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Rookie WR Rod Streater impresses for Raiders

Rookie WR Rod Streater impresses for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Rod Streater spent last December preparing with Temple for the New Mexico Bowl, what he believed would be the final football game of his career.

With only 19 catches as a senior, Streater understandably drew little notice from NFL scouts and was resigned to pursuing a career with his degree in communications and public relations.

Just a year later, Streater is proving he belongs in the NFL as he has become a trusted target for Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer and a key part of the Raiders' future.

``It's a crazy feeling,'' he said. ``I thought football was over for me. I was just looking at getting a job. Then you come here and the game's on your hands. It's a lot of pressure and then it's not. It's what you prepare for. It's what you want to do as a kid growing up. It's a good feeling.''

Streater is tied for sixth among all rookie wide receivers with 28 catches and has 429 yards receiving and three touchdowns. After hitting the proverbial rookie wall near Thanksgiving when he fell behind fellow rookie Juron Criner on the depth chart, Streater has gotten a second wind and put together his two most productive games the past two weeks.

``That's part of being a rookie,'' coach Dennis Allen said. ``It's a little bit of a roller-coaster ride, and you have some ups and downs. Criner was getting a little bit more playing time and he (Streater) was getting a little bit less playing time, and then he got the opportunity and made a few plays. That's what it's all about. When you make plays you play a lot more.''

Streater bounced back from a zero-catch performance in Cincinnati on Nov. 25 to catch three balls for 96 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland the following week. Then on national television last Thursday night against Denver, Streater had four catches for a career-high 100 yards.

``I feel like I'm improving each week,'' he said. ``No matter what it is I always want to get better. Next week I'll try to go better than 100. I just try to get better.''

Streater acknowledged that succeeding in the NFL takes much more work than he was used to putting in during college. He credits his improved play on the field to more work off it that has helped him better recognize coverages.

Streater said he is making fewer mistakes during games and is adjusting well to the faster pace in the NFL.

``Rod is doing great,'' Palmer said. ``I love what he brings to the team. He's a rookie but you'd never know it. He's athletically gifted, he's fast, he catches the ball really well, and does not think the game like a rookie. He thinks the game like a veteran. He's doing phenomenal.''

It's been quite an impressive performance from a player who was passed over by all 32 teams in the NFL draft.

Streater never got much of a chance to show what he could do in college. He played defensive back and receiver for two years in junior college at Alfred State before transferring to Temple.

The Owls weren't much of a throwing team and Streater had just 49 catches in two seasons there, including only 19 his senior season.

That was a big reason why he never expected to have a chance in the NFL. But he decided he would keep working out anyway after his final college season and impressed scouts at his pro day.

Despite not being drafted in April, Streater was targeted immediately by Oakland and signed as an undrafted free agent. He made a quick impression at a rookie minicamp and kept up the strong performance throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp.

A strong exhibition season helped him make the roster and he has been a valuable contributor all season for Oakland.

``He's been making plays since he's been here,'' said Oakland receiver Jacoby Ford, who has been injured all season. ``He looked up to us. We told him, `You just got to go out there and make plays.' I told him yesterday, I said, `They're going to give you guys some opportunities to make plays and they're going to throw it up. Just take advantage of your opportunity.' And that's exactly what he does. He just makes plays week in, week out.''

NOTES: The Raiders were granted a one-day extension to sell enough tickets to avoid a local blackout. The team has been blacked out just once the past two years. ... S Tyvon Branch missed his third straight practice with injuries to his neck and ankle. ... DT Richard Seymour tweaked his hamstring that sidelined him the past five weeks. ... DT Christo Bilukidi returned after missing practice Wednesday with an illness. ... LB Rolando McClain had nothing to say about his recent suspension, saying ``coach covered everything.''

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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.

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Win of the season? Undermanned Wizards beat 76ers

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Win of the season? Undermanned Wizards beat 76ers

The Wizards pulled off their best win of the season Thursday night by defeating on of the top teams in the East in the Sixers at home. 

On the backs of a superb first half by Davis Bertans and great defense on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Wizards snapped a three-game losing streak before they head to Miami. 

Here are the top moments from the game:

Bertans goes nuts from three

Davis Bertans set a career-high in three-pointers made Thursday night by hitting seven of his 13 attempts from deep. 

Six of them, however, came in the second quarter without a miss. 

Bradley Beal struggled in the game with Ben Simmons defending him, so Bertans giving the Wizards a lift helped them build a 10-point lead into the break and maintain it late into the second half. 

Chiozza with the steal, Mahinmi follows up the miss

With Isaiah Thomas out with a calf strain, the Wizards turned to two-way guard Chris Chiozza for some minutes off the bench.

He didn't score in his 11 minutes, but he provided a key steal of Joel Embiid that led to two points from Ian Mahinmi. 

Mahinmi's hustle here was not something we've much from the Wizards this season, so it's plays like these that led Washington to their best win of the season. 

Bertans misses? Wizards still get three points

As we stated already, Bertans was the star of the night shooting the ball, but the second half brought a few ugly misses from three. 

On his first shot since going 6-6 in the second quarter, Bertans fired a three off the side of the backboard. Luckily enough, Beal came up with the ball and drained a wide-open three. 

When it's your night, it's your night. 

The Wizards will look to keep the momentum going Friday night as they travel to Miami to take on Jimmy Butler and the Heat. You can watch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

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