<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Capital Games]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/capital-games http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sun, 21 Sep 2014 18:16:38 -0400 Sun, 21 Sep 2014 18:16:38 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Redskins Lose 37-34 Shootout With Eagles]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 16:43:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/4558747341.jpg

The Washington Redskins could not get the better of the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles in a shootout Sunday, losing 37-34 in what was their seventh straight divisional loss dating back to last season. 

Kirk Cousins, making his first start in place of the injured Robert Griffin III, completed 30 of 48 passes for 427 yards and three touchdowns. DeSean Jackson, making his return to Philadelphia after being released this offseason, caught five passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.

The Redskins' first drive of the game could not have been scripted any better. Cousins completed all seven of his passes, culminating with a four-yard pass to Darrel Young for a touchdown, Young's third of the season. Yet it was instantly negated on the ensuing kickoff when Chris Polk returned it 102 yards to tie the game. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in the 11-year history of Lincoln Financial Field

No matter, though. Cousins once again marched Washington up the field, throwing his second touchdown of the quarter to Pierre Garcon on a quick-slant route to restore the seven-point lead. Philadelphia eventually took the lead at 21-20 nine seconds before halftime after a Jordan Matthews 11-yard touchdown catch, his second 11-yard scoring grab of the quarter.

With the Redskins trailing 27-20 late in the third quarter, Jackson hauled in a deep throw from Cousins, evaded a tackle and ran unopposed into the end zone to tie the game on an 81-yard play. It was Jackson's 18th touchdown of 50 or more yards since 2008, which leads the NFL according to ESPN. The former Eagle then mockingly flapped his arms in celebration

Tensions escalated in the fourth quarter when Chris Baker blindsided Nick Foles after an attempted pass. Benches cleared and punches were thrown, leading to ejections on both sides. Foles, however, remained in the game and gave Philadelphia a 34-27 lead with a 27-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin. A Cody Parkey field goal pushed the Eagles' lead to 10.

Roy Helu's rush pushed Washington within three, but time ran out before the Redskins could attempt to tie or take a last-second lead. At 1-2, the Redskins will face the New York Giants on Thursday at FedEx Field.


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Cooley: Beware of Philly's Running Backs]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:36:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007913676_1200x675_331283011640.jpg Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley breaks down the play on which Robert Griffin III was injured, his replacement Kirk Cousins' performance and the Philadelphia Eagles biggest threat coming up Sunday.]]> <![CDATA[Who Will Start at Quarterback for the Redskins When RGIII Returns?]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:07:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Jim+Vance+Kirk+Cousins+Upside+Down.jpg News4's Dianna Russini asks Jim Vance, Doreen Gentzler and Doug Kammerer who they think will be the Redskins' starting quarterback when Robert Griffin returns from injury: Kirk Cousins or RGIII?

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[The 'Skinny: Week 3 v. Philadelphia]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 07:48:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/201*120/455507658.jpg

Welcome back to the second season of "The 'Skinny," a weekly preview of the local professional football team's upcoming game and opponent. Every Thursday, you can find any and all information* about the Redskins' next opponent in this space.

(*Sometimes, it may be some or most information.)

Week 3 Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)

Game Information: Sun., Sept. 21 -- Lincoln Financial Field -- 1:00 p.m. -- FOX

Last Week: The Redskins snapped their nine-game losing streak by blowing out the Jaguars in a 41-10 home-opening victory, but lost Robert Griffin III and DeSean Jackson to injuries. The Eagles successfully engineered another impressive comeback, erasing a 20-6 third-quarter deficit to defeat the Colts by a 30-27 score.

What's The Skinny?

Of course, the prevailing storyline surrounding the Redskins is how they will function without Griffin, who is out indefinitely with a dislocated left ankle. Kirk Cousins filled in admirably Sunday, throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns in relief. 

Yet that performance was against a non-threatening Jaguars team. This week, the Redskins will face the soaring Eagles, who are 9-1 in the regular season since last Nov. 3, averaging NFL bests of 33.0 points and 437.7 total yards over that span, according to STATS LLC. Washington will likely lose a shootout against Philadelphia, so it will be up to the former's defense to keep things close. The Redskins collected 10 sacks last week against the Jaguars. 

Former Eagle Jackson, who left last week's game with a shoulder injury, hopes to play Sunday.

"I don't think an AC joint is jeopardizing my career in the long haul," he told reporters. "If it's all on me, I'm playing. I don't plan on missing this game."

