Redskins

Texans look to limit mistakes against Patriots

Texans look to limit mistakes against Patriots

HOUSTON (AP) Win the turnover battle.

That's Texans coach Gary Kubiak's biggest concern as his team prepares for a divisional playoff game at New England.

The Patriots lead the NFL in turnover differential this season at plus-25. The Texans have done well in that area this year and were seventh with a plus-12 margin.

But in the first meeting with New England, Matt Schaub threw an interception on Houston's second drive, contributing to an early 14-0 hole in a 42-14 win by the Patriots.

``They get them,'' he said. ``They don't give it up. If we go in there and do anything to help them we're in trouble.''

Kubiak is also preaching the importance of taking advantage of opportunities this week. He was unhappy with Houston's inability to do that in the first meeting with the Patriots.

The Texans were just outside of the red zone when Schaub was intercepted in that game. And Houston went on fourth down twice before halftime and didn't convert after passes fell incomplete.

``Missed opportunities, they hurt all the time, but against these guys they're a lot worse because of what they do offensively and how good they are,'' Kubiak said of the Patriots. ``When you get opportunities to go down there and score some points, you better. You better not hurt yourself. We've got to find ways to do that. They're going to make plays and we understand that, but we got to find a way to make quite a few ourselves.''

Another component of that will be for Houston to score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals like it did again and again against the Bengals. Houston dominated the first half of that game, outgaining Cincinnati 250-53, but led by only two points at halftime after kicking three field goals.

``We've just got to finish,'' Kubiak said. ``We moved the heck out of the ball and had a good day offensively. We've got to finish, got to put those points on the board.''

Especially this week when the Texans face a New England team averaging an NFL-best 34.8 points a game. Houston is averaging 26 points, but managed more than 20 points just once in the last five games.

The Texans are 9 1/2-point underdogs in this one. Kubiak doesn't think his players are concerned about that.

``We know that our effort and how we performed last time wouldn't give us a chance against anybody on the road,'' Kubiak said. ``It's about right now refocusing on all the things we have to do to go down there and have a chance to be successful, and I'm sure that's what they're thinking about.''

That's doesn't mean the Texans haven't noticed that almost no one is giving them a chance to win on Sunday. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy's piece in the Sunday newspaper called the Texans ``fraudulent,'' and said all the Patriots have to do to get to the AFC championship game is ``beat the terrible Texans.'' It got the attention of Arian Foster.

The star running back responded by changing his Twitter avatar to the first three paragraphs of the column on Monday.

Foster had 32 carries for 140 yards in Houston's wild-card win, and the Texans will certainly need another big game from him against the Patriots. They faced Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins of Cincinnati and not go up against another in Vince Wilfork.

``If you sit there and think you're going to run it at him consistently, it's very difficult,'' Kubiak said of Wilfork. ``They're very good against the run ... the thing that is so difficult, is he plays everywhere. So it's not like you go the other way with the ball or try to avoid something. You're going to have to deal with him all day long.''

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Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Ron Rivera describes situation with Trent Williams as 'fluid,' has no update on guard Brandon Scherff

Redskins head coach Ron Rivera was asked a plethora of questions when he addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, such as what impressed him about quarterback Dwayne Haskins and what players the team will consider with the No. 2 pick.

While Rivera talked in detail about meeting with top quarterback prospects and what his view on free agency is, the head coach did not offer much insight about two offensive linemen: Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff.

Rivera confirmed recent reports that he had spoken with Williams, the team's cornerstone left tackle, but would not go much further than that.

"Trent Williams and I have talked. We had a good conversation," Rivera said. "Again, that's a work in progress and we'll see how things unfold. It's a fluid situation."

Williams, of course, did not play a snap for the Redskins in 2019, holding out after believing Redskins doctors misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his head for nearly six years. But after the organization had practically a complete reboot this offseason, firing longtime team president Bruce Allen and athletic trainer Larry Hess.

Rivera stated he has a plan to get Williams to return. A report last week stated No. 71 will return to the Redskins because of Rivera. But thus far, nothing has amounted.

"I think where it is, we're still working through details," Rivera said. "We're in a good place. We had a good conversation and we're going to go from that."

The head coach was also asked questions about right guard Brandon Scherff, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Scherff reportedly turned down a hefty extension last year that would have paid him upwards of $13 million annually, but did tell NBC Sports Washington last October he wants to remain in Washington for the entirety of his career.

Rivera was asked about his plan with Scherff and whether the franchise tag was a potential option. The head coach gave a vague response while avoiding answering the question directly.

"Well, the biggest thing again, is that we like our guys," Rivera said. "We like our guys that are free agents. We want to try to bring those guys back, we'll see how things go."

The head coach's answer did not sound like he's confident the Redskins will be able to retain the three-time Pro Bowler.

"You have to look at everything," Rivera said. "What happens if they don't come back? It's a pretty fair free agency, but you never know, because guys are trying to re-sign their own players."

The Redskins have until March 12 to place the franchise tag on Scherff, should they decide to go that route. Until then, the two sides are expected to continue to work on reaching a long-term deal.

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Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom’s early defensive struggles at third base aren’t a major concern--yet

Carter Kieboom is getting his chance.

The 22-year-old infield prospect is competing for the Nationals’ starting job at third base this spring following the departure of Anthony Rendon in free agency. A natural shortstop, Kieboom has started just nine games at third in his professional career but is shifting across the infield because that’s where the Nationals need him.

So far, the early returns have been—well, not great. On Sunday, Kieboom dropped a line drive off the bat of Miami Marlins slugger Jesús Aguilar then sailed the throw over the head off first baseman Eric Thames for his first error of the spring. He picked up his second miscue against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, when he charged a groundball and missed his target while throwing on the run.

The plays aren’t pretty, but that’s what spring training is for.

Competitions are held, young players get their shot, everyone has something they’re working to improve. Kieboom is trying to earn a job at a position he hasn’t played regularly since he was a kid. Mistakes shouldn’t be reasons for alarm, they should be expected.

That being said, Kieboom will only be granted the it’s-still-early grace period for so long. Opening Day is less than a month away, meaning manager Davey Martinez is going to have to make a decision in the next few weeks about what he’s going to do with Kieboom.

If these errors continue, then he won’t be forced into playing Kieboom in the majors. The Nationals have a backup plan in Asdrúbal Cabrera ready to assume the position should Kieboom need more time in the minors to work at the position. Washington is already faced with few clear opportunities for Howie Kendrick to get at-bats, so sending Kieboom down makes it easier for him to make regular starts.

But for now, there’s no reason to panic over Kieboom’s first few errors. As NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes pointed out on the Nationals Talk podcast, the Nationals’ spring training leader in errors was none other than Victor Robles (he had three). You know, the Victor Robles who was a Gold Glove finalist in center field?

Kieboom is getting his chance. It’s just a question of how many the Nationals are going to give him.

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