Redskins

Saints not fretting uncertainty over Payton

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Saints not fretting uncertainty over Payton

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Regardless of the allure the Dallas Cowboys or some other franchises might have for a coach a successful who commands top dollar, Drew Brees cannot envision Sean Payton coaching anywhere but New Orleans next season.

Brees said he does not believe money is what motivates Payton as much as the pride he takes in what he has built with the Saints, and the desire to parlay his accomplishments in New Orleans into more championships when he is re-instated following his one-season suspension in connection with the NFL's bounty probe.

``I'd be shocked if he wasn't here next year,'' Brees said after practice on Wednesday. ``I have not even thought for a second that he wouldn't be here, honestly. Not even thought for a second.''

Payton's contract status has been in doubt, at least publicly, since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed last month that the league had a problem with certain language in Payton's 2011 extension, which would have run through 2015. The clause in question allowed Payton to opt out early if general manager Mickey Loomis left the club for any reason.

Because Payton was a top offensive assistant in Dallas from 2003 to 2005 and has a good relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and because Payton's children live in the Dallas area, there has been widespread speculation that Payton could return to the Cowboys should current coach Jason Garrett be fired after this season.

Payton, suspended from last April through next February's Super Bowl, has not commented on his contract situation, and neither has his agent, Don Yee.

The terms of Payton's suspension also prevent him from talking with any NFL employee - with limited and pre-approved exceptions - and Brees said he has not been able to talk to Payton about next season.

Brees said he would be highly skeptical of any reports of Payton's departure from New Orleans until he hears it from the coach himself, particularly if those reports cite only anonymous ``sources.''

``We also know how the whole sources thing works, don't we?'' Brees said. ``Sources can pretty much say whatever you want them to say because you never really have to be accountable for it. Like I said, I'm not worried.''

Brees' teammates largely echoed their quarterback's sentiments.

``What everybody thinks is that Sean will be back,'' Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said. ``For right now, Sean Payton is our head coach. Just like a player has a contract that has to work out, there's going to be negotiations and that whole situation will play out.''

This Sunday the Saints play in Dallas, where Garrett has been unable to avoid questions about his own future and the Payton speculation, despite the fact that the Cowboys are riding a five-game winning streak that has placed them firmly in playoff contention after a shaky 3-5 start.

``Certainly, as coaches and individuals, we have to live'' with job uncertainty and speculation, Garrett said. ``There is always a lot of stuff going on on the periphery.''

``Sean is a great coach and good friend of mine. He has done a great job in this league for a long time,'' Garrett added. ``I'm focused on doing my job as well as I can.''

If Dallas can beat New Orleans this week and close out with a victory over the Redskins, the Cowboys would finish 10-6 and would be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, which might make it harder to for Jones to justify jettisoning Garrett. Jones has recently expressed confidence in Garrett in any event and credited him with how he has shepherded the team through the recent death of Cowboys practice squad player Jerry Brown in an auto accident.

``He's just a great communicator with his players and his colleagues,'' Jones said of Garrett. ``I've seen in him that in trying circumstances that he can do good things. My hat's off and I give him a lot of credit for how we're playing right now.''

Loomis and Saints owner Tom Benson could end the uncertainty by getting Payton locked into a new and perhaps more lucrative extension than the more than $6 million annually Payton would have earned had his 2011 deal gone through. And it remains to be seen whether they'll get a deal done before the league year ends a few weeks after the Super Bowl.

In the meantime, most Saints players said they'd spend their time worried about how to beat Dallas and Carolina in New Orleans' last two games.

``We would love to have Sean back, but that's out of our hands,'' running back Pierre Thomas said. ``That's between Mickey, Mr. Benson, and him. That's not between us. We can't have any say-so in it.''

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Crowder, Richardson headline long list of injury questions for Redskins during Dallas week

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USA Today Sports

Crowder, Richardson headline long list of injury questions for Redskins during Dallas week

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden joked about optimism when going over the team's injury report, but that might be the coach's only way to deal with the current situation. 

Receivers Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson did not practice on Thursday, and their status for Sunday seems murky at best. Crowder was spotted at Redskins Park using a scooter to keep his weight off his injured ankle, and while Richardson was seen walking around, his knee remains an issue. 

There was some good news, however, that Chris Thompson and Shawn Lauvao practiced, albeit in a limited role. 

