Redskins

STATE OF THE NFL

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STATE OF THE NFL

Player safety, the New Orleans Saints bounty program, cold-weather Super Bowls, even his popularity among New Orleans restaurant owners - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell touched on a wide range of topics Friday during the annual ``State of the NFL.'' Among the highlights:

PLAYER SAFETY

Goodell defended the league, which has come under increasing scrutiny following new studies about the long-term effects of concussions as well as recent suicides by former NFL players. President Barack Obama recently said if he had a son, he's not sure he'd let him play football. And the NFL is being sued by thousands of former players.

Goodell says steps the league has taken in recent seasons have made the game safer, and more steps are likely going forward.

``We will not relent on this,'' he said.

Neurosurgeons will be part of gameday medical staffs beginning next season, he said. The league is also looking at eliminating certain low blocks and will continue to impose harsh punishments for illegal hits - particularly for players who are repeat offenders.

Proper tackling technique also needs to be emphasized, getting players to get away from using their heads and return to using their shoulders and arms.

``The No. 1 issue is, take the head out of the game,'' Goodell said.

Asked specifically about Obama's concerns, Goodell said ``I welcome'' the comments because it keeps attention on the dangers of head trauma.

``What we are doing is leading the way to try and make sure people understand you need to treat these injuries seriously,'' he said.

SAINTS BOUNTIES

Goodell refused to apologize for his harsh treatment of the Saints' bounty program, even if it means he's not the most popular man in New Orleans this week.

Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the season, and four current or former Saints players were punished after an investigation found the club had had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.

``There's no question that there was a bounty program in place for three years. I think that is bad for the players, it's bad for the game,'' Goodell said. ``I don't believe bounties are going to be part of football going forward, and I think that's good for everybody.''

His only regret was not convincing teams, players and coaches that everyone shares in the responsibility of making the game safer.

``I wasn't able to make that point clearly enough with the union and with others,'' he said. ``But that is something we're going to be incredibly relentless on.''

ROONEY RULE

Despite eight coaching vacancies and openings for seven general managers, no minorities were hired for the NFL's most high-profile positions this off-season. Goodell says that's unacceptable.

``There was full compliance of the Rooney Rule. In fact, I believe there were a record number of interviews,'' Goodell said. ``But we didn't have the outcome we wanted. It's very important to the success of the league to do that, and we're committed to find that solution.''

Goodell said the league needs to look at whether the rule needs to be expanded or adapted.

COLD-WEATHER SUPER BOWLS

Next year's Super Bowl in New York is unlikely to be the last played outdoors in a cold-weather city, judging by Goodell's remarks.

``The game of football is made to be played in the elements,'' he said. ``Now, we hope they will not be extreme, but we will be prepared if that's the case. Some of the most classic games in history were played in extreme conditions.''

- Nancy Armour -http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour

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EDITOR'S NOTE - ``Super Bowl Watch'' shows you the Super Bowl and the events surrounding the game through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across New Orleans and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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How to watch NBC Sports Washington's Mock Draft Mondays

How to watch NBC Sports Washington's Mock Draft Mondays

It's hard to believe, but the NFL Draft is less than three weeks away.

To break everything down, both the Redskins and Ravens crews here at NBC Sports Washington will debut a special show, Mock Draft Monday's presented by Papa John's, on Monday, April 6.

The Redskins hold the second overall pick in this year's draft, and many expect them to select Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young. Several draft experts have deemed Young as a generational talent and a can't miss prospect. But there's also the option of trading down in the draft to acquire more assets, and a QB-needy team like the Miami Dolphins at No. 5 could be a potential trade partner.

In addition to discussing what the Redskins will do with the No. 2 pick, the Redskins Talk crew will speak with newly-signed cornerback Kendall Fuller, Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Theismann, and Miami Dolphins beat reporter Safid Deen, who discusses a potential trade with Washington.

