Wizards

Williams could replace Woodyard in Broncos lineup

201212021730630223179-p2.jpeg

Williams could replace Woodyard in Broncos lineup

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) D.J. Williams is preparing for his first start since Jan. 14 with Wesley Woodyard still hobbled by a sprained left ankle.

The Broncos (9-3) take their seven-game winning streak to Oakland to face the reeling Raiders (3-9) Thursday night, and they'll be without Woodyard, who didn't make the trip.

``It will definitely affect the defense,'' star strongside linebacker Von Miller said. ``He's been playing well for us, really all season. But D.J., he's ready to go.''

Woodyard won the starting weakside linebacker job in training camp with incumbent Williams facing what turned out to be two suspensions totaling nine games, and he's had a breakout year. He leads the Broncos with 97 tackles and is the only NFL player with at least three interceptions and three sacks this season.

On Wednesday, Woodyard was walking around team headquarters without the noticeable limp he had after Sunday's game, but the Broncos are concerned about him aggravating the injury in a short week and they decided to keep him out of Thursday night's game with a key trip to Baltimore looming on Dec. 16.

Coach John Fox wouldn't tip his hand on his intentions for replacing Woodyard in the lineup but acknowledged it was nice to have Williams, the team's leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, as the proverbial ``next man up.''

``I feel good about all our linebacking crew: D.J., obviously getting him back, getting him more familiar as we move along in our new defensive system; Danny Trevathan's played in a lot of those roles. So, we feel confident in both of those guys,'' Fox said.

Williams returned to Dove Valley after serving a six-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy and was able to attend meetings while serving his subsequent three-game penalty for a drunken driving conviction. He was activated last month and has recorded a half-dozen tackles and one pass breakup in three games.

``I think when he came back, he didn't seem really rusty to me,'' Miller said. ``He still was in really good shape. He looked pretty good. He had been paying attention in meetings; he was on top of everything.''

Williams' last start was in Denver's loss at New England in the playoffs 11 months ago.

``I think D.J. will be ready to go, and he'll take advantage of the opportunity,'' Miller said.

Slot receiver Brandon Stokley, who missed last weekend's 31-23 win over the Buccaneers with an injured hip, was listed as questionable after being limited in practice again Wednesday. Stokley said his hip started bothering him a week ago but he wasn't sure how it happened.

The NFL expanded its Thursday night schedule this year, making a lack of physical recovery a bigger issue, especially with so many of them being divisional games, which are notoriously more scrappy.

``This is a combative game, no doubt. And it's a tough game, whether it's played any day of the week,'' Fox said.

Notes: Listed as probable are: RG Chris Kuper (ankle) WR Matt Willis (knee), G Manny Ramirez (back) and TE Virgil Green (hamstring), along with DE Robert Ayers, who missed last week while dealing with the death of his father. ... Peyton Manning's 3,502 yards passing are already the most in NFL history by a quarterback who didn't play the previous year, topping Stan Humphries' 3,356 yards with San Diego in 1992.

---

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

---

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Quick Links

NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

kawhi.png
USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley, 
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE WIZARDS NEWS

 

Quick Links

Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

usatsi_8832865.jpg
USA Today Sports

Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

Jamaal Charles used to be among the best running backs in the NFL, and maybe the Redskins hope to turn back the clock. 

Washington is dealing with a number of injuries at the running back spot, and to get through two more preseason games, the team is bringing in a number of veteran runners for tryouts. Charles is the biggest name coming in for a test drive with the Redskins, as ESPN reported. Former Giants RB Orleans Darkwa is also getting a tryout, per multiple reports. 

How did Washington get to the point where the team needs to add more backfield options in mid-August?

First, Derrius Guice injured his knee in the preseason opener. He will miss the season. 

In the second preseason game, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and rookie Martez Carter got hurt. Perine should be back in a week or as he suffered only a sprained ankle. Marshall could miss a month, making a roster spot flimsy, and Carter was waived due to his injury. 

That means the Burgundy and Gold only have Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson active for practice, and remember, Thompson is working back from a broken leg last November. He hasn't played yet in the preseason, and might not go at all until Week 1 in Arizona.

Add all of that together and the team was forced to bring in veteran options, if for nothing else than to get through the remaining two preseason games.

Back to Charles.

From 2009 to 2014, Charles put up absurd numbers. He approached 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in both 2013 and 2010, and put up more than 1,700 total yards in 2012. It's worth adding that Charles found great success with Alex Smith when both were playing in Kansas City. Just saying. He was undeniably great, and probably won thousands of people thousands of dollars as a fantasy football MVP.

That time appears to be over though.

In the last three seasons, injuries have robbed Charles of his burst and elusiveness. Last year, he couldn't break through in the Denver backfield despite being healthy for 14 games. He rushed for just under 300 yards. 

Redskins fans will have unfortunate memories of Darkwa.

In an ugly Week 17 loss last season in New York, he busted a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and finished the game with 154 yards. Last season was the best of his career for Darkwa, he ran for more than 750 yards and averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry. He's only 26 years old and, coincidentally, played college football at Tulane with Rob Kelley

By adding Guice in the second round of the NFL Draft this spring, the Redskins thought they addressed their need for a talent boost at the RB position. With Guice out for the year, the position looks about the same as it did in 2017. 

Adding Charles and Darkwa seem unlikely to change that, at least significantly. And that's if either of the veteran runners even make the 90-man roster. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

SPREAD THE WEALTH: 'SKINS FINE WITHOUT A TOP W.R.?

BATTLE IT OUT: R.B. IS A SPOT TO WATCH

#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.