Statistic Of The Week: Philadelphia trailed Jacksonville 17-0 in Week 1 before winning 34-17. After the Eagles' comeback victory against the Colts in which they trailed 17-6 after two quarters, they became the first team in NFL history to overcome double-digit halftime deficits in a 2-0 start.

What They're Saying

"We were trying not to make this about Robert when Robert was the quarterback. We're going to try not to make this about Kirk now that Kirk's the quarterback. We've got to make this about the Redskins moving forward."

- Redskins coach Jay Gruden, attempting to discourage any sort of quarterback controversy


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[RGIII Could Return In Eight Weeks]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:56:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20140917+Gruden.jpg

Robert Griffin III's return from a dislocated left ankle is expected this season and could be as soon as eight weeks following an update provided by Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

According to Gruden, Griffin will be in a cast for the next 10 days. At that point, Griffin will likely spend four to six weeks rehabilitating the injury, reports ESPN. No surgery is required on the injury suffered last Sunday during the first quarter of Washington's 41-10 victory against Jacksonville.

In Griffin's indefinite absence, Kirk Cousins will start in his place, beginning Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Right now, we're going to prepare with Kirk Cousins as our starter and Robert's going to rehab, and all decisions after that will come after that," Gruden told reporters. "But right now, we're going to go try to do the best we can and get Kirk ready to go and beat Philadelphia."


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<![CDATA[Caps Release Training Camp Roster, Schedule]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:29:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/477358803+%281%29.jpg

With the 2014-15 NHL season fast approaching, the Washington Capitals officially unveiled their complete training camp roster and schedule Wednesday afternoon.

In all, 66 players will participate in practices beginning Friday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. All sessions are free and open to the public.

The Capitals commence their eight-game preseason schedule Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center. They will have until Oct. 7 to trim down their roster to 23 prior to their season opener against the Montreal Canadiens two days later.

The entire roster and schedule can be found here


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<![CDATA[Nationals Can Clinch Division Tuesday]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:51:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/167*120/455504880.jpg

By defeating the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Monday, the Washington Nationals whittled down their magic number to two. That means if they can defeat the Braves again Tuesday, they will officially clinch the NL East and therefore a playoff appearance.

“I’m excited for [Tuesday],” Drew Storen told The Washington Post. “I think we’re all pumped. It’s a long road, and to be in this position is pretty special. It’s what you’re aiming for from Day 1 of spring training.”

The Nationals extend their division lead over the Braves to an unprecedented 11.5 games, and after allowing the Braves to capture a division championship largely unopposed last season, Washington has an opportunity to return the favor on its rival's field Tuesday.

Washington would be the first National League team to clinch a division and the second overall; the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have already secured the American League West.

It will be up to Tanner Roark, who will start Tuesday against Aaron Harang. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. 


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Injuries Overshadow Redskins' 41-10 Victory]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 07:07:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/455439960.jpg

The Washington Redskins avoided starting the season 0-2, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener by a 41-10 score Sunday.

Yet that victory was unfortunately overshadowed by injuries to Robert Griffin III and DeSean Jackson, both of whom were forced out of the game.

Griffin, as detailed here, suffered a left ankle injury rolling to his right prior to a completion to Jackson late in the first quarter. The quarterback was ultimately carted off the field and replaced by Kirk Cousins, who completed his first 12 passes and finished 22-for-33 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. 

It has widely reported that Griffin dislocated his ankle on the play. 

Meanwhile, Jackson left the game with a shoulder injury after attempting to catch a deep pass from Cousins. He was hit as the ball arrived and landed hard on his left shoulder. News4's Dianna Russini is reporting that Jackson's shoulder is sprained. Updates will be provided after the game. 

In more uplifting news, Washington's pass rush was dominant, sacking Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne 10 times, a Jaguars franchise record for sacks allowed. The Redskins, led by Ryan Kerrigan's four sacks, tied a team record for most accrued in a single game. 

Aflred Morris gained a total of 85 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Niles Paul caught eight balls for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The win snapped the Redskins' nine-game losing streak that stretched back to last season. It was the longest active skid in the NFL entering Sunday.


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[RGIII Leaves Game With Dislocated Ankle]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:13:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/455437774.jpg

The Redskins' greatest fear was realized Sunday when quarterback Robert Griffin III was forced to leave the team's home opener against the Jaguars after suffering a left ankle injury during the first quarter. 

Rolling out of the pocket to his right, Griffin completed a pass to DeSean Jackson for 19 yards to Jacksonville's 20-yard line as he scrambled toward the sideline. A grounded Griffin was in noticeable pain and was ultimately carted off the field. Kirk Cousins replaced him and immediately threw a touchdown pass to Darrel Young to give Washington an early lead. 

