Redskins

Top scorer for No. 14 Butler feeling better

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Top scorer for No. 14 Butler feeling better

When the soreness in Rotnei Clarke's shoulders dissipates, Butler's senior guard plans to carry the Bulldogs as far as he can.

For now, all he can do is watch, wait and heal.

The top scorer for the 14th-ranked Bulldogs said Tuesday he is feeling better after a scary crash into a padded basket support, but Clarke still hasn't been cleared to resume contact and Butler has not said how much more time he'll miss beyond this week's two games.

``I'm going to start getting on the bike a little bit and then when the pain in my shoulders starts to leave a little bit with the nerves, I'll be able to shoot and be able to do non-contact stuff hopefully,'' he said, answering questions for the first time since sustaining a sprained neck at Dayton. ``Right now I'm just resting for a couple of days.''

Clarke was injured during last Saturday's victory when he was fouled on a layup, and the contact sent him head-first into a nearby basket support.

He stayed down for eight minutes before being taken away on an ambulance and was transported to a local hospital. He was released later Saturday night and returned to Indianapolis with his team despite complaining of a sore neck and a bad headache.

On Sunday, trainers removed the protective brace from Clarke's neck and allowed him to go through a light workout. On Monday night, though, the Bulldogs (14-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) issued a statement saying Clarke would be held out of Wednesday night's home game against Richmond and Saturday's home showdown against No. 8 Gonzaga.

Beyond that, the timetable is unclear.

``I'm doing the best that I can,'' Clarke said. ``I'm going to listen to our trainers and our coaches and doctors. I just have to know that they have my best interest at hand and they want what's best with me.''

Clarke was third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring heading into last weekend at 16.3 points per game.

Losing Clarke, a strong 3-point shooter who can drive to the basket, will force the Bulldogs to make changes.

Coach Brad Stevens acknowledged he will spread out the 35 to 40 minutes per game that Clarke typically plays among the rest of his players, and he'll need other players to help make up for the loss of his top scorer. He also expects defenses to make some adjustments.

``They might make some tweaks and some changes, which I do expect from some teams, but I don't know that it's necessarily predictable,'' Stevens said. ``I would assume that we will see some small tweaks, but nothing major, certainly nothing out of the norm of what teams are usually doing.''

But Stevens believes the scary scene at Dayton should raise concerns about potential injuries at other schools and could instigate a debate about where basket supports belong on the court during college games.

``It was obviously a hard foul. I've looked at it. I've seen harder fouls. But it was a hard foul,'' Stevens said. ``I think the bigger question is at what point are we going to start talking about backstops being so close to the floor. That's the bigger question. We saw one of our scarier moments in college basketball in a long time on Saturday.''

The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the Bulldogs, who face the Spiders (11-6) before playing one of the biggest non-power conference games of the season.

If the Bulldogs beat Gonzaga, it would mark the first time in school history that they have upset three Top 10 teams in one season. They beat North Carolina in Hawaii and handed No. 2 Indiana its only loss of the season last month.

Clarke wanted to be around for Saturday's game, but he will now have to settle for playing the role of supportive teammate and getting himself ready to play as soon as he's cleared.

``I feel very blessed to be walking right now. I feel blessed that I was able to walk out of the hospital,'' Clarke said. ``It puts a lot of things in perspective when something like that happens.''

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Kurt Warner believes Dwayne Haskins has the skill set to be a franchise QB

Kurt Warner believes Dwayne Haskins has the skill set to be a franchise QB

When the Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the organization hoped their investment in the passer would result in Washington finding its franchise quarterback of the future.

Whether Haskins becomes that franchise quarterback is still up for debate, as the signal-caller had an up-and-down rookie season. But the Ohio State product seemed to improve by the week and ended the season playing his best football, giving fans hope for the future.

Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl-champion quarterback who had to wait several years before getting his first NFL shot, believes Haskins can eventually develop into that franchise QB for the Burgundy and Gold.

The Super Bowl-winning quarterback joined the Redskins Talk podcast on Tuesday, and spoke highly of the 22-year-old's ability.

"The skillset, without question, is there," Warner said. "We saw that in college, we saw that in moments last year."

Warner explained that one of the things he looks for in young passers is their week-to-week improvement. That's something Haskins did very well towards the end of the 2019 season.

"To me, that's what greatness is all about," Warner said. "It's not about coming into the league and being a finished product. It's about working and getting better all the time."

In his final two games, Haskins threw for 394 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions on 72 percent completion rate. He was on his way to the best game of his brief career in Week 16 against the Giants before an ankle injury ended his afternoon in the third quarter.

"What I saw with Dwayne this year, he did improve game by game," Warner said. "As he got more comfortable with the NFL, as he got more comfortable with the system, he played better and better and made them more competitive each and every time out."

The 2020 offseason is crucial for Haskins. It's his first full offseason in the NFL, and seems poised to make a jump in Year 2. 

Haskins dealt with a lot in 2019, rookie or not. Five weeks into the season, his head coach was fired. He wasn't named the starter until Week 9, only due to injury to Case Keenum. Entering his second season, Haskins has a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and new position coach.

There's little carryover from a season ago. Very few organizations that constantly change in the NFL are successful. 

"For young quarterbacks or players in general, you want to be able to find something you’re comfortable with and grow in," Warner said. "Hopefully this is the only move they make during Dwayne's career and he can get comfortable in that offense and hopefully one day be playing in the Super Bowl as well."

Warner knows plenty about waiting to get his opportunity; he didn't get his first shot in the NFL until he was 28. But he was put into an offense nicknamed 'The Greatest Show on Turf" that featured plenty of weapons -- Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt -- which allowed the inexperienced Warner to thrive.

In his first season as the Rams starter, Warner threw for a league-high 41 touchdown passes on an 8.2 percent touchdown rate, with just 13 interceptions. His 109.2 quarterback rating was the NFL's best that season. The Rams went on to win the Super Bowl, defeating Tennessee.

"I think the other component is finding the right situation, the right system for you," Warner said. When I got back into the NFL with the Rams, I was 28 years old when I got my first start. I was able to have a lot of success early because I found myself in the right system. The offense did what I did well. It played to my strengths."

Washington doesn't have the weapons that Warner's Rams did, but the Redskins have several young assets -- Terry McLaurin, Derrius Guice and Steven Sims -- that have shown promise. Getting Haskins in the right system, one that caters to his strengths, will be crucial in the development of the young passer.

"I believe that is key for players, especially at the quarterback position. You've got to find a system," Warner said. "In this case in Washington, they need to build a system around what Dwayne Haskins does well. That's how you thrive. That's how you get to and win Super Bowls."

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'Still unbelievable': Ex-Redskins Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller reflect on Super Bowl journey

'Still unbelievable': Ex-Redskins Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller reflect on Super Bowl journey

Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller spent a combined six seasons with the Redskins, yet neither corner won a playoff game during their tenures there.

Therefore, you can excuse them if they're having a hard time expressing what it's like now being in the Super Bowl together with the Chiefs.

"It's still unbelievable," Breeland told JP Finlay at SB LIV's Media Night on Monday. "I can't even find the words to fathom how I feel about this opportunity."

In fact, the last time Breeland and Finlay chatted, the former was literally asking the latter where to purchase tickets for the NFL's biggest spectacle. He shouldn't have much trouble getting inside of the stadium this time around, though.

"I ended up not even going to that game," he said. "I told myself I wasn't going to the Super Bowl until I got a chance to play in it. Couple of years later, it came true."

Breeland's path to the Chiefs was quite bumpy. After playing for the Redskins for four years and departing after 2017, he inked a well-earned three-year deal with the Panthers. However, he cut his foot during a trip to the Dominican Republic, causing him to fail his physical with Carolina and voiding his contract.

Breeland eventually joined the Packers halfway through 2018, and then he signed with the Chiefs this past offseason. His compensation with Kansas City doesn't come close to what he could've had with Carolina, but a Super Bowl appearance plus his two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2019 could help him cash in when free agency begins in a few months.

Fuller, meanwhile, took a much more direct route to the now-AFC champions. The Burgundy and Gold's 2016 draft selection was a part of the shocking Alex Smith trade and he's now concluding his second campaign with his second pro team.

The fact that the pair is reunited again and one win away from reaching the top of the sport isn't lost on Fuller, especially after some of the struggles they experienced with the Redskins. 

"It's been fun," he said. "After we won the AFC Championship game, me and [Breeland] were just kind of sitting on the bench looking at each other, knowing how far we came."

The key to K.C.'s rise, according to Breeland, has been their unity. The almost 28-year-old didn't directly call out Washington for lacking a similar closeness, but his comments don't exactly require much parsing to realize the comparison he's making.

So, while he and Fuller are obviously looking ahead to the 49ers, the following comment from Breeland's brief reflection on his past is telling about what the Redskins need to fix on their end.

"Throughout crunch time, everybody pulls together," Breeland explained. "I've been on different sidelines when things go bad, a lot of people start bickering and pull apart from each other. Those were the times that [this team] got closer and pulled together the most."

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