Redskins

Some of the faster players are getting slow

Some of the faster players are getting slow

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) Five tournaments into his rookie season, Brian Harman realized his game wasn't suited for the PGA Tour.

He played too fast.

At a time when tournament golf is getting unwanted attention for taking too long, Harman is among several young players setting a good pace, not to mention a good example. But after more than a month of standing around, he needed help. So he called Lucas Glover, a mentor with a quick trigger.

``I talked to him about playing slower,'' Harman said. ``I said, `Look, man, it's driving me nuts out here.' ``

Glover gave him a few tips from his own experience. Be the last player to leave the tee box. Walk slower to the ball. Get water when you're not thirsty. Use the bathroom even if you don't have to go. Take a little more time studying the yardage book.

A week later, Glover was driving from Sea Island to south Florida for the Seminole Pro-Member when he asked his girlfriend to check the scores from the second round of the Honda Classic. She mentioned that some guy named Brian Harman had shot 61.

``The kid listens well,'' Glover said.

Harman is not alone, which is encouraging. The shame of it is that you never hear of slow guys who are consciously trying to pick up the pace. It's always the other way around.

Dustin Johnson is another player who pulls the club, sees the shot and hits the shot. He was the second to tee off on the par-5 12th hole at Doral a few years ago. It took him 14 seconds to take the driver from the bag, place the ball on the tee, find his target, take a practice swing and step over the ball. Four seconds later, the ball was airborne.

Johnson might have been fast to a fault. Think back to the second hole at Pebble Beach in the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open. Before Johnny Miller could complete a sentence, Johnson took three chips - one from the left side - on his way to a triple bogey that cost him his three-shot lead. Then, he quickly pulled driver and hit into the bushes for a lost ball and double bogey, and his Open was over.

That wasn't what led to the change, though. Just like Harman - and Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker and others - Johnson figured if no one else was going to speed up, it would only help him slow down. That or lose a piece of his sanity.

``Guys out here play really slow, and they're not going to speed up,'' Johnson said. ``I can be miserable, play fast all day and wait, or I can slow down a bit, which can't hurt.''

Johnson is still quick, and much quicker than most. He takes a little more time when he gets to the ball, waits a few seconds to pull the club from the bag. And he's taking more time on the green, looking at putts from multiple sides of the hole.

But that's what golf has come to in this generation. Instead of the faster players bringing everyone else up to speed, they have to downshift.

``It can be painful if you play quick,'' Fowler said. ``You're going to be spending a lot of time standing there. It almost starts hurting your legs and feet when you're just standing there. I learned quickly that you have to be patient.''

Criticizing slow play is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. For all the anecdotal evidence, the fix is not as simple as it might seem. When greens are firm and fast, there are going to be more putts that run 4 feet by the hole. Those aren't considered tap-ins. Rules officials have lobbied for years to reduce the size of the fields because too many players can turn a golf course into the 405 in Los Angeles during rush hour, which is just about any hour.

Meantime, players have a choice - stand around or slow down.

McIlroy gave golf a jolt of energy with his exciting game, and adding to his appeal was how quickly he went about his business. He can be an inspiration to young golfers not only with the way he plays and his good manners, but his pace. Now, however, even Boy Wonder has joined the ranks of fast players who have learned to slow down.

He traces that to the final round of the 2011 Masters, although he places the blame on his epic meltdown to his swing and his putting, not how long he had to wait. McIlroy was in the last group with Angel Cabrera, as fast as any golfer on the planet. Ahead of them were K.J. Choi and Charl Schwartzel, with Jason Day in the next group.

``I played with Cabrera, who's really quick,'' McIlroy said. ``After that, I realized I'm just going to slow it down a little bit, and it's helped. I hate slow play. I don't want to get frustrated by me playing quick and having to wait all the time. I just sort of try to take my time a little more.''

Brandt Snedeker says he has slowed down, which is hard to believe. Snedeker walks fast and talks fast, and even his practice strokes on the putting green are done in rapid-fire succession. He learned that from his father, Larry, who instilled in his sons at a young age not to make anyone behind them wait. That's the only way Snedeker knows.

But even he concedes to marching to a slightly slower beat.

``Otherwise, I'd end up waiting all day,'' Snedeker said. ``We're conditioned to slow play. Unfortunately, it's become that way. I wish we could play every round under four hours. But you've got to get used to that.''

That's what Pat Perez has done. He doesn't slow down. He doesn't like the pace of play. He has just learned to accept it.

Perez was paired with one of the more notorious snails in the final group one year when someone asked him if the pace would hurt his chances. Perez has never blamed his failures on anyone but himself, and he wasn't about to start.

``I wait on every single shot, every single day on the PGA Tour,'' he said. ``I've gotten really used to doing that.''

