especially with the rest of the AFC North’s start to the season.

Cincinnati stumbled out of the gate and is 0-2, as is Pittsburgh, which just lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season to an injury. 

The Browns are 1-1 with the Rams coming to town on Sunday, meaning the opportunity is there for the Ravens to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference early on.

In order for the Ravens to do so, however, they’ll have to get by Patrick Mahomes and company.

“It’s a big challenge for us in the back end, a big challenge for the defense and for this ball club on the road against a playoff-caliber team,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “They have it all. We’re excited to see what we’re made of, so it’s a big challenge for us, trying to find a way to get to 3-0.”

Still, Sunday’s game is more than just a game on paper. The Ravens can firmly cement themselves as one of the NFL’s best amongst the minds of many in the league. Even if they knew that already themselves.

“My job is to control what I can control, and that’s my offense,” Lamar Jackson said. “I don’t really care about the hype. I don’t even care about the hype they’re giving us now. They were just doubting us the whole offseason. Like I said, we’re just going to go in there and perform.”

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