At the post-game press conference, head coach Jay Gruden said Griffin has a dislocated ankle. More tests are scheduled for tomorrow and no length of time was provided for recovery.

Gruden said he was sick about Griffin's injury, but said the Redskins can win any game with Kirk Cousins.

Griffin said he felt the ankle injury just before the throw to Jackson. "My ankle got caught on the ground," he said. "It was an unfortunate situation."

He hobbled to the post-game podium on crutches with a heavy wrap on his left ankle.

Griffin had praise for Cousins and the defense, but also was heartened to hear the fans as he was carted off the field.

"The city ... has embraced me and my family. It meant a lot to hear them cheering when I went off the field," he said.

Griffin will have more tests tomorrow, including an MRI.


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Daniel Snyder Supports Roger Goodell In Statement ]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:55:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/230*120/455039888.jpg

In a statement released Saturday morning, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder expressed his support for embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"Roger Goodell has always had the best interests of football at heart, both on and off the field," Snyder said. "We are fortunate to have him as our Commissioner. The entire Washington Redskins organization strongly endorses his efforts to eradicate domestic abuse and his independent investigation into the Ray Rice assault."

Goodell has been a recipient of harsh public scrutiny since TMZ Sports released a second video Monday of Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back, striking his now-wife Janay Palmer. Goodell claimed in an interview with CBS Sports that the NFL never received the video in question, though AP reported that the NFL in fact did. ESPN later reported that Rice told Goodell that he did hit Palmer, this after Goodell also asserted that Rice was "ambiguous" in his retelling of the story.


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<![CDATA[HBO Will Not Bring Back '24/7' For Winter Classic]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:26:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/194*120/107844111.jpg

For the past three incarnations of the NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, HBO has chronicled the lead-up of the two participants in its acclaimed "24/7" miniseries.

That will unfortunately not be the case this season as the network has opted not to bring back the show ahead of the 2015 edition featuring the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks.

“Everybody at HBO enjoyed working with the NHL and its teams on ‘24/7’ the past four years," HBO spokesman Ray Stallone told Yahoo Sports. "It was an exciting endeavor and we’re very proud of the never-before-seen presentation of the world of hockey that ‘24/7’ was able to capture.

“There was never an expectation that HBO would chronicle the lead-up to the Winter Classic every year. So we will not be involved with the NHL this season. We wish the NHL the very best and the door will always remain open.”

The Capitals were the subject of the first season of "24/7" alongside the Pittsburgh Penguins; Washington defeated Pittsburgh by a 3-1 score at Heinz Field on Jan. 1, 2011. The four-episode run featured several classic moments, including but not limited to former coach Bruce Boudreau's eventful Christmas shopping trip at Tysons Corner Center.  

While HBO may have pulled out of producing a behind-the-scenes Winter Classic preview, the NHL will announce "our new partner and plans" at Nationals Park on Sept. 23, according to The Washington Post. The league created a similar show, "NHL Revealed," last season.

The news was first reported by Greg Brady of Sportsnet 590 in Canada


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Navy Leap Frogs' Parachute Into Nats Park]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:57:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/217*120/Screen+Shot+2014-09-11+at+10.38.19+AM.png

Wednesday was Heroes Day at Nationals Park, highlighted by a pregame drop-in from the Navy Parachute Team, also known as the Leap Frogs.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to parachute into Nationals Park, now is your chance. Sort of.


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Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[The 'Skinny: Week 2 v. Jacksonville]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 09:24:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/201*120/454853796.jpg

Welcome back to the second season of "The 'Skinny," a weekly preview of the local professional football team's upcoming game and opponent. Every Thursday, you can find any and all information* about the Redskins' next opponent in this space.

(*Sometimes, it may be some or most information.)

Week 2 Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

Game Information: Sun., Sept. 14 -- FedEx Field -- 1:00 p.m. -- CBS

Last Week: The Redskins made too many mistakes, fumbling twice within the red zone in a frustrating 17-6 loss to the Texans. The Jaguars' loss may have been a bit more cringeworthy. Jacksonville blew a 17-0 halftime lead, allowing 34 unanswered second-half points in a loss to the Eagles. 

What's The Skinny?

Believe it or not, the Redskins and Jaguars each face a pivotal game Sunday in Landover. Since 1990, only 12% of NFL teams that have started 0-2 have qualified for the playoffs

In order for Washington to win, it simply must take better care of the football. The Redskins lost two fumbles within the red zone last week against the Texans, losing valuable points in the process. According to ESPN, the Redskins have lost their past nine games when on the wrong end of the turnover margin. 

Among other improvements that need to be made, Robert Griffin III pointed out this week that the offense must do a better job developing a downfield passing attack. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are two of the NFL's best at getting open, combining for 18 catches against Houston. But Griffin averaged roughly seven yards per pass.

“When you have weapons like Pierre and DeSean and Andre [Roberts], these guys can really go deep down the field. You want to get them opportunities and we had a couple in the game. We just didn’t come down with them,” Griffin told reporters via The Washington Post. “Yeah, we have got to find ways to open those guys up more down the field. Don’t think that’s any secret. You want to be able to be efficient and hit the underneath stuff, but you also have to get those home-run shots in every now and then. We’ll work on getting that.”

Statistic Of The Week: Dating back to last season, the Redskins have lost nine straight games. That is the longest active skid in the NFL. It is also the longest in franchise history since a 17-game losing streak that stretched through the 1960 and 1961 seasons.  


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NHL Confirms Nationals Park for Winter Classic]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:00:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/482720555.jpg

The NHL formally announced Wednesday afternoon that the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks will be held at Nationals Park on Jan. 1, 2015, confirming an earlier News4 report.

"The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic has made New Year's Day a highlight of the season for NHL fans everywhere," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a league release. "Nationals Park provides an ideal setting for all the excitement, entertainment and fun as the Blackhawks and Capitals bring our outdoor tradition to historic Washington, D.C."

On Sept. 23, the Capitals, who were awarded the game last September, will unveil their uniform for the annual outdoor spectacle in an event at the ballpark. Among those in attendance will be Bettman, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and general manager Brian MacLellan, Blackhawks president/CEO John McDonough and Capitals players Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby.

This will be Washington's second appearance in the Winter Classic, having served as the visitors in 2011 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks will also participate for the second time after defeating the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in 2009.

"We are thrilled the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played at Nationals Park as we welcome the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans to our nation's capital," Leonsis said in a statement. "We are delighted the D.C. area and our great fan base will have an opportunity to experience the NHL Winter Classic, and we know that Nationals Park will provide an incredible backdrop for the game." 


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nats Have Largest Lead in Franchise History]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:58:19 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/207*120/455070100.jpg

The Nationals have already won their three-game series with the rival Braves (with one game to go Wednesday), giving them a nine-game cushion in the NL East and a magic number of 10 with 19 games remaining.

"It feels like we're just that much closer," first baseman Adam LaRoche told reporters via AP. "Not to take anything for granted until this thing is sewn up, but these are big. This time of year, playing the team chasing you, to be able to win a couple."

Not only is Washington's nine-game division lead the largest in the National League (and second-largest overall behind the nearby Orioles, who lead the AL East by 10), it is the largest division lead the franchise has ever had since returning to D.C. 

The Nationals have won five of seven against the Braves, who at one point this season had won 20 of the past 27 meetings between the clubs since the start of last season. It is realistic that the Nationals could clinch the division and a playoff berth next week in Atlanta, which would certainly make things a bit sweeter for Washington fans.

“I think that goes into the whole, looking at how many games ahead we are,” pitcher Drew Storen told reporters. “If we just do our thing and stay in our lane, we’ll be good.”


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<![CDATA[Maryland To Wear Jerseys Inspired By National Anthem]]> Sat, 13 Sep 2014 08:40:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/BxGKduRIcAE7QPd.jpg

The University of Maryland football team, never shy in expressing its individuality when it comes to uniforms, will wear a jersey Saturday against West Virginia inspired by the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner." 

Each player's name will be replaced by "TRIUMPH" on the back of his jersey as well. 

The university also announced a 10-year partnership extension with Under Armour, meaning more of these unique uniforms are likely to materialize.


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Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics]]>
<![CDATA[Nationals Release 2015 Schedule]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 16:36:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/201*120/454876090.jpg

The Nationals' 2014 season is far from over -- assuming a lengthy playoff run, of course -- but that did not stop MLB from releasing its 2015 schedule Monday afternoon.

If you are so inclined to look so far ahead, the Nationals will open next season on April 6 with a three-game series against the New York Mets. They will face the entire AL East at Nationals Park next season sans the Boston Red Sox. 

Interestingly enough, 26 of Washington's final 29 games will be against NL East rivals. The three other games will be against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 27-29.

Click here for the entire schedule.

And if you prefer the here and now, the Nationals open a significant three-game series with the Atlanta Braves on Monday. With a seven-game lead in the division, a successful series against Atlanta could more or less wrap up a division title for Washington. 


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<![CDATA['Skins Drop Opener in 17-6 Loss]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:10:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/196*120/454856716.jpg

Any positivity surrounding the Washington Redskins as their season began Sunday slowly evaporated in a frustrating 17-6 loss to the Houston Texans in which they simply could not get out of their own way.

Twice fumbling within the red zone, the Redskins made too many mistakes to earn a Week 1 win. Robert Griffin III racked up impressive numbers, completing 29 of 37 passes for 267 yards, but he was sacked three times. 

The scoreless first quarter featured a display of impressive defenses and uninspiring offenses. Every drive within the first 15 minutes ended with a punt. Darrel Young tackling Andre Roberts on a return of one of those punts was cringe-inducing entertainment, though.

Washington opened the scoring when Young atoned for his earlier mishap and barrelled into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown. The Texans, however, blocked Kai Forbath's extra point attempt to keep the score at 6-0. Houston responded on its next drive as DeAndre Hopkins slipped past Bacarri Rambo for a 76-yard touchdown catch.

The Redskins' special teams woes resurfaced again a few minutes later. Alfred Blue blocked and recovered Tress Way's punt to give the Texans a 14-6 lead which they carried into halftime. 

With an opportunity to cut into their deficit, Griffin fumbled at the 11-yard line, gifting a possession to the Texans. Not to be outdone, Niles Paul lost the ball after hauling in a 48-yard pass within 10 yards of the end zone, dooming yet another scoring chance.

The Redskins kept themselves in the game by recovering a red-zone fumble of their own early in the fourth quarter; Ryan Kerrigan stripped Arian Foster at the 8-yard line, allowing Keenan Robinson to pounce on the loose ball. Yet the offense could not muster any, well, offense, leading to the disheartening defeat. 

Washington did not finish the game unscathed. Both Jordan Reed (hamstring) and Barry Cofield (ankle) were ruled out shortly into the second half.  

Including last season, the Redskins have now lost nine straight games. 


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nationals Park To Host 2015 Winter Classic]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 18:40:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/185*120/451688752.jpg

Nationals Park will serve as the site of the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, sources confirmed to News4.

The Washington Post was the first to report the news.

The NHL formally awarded the annual outdoor spectacle to the Capitals last September, marking the franchise's second appearance in the game; Washington defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 3-1 score in the 2011 edition at Heinz Field.

Nationals Park had been seen as the frontrunner throughout the process, though the NHL also surveyed RFK Stadium and FedEx Field as potential hosts. The league also informally inquired about the availability of the National Mall, according to The Washington Post.

The paper also reported that the official announcement will be made "before the end of the month." As a point of comparison, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the most recent ballpark to host the Winter Classic in 2012 between the Flyers and New York Rangers, was not revealed as the site until Sept. 26, 2011.

The Capitals open training camp on Sept. 19. Their season opener is Oct. 9 against the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center.


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Soriano Loses Nationals Closer Role]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 16:43:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/195*120/454742256.jpg

The Nationals led the Phillies by three runs entering the ninth inning Friday when manager Matt Williams summoned closer Rafael Soriano from the bullpen. And a fan base became queasy.

Any uneasiness was justified Friday evening when Soriano allowed two home runs in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Philadelphia to tie the game and ultimately win in extra innings by a 9-8 score. It was Soriano's second blown save in as many chances and his fifth in his past 21 appearances. He was booed off the field.

Earlier in the day, Williams said during his weekly radio appearance on 106.7 The Fan that Soriano has "plenty of rope" as the team's designated closer. That tune changed following the game.

"We need to address it," Williams told reporters via AP. "It's not an easy decision, none of them are, but we want to be able to close those games out. Sori understands that; he's been around the block."

Williams informed the media Saturday that Washington will utilize a closer-by-committee approach while Soriano works out his mechanical issues. 

"We'd love him to be back to form and be able to shut down the ninth inning for us," Williams told reporters. "He's been that all year. But he also realizes there's been an issue with getting guys out recently. He's got to work on that. We're going to help him as much as we can."

Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Matt Thornton and Ross Detwiler are all options. 

Prior to the All-Star break, Soriano boasted a 0.97 ERA with just two blown saves while holding opponents to a .153 batting average.

Since the All-Star break concluded, his ERA and opponent batting average have ballooned to 6.98 and .325, respectively. His five blown saves are the most in the majors over that span. 


