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Rodgers throws 2 TDs as Packers beat Jaguars 24-15

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Rodgers throws 2 TDs as Packers beat Jaguars 24-15

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) After three tough weeks on the road, the Green Bay Packers were finally supposed to have it easy. They were at Lambeau Field, their offense was clicking and, best of all, they had the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL's worst team.

So much for that.

Looking flat and out of sync much of the afternoon Sunday, the Packers needed another score from special teams, a 4-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Driver in the fourth quarter and a makeup field goal by Mason Crosby to hold off the Jaguars in a 24-15 win.

``I'm not sure what it was,'' offensive guard T.J. Lang said. ``Those guys came in and played with a lot of energy. I don't know if we underestimated them at all, but they're a talented team. We've just got to make sure that we're playing more consistent. We can't allow a team to come in here and play with more energy than we have at our home field. So we've got to get that fixed.''

It was the third straight win for the Packers (5-3) and their 16th in their last 17 games at Lambeau.

Blaine Gabbert had the first 300-yard game of his career, and Rashad Jennings and Cecil Shorts came up big in the absence of Maurice Jones-Drew, who missed the game with a foot injury. Jennings rushed for 59 yards and added another 56 yards receiving. Shorts had a career-best 116 yards on eight catches, including a 24-yard reception to set up Josh Scobee's 32-yard field goal that cut Green Bay's lead to 21-15 with 6:50 left.

But the Jaguars (1-6) also botched a punt that the Packers recovered for a touchdown, missed a two-point conversion, and came away with only one touchdown in three trips to the red zone.

It was Jacksonville's fourth straight loss.

``We're still finding ... one play here or there that's going to cost us a possibility to win that game. And that again happened today,'' Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey said. ``I thought there was some progress. But that's hard to say on a loss.''

The Packers were without their two best receivers, with Jordy Nelson joining Greg Jennings on the inactive list with a hamstring injury. Charles Woodson also was on the sidelines, with a broken collarbone.

But the Packers are better equipped than most teams to overcome injuries, particularly now that Randall Cobb has emerged to join James Jones as a big-play threat.

Besides, this was the Jaguars the Packers were playing, not San Francisco or Pittsburgh.

``They're an NFL team, not to get that wrong. But the Jacksonville Jaguars stayed around in Lambeau Field,'' Jermichael Finley said. ``They were supposed to have been under the Frozen Tundra at halftime.''

Instead, they could have been tied had that two-point conversion not gone through Justin Blackmon's hands.

``I went against the rules by going for two that early,'' Mularkey conceded.

Still clinging to a 14-12 lead after Crosby's 32-yard field goal attempt bonked off the upright with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, the Packers finally found their rhythm on a seven-play, 52-yard drive that ended with Rodgers' TD pass to Driver.

``He's going to make the most of his opportunities,'' Rodgers said. ``We know what we get out of Donald. We know what kind of player he is, what kind of professional. And when he gets opportunities, he's going to make the most of them.''

The Jaguars marched to the Green Bay 12, only to stall on back-to-back incompletions by Gabbert. Scobee kicked his third field goal of the day, but then booted the kickoff out of bounds, giving the Packers the ball at their own 40 with less than 7 minutes left.

A quick three-and-out gave the Jaguars the ball back with a chance to make things interesting. After Gabbert's first two passes to Blackmon from midfield fell incomplete, they finally connected on the third try for a 6-yard gain. They went for it on fourth down, but the only player who got near the ball was Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams.

The Packers padded their lead with 28 seconds left on Mason's 25-yard field goal, set up by a 38-yard pass interference call on Jaguars cornerback William Middleton four plays earlier.

``It's important when you don't play your best you can still come out with Ws,'' Rodgers said. ``We struggled on offense. You've got to give them credit. They had a good plan, they executed really well.

``But it's going to feel a lot better knowing tonight we're relaxing and we're 5-3 and we're right in the mix.''

NOTES: Scobee has now made 20 straight field goals, tying Mike Hollis' franchise record. ... Davon House's blocked punt was the first by the Packers since Sept. 29, 2003, and the first returned for a touchdown since Dec. 2, 1990. ... Rodgers' two TDs gave him 153 for his career, moving him past Bart Starr into second place on Green Bay's all-time list. ... Driver appeared in his 200th regular-season game, joining Favre as the only Packers to accomplish the milestone. ... Packers S Morgan Burnett had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. ... After recording five sacks through the first six games, the Jaguars had two Sunday.

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Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 25, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Fan questions—The secondary

To be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the secondary and we’ll get into those in a bit. But the popular notion that the secondary struggled last year is not accurate.

Do you want to go standard stats? They were ninth in the league in passing yards allowed and 10th in opponent passer rating last year.

Do you prefer more advanced analytics? They were sixth in defensive passing DVOA and 11th in adjusted net yards per attempt.

That’s not a great pass defense but it was a pretty good one. It should be noted that they also benefited from a solid pass rush; they were seventh in the league in sack percentage. Still, you don’t finish in the top third of the league in pass defense without at least a competent secondary.

The question is, will it remain competent? Kendall Fuller was indeed a key player, one of the best slot corners in the league. Bashaud Breeland was inconsistent, but he did shine on occasion. But the fact that he is still available as a free agent indicates what the league thinks of him, problems passing the physical notwithstanding. Those two will have to be replaced.

It is likely that Quinton Dunbar will take Breeland’s spot on the outside. That is at worst a lateral exchange if not an improvement. Dunbar has been working for three years to get this opportunity and there is confidence among the coaches and, perhaps more importantly, the players that he is ready.

Orlando Scandrick is the probable starter at slot. He is a downgrade from Fuller, no question about it. If he is healthy—a big if—Scandrick is good enough to get the job done. Don’t let the star he wore on the side of his helmet for so many years blind you to the fact that he’s a solid player.

The depth at slot consists of second-year player Josh Holsey, who played all of nine snaps on defense last year, and rookie Greg Stroman. That’s not ideal but most of the other teams in the NFL have a similar depth chart.

The wild card who could be the difference between this secondary being better than last year or worse is Fabian Moreau. He played only 59 defensive snaps as a rookie but he did show off his speed and hard-hitting style on some of his 349 special teams snaps. During the offseason practices that were open to the media, Moreau was mostly Josh Norman’s backup at left cornerback. The feeling is that he won’t remain a reserve. We will have to see how things sort out during training camp.

There should be some improvement at safety if Montae Nicholson figures out how to stay on the field in his second year. If he struggles with injuries again and Deshazor Everett has to line up alongside D.J. Swearinger for a good chunk of the season, the safeties are no worse off because that's what happened last year. 

The bottom line is that a secondary that was good last year may take a step down in 2018 but the decline should not be steep. And if Moreau can be the player the organization thought he could be when they used a third-round pick for him, it could be just as good if not better.

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

Tandler on Twitter

I tweeted this in response to a discussion about the relative popularity of the NFL and NBA. Albert Breer’s tweet on the TV ratings for the leagues’ respective drafts was the nexus of the discussion.

Timeline  

Redskins cornerback Josh Holsey was born on this date in 1994.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 31
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 45
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 59

The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 76 days.

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Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

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USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.