Redskins

Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

NEW YORK (AP) Instead of closing in on a deal, the NHL and the players' association are further apart than ever before.

Union executive director Donald Fehr began the first of his two news conferences Thursday night by proclaiming he believed the sides had agreements on such issues as actual dollars, and then returned moments later to reveal the NHL rejected everything his side offered.

Hot-button topics such as the ``make-whole'' provision on existing contracts not only weren't settled, but are no longer being offered by the league. Forget that owners were willing to pay up to $300 million to cover the costs, now Commissioner Gary Bettman is saying the entire concept is off the table - along with everything else the league proposed during the previous two days of talks.

``They knew there was a major gulf between us and yet they came down here and told you we were close,'' deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

Fehr vehemently disputed that assessment and stuck to his opinion that the sides really aren't far apart.

When the NHL agreed to increase its offer of payments from $211 million, it was part of a proposal that required the union to agree to three nonnegotiable points. The players' association accepted the raise, but then made counterproposals on the issues the league stated had no wiggle room.

The NHL wants to limit personal player contracts to five years, seven for a club's own player. The union countered with an offer of an eight-year maximum length with the variable in salary being no greater than a 25 percent difference between the highest-paid year of the deal and the lowest.

The other sticking points the NHL demanded of the players are a 10-year term on the new agreement, with a mutual opt-out option after eight years, and no compliance buy-outs or caps on escrow in the transition phase to the new structure. The union presented an offer of an eight-year deal with a reopener after six.

The sides won't meet again before Saturday at the earliest.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Manti Te'o was ``at a loss for words'' after capturing the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player, one of three honors Notre Dame's senior linebacker received at the 22nd Home Depot College Football Awards show at Disney World.

``The last time I ever dreamt of winning that award was on a video game,'' he said. ``So to win it is a mind-blowing experience.''

Te'o now has won six major awards since the end of the regular season, also taking home the Bednarik Award for top defensive player and Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award on Thursday. He became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, ending a string of nine straight quarterbacks.

Next up is the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday night, with Te'o and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel considered the favorites.

Manziel won the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and the Aggies' junior offensive lineman Luke Joeckel took home the Outland Trophy for the nation's best interior lineman.

Other players honored Thursday were Southern California's Marqise Lee (Biletnikoff Award for top receiver), Tulane's Cairo Santos (Lou Groza Award for top kicker), Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen (Ray Guy Award for top punter), Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive back), and Wisconsin's Montee Ball (Doak Walker Award for top running back).

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Current athletic director and former coach Barry Alvarez will return to the sidelines to coach Wisconsin when it faces No. 8 Stanford on New Year's Day. The announcement came two days after Bret Bielema stepped down to take over at Arkansas.

DENVER (AP) - A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that Butch Jones has rejected an offer to become the football coach at the University of Colorado.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Charlie Strong is staying at Louisville, saying he turned down an offer from Tennessee to stay with the Cardinals.

BASEBALL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A quiet winter meetings figures to lead to a busy rest of December, given how few moves actually got finished at sprawling Opryland hotel.

As teams headed home Thursday, the biggest free agents were still on the market. The availability of slugger Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zack Greinke held up decisions on other signings and possible trades involving Rangers infielder Michael Young and Mets Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

The Yankees, quiet thus far, were pursuing former Boston star Kevin Youkilis and also met with the agent for Mark Reynolds.

With most clubs already packed up, Philadelphia acquired outfielder Ben Revere from Minnesota for right-handers Vance Worley and Trevor May.

Hamilton could remain with Texas, and Seattle seemed to be interested. Greinke's options include staying with the Los Angeles Angels, moving up the coast to the Dodgers or signing with the Rangers.

PRO FOOTBALL

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed that Ben Roethlisberger will return to the starting lineup Sunday against San Diego after missing three weeks due to injuries to his right throwing shoulder and ribs.

Roethlisberger will play with a custom-fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the league is willing to contribute funding to help build a stadium in Oakland to keep the Raiders in town.

Goodell said it is crucial that the Raiders improve their stadium situation. They currently play in the outdated Oakland Coliseum and have said they would like a more modern facility at the same location. There have been talks between the team and city officials but nothing concrete has happened as of yet.

Goodell also said the league's competition committee would consider in the offseason replacing the kickoff. The league previously had moved the kickoff from the 30 to 35-yard line to cut down on violent collisions.

BLUE RIDGE, Texas (AP) - A relative of the slain girlfriend of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher said she was a loyal friend who brought joy to others with her smiles and laughter.

Kasandra Perkins' great-uncle also told mourners at a service that Perkins loved her family and considered her 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, to be the love of her life.

Family and friends gathered at a rural North Texas church to remember the 22-year-old Perkins, five days after Belcher killed her then shot himself in the head.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Peyton Hillis lashed back at former teammate Joe Thomas, comparing the Browns' offensive tackle to a ``crazy ex-girlfriend'' after he made disparaging comments about the Kansas City Chiefs running back.

Thomas told reporters in Cleveland on Wednesday that Hillis didn't always play hard during his time with the Browns. He also accused Hillis of creating a ``toxic'' environment in the locker room by putting his contract situation ahead of the team.

PRO BASKETBALL

ORANGE, Calif. (AP) - Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $500,000 in back child support to his ex-wife, her attorney said Thursday.

The flamboyant basketball player known for his off-court antics was sentenced to informal probation, his ex-wife's attorney, Mary Ann Noiroux, told City News Service. Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Barry Michaelson warned Rodman could face jail time if he doesn't pay the child support, she said.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Creighton guard Josh Jones was being held overnight and was to undergo further testing Friday at a Lincoln hospital after passing out before the Bluejays' game against Nebraska.

Coach Greg McDermott wrote in a text message to The Associated Press on Thursday night that Jones ``is tired but doing well.''

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah State basketball player who collapsed at practice was moved out of the intensive care unit and upgraded to fair condition.

Intermountain Medical Center spokesman Jason Carlton said Danny Berger remains at the Salt Lake City-area hospital.

The 22-year-old Berger collapsed on the court during a practice Tuesday in Logan.

GOLF

SYDNEY (AP) - Australia's John Senden shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday in calm morning conditions at The Lakes to take a two-stroke lead in the Australian Open.

Englishman Justin Rose was second along with Australians Kim Felton, Brendan Jones and Richard Green and New Zealand's Gareth Paddison.

CHON BURI, Thailand (AP) - South Africa's Charl Schwartzel shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - China's Shanshan Feng opened a four-stroke lead in the Dubai Ladies Masters, shooting a 7-under 65 in the second round.

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) - Rain washed out play in the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship. The opening event of the 2013 European Tour season also is sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

SEATTLE (AP) - Former Olympic judo bronze medalist and rising mixed-martial arts star Ronda Rousey will fight in the main event at UFC 157 on Feb. 23 in Anaheim, Calif., where she will face Liz Carmouche in the first women's fight in UFC history.

SOCCER

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Lionel Messi says that his injured knee feels much better despite fearing the worst when he collided with the goalkeeper during a Champions League match against Benfica.

The Barcelona forward says he may miss Sunday's league match at Real Betis, but had originally thought his career might be in jeopardy.

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Clint Dempsey put Tottenham ahead in the 76th minute on a header that was later ruled an own goal and Spurs reached the knockout stage of the Europa League with a 3-1 win over Panathinaikos.

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that hit the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side but since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact, there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball, but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat, the whole offense will be harder to defend.

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Tandler on Twitter

My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:

Timeline  

Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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