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Skins Merchandise Sales Plunge 35 Percent]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 14:25:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/453497804.jpg

The movement against the Washington Redskins' nickname has gathered considerable momentum recently. Apparently, that fervent opposition has impacted merchandise sales.

According to a CNN Money report citing SportsSourceOne, the sales of Redskins items plunged 35 percent last quarter despite overall NFL sales rising three percent. 

"People are having a second thoughts about wearing a T-shirt with the logo or name that it has now been called racist," Matt Powell, senior analyst for SportsSourceOne, told CNN Money.

"If I'm a retailer and I'm nervous about this logo, I'm taking a more cautious approach."

A Redskins spokesman chalked up the decrease in sales to the team's lousy 3-13 record last season, which is a reasonable point. To that end, the only team that suffered a bigger drop was the Baltimore Ravens, who failed to defend their 2012 Super Bowl championship by missing the playoffs in 2013.

From April 1, 2012, to March 1, 2013, the Redskins as a team sold the fourth-most merchandise in the NFL. They fell out of the top 10 last season


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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 'Skinny: Week 1 v. Houston Texans]]> Sun, 07 Sep 2014 08:50:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/221*120/458911037.jpg

Welcome back to the second season of "The 'Skinny," a weekly preview of the local professional football team's upcoming game and opponent. Every Thursday, you can find any and all information* about the Redskins' next opponent in this space.

(*Sometimes, it may be some or most information.)

Week 1 Opponent: Houston Texans (0-0)

Game Information: Sun., Sept. 7 -- NRG Stadium -- 1:00 p.m. -- FOX

Last Week: The preseason concluded, cuts were made, practice squads were formed and Robert Griffin III had a bronze statue of himself unveiled at Baylor. The Texans signed defensive end J.J. Watt to a six-year, $100 million contract extension and traded for quarterback Ryan Mallett, previously Tom Brady's backup in New England.

What's The Skinny?

The Redskins have an opportunity Sunday to have more wins than losses for the first time since last season's opener. In order to do so, they will have to contend with arguably the most dangerous defensive one-two punch in the NFL: Watt and No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Both men will be jonesing for an opportunity to crush Griffin, who must be aware of that every time he even thinks about taking off.
 
“Those guys can pose problems for you if you’re not careful," tight end Logan Paulsen told reporters. "But those guys are good players, but we’ve got good players on this team, too.”

Houston's offense is formidable in its own right with running back Arian Foster and wide receivers Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Yet whichever unit -- the Texans' defense or the Redskins' new-look offense -- plays better will likely determine the winner. 

Statistic(s) Of The Week: Watt's contract makes him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He also leads the NFL with 31 sacks over the past two seasons, not to mention disrupted dropbacks since he entered the league in 2011, according to ESPN.

In each of the past 11 seasons, a team has rebounded from worst to first in its division, according to STATS LLC. Both the Redskins (3-13 in 2013) and Texans (2-14) will look to extend that record to 12. 

What They're Saying

"Man, I don't care if they start Ryan Gosling."

- Redskins safety Ryan Clark when asked if it mattered whether Mallett or Ryan Fitzpatrick started at quarterback for Houston on Sunday 


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<![CDATA[LaRoche Clutch in Nationals Victory]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:24:29 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/454571070.jpg

With the Nationals trailing the Dodgers 2-0 in the top of the ninth, Adam LaRoche entered the game as a pinch hitter. Nursing a strained lower back, the first baseman was not expected to play.

In his first at-bat, LaRoche tied the game with a clutch two-run homer. Then he added a go-ahead, two-run single in the 12th (which he hit after being struck on the left elbow with a pitch in the 11th) and a run-scoring grounder in the 14th. In all, LaRoche totaled five RBIs in the Nationals' 8-5 victory.

"We had to use Adam even though we didn't want to," Nationals manager Matt Williams told reporters. "He was huge for us, especially hitting that homer in the ninth."

LaRoche became the first player since the Orioles' Harold Baines in 1999 to enter a game in the ninth inning or later and have at least five RBIs, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Following a disappointing sweep at the hands of the last-place Phillies Aug. 25-27, the Nationals took four of six against the Dodgers and Mariners to maintain their seven-game division lead.


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<![CDATA[Fitzpatrick, Clowney To Start For Texans]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 19:25:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/196*120/454040950.jpg

The Houston Texans announced Wednesday that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday against the Redskins.

