Redskins

Texans tied for NFL's best mark

Texans tied for NFL's best mark

HOUSTON (AP) It wasn't pretty, but the Houston Texans found a way to beat the Bears and escape Chicago tied for the best record in the NFL.

Now the Texans (8-1) are preparing for one of the NFL's worst teams in Jacksonville, focused on improving as they inch closer to their goal of reaching the Super Bowl.

Houston coach Gary Kubiak believes Sunday's win will help his team in the future.

``The more ways you find to win in this league, you get more confidence,'' he said. ``Things like that give you a chance to be a great team. There will be nothing false about what we are when we get there at the end because we've been in some tough situations. And the more we handle them, the better we get.''

He said winning a tough game on the road was particularly important with games at New England and Indianapolis coming up in the second half of the season.

Kubiak sees the Texans maturing, and knows that will be key if they hope to become a championship team. He talks to his team often about getting to that goal.

``Can you be a good enough football team or a good enough organization to win a championship,'' he said he asks his team. ``I think there are different levels and we're trying to work our way toward that mindset.''

The Texans got the 13-6 victory on Sunday by forcing four turnovers and grinding out the win with their running game led by Arian Foster's 102 yards rushing and the game's only touchdown on a 2-yard reception.

Foster is third in the NFL with 872 yards rushing. Kubiak has been pleased with him all season, but thought his work on Sunday night was particularly impressive.

``I would say that was about the toughest 102 yards a man could get,'' Kubiak said. ``If you look at some of the great games he's had, I don't think there's anything bigger than last night because we were running against eight-, nine- man fronts all night. Everybody and their brother knew who was getting the ball and he still found a way to keep us on track.''

Houston's line led by end J.J. Watt, usually leads the way defensively. But against the Bears, it was the secondary that came up big. Safety Danieal Manning, a former Bear, led the way with an interception and a forced fumble.

But that wasn't the only way he contributed to the win.

``He did a really good job with our team the night before the game, just talking about what it was going to take to win in that place,'' Kubiak said. ``He's a leader on this team and a fine player. I thought he did an exceptional job with the rest of his teammates this week letting them know what it was going to be like, how we were going to have to play to win that game.''

Cornerback Kareem Jackson also had an interception for the Texans. Jackson has shaken off a slow start to his career to emerge as a solid member of Houston's defense in his third season.

``We all know what Kareem's been through,'' Kubiak said. ``Good pros, they go through tough times early in their career, but then when they come out of it, they're consistent and good for a long, long time. I think that's what you're seeing from Kareem.''

The Texans could get a boost this week with the return of a trio of injured players. Running back Ben Tate, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, has been running with trainers and could play on Sunday.

Nose tackle Shaun Cody (ribs) and tight end Owen Daniels (back), who sat out Sunday, are also better and should return to practice this week. Cody will go through what Kubiak called a trial run on Wednesday.

``If he's able to work through that situation I think you could see him on the field probably Thursday or Friday,'' Kubiak said of Cody. ``We're heading toward him being back active and being a part of it.''

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Crazy amount of injuries piling up for Redskins 2018 draft class

Crazy amount of injuries piling up for Redskins 2018 draft class

Overall, the Redskins injury situation is again bordering on the absurd. In 2017 injuries derailed the defense, and in 2018, the same thing is happening on the offensive side of the ball. 

The big names are the most obvious losses, guys like Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson too. 

But beyond the big names, an even more absurd injury trend has emerged, and it's wrecking the Redskins' 2018 draft class.

First-round pick Daron Payne has been terrific for this team, but after that, the Redskins rookies have all landed in the trainers room, and eventually, the injured reserve. 

  • Derrius Guice - 2nd round pick - IR - Out for year in preseason
  • Geron Christian - 3rd round pick - IR - Played two games before going to IR Week 11.
  • Troy Apke - 4th round pick - IR - Played two games before going to IR Week 9.
  • Trey Quinn - 7th round pick - IR - Played in season opener before going to IR, eligible to come back as early as this week.
  • Cam Sims - Undrafted free agent - IR - Played in season opener before going to IR. Last update Jay Gruden said that Sims was not ready to return from injury. 
     

It's never wise to rush to judge a draft class. Players need to mature over a few NFL seasons.

For the 2018 class, however, it's hard to gauge their performance since the Redskins have gotten so little on-field production.

Payne has been terrific, but outside of his stellar play on the defensive line and the work from seventh-round pick Greg Stroman and undrafted free agent Danny Johnson, the 'Skins aren't getting much from their rookies.

Christian and Apke did not look good in the limited work they got. After flashing plenty of potential in training camp, Guice got hurt in the preseason. The Redskins could use help at WR, but Quinn and Sims haven't done it so far. Quinn will get a chance to come back, but Sims probably won't.

Beyond Payne and the two cornerbacks, other rookies Tim Settle, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Adonis Alexander are all playing small roles and helping the team. Stroman made his first career interception in Sunday's win over the Bucs, and Hamilton forced a fumble earlier this season. 

