Redskins

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, making him the fifth player in NBA history to score 30,000, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a two-game skid with a 103-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

Bryant entered the game needing 13 points to eclipse the scoring milestone and did so with a short jumper late in the first half that was perhaps the least spectacular of his baskets, which included the usual array of soaring dunks, demoralizing transition 3-pointers and turnaround, off-balance jumpers.

The only other players to score more than 30,000 are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

``It's pretty awesome,'' Bryant said. ``These are players I respect tremendously and obviously grew up idolizing and watching and learned a great deal from.''

The 34-year-old Bryant is younger than the other four were when they hit the mark, but Bryant also turned pro at 18, and is in his 17th season.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday his $250,000 fine of the San Antonio Spurs was justified because the club went beyond what league owners agreed was a reasonable approach to resting healthy players.

Stern said coaches should have the authority to rest players at the end of the season, but that teams should not rest four starters little more than a month into it, and the team made matters worse by not notifying the league beforehand.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - NHL labor talks that began Wednesday afternoon stretched to early Thursday morning and representatives for the league and the players both said the long talks were ``candid'' and offered some sense of hope by announcing negotiations would resume later Thursday.

``We had good, candid dialogue,'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said early Thursday after nearly nine hours of talks at a Manhattan hotel. ``There continue to be some critical open issues between the two parties, and we understand the union should be getting back to us (Thursday) on some of those issues.''

Very little information leaked out of the meeting room, but it is believed that each side submitted proposals to the other and spent lots of time apart discussing what was offered. One point of contention is the length of the new contract, with owners looking for a 10-year pact, and players wanting a shorter term.

The players' association is expected to have internal discussions Thursday morning before meeting with the NHL later in the day.

BASEBALL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels added starter Joe Blanton and reliever Sean Burnett to their retooled pitching staff. Jeff Keppinger found a new home, as did Eric Chavez.

The big deals, however, remained on deck at baseball's winter meetings.

Jason Bay, Randy Choate, Nate Schierholtz and a diamond full of players wound up in different places Wednesday, while top contenders waited for a pair of free-agent prizes to make their decisions.

The lone trade was minor, with Detroit sending left-hander Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh for a young catcher.

Former MVP Josh Hamilton and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke remained in play. They're the driving forces in this market and depending on where they go more moves are likely to follow.

Texas would like to re-sign Hamilton, at the right price.

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey also keeps drawing attention. He lives near the Opryland Hotel and dropped in for a visit, though there's no change in his situation. Signed for next season, he wants a new contract, while several clubs, including Boston, want to trade for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

PRO FOOTBALL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The mother of Jovan Belcher says her love for her son and his girlfriend has not diminished since the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker killed the 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins and then shot himself in the head at the Chiefs' complex.

Cheryl Shepherd had been living her son and Perkins to help care for their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, and was at the couple's home Saturday morning when Perkins was shot.

``That's my son, and I love him,'' Shepherd said in a brief telephone conversation Wednesday. ``She's my daughter-in-law, just like my daughter.''

Also on Wednesday, the Chiefs attended a memorial service for Belcher. Retired Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said general manager Scott Pioli and an uncle of Belcher's spoke during the service.

Shepherd, 54, was not happy about the release of recordings of the emergency phone call she made Saturday after Perkins was shot.

``I just got a phone call that they did that, and I don't appreciate it,'' she said. ``Right now I don't want to talk about it.''

In the emergency call, Shepherd begs Perkins to ``stay with me'' while frantically asking for an ambulance. She tells the dispatcher that Perkins is ``still breathing but please hurry. ... They were arguing, please hurry.''

Shepherd also told dispatchers that Perkins was bleeding, ``just barely'' awake and that it looked as though she was wounded in the back. She said Perkins moved when she spoke to her.

Under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the estate or guardian of the couple's daughter will receive more than $1 million.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Rex Ryan is sticking with Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets' starting quarterback.

The coach announced that Sanchez, benched Sunday against Arizona, will get the start this week over Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow when the Jets play the Jaguars at Jacksonville.

``I have to get this decision right,'' Ryan said, ``and I believe I have.''

