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Top rookie with anxiety issue joins Rockets' camp

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Top rookie with anxiety issue joins Rockets' camp

HOUSTON (AP) Royce White finally got to focus on basketball Monday, joining the Houston Rockets after he missed the first week of training camp to form a long-term plan for his anxiety issues.

White, the 16th overall pick in the draft, has a deal with the team to travel by bus to some games this season, a compromise he says will help him cope with his anxiety, fear of flying and obsessive compulsive disorder over the long term.

He was happy to just be back on the court after the swell of national media attention sparked by his request to the team.

``Trying to get back in the swing of things,'' White said. ``It went as good as it could go.''

Houston held its first week of practice in McAllen, home of its developmental league affiliate. The Rockets were back at the Toyota Center on Monday, and coach Kevin McHale said White was noticeably behind in his conditioning and his familiarity with Houston's plays.

``He's got to catch up on what we're doing,'' McHale said. ``It's always hard when you're a young guy and you miss early camp practice, when you're trying to establish your principles and what you're doing. But he'll be fine.''

White's off-the-court issues were no secret. NBA teams still wanted to talk to him after his one spectacular season at Iowa State. White was the only Division I player to lead his team in scoring (13.4 points per game), rebounds (9.3 per game), assists (five per game), steals (1.2 per game) and blocks (0.9 per game) and led the Cyclones to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.

The Rockets decided he was too good to pass up. And over the summer, White flew with the team to Las Vegas and to the rookie orientation in New York City, suggesting that he had a handle on his aerophobia.

As training camp approached, though, White felt apprehensive about starting his first NBA season without a plan to cope with his disorder. He contacted the Rockets through his agent and the two sides negotiated their arrangement.

``I'm excited,'' White said. ``It's a different plan than I've ever had going into a season. I'm happy that the Rockets are willing to work with me, and I'm excited to see what I can do under new circumstances.''

McHale, who played 13 seasons in a Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics, acknowledged concern for how White was going to navigate through the travel demands of the league schedule.

``Royce is going to have a little bit of a different path in the NBA,'' McHale said. ``If your choice is to have a 10-hour bus ride, or an hour flight, everyone would want to take an hour flight. He's just going to have to work his way through all that stuff.

``We're here to help him and support him as much as we can,'' McHale said, ``but he eventually has to be responsible to your team and your teammates. That's the biggest thing.''

On Monday, White easily answered questions in front of a throng of media. If anything, White said going public with his personal struggle has been cathartic.

``In a lot of areas, we're actors,'' White said with a smile. ``The camera doesn't frighten me. Planes do.''

He hopes the attention his situation has generated creates more awareness for mental-health issues and treatment.

``It helps for me, just to be honest,'' he said. ``One of the things that comes with anxiety is trying to hide from what you're scared of and oftentimes, that is the spotlight. Being honest and having good feedback obviously helps me out.''

His teammates seemed happy to have White back, greeting him with high-fives and encouragement when practice began. If White can blossom, the Rockets think he can provide a strong - and much-needed - inside presence.

``He has a unique skill set,'' point guard Jeremy Lin said. ``We don't really have anybody who can do what he can do. More importantly, we're thankful that he's healthy and with the team. He learned a lot today. He didn't look like he missed too much.''

White seems willing to do whatever is necessary to get up to speed on the court.

``I just stay goal-oriented,'' White said. ``I want to be a good teammate, and I want to be a part of this organization. I have other goals and aspirations and I just stick to those, focus on those. I'm just ready to do whatever they ask me to do.''

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 22, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview: Offense

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the offense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. 

Alex Smith

The subheadline here doesn’t need any elaboration. The Redskins gave up a top-100 draft pick, a promising player, and $71 million in guaranteed money to get him. When asked about the timetable for Smith picking up the offense, Jay Gruden said, “He has got to get it down by the first game.”

That first game is seven weeks from today. Of course, the process has already started as Smith appeared to have a solid grasp of things in the offseason practices. There is every reason to think that he will look good in Richmond. 

The question is, how much will the coaches push him? Will they focus on him having success on shorter, easier throws to build his confidence? Or will they call plays that test his ability to throw deep? Last year in Kansas City his ability to hit on long passes helped transform him from being an above-average quarterback to an MVP candidate. The Redskins need him to be effective deep starting Week 1 and training camp needs to be the starting point. 

The running back rotation

This is primarily about Derrius Guice, who is the most anticipated rookie running back in team history. The Redskins were 28th in rushing yards last year and they bring back the same offensive line (although hoping for better health) and three of the same running backs. They are counting on Guice to be the difference maker. 

But Guice can’t do it by himself. Gruden will be wary of overworking his rookie, who has an aggressive running style and who was banged up for a lot of his last year at LSU. He also may give Guice a light load if he struggles in pass protection early on. Chris Thompson’s role is set. Where do Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine line up? Does one or the other take most of the first-team reps when Guice is getting a rest? 

The difference between being the third back and the fourth is big. The fourth back on the depth chart is unlikely to be active most game days. The active back could get five to 10 carries per game.

Who’s at left guard?

Is Shawn Lauvao going to be the left guard? It doesn’t seem logical that they would put all their eggs in Lauvao’s injury-prone and frequently ineffective basket. Will Ty Nsekhe line up there? Do they think that Tyler Catalina or Kyle Kalis can push for the starting job? Is a trade in the offing? 

Jordan Reed’s health

This does not need much explanation if you’ve been paying attention the last several years. It would be both a good sign and a major surprise if he starts camp healthy and doesn’t miss any time due to injuries. If he’s out there, there is no question that he and Smith will quickly develop chemistry. 

Wide receiver depth chart

The stakes at wide receiver are similar to those at running back. The top backup behind the three starters, who could be any of Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick or Try Quinn, will have a regular role in the offense line Ryan Grant had last year. The fifth guy will rarely play, the player who has the sixth spot will rarely play, and the seventh won’t have a job. 

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

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Apparently, some teams are worried that their players are playing too much of the video game Fortnite. No, seriously.

Timeline 

Happy birthday to Redskins running back Quinton Dunbar, who was born on this date in 1992.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 4
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 18
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 41

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 49 days. 

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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