Getting Thompson back on the field would be a big help for the Redskins offense, and alleviate some pressure off Adrian Peterson. The future Hall of Famer did not practice Wednesday as he is dealing with a host of injuries, including his shoulder and knee. 

The one player Gruden said he did not have optimisim in a return this week was rookie safety Troy Apke. There has been some conversation about possibly moving him to the injured reserve, but that has not happened yet. 

The Redskins currently have one open roster spot as the team released veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood earlier this week. With all the concerns at wideout, maybe Washington uses that spot to bring up a practice squad player to support the unit. 

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Capitals prospect report: The chocolate and white is feeling a bit black and blue

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USA Today

Capitals prospect report: The chocolate and white is feeling a bit black and blue

The Hershey Bears won their first game of the season on Tuesday, beating rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3-2. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Hershey is now 1-5 on the season and sits in last place in the Atlantic Division.

The Bears missed the playoffs last season meaning a 1-5 start to this season is not sitting well for fans of the storied AHL franchise.

The roster in Hershey looks much improved compared to last season. So why are they struggling and how do they turn things around?

The biggest issue to me is cohesion. Head coach Spencer Carbery is in his first season with the team. In addition, this roster has had a lot of turnover. Caps prospects Shane Gersich, Juuso Ikonen, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Max Kammerer, Beck Malenstyn, Garrett Pilon, Brian Pinho, Tobias Geisser and Ilya Samsonov are all making their AHL debuts this season. Other additions such as Michael Sgarbossa, Jayson Megna and Sergei Shumakov makes this roster largely a collection of players who have not played together before. There were going to be growing pains, but the Bears are going to get better as the season goes along.

    Another issue has been injuries.

    Samsonov became just the latest in a long list of players on the shelf due to injury. It was announced on Wednesday that he suffered a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. He did not dress for the team’s game that night and Hershey was forced to sign a local goalie, Padraig Carey, to an amateur tryout agreement to serve as the backup to Vitek Vanecek.

    Hershey recalled goalie Parker Milner from the ECHL on Thursday.

    In addition to Samsonov’s injury, Kris Bindulis, Colby Williams, Riley Barber, Ikonen and Shumakov are all dealing with upper-body injuries while Mason Mitchell has a lower-body ailment.

    Other prospect notes:

    • With so many new players, several have reached early career milestones. Pilon (2 assists), Kammerer (3 assists), Malenstyn (1 assist) and Jonsson-Fjallby (1 goal) all recorded their first AHL points over the week. Here’s a look at Jonsson-Fjallby’s goal:
       

    • Jonsson-Fjallby remains in Hershey despite rumors last week of a return to Sweden. Those rumors seem to have originated from Sweden and now it looks like any speculation of Jonsson-Fjallby leaving for his home country have been put to bed. Swedish outlet Expressen spoke with Joakim Eriksson, sports director of Jonsson-Fjallby’s Swedish team Djurgarden. In that report published Monday, Eriksson said (as translated by Google translate), “Axel has a contract with Washington and no other team. It's Axel's decision altogether, but we have said that we have a place available and that's how the situation has been. Everything else has just been media speculation.”
       
    • The blog Russian Machine Never Breaks made a trek out to Hershey and spoke with Ilya Samsonov about his transition to North America and his start in the AHL. “For so long, as you understand, I spent my whole life speaking a different language,” Samsonov said. “So, for now, it’s hard for me to hear what my teammates are saying on the ice. Some things I don’t understand, but I’m trying, and I think I’ve made a step forward in that regard.” Check out the full interview and article here.
       
    • I spoke with Capitals coach Scott Murray recently on Samsonov and the language barrier. “He actually did a really good job this summer,” Murray said. “He stayed in the US and did a really good job bridging that gap and then obviously we’ve made it a point and he’s made it a point that he wants to continually get better at the English language so that we can communicate because when you can communicate it’s way easier to teach, it’s way easier for him to learn and be engaged.”
       
    • Vanecek got his first win of the season on Wednesday and the Penguins made him earn it. He turned aside 40 shots in the effort, a new career-high for him.
       
    • Defenseman Tyler Lewington scored on Sunday against Rockford. It was his first goal since Nov. 11, 2017. You can see the replay of it here:  

    • Riley Sutter was named first star of the game on Saturday in Everett’s win over Kamloops in the WHL. He scored two goals and an assist to help lead Everett to the 7-2 victory.
       

    MORE CAPITALS NEWS: