Wizards

An update on Michael Vick's status for Week 1

An update on Michael Vick's status for Week 1

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michael Vick will take his next snap in the season opener for the Philadelphia Eagles. Who replaces him if he gets hurt again remains a question.Vick is back at practice after leaving last Monday's game with injured ribs. He didn't play in Friday's game at Cleveland, but returned to the field Sunday night for Philadelphia's annual practice party at Lincoln Financial Field."I think he's real close to 100 percent," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Monday. "I thought he threw the ball last night just beautifully; threw it strong and aggressively. So, I think he's ready to rock and roll. That's my point on that. I think he's ready to go."Vick has taken just 12 snaps in two preseason games and isn't expected to play against the New York Jets in the preseason finale Thursday. The Eagles visit Cleveland in Week 1 on Sept. 9."I think in that ballgame that he got hurt, I think he would have played in the game if it was a regular season game," Mornhinweg said. "I don't know that for sure, but that was just my thought at the time."The more important thought in the coordinator's mind right now revolves around the backup quarterbacks. Philadelphia has Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards and Nick Foles in the fold right now.Foles, a rookie third-round pick from Arizona, has been impressive in the first three games. He threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and led the Eagles to a 27-10 victory over the Browns last Friday. Foles finished the victory 12 of 19 for 146 yards with one interception. He's 36 of 57 passes for 507 yards, with six TDs and two interceptions so far.Kafka, the incumbent backup, hasn't played the last two games because of a hand injury. It would seem that Foles has moved up the depth chart, but Mornhinweg wasn't ready to say it."That choice has not been made," Mornhinweg said. "We've got several different things to evaluate there. I certainly have great confidence in all of our quarterbacks to do all of the jobs that we would ask them to do: backup and the number three. (Quarterbacks coach) Doug Pederson has done just an outstanding job with all four of the quarterbacks."Kafka, a third-year pro, might even be in danger of losing his roster spot. Edwards has also been outstanding in the preseason. The 28-year-old veteran is 32 of 48 for 292 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. Edwards was 14-18 as a starter for Buffalo between 2007-10. He was released by Oakland last year and sat out the season."Well, we haven't come to that decision. We've got some days of practice and the last preseason game to evaluate that and discuss it," Mornhinweg said. "We've got four quarterbacks here (who) really can play at a high level. Those are good things. Those are good things that you have to come to a decision on at some point here and it's coming up pretty quick."The Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32), who closed the regular season on a four-game winning streak last year, are 3-0 this preseason and have scored 78 points along the way.

Quick Links

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

kyle_mcgowin.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

WASHINGTON -- If any bump was coming from a return home or Mike Rizzo’s public pregame words or simply being out of New York, it was not apparent Friday.

Three errors committed in the first four innings. The first reliever into the game, Joe Ross, allowed three earned runs before recording a second out. Starter Kyle McGowin barely made it through the fourth inning of an eventual and desperately needed 12-10 win.

The rally kept the Nationals from creeping toward of new level of dubiousness in this muck-filled season. They pushed 2 ½ games in front of the Marlins for the National League’s worst record. Juan Soto hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Matt Adams followed with a solo homer. Sean Doolittle had trouble, but closed the game. Those efforts kept this from being another story about the bullpen (five more runs allowed Friday).

So, here’s a different question to ponder (there are a million or none, depending on point of view) after Friday night: How did the Nationals end up with 27-year-old McGowin starting a surprisingly pivotal game?

The nuts-and-bolts version is because of injuries. Both Anibal Sanchez -- who threw a simulation game Friday -- and Jeremy Hellickson are on the injured list. The deeper answer comes from looking at the recent erosion of pitchers in Washington’s minor-league system.

McGowin made his second career start Friday because there is no one else. No hot minor-league prospect, no early-round pick who has been up and down and received another shot, no veteran stashed in the minor leagues for such situations.

Looming behind all of this is the 2016 trade of three pitching prospects to acquire Adam Eaton. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning were all sent to Chicago for Eaton’s advanced-stats and cost-friendly contract. The departure of three starting pitchers in one shot reverberated Friday when the Nationals were forced to use McGowin in a spot start as the seventh starter of the season.

This is more a volume than quality issue. Neither Lopez or Giolito were effective in limited chances at the major-league level with Washington before being traded. Once in Chicago, Giolito became arguably the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018. No one allowed more earned runs or walks that season. Lopez had a quality season, finishing with 3.1 WAR.

The two have reversed outcomes in 2019. Giolito has rediscovered his velocity. After throwing 100 mph in the 2015 Futures Game, his velocity caved. Giolito was down to 92-93 mph with the Nationals and, initially, Chicago. Thursday, he hit 97 mph in the ninth inning of a shutout against Houston. The outing drove his ERA down to 2.77.

Lopez is struggling. His 5.14 ERA is venturing toward Giolito’s status of a year ago. His walk total -- always the concern -- is up, as are his homers allowed.

But what Giolito and Lopez have, at age 24 and 25, respectively, is potential. Giolito, who often fussed with his mechanics in Washington, has discovered a delivery to expedite his fastball and an approach to boost the effectiveness of his changeup. Lopez’s 2018 showed he can be a solid back-end rotation member. They were expected to follow behind Erick Fedde and Joe Ross in establishing a future rotation. But, those two are in Chicago, Ross is in the bullpen, where he gave up three runs Friday, and Fedde just returned to the rotation after being moved to the bullpen.

So, it was McGowin on the mound Friday. Four innings, six hits, five runs, one walk, two strikeouts, two home runs allowed. Why? No better choice is available.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: