Nationals

Woodyard enjoying a breakout season for Broncos

201210282109761618349-p2.jpeg

Woodyard enjoying a breakout season for Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Wesley Woodyard has no intention of slipping back into a substitute role when D.J. Williams returns from his nine-game, NFL-mandated banishment next month.

The Broncos have no plans of letting him off the field, either. He's the first Denver defender to record 50 tackles with multiple sacks (three) and interceptions (two) before the midway point of the season.

The fifth-year linebacker was a one-man wrecking crew in the Broncos' 34-14 thrashing of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints last weekend, getting 13 tackles, two pass breakups, a sack and strip, and a game-turning interception.

``I noticed I was around the ball a lot,'' Woodyard said.

The Saints managed just one first down, rushed for only 51 yards and didn't reach the red zone until just before the two-minute warning Sunday night.

Woodyard was the biggest reason for that. Yet he's not one to bask in the afterglow of his monster prime-time performance.

``I've still got a lot to do to get better,'' Woodyard said. ``It's definitely one of the games I'll look back on and say I made a lot of plays. But I only focus on those few plays that I gave up.''

Asked what he could have possibly done any better against New Orleans, Woodyard was quick with his answer: ``Just better dropping in coverage. I wish I could take that Darren Sproles touchdown back. You know, I feel like I let the team down on that. So, I've got to be a lot better with my eyes and play better to take away that play.''

Woodyard leads the Broncos with 58 tackles, 14 more than runner-up Mike Adams, a big jump for a guy who spent his first four seasons playing mostly on special teams.

Woodyard got his chance when Williams, the team's leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, was suspended for the first six games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The NFL tacked on a three-game suspension over his alcohol-related driving conviction in August, pushing Williams;' return back to Nov. 18, when the Broncos play San Diego.

``It's always good to have a guy that can roll in,'' said Woodyard. ``D.J., with his experience, that allows us to be able to play a lot of different things and do a lot of different things with him.''

It's almost certain that one of those roles won't be his old starting job at weak side linebacker, the position Woodyard won with an outstanding training camp and now has a stranglehold hold on.

With Joe Mays being placed on injured reserve Tuesday after breaking his left ankle blocking on a punt return against the Saints, Williams might end up sharing snaps at middle linebacker with 15-year veteran Keith Brooking when he returns to practice Nov. 12.

The Broncos haven't revealed their plans for Williams. What they do know is that Woodyard is too valuable to take off the field anymore.

``He was primarily a special teams guy when we got here,'' second-year coach John Fox said. ``But he's got good straight-line speed. He does have good instincts.''

Woodyard wasn't drafted out of Kentucky, the knock on him being his size - 6 feet, 229 pounds - which many scouts felt was too small to be an every-down player in the pros.

He's risen up to that challenge this year.

``There have been guys who have played at the highest level of this league who haven't been big guys,'' said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, himself a former linebacker. ``He's done a good job. He's played well. He's practicing with intensity, which we like. And he's done a good job playing for us in a role that's kind of gotten bigger maybe than he thought it might be entering the year and we thought it might be entering the year.''

Woodyard is like the gambler who won't count his stack of chips until the dealing's done, downplaying all the big plays he's been making.

``I focus on the little things that I did wrong,'' Woodyard said. ``I feel like I left some plays out there. I've got to continue to get better.''

Notes: The Broncos promoted S Duke Ihenacho to take Mays' roster spot, and they signed CB Mario Butler to replace Ihenacho on their practice squad. Ihenacho, a rookie from San Jose State, spent two weeks on Denver's active roster earlier this season.

---

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

---

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

Quick Links

Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

nationals-roundup-mets.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

The Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-5, Tuesday to drop their record to 19-29. 

Consider these news and notes as Washington trudges through its four-game series in New York: 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS: 

Erick Fedde made his first start of the season for Washington Tuesday night and put together a solid outing. The 26-year-old threw five innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits, a walk, and strikeout. Thirty-one of his 61 pitches were sinkers.

Do you believe in the broadcaster's jinx theory? Perhaps you might after reading up on what Juan Soto did in the 2nd inning Tuesday. Then, later in the 8th, Soto scorched a go-ahead double to deep right notching his 100th career RBI. 

METS: 

Amed Rosario was the hero at Citi Field. His walk-off infield single off Kyle Barraclough was the difference in New York's 6-5 comeback win. 

The Mets got a quality start from starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who threw seven innings of four-hit ball, three earned runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. 78 of his 118 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Pete Alonso is lighting it up right now. His game-tying 417-foot home run in the 8th marked his 16th of the season. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 27

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Matt Adams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 22

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least May 23

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least May 25

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 21

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Wednesday, 5/22: Nationals @ Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field 

Thursday, 5/23: Nationals @ Mets, 12:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field

Friday, 5/24: Marlins @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Brandon Scherff confirms that he and the Redskins have 'been talking' about a contract extension

scherffvideo102918.jpg
USA Today Sports

Brandon Scherff confirms that he and the Redskins have 'been talking' about a contract extension

Bruce Allen identified getting a contract extension done for Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff as one of the Redskins biggest priorities of the 2019 offseason. To this point, however, nothing has happened. 

That doesn't seem to have Scherff concerned. 

"We've been talking, but I'm not really worried about that," he said after OTAs on Monday. "I'm here for another year, so that's all I'm worried about right now. Everything will take care of itself."

Scherff, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has played at an elite level since his rookie season. He's made two Pro Bowl teams in four years, and until last year, had been remarkably durable. 

In 2018, Scherff's season started very strong. 'Skins coach Jay Gruden described the former Iowa Hawkeye as the best pulling guard in the NFL and it was well-earned praise. Then, in a Week 8 loss, Scherff went down with a torn pectoral muscle. His season was over. 

At OTAs, however, Scherff was a full participant with no brace or apparent encumbrances from the injury. 

"I'm feeling really good, just taking it slow and making sure I'm 100 percent," he said. 

Expect the free agent market to be quite bullish. Once a lesser-paid position than tackle, guards have recently started pulling in significant cash. Zach Martin's recent contract extension in Dallas pays him more than $14 million per season, and Jacksonville is paying Andrew Norwell more than $13 million this year. 

For Scherff, expect top of the market money. He has the talent, pedigree and ability that if Washington won't pay in the neighborhood of Martin and Norwell, he can wait for free agency. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS