Wizards

'Rejuvenated' Redskins buoyed by state of NFC East

'Rejuvenated' Redskins buoyed by state of NFC East

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Washington's Pierre Garcon, Jammal Brown and Brandon Meriweather walked off the field Monday and gave self-assessments of their injuries.

The players sorely missed by the Redskins this season were back at practice following the bye, part of an overall feeling of renewal for a team heartened by the collective struggles of the NFC East.

``I think everybody is refreshed, and they're looking forward to the second half of the season,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ``And you could see they were a lot fresher, rejuvenated and hopefully ready to go.''

After losing what the coach had called a ``must-win'' game before the break - and then suggesting the playoffs were out of reach and it was time to play out the string - Shanahan now says there's no margin of error as the Redskins (3-6) prepare to host the Philadelphia Eagles in the first of three consecutive division games.

``The way the chips are falling in our division, we still can control our own destiny,'' defensive end Stephen Bowen said. ``If we win these next three, we're right back on top of the division. It's crazy that these games are happening like this, but it's giving us the opportunity.''

It would help if the team could get Garcon, Brown and Meriweather fully healthy and somewhere close to top form. Perhaps Garcon could be the true No. 1 receiver currently missing from the attack. Perhaps Brown at right tackle could buy more time for agile rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Perhaps Meriweather at safety could be a bandage for one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.

Of the three, Meriweather was the most optimistic about his chances of playing against the Eagles. He's been sidelined all season with multiple setbacks in his recovery from a sprained left knee, watching helplessly as the defense has allowed eight passes of 40-plus yards. He joked that if he does finally get to play, he'll walk right up to the press box in full uniform a few minutes before kickoff to make sure everyone knows.

``I just want to have fun, man,'' Meriweather said. ``I think us going out there, we don't look like we're having fun. And I think when somebody comes in and we get to having fun, then I think all aspects of the game will go up.''

Garcon has been in pain since Week 1, when he tore a toe ligament in his right foot. He's played in two games since but wasn't effective. Monday was his first practice in a month, and he's doing his best to try to avoid surgery - which wouldn't even be guaranteed to fix the problem anyway.

``It's a pain every time - walking, running, cutting,'' Garcon said. ``It's a pain all the time.''

Shanahan was guarded about Garcon's chances of playing this week. The coach will know more after a more rigorous practice Wednesday.

``I know it's painful for him, but he wanted to work through it today,'' Shanahan said. ``And we'll find out over the next few days exactly where he's at.''

Brown practiced for the first time since his latest hip injury, a torn ligament that required surgery in late August. He remains on the physically unable to perform list and will need time to work himself back into football shape.

``I started to feel lonely for a while, but now I'm back on the field with my teammates,'' Brown said. ``I'm eager to see after a week or so how it feels, but I feel good. It was a great day for me.''

Given their three-game losing streak, a defense that can't stop anybody and an offense that has slacked off its early torrid pace, the Redskins normally would have no business harboring any kind of realistic thoughts about the postseason.

But the NFC East has become a weekly horror show. The first-place New York Giants (6-4) have lost back-to-back games, including an 18-point defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The other three teams are 7-14 outside the division.

The Redskins might be teetering, but they're practically stable compared to the Eagles, who have lost five straight amid persistent questions about the futures of coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick. Vick might not play Sunday because of a concussion, which would give rookie third-round pick Nick Foles his first NFL start.

``We've still got opportunities, for sure,'' tight end Logan Paulsen said. ``Because our record is what it is, you do have to watch the standings a little bit. At this point, it's kind of a good reminder to say, `Hey, we're still in it.'''

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.

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