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice and appeared on track to return this weekend against San Diego.

Roethlisberger hasn't played since spraining his right shoulder and dislocating a rib in a 16-13 overtime victory over Kansas City on Nov. 12. He was limited in practice but coach Mike Tomlin was encouraged by Roethlisberger's performance.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings placed ailing wide receiver Percy Harvin on injured reserve, abruptly ending a season that began so well for one of the NFL's most versatile players.

Coach Leslie Frazier answered questions about Harvin's status cryptically and vaguely at his regular news conference, when he ruled Harvin out of practice again because of the severely sprained ankle that has kept him out of the last three games. Then about six hours later, the Vikings announced the move that declared their top pass-catcher done for the year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

HOUSTON (AP) - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won the Lombardi Award as college football's best lineman or linebacker.

Te'o, also a Heisman Trophy finalist, had 103 tackles and seven interceptions this year to help the undefeated Fighting Irish reach the BCS championship game against Alabama.

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - California hired Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes in hopes that the offensive mastermind can revive a program that struggled in recent years under the fired Jeff Tedford.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Purdue hired Darrell Hazell as its new football coach.

Hazell won this season's Mid-American Conference coach of the year award after leading Kent State to its first winning season since 2001, first bowl appearance in more than four decades and the brink of a BCS bowl game.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says he won't coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl after taking the job at Arkansas. He believes former coach and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will be on the sideline when Wisconsin plays Stanford on Jan. 1.

MIAMI (AP) - Florida International fired football coach Mario Cristobal after six seasons.

Athletic director Pete Garcia made the announcement, calling FIU's season ``a total collapse'' and saying the program needs to go in a different direction.

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) - Lionel Messi was taken off the field on a cart because of bone bruise to his left knee in Barcelona's 0-0 tie with Benfica in a Champions League game, while defending champion Chelsea failed to advance to the final 16 in the tournament.

With Barcelona already assured of advancing to the second round, Messi entered as a reserve in the 58th minute.

Messi's left knee collided with the right hand of Benfica's Artur as the Argentine star ran onto Gerard Pique's long pass and tried to round the goalkeeper in the 85th minute. Messi took a left-footed shot from an angle, then fell to the field in pain. He rolled onto his back and held the knee, then was loaded onto a cart.

``It's a bruise, which doctors have been having a look at,'' Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said. ``We now have to wait for the results of tests, but the feeling is that it isn't more serious than a knock.''

Barcelona later tweeted that tests confirmed Messi has a bruised bone on the outside of his left knee.

OLYMPICS

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - Eight years after winning Olympic medals in Athens, four track and field athletes from eastern Europe were ordered to hand them back because of positive doping tests.

Lance Armstrong, meanwhile, can hold onto his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games for a little while longer.

The International Olympic Committee executive board disqualified four athletes whose Athens doping samples were retested earlier this year and came back positive for steroids, including shot put gold medalist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine.

Also stripped were hammer throw silver medalist Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus and two bronze medalists - women's shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus.

The case of a fifth bronze medalist, weightlifter Oleg Perepechenov of Russia, remains pending.

The IOC said it will ask the International Association of Athletics Federations to get the four medals back and readjust the results and rankings from the Athens Games.

Until then, no decision will be taken on reallocating the medals. Adam Nelson of the United States finished second in the shot put and would stand to move up to gold.

GOLF

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - American defending champion Lexi Thompson opened with a 3-under 69 at the Dubai Ladies Masters, three shots off the leaders.

Shanshan Feng and Florentyna Parker both shot 66s after the first round.

AUTO RACING

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Tony Stewart passed up a chance to race for Roger Penske in the Indianapolis 500.

The three-time NASCAR champion said at the International Motorsports Industry Show that he wouldn't attempt to race in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

``As much as I would like to do it, we just don't have the time to do it proper,'' Stewart said. ``The IRL is so competitive now, you're not going to just show up like drivers used to do in the past and be competitive.''

Quick Links

Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

smith-allen_otas_usat.png
USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should not expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that his the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side. But since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat the whole offense will be harder to defend

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Tandler on Twitter

My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:

Timeline  

Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

In case you missed it

Quick Links

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.