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Need to Know: The forecast for Redskins Park today is a media circus

Need to Know: The forecast for Redskins Park today is a media circus

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 21, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

Looking at a few different topics this morning:

—What was going to be a normal, ho-hum Tuesday preseason practice at Redskins Park will now be on hyperdrive thanks to the addition of Adrian Peterson. After mostly ignoring the Redskins for most of the offseason the national media will turn out in force to chronicle the arrival of AD. Yes, it’s AD as in All Day as I was reminded by several Sooners on Twitter in the past few days. I suppose that now that he’s here I’d better get it right. 

Derrius Guice underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL yesterday (see his tweet below). I haven’t heard but I assume that someone will say that the surgery was a success. Looking at a recovery time of about nine months, Guice could be ready for the start of OTAs in mid-May. But given how cautious this organization tends to be with injuries during the offseason program, we may not see him on the field until training camp. 

—Speaking of injuries, there were over a dozen players who were not participating in practice on both Saturday and Sunday. As I noted here a couple of days ago Jay Gruden has become very tight-lipped when it comes to giving out information on injuries. And teams are not required to give out any injury information at all during the preseason. So it’s hard to sort out veterans’ days from players with minor injuries that are being rested because the game isn’t until Friday from injuries that are reasons for legitimate concern. The first injury report will come out two weeks from tomorrow, so we are mostly in the dark until then. 

—I’m hearing from fans and some in the media that undrafted free agent Cam Sims is a lock to make the 53-man roster. I would suggest pumping the brakes. He has a great opportunity and I have him on the 53 in my last prediction. But he has been erratic. The Jets preseason game, where he made a big-time error when he had a pass bounce out of his arms, turning a completion into an interception then made some key, acrobatic catches was essentially a microcosm of his training camp. He needs a strong finish both in practice and in the two remaining preseason games to get locked into a spot. A few plays like the botched reception and he could be on the outside looking in. 

—Montae Nicholson quietly had a good camp and he has played well in two preseason games (he was one of the few starters to play against the Patriots). He struggled in coverage in the early part of camp. The Redskins are changing their scheme to play left- and right-side safeties instead of free and strong. That means that Nicholson, who played free last year, had to learn the coverage responsibilities for both positions on both sides of the field. It took him some time to get up to speed and during that time it was not unusual to see Nicholson trailing behind a receiver who had a couple of steps on him. He is not immune to making mistakes or just getting beaten on occasion (news flash: NFL rules are set up for DBs to get burned). But he should get the job done most of the time and be the player the Redskins hope he will be. 

Bureau of statistics

Nicholson’s 40 time at the NFL Combine in 2017 was 4.42, the third fastest among safeties and tenth fastest Amon all defensive backs. 

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The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 3 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 11 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 19 days

In case you missed it

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


 

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Baltimore Ravens crash Andrew Luck's homecoming with 20-19 preseason win

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Baltimore Ravens crash Andrew Luck's homecoming with 20-19 preseason win

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens spoiled Andrew Luck's Indianapolis homecoming.

They picked him off before allowing a completion, and Terrell Suggs nearly chopped the ball out of Luck's hands on a sack. The Ravens then secured a 20-19 preseason win over the Colts by stopping a late 2-point conversion run.

Luck was just OK in his first home start since Jan. 1, 2017. But he did receive a roaring ovation from the crowd when he took the field, led the Colts to one score and apparently emerged unscathed after going down twice on sacks.

"Not too sharp, certainly red-zone turnovers are a negative, missed a couple of throws I'd like to hit," he said. "And I didn't feel like we, as an offense, got into any semblance of a sustained rhythm."

Expectations were high following a solid start in Seattle.

This time, the Colts (1-1) looked sloppy.

Luck missed his first three throws, the third winding up in the hands of Ravens safety Anthony Levine Jr. Luck rebounded to finish 6 of 13 for 50 yards and set up 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri for a 57-yard field before leaving in the second quarter.

If Luck had his way, he might have played longer. But first-year coach Frank Reich wasn't taking any chances with Luck's surgically repaired arm.

"We just never found a rhythm for him and some of his balls were not his best balls," he said. "But I still have a lot of confidence we're headed in the right direction."

Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens looked better.

Flacco went 7 of 9 for 72 yards and one touchdown. Jackson then showed flashes of what helped him win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

Jackson was 7 of 15 for 49 yards and a TD and carried four times for 26 yards before giving way to another Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, in the fourth quarter.

Indy still had a chance at the end after Tarell Basham recovered a fumble at the Ravens 9. Five plays later, Phillip Walker threw a 9-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal with 2:24 left. But the Ravens (3-0) stopped Walker on the 2-point try, recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

"Happy to get the win," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We did a lot of things that weren't winning football, especially in the second half."

The Ravens made it tough on Indy all night.

They stopped Indy twice in the red zone and nearly had a third when Jordan Wilkins fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it bounced right into the hands of receiver Chester Rogers.

Flacco gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter when he hooked up with John Brown on a 7-yard score, and Jackson's masterful hurry-up drive at the end of the first half ended with Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left.

When Colts rookie Nyheim Hines fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, Jackson hooked up with Chris Moore on a 7-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.