A total of 26 picks in the first round will pass between when the Redskins make their choice at No. 2 and when the Baltimore Ravens make their selection at No. 28, barring neither side makes a trade. The Ravens have multiple positions of need, such as both the interior offensive and defensive line, as well as wide receiver. What Baltimore will do at the end of the first round remains a mystery.

In NBC Sports Washington's latest Mock Draft, the Redskins unsurprisingly select Young at No. 2 while the Ravens nab Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray.

<<CLICK HERE FOR MOCK DRAFT 14.0>>

Here's everything you need to know.

NBCSW's Mock Draft Mondays: How to watch

What: Mock Draft Mondays presented by Papa John's

When: Monday, April 6

Time: 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Channel: NBC Sports Washington (channel finder

Redskins Talent: JP Finlay, Julie Donaldson, Pete Hailey, Brian Mitchell, and Mitch Tischler

Ravens Talent: Andrew Gillis and Jordan Giorgio

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Ronald Darby joins Redskins feeling like he has something to prove

Ronald Darby joins Redskins feeling like he has something to prove

It was not too long ago when Ronald Darby was considered one of the better young cornerbacks in the NFL.

A second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2015, Darby excelled as a rookie, and he followed that up with a solid sophomore campaign. But after being traded to the Eagles in 2017, Darby struggled to stay on the field. The cornerback missed seven games in 2017 due to an ankle injury and tore his ACL the following year, costing him eight more contests. The Eagles re-signed Darby to a one-year deal in 2019, and the cornerback missed another five games dealing with a hip injury.

After truly hitting the open market for the first time in his career, Darby signed to a cheap one-year, $4 million deal with the Redskins, the cornerback's second consecutive one-year contract. Darby said he expected the market to be what it was, and the 26-year-old joins the Burgundy and Gold feeling like he has something to prove.

"Every year, even if you played good last year, you’re going to always have something to prove, whether you played good or bad," Darby said. "This year I go in and I’ve always got something to prove, but of course I feel like I’ve got a lot more to prove due to the fact this is my second one-year deal and things like that. So my main focus is to take care of my body and stay healthy, and go out there and make plays."

Darby understands why he was forced to sign another one-year deal. He knows he has to put a full season together of good football -- while staying healthy -- in order for a team to commit to him on a long-term basis. Although his new contract doesn't guarantee him anything past the 2020 season, Darby is confident he can return to the solid cornerback he was a few seasons ago.

"As the corner I know I am, I’m a great corner," Darby said. "I had to battle obstacles and stuff like that, and at the end of the day whether you’re hurt or good you still got to go out there and perform. You can’t always have excuses. I know that I can be the person that I am, that I’ve shown."

There were several factors that stood out to Darby when the opportunity to join the Redskins presented itself, with one being able to play for Ron Rivera. The new Redskins coach has an excellent reputation around the league and is one of the better defensive minds in the sport.

Darby explained that he didn't have much of a relationship with Rivera prior to being signed, but believes there's a ton of mutual respect between the two. Rivera's defenses have also produced one thing that stood out to new Redskins defensive back: cornerbacks play well, and they get paid.

"I just know him from Carolina," Darby said. "I believe it was last year or the year before last he gave me a shout-out saying he respected how I play and things like that before we played Carolina like two years ago. His defenses have been good, corners that have played in his defense got paid."

The Panthers top cornerback from a season ago, James Bradberry, just signed a three-year, $45 million with the New York Giants. Of course, there's also Josh Norman, who earned himself a five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins after excelling under Rivera with the Panthers in 2015.

Like his new secondary mate Sean Davis, Darby also grew up in the DMV area and was a Redskins fan when he was younger. The chance to play for his hometown team was certainly something that stood out to the cornerback. But the opportunity to face Philadelphia, his old team, twice a year was another added bonus to signing with Washington, too.

"It's crazy. I'm grateful for the opportunity in Washington," Darby said. "I'm from the DMV area and grew up a Redskins fan, so I get to come back home and play for the team I grew up loving. I get to go against my old teammates twice a year. That'll be fun."

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