The decision is not necessarily a surprise, but the acquistion of Ryan Mallett from New England earlier this week made things a bit more unclear prior to coach Bill O'Brien's decision. O'Brien happened to be Mallett's offensive coordinator during his rookie season with the Patriots in 2011. Houston is Fitzpatrick's fifth team since he entered the NFL in 2005 as a seventh-round draft pick out of Harvard.

None of that matters, however, to Redskins safety Ryan Clark.

"Man, I don't care if they start Ryan Gosling," he told reporters Wednesday.

Meanwhile, No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney will also play Sunday. He sat out of the Texans' final two preseason games with an undisclosed injury. 

As for the Redskins, quarterback Robert Griffin III is prepared to erase the memories of a poor preseason both personally and as a combined first-team offense. 

"I do this for my teammates. I do this for my family; for this organization. We don’t have anything to prove to anybody else out there," he told reporters. "We just have to go out there and be the team we know we can be. I guess you can say we have a lot to prove to ourselves in this building, and it’s about all of us going out there and being successful.

"I’ve said this offseason many times, ‘They go as I go. If I play well, they play well. If I don’t play well, they don’t play well.’ I understand hat. They understand that, and I’m going to do my best, and I promise I’ll play well for them.” 


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<![CDATA[RGIII Opens Up in Bleacher Report Exclusive]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:35:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/236*120/453497760.jpg

For as long as we Washingtonians have known Robert Griffin III, we have been inundated with canned responses and marketing slogans from the Redskins quarterback. While his infectious personality was thrust upon us when Washington drafted him in 2012, we have really not had the opportunity to see into the real RGIII. 

Les Carpenter provided a glimpse into that in an exclusive story for Bleacher Report, entitled "The Complicated Reinvention Of RG3." It is a wide-ranging story worth reading in its entirety, but there were a few quotes that truly stood out.

Like this one on why he believes he commands so much media attention, both positive and negative:

“I just think I’m the easy guy, the easy target,” he says. “I’m the one that gets the clicks when you’re on ESPN and you’re watching it. ‘Hey, let's talk bad about RG3.’ That’s just the way it is now.”

(For the record, I have no idea what Griffin is talking about when it comes to his name getting clicks...)

Or this one on his many endorsement deals:

“Yes, I’m obsessed with football,” he says. “People don’t look at it that way. They think ‘Oh man, let's look at the commercials, let's look at the endorsement deals.’ All that stuff is a means to an end. God blessed me with that so I could take care of my family. That’s how I look at that.

“There’s such a negative connotation when people say ‘building your brand,’ but it’s not about building your brand. It’s just about having people relate to who you are. I’m not going to say: ‘I like Cheetos’ if I don’t like Cheetos. I’m not going to say things because I want the money.

“You know why I signed with Subway? Because I ate Subway every day before I went to practice with my teammates. That’s why I signed with Subway. People say: ‘Oh, it’s because of the money,’ but like I said that’s a means to the end. I created that relationship because it was a real relationship.” 

Naturally, here is Griffin making fun of his many endorsements and catchphrases...in a commercial.


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<![CDATA['Skins Release First Depth Chart]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:30:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/194*120/454034942.jpg

The Redskins begin preparation this week for the first game of the 2014 season against the Texans on Sunday, and in doing so released their first depth chart.

There aren't too many surprises listed among the various positions. One to note: Bacarri Rambo is listed as the Redskins' starting strong safety with recently acquired Duke Ihenacho as his backup. Rambo will replace Brandon Meriweather, who is suspended for the first two games of the season. Chris Baker is also listed as the starting left defensive end and backup nose tackle.

Washington has the day off Tuesday before returning to practice Wednesday in Ashburn.


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<![CDATA[Baylor Unveils RGIII Statue]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:07:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/195*120/454441616.jpg

Prior to Baylor's inaugural game at McLane Stadium on Sunday, the university unveiled a 9½-foot bronze statue of Robert Griffin III.

"If you go to Washington D.C., before you go watch the Redskins and Robert, you go see Mr. Lincoln. That's a great statue. If you're going to go to New York City, go see the Statue of Liberty," Ken Starr, the school's president, said during a dedication ceremony. "When you come to Waco, you're going to see the statue of [university co-founder] Judge Baylor, Coach [Grant] Teaff and Robert Griffin III."

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy playing for the Bears in 2011, leading the team to a 10-win season for the first time since 1980. The Bears previously played their home games for 64 seasons at Floyd Casey Stadium, roughly five miles from campus. McLane Stadium is located on campus in Waco.

