Nationals

Vick skips practice; Foles prepares for Redskins

Vick skips practice; Foles prepares for Redskins

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles officially remained No. 2 on the depth chart, even as he talked like a starter.

Facing a crush of media in front of his locker, Foles sounded every bit like the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who will make his first career start Sunday at Washington, not an injured Michael Vick.

``I'm ready,'' Foles said after running the first team Wednesday. ``I'm excited to just play again. Like I said before, my prayers are with Mike, I just want Mike to be healthy. But it's my time to go out there and just play and do everything I can for this team and help in any way possible.''

Vick's status atop the depth chart is a mere formality. He did not practice or even come to the Eagles' practice facility again Wednesday as he recovers from a significant concussion suffered in last week's loss to Dallas. His headaches are subsiding, for now, but the veteran still needs to complete the mandated concussion testing this week.

Foles, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona, ran the offense in front of A-list actor Bradley Cooper and remained confident he can help the Eagles end their miserable five-game losing streak.

``I'm going to do my job right now until he gets healthy,'' Foles said.

Because Vick had not started his concussion testing, he has not officially been ruled out of Sunday's game. Coach Andy Reid declined to say when Vick's status would change. Reid, however, did add Vick had improved.

``Michael's in a good place,'' Reid said. ``He's hurting a little bit from the concussion, but he's in a good place. I haven't tried to overburden him right now.''

Vick suffered a concussion after consecutive punishing hits in the second quarter of a 38-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys

Foles was 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception in relief of Vick. Those numbers weren't enough to help the Eagles avoid their fifth straight loss, a first in coach Reid's 14 seasons. Reid also discussed Foles as if he'd start against fellow rookie QB, Robert Griffin III.

Philadelphia and Washington, both 3-6, are tied for last place in the NFC East.

``He's going to handle it like he's going,'' Reid said of Foles. ``Whether he does or not, we'll see how that works out.''

Vick was diagnosed with a significant concussion and told to stay home and rest. Reid stressed several times on Monday just how badly Vick was hurt.

Asked if he expected Vick to play again this season, Reid said, ``I think so. We've just to see. I don't know that. He hasn't done any of the tests so far.'' Reid said head trainer Rick Burkholder would discuss Vick's condition later this week.

Foles was quick to credit Vick as a mentor and an inspiration on the field.

``I've learned a lot from him and the guy's a tough dude,'' Foles said. ``One of the toughest guys I've ever seen. He gets hit, he gets right back up. He gets hit, he gets right back up and he keeps firing.''

Vick got up every time for another snap except the one time he didn't - and now Foles is poised to prove he's the right guy for the job Sunday ... and the future.

With little to play for this season, the time could be right anyway for Foles to take over and see if he can start to prove he's the QB of the future. Vick struggled most of this season and is no longer the dynamic playmaker he was in Atlanta and early in his Eagles tenure. Foles' performance down the stretch could be a factor in evaluating if Reid deserves to return for a 15th season, though that appears a long shot.

``I have a lot of confidence in him,'' Reid said. ``That's why I brought him here.''

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who will play after suffering a strained back against Dallas, said the team believed in Foles. Unlike some teams, like the New York Jets this week, there is strong support for the backup quarterback.

``He can throw the ball in places, put the ball in certain places, not most guys can do in this league,'' Maclin said. ``When he got into the preseason, the poise that he showed, it's not what most rookie quarterbacks show.

``I was impressed with that.''

The Eagles were impressed with Cooper, star of ``The Hangover,'' who mingled with players and posed for pictures before practice. Cooper was at the facility as part of a promotional tour for his new movie, ``The Silver Linings Playbook.'' Cooper, raised in northeast Philadelphia, plays an Eagles fan in the film - one who surely wouldn't love this disaster of a season.

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Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

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USA Today Sports

Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

The Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees to finish a once-suspended game, tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning. Though it seemed like just a makeup, it was anything but for rookie Juan Soto.

It’s true that Soto struck out as a pinch hitter in his first-ever game on May 20. Since then, the 19-year-old has caught fire, batting .312 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 23 games this season.

But the makeup of the suspended game took place on May 15, five days before Soto was called up to give the Nats an extra bat. Soto would make his major league debut once again.

Though it’s uncommon for a player to compete in a game prior to his major-league debut, it’s been done before. Barry Bonds hit a go-ahead single in a suspended game that dated a month before his debut. Closer Jeff Reardon threw a scoreless inning and picked up a win in a suspended game nearly two months before his debut, as well.              

After Anthony Rendon hit an opposite-field single in the bottom of the sixth, Soto pinch hit for Matt Adams who has missed the previous two games with a hand injury.                                                  

And Soto, with a chance to change his first career at-bat from a pinch-hit strikeout to anything but, did just that. He turned on a fastball and sent a rocket to right field. Aaron Judge took a few steps before looking up toward the bleachers. The ball landed in the second deck.

Talk about a first career at-bat. A no-doubt, two-run shot to give the Nationals the lead in a game that took place before his first major-league debut.

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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