Redskins

Sterne leads at halfway point in Dubai

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Sterne leads at halfway point in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Richard Sterne sank a birdie on 18 to take a one-shot lead over Danish youngster Thorbjorn Olesen and two others after the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia pulled to within three of Sterne despite struggling with shoulder problems that required treatment midway through his round.

Sterne, a South African who has struggled with his own injuries in recent years, finished the day with a 12-under total of 132. Olesen (66), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Stephen Gallacher (70) were a shot back.

Sterne had a topsy-turvy round in which he grabbed the lead with a birdie on 13 only to fall back into a tie when his drive went into sandy rough and he bogeyed 14. He recovered, though, with a 3-wood that traveled 250 yards and landed on the fringe for a long eagle putt. He rolled it to four feet and sank it for the birdie and outright lead at the halfway point.

``I'm pretty happy with the performance today. It was not as easy as yesterday,'' said Sterne, who was a shot from matching the course record on Thursday with a 10-under 62. ``I held it together and I made a couple of good putts at the right time and a couple of good shots."

The 165th-ranked Sterne barely played in 2010 and 2011 because of a bad back, and was forced to spend his time watching countrymen win majors while he recuperated. He has won five times on the European Tour - the last time in 2009 - but admitted this was a rare occasion when he was leading coming into the weekend.

``I always kind of won coming from behind. I've been close to the lead on Sunday so I know what it's about,'' Sterne said. ``There's a long way to go in this tournament. The guys are bunched up and there are some good players and I think anyone five or six back has still got a good chance of winning.''

Olesen, a Dane who won his first tour event last year, started off with four birdies and sank a 15-footer on his 10th to move into a share of the lead. He briefly took the lead alone when he sank a 20-footer for one of his six birdies. He also didn't drop a shot for the second day in a row.

``I played more solidly, definitely. I rolled the putts really nicely the first two days, and that's why I'm 11 under,'' Olesen said. ``I struck the irons a lot better today. I was still struggling a little bit from the tee and I got a few good breaks out there, especially on 8. It could have been a double but I saved par there.''

Olesen is considered one of the rising stars of European golf. He signed alongside Rory McIlroy with Nike last month and broke into the top 50 with a second-place finish in Abu Dhabi, ensuring he will play all four majors this year.

``I want to win twice this season,'' he said. ``That's my main goal. So the quicker I can get the first one, the better.''

Six more players were within three shots of Sterne including Garcia, whose 67 put him at 9 under.

Early on, it appeared it would be a disappointing day for Garcia. The tightness in his left shoulder during the first round continued on Friday. He contemplated withdrawing four holes into the round but reconsidered when he got hot, carding two of his five birdies and an eagle on the final three holes.

``On the 14th green, I told my caddie, if it doesn't get better after 18, we'll probably walk. Because what I don't want is to keep building up and not really recover it,'' Garcia said. ``Then, unfortunately, we started making birdies and eagles, and I thought, well, what do we do now? So I got the physio out and, he worked on it a little bit, put some ball on it. It did feel a little bit better.''

Lee Westwood didn't fare so well. On track to finish the day at 8 under, he double-bogeyed the 17th after drove into sandy rough, botched a chip, and missed a short bogey putt. On 18, he reached the greenside rough in two but missed an eight-foot birdie putt to finish at 6 under.

Two-time major winner Mark O'Meara, who was in contention after the first round at 5 under, shot 2-over 74 on Friday to just make the cut at 3 under. Colin Montgomerie, shot 75 to sit level par. He missed the cut that was projected to be at 2 under.

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So what does Josh Norman want from Redskins fans? 'Pandemonium'

So what does Josh Norman want from Redskins fans? 'Pandemonium'

Josh Norman made headlines last week when he called out a subset of Redskins fans for booing the home team and others for not showing up to FedEx Field.

Some fans took exception to Norman's comments, but on Wednesday, the star cornerback made clear exactly what he wanted from fans. 

"You want to see an atmosphere full with raving Redskins Nation fans and pandemonium," Norman said during an interview with Larry Michael on Redskins Nation. 

"That's what you want to see."

Norman's request seems more than fair, especially considering the 6-3 Redskins will take on the 6-3 Texans. Both teams are in first place in their division, and while Washington is coming off a solid road win in Tampa, Houston travels to FedEx Field winners of six-straight. 

"It’s big, because the other team is coming in at 6-3," Norman said. 

6-3 is the best Redskins record this late in the season since 2008, and Norman recognizes his team is trying to turn mediocre tide of recent years and that fans might need a reminder.

"To change that from the culture where it was to now coming around, come on man, we need your support."

For decades, the Redskins fan base was considered among the NFL's best. Venerable RFK Stadium had arguably the best home-field advantage in the league. Norman remembered that.

"This is a signature storied franchise," Norman said. "I grew up with it knowing the Washington Redskins and knowing how big it was. Down in Carolina that was our team. The Washington Redskins was the team of the South. Everybody was about that."

Times change.

The 'Skins left RFK more than 20 years ago and now Carolina roots for the Panthers. 

Still, for Norman and many players, the challenge is out there for the fans to fill up FedEx Field and make it a hostile atmosphere for the Texans.

"From the inside of the stands to the outside of it, all Redskins Nation going in there live, pumping us up. We feeding off of them, we giving them something to cheer for and they giving us back something to be excited for," Norman said. "Those big 3rd downs. As long as we need them, we hear those decibels. We need it up to 105. Literally just blow it off the roof, those decibels, just shoot them up. That’s what we need."

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Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

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Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments. 

Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.

With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.

"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."

While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season. 

When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have "butterflies" at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."

Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start. 

The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides. 

"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either. 

But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III

For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.

After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.

"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."

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