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Te'o and Manziel hit Manhattan with Heisman hopes

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Te'o and Manziel hit Manhattan with Heisman hopes

NEW YORK (AP) Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was looking forward to a break after a five-city-in-five-days tour, during which he has become the most decorated player in college football.

``I'm just trying to get a workout in and get some sleep,'' he said Friday about his plans for the night.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel seemed to have more energy when he arrived at a midtown Manhattan hotel with his fellow Heisman Trophy finalist. In fairness, Johnny Football's week hasn't been nearly as hectic, though this trip to New York city is different from the first time he visited with his family when he was young.

``It's just taking it up a whole `nother level, but happy to be here,'' he said.

Manziel and Te'o spent about 30 minutes getting grilled by dozens of reporters in a cramped conference room, posed for some pictures with the big bronze statue that they are hoping to win and were quickly whisked away for more interviews and photo opportunities.

Manziel, Te'o or Collin Klein, the other finalists who couldn't make it to town Friday, each has a chance to be a Heisman first Saturday night.

Manziel is trying to be the first freshman to win the award. Te'o would be the first winner to play only defense. Klein would be Kansas State's first Heisman winner.

Manziel and Te'o were on the same flight from Orlando, Fla., where several college football awards were handed out last night. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback was just happy the 255-pound linebacker didn't try to record another sack when they met.

``He's a big guy,'' Manziel said, flashing a big smile from under his white Texas A&M baseball cap. ``I thought he might stuff me in locker and beat me up a little bit.''

The two hadn't had much time for sightseeing yet, but they did walk around Times Square some, saying hello to a few fans. They probably weren't too difficult to spot in their team issued warm-up gear.

``We've just been talking about goofy stuff. Playing video games. Playing Galaga. Just some things from back in the day. Messing around with each other,'' Manziel said. ``Kind of seeing who is going to take more pictures. He's definitely taking that award right now.''

Te'o is already going to need a huge trophy case to house his haul from this week. He has won six major awards, including the Maxwell as national player of the year. He'll try to become Notre Dame's eighth Heisman winner and first since Tim Brown in 1987.

``I can only imagine how I would feel if I win the Heisman,'' he said.

Charles Woodson of Michigan in 1997 is the closest thing to a true defensive player winning the Heisman. Woodson was a dominant cornerback, but he also returned punts and played a little receiver. That helped burnish his Heisman credentials.

Te'o is all linebacker. He leads the top-ranked Fighting Irish with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.

Klein was the front-runner for the Heisman for a good chunk of the season, but he played his worst game late in the season - in a loss at Baylor - and the momentum Manziel gained by leading Texas A&M to victory at Alabama has been tough to stop.

Manziel's numbers are hard to deny. He set a Southeastern Conference record with 4,600 total yards, throwing for more than 3,000 and rushing for more than 1,000.

Klein, by comparison, averages about 100 fewer total yards per game (383-281) than Manziel.

A freshman has never won the Heisman. Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson came closest in 2004, finishing second by Southern California's Matt Leinart.

Manziel is a redshirt freshman, meaning he attended Texas A&M and practiced with the team but did not play last year. Still, he'd be the most inexperienced college player to win the sport's most prestigious award.

``It's surreal for me to sit here and think about that this early in my career,'' he said. ``With what me and my teammates have gone through, with how they've played and how they've helped me to get to this point, it's just a testament to how good they are and how good they've been this year.

``Without them I wouldn't be here and that's the real story to all this.''

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.

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Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

The Caps looked like they were in good shape in the third period on Wednesday. With a 3-2 lead in the final frame against a New York Rangers team that had played the night before, Washington looked like they were starting to wear down the blue shirts and tilt the ice in their favor.

But everything changed just before the midway point of the period.

Nathan Walker, in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 4, chased down Neal Pionk behind the Rangers net as Pionk went to collect the puck. Walker put his arms around the Rangers’ defenseman to slow him up and he was called for holding.

“That was the safest thing possible for me to do is to wrap him up and take him in the corner like that,” Walker said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. “Personally, I didn't think it was a good call on the ref's side, but that's the way it goes.”

Just over a minute later, Chris Kreider deflected a shot that was going wide past Braden Holtby for the power play goal to tie the game at 3.

A third period mistake that tied the game from a player in and out of the lineup could have been a devastating moment for Walker, but head coach Todd Reirden was adamant after the game that he did not want Walker to lose his aggressiveness or change the way he plays as a result of Wednesday’s mistake.

“I insert him to be aggressive and his intensity was something we needed,” Reirden said. “I thought he won a lot of puck battles earlier in the game and at different points. He's pursuing the puck trying to force a turnover and it ends up as a call against. That's I think a tough call in that situation, but we're able to pick him up and if there's a guy on our team that we want to rally around and try to come back for, it's someone like that with a work ethic and just commitment and dedication and how he is as a teammate.”

Luckily for Walker, the Caps were still able to get the win thanks to Matt Niskanen’s overtime goal. Those were nervous moments for him watching as the team tried to overcome his mistake.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking for sure,” Walker said. “You kind of feel like you're the reason why they got back into the game. I personally thought we were all over them in the third period up until they got that goal. I think we still played really well, but obviously the play with the lead is a lot nicer than playing tied up 10 minutes to go in the third. It was nerve-wracking, but it was good that the guys came through and we got the two points at the end of the day so that's the main thing.”

The fact that Walker’s mistake did not end up costing the team will make it easier for Reirden’s message to sink in. It’s his aggressiveness that makes him valuable. One mistake should not make him change that aspect of his game.

Said Reirden, “It's something that if he stops hunting pucks and creating havoc up ice then he's just a very average player that's going to find himself in and out of the league.”

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