From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- John Farrell sat in the visitors' dugout at Fenway Park as talk intensified that he might be working in the other dugout next year.The Toronto manager looked up at two dozen reporters a month ago and told them that as Boston's pitching coach for four years under Terry Francona he learned an important lesson: think of the players first in making managerial decisions.If you do that, he said, "you probably are guided in the right direction to do the right thing."Since that session before the opener of the Blue Jays' three-game sweep of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine has been fired as Boston's manager and Farrell has emerged as the leading candidate to take over. But he has a year left on his contract and the Red Sox would have to discuss compensation with the Blue Jays to make him available.Valentine didn't always make the players his top priority before he was fired on Thursday after going 69-93 in his only season, Boston's worst record in nearly 50 years.He said in April that Kevin Youkilis wasn't as physically or emotionally into the game as he had been, kept Jon Lester in a game long enough to allow 11 runs and said as the miserable season kept getting worse that the Red Sox had "the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball."Valentine's predecessor, Francona, rarely criticized players in public. Management likely is looking for the same from Valentine's successor.That's not the only difference in this year's managerial search from last year's, when Valentine wasn't hired until Dec. 1. That was 64 days after Boston's last game and 62 after Francona was let go."I'd prefer to have it done in less time," general manager Ben Cherington said of the current search, but it's more important to get the right person.The Red Sox likely will look for a person with different attributes this time than they did during last year's search, especially with a younger roster after the team traded high-priced, underperforming veterans Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August."The team is in a different point than it was last year when we hired Bobby," Cherington said. "The roster was fairly mature and we felt, mistakenly in retrospect, but we felt at the time, that we had a chance to win and the team was ready to win and we're now at a different point."But he refuted the suggestion that the Red Sox aren't ready to win next season."To be elite again we needed to make more than cosmetic changes," Cherington said. "So now we're very early in the process of doing that and we're going to work our tails off to put the best team we can out there in 2013 and build the next great Red Sox team. We don't know exactly when that will come to fruition."Others who could be candidates for the job are Cleveland interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., Detroit third-base coach Gene Lamont and Toronto first-base coach Torey Lovullo, a former manager of the Red Sox Triple-A team at Pawtucket. All were interviewed by the Red Sox last year before Valentine was hired.Boston bench coach Tim Bogar and Baltimore third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, Francona's former bench coach, also could be considered.The Red Sox wanted to talk with Farrell last year but were rebuffed. The Blue Jays may be more willing after his second losing season in his two years in Toronto.Farrell was Boston's pitching coach from 2007, when the Red Sox won the World Series, to 2010 and helped Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz develop into productive pitchers. He's also familiar with many veterans and minor leaguers in the Red Sox system.And, as Cleveland's director of player development from November 2001 to the end of the 2006 season, he worked with current Boston assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who held scouting and player development positions with the Indians from 2001 to 2005.Farrell also worked with many current members of Red Sox management."Not only are they professional colleagues, on some level they became personal friends and we had success," he said on Sept. 7 as he sat in the third-base dugout. "We shared a lot of challenges along the way."That familiarity would make him a much safer choice than Valentine. Cherington preferred Dale Sveum, who ended up as manager of the Chicago Cubs.Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, a strong backer of Valentine when he was hired, said on Thursday, "as well as you may know someone casually or through the interview process, you get to know them better when you have a full season together. So, of course, (there were) some surprises, positive and negative surprises."The Red Sox would like fewer surprises and more stability from their next manager."I don't think there's a certain resume or background" necessary, Cherington said. "These jobs bring all sorts of challenges. There's a person who's right for the Red Sox job in 2013 who isn't right for another team's job or who might not have been right for our job last year or the year before."Farrell may be the right person this time, if the Blue Jays let him go to a team with a larger and more demanding group of fans and media contingent."Having worked in Boston," he said a month ago, "there's a tremendous fan base that is very passionate. The expectations are always very high, but, as a competitor, that's what you aspire to do."
Josh Norman made headlines last week when he called out a subset of Redskins fans for booing the home team and others for not showing up to FedEx Field.
Some fans took exception to Norman's comments, but on Wednesday, the star cornerback made clear exactly what he wanted from fans.
"You want to see an atmosphere full with raving Redskins Nation fans and pandemonium," Norman said during an interview with Larry Michael on Redskins Nation.
"That's what you want to see."
Norman's request seems more than fair, especially considering the 6-3 Redskins will take on the 6-3 Texans. Both teams are in first place in their division, and while Washington is coming off a solid road win in Tampa, Houston travels to FedEx Field winners of six-straight.
"It’s big, because the other team is coming in at 6-3," Norman said.
6-3 is the best Redskins record this late in the season since 2008, and Norman recognizes his team is trying to turn mediocre tide of recent years and that fans might need a reminder.
"To change that from the culture where it was to now coming around, come on man, we need your support."
For decades, the Redskins fan base was considered among the NFL's best. Venerable RFK Stadium had arguably the best home-field advantage in the league. Norman remembered that.
"This is a signature storied franchise," Norman said. "I grew up with it knowing the Washington Redskins and knowing how big it was. Down in Carolina that was our team. The Washington Redskins was the team of the South. Everybody was about that."
The 'Skins left RFK more than 20 years ago and now Carolina roots for the Panthers.
Still, for Norman and many players, the challenge is out there for the fans to fill up FedEx Field and make it a hostile atmosphere for the Texans.
"From the inside of the stands to the outside of it, all Redskins Nation going in there live, pumping us up. We feeding off of them, we giving them something to cheer for and they giving us back something to be excited for," Norman said. "Those big 3rd downs. As long as we need them, we hear those decibels. We need it up to 105. Literally just blow it off the roof, those decibels, just shoot them up. That’s what we need."
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Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments.
Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.
With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.
"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."
While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season.
When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have "butterflies" at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."
Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start.
The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides.
"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."
Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either.
But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III.
For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.
After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."
Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.
"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."
MORE RAVENS NEWS:
- No time for that: Harbaugh doesn't care about banter surrounding team
- Still in the hunt: Ravens one game out of last AFC playoff spot
- Looking at the future: How the 2018 draft class has fared
- Report card: Looking at the Ravens' mid-season numbers