In some ways it's remarkable that Washington has performed so well this season while getting so little from valuable draft choices. It's a testament to the team's depth. And certainly rookie injuries don't mean the players won't become more valuable down the road. 

Still, add it all up, and it's astonishing that the Redskins have placed five rookies on the IR. And it's only Week 11. 

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Jeff Green lifts Wizards as fellow Hoya Otto Porter watches late again

Jeff Green lifts Wizards as fellow Hoya Otto Porter watches late again

The Wizards’ 117-109 win over the Orlando Magic Monday night was the tale of two Hoyas.

Washington brought Jeff Green back home this summer to help anchor the second unit with his defensive versatility and scoring spurts. Both aspects were on display in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards finally broke free from the Magic.

Another former Georgetown star, Otto Porter, was nowhere to be found in the fourth. Zero minutes for a third consecutive game for the Wizards’ highest-paid player, thus adding another layer of weird to his season.

The why is a topic. For a team that registered its first winning streak of the season after a 2-9 start, all that matters is finding success. That was the postgame message from Scott Brooks.

There’s no detective work required as to why Green turned into a late-game staple.

After his 19-point outing in Saturday’s win at Miami, the streaky scorer had 10 of his 18 in the final period against Orlando with four 3-pointers. Defensively the 6-foot-9 forward offers Brooks an option the roster lacked last season: a versatile player capable of guarding on the perimeter and, as was the case against Orlando center Nik Vucevic, inside against bigger players.

“We need his all-around play,” Brooks said. “He can guard just about everybody on the floor. … I thought [Jeff] did a pretty good job on the big fellow.”

Green and Markieff Morris handled the interior spots the entire fourth quarter. When the forwards can match up with opposing four’s and five’s on defense, it typically means their scoring presence opens the court for penetrating guards John Wall and Bradley Beal on the other end.

Green sinking bombs throughout the game helped as well. He finished four of five from deep with two coming in the fourth. The career 33 percent 3-point shooter is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall.

“He's starting to get a little bit of rhythm from the three-point line, and we need that from him,” Brooks said.

Maybe Green isn’t the ideal athletic-4 Wall called for in recent years, but the on-court connection between the power forward and point guard is evident. During the decisive 14-4 run, the two hooked up for an alley-oop lob that's turned into a go-to play for Washington.

With shooters surrounding the duo, Wall dribbles toward the left elbow, taking all eyes with him. Green immediately turns down an open lane and rolls to the rim before rising high to meet the toss.

“We have shooters, we have guys that have to [be] respected,” Green said of the play. “It keeps [defenders] at bay, and with John’s speed, to get downhill at the rim, you have to help (on him).”

Wall passed on offering any keys to the play’s success (“We just tweaked a little bit of the play. I can’t tell you about, but it’s kind of working for us.”), but he praised Green’s performance with ease.

“That’s what we got Jeff for,” Wall said.

The Wizards matched that massive four-year, $106.5 million restricted offer sheet Porter signed with Brooklyn in 2017 for all kinds of reasons. Among them, he’s an instinct-rich player who makes winning plays and ranks among the most accurate 3-point shooters in the league. Those traits haven’t kept Porter on the court late in games recently in part because they haven’t shown in full-throated ways.

The term “benching” is harsh, though the situation is odd. Morris sat out the final periods at Orlando and Miami. Dwight Howard didn’t enter the fourth Monday despite finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds. Only Porter’s sit streak reached three games.

The small forward played a strong defensive game in Saturday’s win at Miami, but Brooks rode with a group that gained momentum as Washington surged past the Heat.

Porter is 9 of 16 on 3-pointers over the last four games. That’s only one aspect of the game. Brooks is looking for more. Porter took only one shot attempt in the first half Monday, lacked vigor defensively, and scored six points in 21 minutes. Kelly Oubre Jr., Porter's primary backup, played the entire fourth quarter instead despite finishing 0 for 5 from the floor.

"I mean, it's trying to find a blend of guys that are going to compete and going to play hard,” Brooks said of his lineup choices.

Asked specifically about Porter, Brooks said, “It’s just the way it is. Some games Otto is not going to have good games. Tonight isn’t one of them. He’ll bounce back. The guy is a winner. He knows how to play.”

Green and Porter honed their games at Georgetown under coach John Thompson III and turned into top-5 NBA Draft selections. The program is mostly closed off to the outside world, but a strong bond between the players exists regardless of when they played. The two forwards never joined forces until this season. Green knows Porter, enough to tell whether a helpful chat is required. This isn’t one of those times. 

“Otto is a pro, man,” Green told NBC Sports Washington. “I don’t have to say anything to Otto. He’s a team-first guy. He’s a guy who’s going to make sure whenever his name is called he’s going to be ready. He’s not worried about if he’s playing. I’m sure he’d like to be playing. He’s doing whatever it takes it to make sure the team is in a place to win.”

So is Scott Brooks. For now, that includes one former Georgetown star in the fourth quarter. It’s just not the obvious one.

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