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Veteran special teams standout makes Pro Bowl

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Veteran special teams standout makes Pro Bowl

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Lorenzo Alexander arrived in Washington in October 2006 as a 300-pound undrafted, practice squad defensive lineman who had been cut by two teams during the previous month.

Six years, eight positions and plenty of ups and downs later, Alexander, now a co-captain of the resurgent Redskins, was voted to the Pro Bowl as the NFC's special teams player.

In fact, Washington's other two Pro Bowl-bound players, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and offensive tackle Trent Williams, are co-captains. Fellow co-captain London Fletcher is an alternate at inside linebacker.

``You put a lot of hard work in being a dominant player,'' said the 29-year-old Alexander, who leads the NFL with 19 special teams tackles, several of them bone-jarring. ``To be recognized by the fans, the coaches and the players is a pretty cool experience. I thought I should've went the last couple years. It didn't happen for me, but it's a testament to keep grinding, keep working hard, keep trying to improve you game and eventually things will turn out great.''

The Redskins' six-game winning streak, which has them in a season-finale showdown with the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East title on Sunday night, helped raise awareness of Alexander's excellence. But this recognition has deep roots.

``I was just trying to scratch to make the team,'' said Alexander, who began adding to his plethora of positions as a guard during spring workouts in 2007. He first earned notoriety by making a tackle after his helmet had come off in a preseason game with Tennessee that summer. ``I always found a way to be useful and keep my spot. I've just kind of adapted and evolved over the years. It was a lot of hard work. A lot of that is great coaching and great players I've had a chance to play with. And now six years later, you find yourself in a leadership role.''

Alexander was a starting outside linebacker in 2010, but has been in a reserve role there, at defensive end, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, tight end, tackle, guard and fullback during his other five seasons on Washington's roster. The five Redskins remaining from the last playoff team in 2007 - Fletcher, tight end Chris Cooley, receiver Santana Moss, defensive end Kedric Golston and safety Reed Doughty - have all been starters for at least three seasons.

``This year he has taken his game to a different level and was very happy he was rewarded for that,'' said coach Mike Shanahan, who was also gratified by the selections of the maturing Williams and the mature-beyond-his-years Griffin.

Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith was particularly thrilled for Alexander.

``I mean, there's no guy more deserving. All people have to do is watch the film,'' Smith said.

``When you look at him, he makes plays every week. He gets double- and triple-teamed at times. He has more big, solid hits than anybody. It's something that he takes very personal, very prideful. And he plays with a passion. You root for guys like that.''

Williams was as excited as Alexander to be selected, considering that this time last year he was serving a four-game suspension after failing multiple drug tests.

``I'm definitely proud,'' said Williams, voted a captain before the season. ``Since I got drafted (fourth overall in 2010) I wanted to be in the Pro Bowl. That was one of my goals. I went through a lot of self-inflicted wounds, but I'm thrilled to show people that I have character. I did shoot myself in the foot, but I was able to bounce back and show people that I've matured. This just caps it off. And us making a playoff push, I couldn't have wrote a better script.''

Griffin was more matter of fact about his selection, even though he joined Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only rookie quarterbacks ever chosen in the initial voting, not as an injury replacement. Griffin, the NFL's second-ranked passer, is the first Redskins quarterback so honored since Brad Johnson, who led Washington to its last NFC East title in 1999.

``I didn't have too much of a reaction,'' Griffin said. ``We're all focused on the Cowboys. You never play for awards. Everybody in this locker room has a part of (us) making it to the Pro Bowl. If everybody could go, we'd take everybody. You don't get these kind of awards unless you're winning and we've won six straight.''

Notes: Right tackle Tyler Polumbus, who missed last week's game at Philadelphia with a concussion, returned to limited practice Thursday. If Polumbus passes another concussion test before Friday's workout, he'll return to full practice and could start against Dallas.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Bradley Beal won't require surgery for shoulder, Wizards GM says

Bradley Beal won't require surgery for shoulder, Wizards GM says

Bradley Beal's right rotator cuff injury is enough to keep him out of the NBA's restart in Orlando, but not enough to require surgery, according to Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard.

Sheppard said he doesn't "think surgery is an option at all" and repeated that claim, indicating it is not even on the table at this point. The team is confident Beal can manage the injury because he already has for roughly eight months.

Beal, Sheppard says, first hurt his shoulder on Nov. 27 against the Phoenix Suns. The rotator cuff was aggravated several times throughout the course of the season when he got bumped during games, often times when coming off screens.

Beal, of course, played very well despite the discomfort. He left off in March averaging 30.5 points per game, second in the NBA behind only James Harden.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM BEAL SITTING OUT

Sheppard says keeping him out now is more about preventing it from getting worse during a stretch of games that aren't as important as the team's big picture future.

"I think if we had another month of ramp-up time, Bradley would probably be ready to play. These are eight games vs. 82 next season and all the seasons beyond that. I think it's worth mitigating the risk right now for what's ahead," Sheppard said.

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Sheppard also noted the truncated NBA offseason due to the months-long postponement of games this season. With next season expected to begin in December, the turnaround will be quicker. A serious injury at this point could affect his status for the start of next season.

The Wizards want to avoid that because they are anticipating the return of John Wall from his Achilles injury and want to have both of their All-Star guards in the fold. Beal sitting out helps preserve that.

The question now is whether Beal can work around his right rotator cuff injury without surgery. He has proven he can manage it, but it has already lingered for eight months. Will it still be an issue, minor or major, five months from now?

For the meantime, Beal will have to watch from afar as the Wizards go to Orlando to close out their season. He is set to stay back in Washington and continue working with coaches at the Wizards' practice facility.

Beal ends the year with some pristine numbers: 30.5 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. The points-per-game are the second-most in franchise history only to Walt Bellamy's 31.6 in 1961-62.

Not bad for a guy who was playing hurt.

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Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson apologizes for anti-Semitic post

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson apologizes for anti-Semitic post

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has apologized after backlash for sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media over the weekend.

"My post was definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community," Jackson said in a video he posted on Instagram on Tuesday. "I post things on my story all the time, and just probably never should have posted anything Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that."

The team issued the following statement: "We have spoken with DeSean Jackson about his social media posts. Regardless of his intentions, the messages he shared were offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling. They have no place in our society, and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization. We are disappointed and we reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect. We are continuing to evaluate the circumstances and are committed to continuing to have productive and meaningful conversations with DeSean, as well as all of our players and staff, in order to educate, learn, and grow."

The NFL also issued a statement, saying: "DeSean's comments were highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive and stand in stark contrast to the NFL's values of respect, equality and inclusion. We have been in contact with the team which is addressing the matter with DeSean."

Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is in his second stint in Philadelphia, returning last season to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft.

Former Eagles president Joe Banner criticized Jackson on Twitter. Banner wrote: "If a white player said anything about (African-Americans) as outrageous as what Desean Jackson said about Jews tonight there would at least be a serious conversation about cutting him and a need for a team meeting to discuss. Which would be totally appropriate. Absolutely indefensible."

Banner, who also worked for Cleveland and Atlanta, later shared an anti-Palestinian tweet with the hashtag "Palestinianprivilege getting away with murder."

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