Redskins

Vikings hope Peterson can carry victory vs. Bears

Vikings hope Peterson can carry victory vs. Bears

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The last time the Minnesota Vikings won a game at Chicago, some rookie rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

His name was Adrian Peterson, and he'd love to do that against the Bears again.

``It's a sound defense, but I feel like we can run the ball on them. We just have to be patient and keep pounding the rock and be balanced offensively,'' Peterson said Friday after practice.

That's about what they did on Oct. 14, 2007, the breakout performance of Peterson's nearly unparalleled career. He was no secret to the NFL as the seventh pick in that year's draft, but the Vikings were still using Chester Taylor heavily and listing Peterson on the depth chart as a backup until that afternoon. He followed three weeks later with an NFL-record 296 yards against San Diego.

``You knew the unique skill set that you saw scouting him,'' general manager Rick Spielman said recently, reflecting on the easy decision to draft Peterson when he slipped down the top of the board due to concerns about a broken collarbone he suffered his last season at Oklahoma. Spielman added: ``The drive to be successful, the drive to be the best, the drive to win a championship: all those things came out when we interviewed him.''

Five years later, Peterson has already put a devastating knee injury in his past with this post-surgical season. He entered this week with 1,128 yards rushing, by far the most in the league.

``No one ever envisioned that, but that's what makes Adrian so unique and so special,'' Spielman said. ``He put in his mind that he was going to not only come back but be better than he was before the injury.''

Peterson said Friday he doesn't remember many details from that breakout performance in 2007, except for his pants nearly coming down during a kickoff return and, of course, the fact that the Vikings were victorious.

``It was a big win for us. It was a way for me to get out there and make a name for myself somewhat. But that was what, five years ago? It's a totally different team,'' Peterson said.

He's more focused on the present and the turnover-forcing terror the Bears' defense has become. They have an NFL-leading 30 takeaways. This veteran group doesn't have to be reminded about the fumbling problem Peterson had earlier in his career.

``They've got guys out there trying to reach and get the ball out. It depends on what type of guy you're playing. It can lead to a big play,'' Peterson said.

Quarterback Christian Ponder will have to be careful, too. But not too careful.

``They're very opportunistic, but I don't think we're going to do anything different. We can't play scared. We need to go out and be aggressive and be smart,'' Ponder said.

Coach Leslie Frazier said he sees the turnover-causing success as contagious.

``If one guy punches a ball out, then you see other guys raking and stripping,'' Frazier said, adding: ``One or two guys get it started and it's kind of grown throughout their defense. It's definitely been a turning point for their team.''

The Vikings have a tough task with consecutive road games against Chicago and Green Bay, the NFC North co-leaders. But the schedule as such also gives them the immediate opportunity to win the next two weeks and take control of this difficult division. This is clearly their turning point.

``It has so many ramifications, this game, for our football team and what we want to get accomplished in 2012. That's what makes it so important,'' Frazier said.

NOTES: Peterson spoke to reporters for the first time since his resisting-arrest charges, stemming from a summer incident in Houston, were dropped. He said he was disappointed he had to testify in front of a grand jury, which kept the details private. ``But it's a blessing to have it out of the way and I can go forward,'' he said.

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.