"No, it wasn't just me. If you look at the guys who came in with me, the guys who were there before we got here. They are all part of it, from Grant Teaff to coach [Art] Briles," Griffin said while addressing the crowd. "They know we couldn't have done it without each other."


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<![CDATA[Hall, Clark Defend Meriweather After Suspension]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:50:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/197*120/452956873.jpg

Oft-disciplined Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather was suspended yet again this past week for his dangerous hit on Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, his sixth violation of NFL player safety rules.

Meriweather's appeal was denied Saturday, meaning that he will miss the first two games of the season against the Texans and Jaguars. Once the league's decision came down, teammates DeAngelo Hall and Ryan Clark took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.

Clark in particular has been critical of commissioner Roger Goodell in the past. In May, Clark criticized Goodell for how he was handling the situation involving Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested in March for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Meanwhile, Smith actually defended Meriweather on Twitter in a response to former wide receiver Plaxico Burress, saying that he did not believe that Meriweather should have been suspended for the hit. Yet the NFL saw it differently. 

The Redskins placed Meriweather on the reserve/suspended list to start the season in an effort to reach the required 53-man roster.


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<![CDATA[Nationals Rough Up King Felix]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 07:51:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/204*120/454356848.jpg

An argument could be made that Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is the best pitcher in the majors. "King Felix" recently set a major-league record by making 16 consecutive starts of at least seven innings and two or fewer runs, yet that was anything but the case against the Nationals on Friday.

Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth -- none of whom had ever faced the former Cy Young winner before Friday -- all hit home runs in Washington's 8-3 victory. It was the first time in Hernandez's career that he had allowed four home runs in one start. (He had not allowed three home runs in a start since June 1, 2012, a span of 79 straight starts, and 40 staight starts without even allowing two home runs.)

In all, the Nationals hit six home runs Friday, with Ramos and Bryce Harper adding two more in the eighth inning. Those six home runs were the most hit in a single game at Safeco Field by any team -- including the Mariners -- in the past 10 seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 

"I definitely won’t call him King Felix,” a perhaps prescient Denard Span said prior to first pitch. “Maybe ask me after the game. He’s Felix right now.”

The Nationals continue their West Coast road trip Saturday with another game against the Mariners. Stephen Strasburg will face Roenis Elias on the mound.


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<![CDATA['Skins Reach 53 Man Roster]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 07:21:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/453792200.jpg

With the presesson officially over and the regular season looming next week, the Redskins have completed the process of trimming their roster down to the required 53 men, 

Below are the players that have been released (with sources collected here): 

  1. CB Richard Crawford
  2. S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith
  3. TE Ted Bolser
  4. OL Tevita Stevens
  5. OL Kevin Kowalski
  6. WR Lee Doss
  7. P Robert Malone
  8. NT Robert Thomas
  9. RB Chris Thompson
  10. RB Lache Seastrunk
  11. RB Evan Royster
  12. K Zach Hocker
  13. S Phillip Thomas
  14. CB Chase Minnifield
  15. LB Everette Brown
  16. WR Nick Williams
  17. LB Darryl Sharpton (IR with designation to return)
  18. DE Stephen Bowen (PUP list)
  19. OL Maurice Hurt (will be released if not traded, per reports)
  20. NT Chris Neild (IR)
  21. WR Leonard Hankerson (PUP)
  22. S Brandon Meriweather (Reserve/suspended list)

The Redskins face the Houston Texans in Week 1 next Sunday. 


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<![CDATA['Skins Starters to Sit in Preseason Finale]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:53:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/198*120/453316782.jpg

The Washington Redskins will close out their preseason schedule Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game that will serve as a last tryout for players on the proverbial bubble.

While it was reported earlier this week that the Redskins' first-team offense may see some action Thursday following a disappointing showing against the Ravens last weekend, coach Jay Gruden ultimately decided to rest his starters ahead of the season opener next week against the Houston Texans.

"It's my intent now, after a couple good days of practice, to let the other guys play,let the backups play," Gruden told reporters earlier this week. "So we can solidify those roles. We have our starters. In general, we feel pretty good about who they are and now we need to find the key backups and who they are and make sure they get ample reps to show what they can do."

One position battle to key in on is at running back, where several players -- Chris Thompson, Lache Seastrunk, Silas Reed and Evan Royster -- are all competing to make the 53-man roster along with Alfred Morris, Darrel Young and Roy Helu, Jr.

“They have to do it out here," Gruden said. “Some of them have missed some time, which has hurt their chances. Some of them have missed protections, which have hurt their chances. We have got to try to do the best we can Thursday night to try to get some guys in question some touches and see what they can do. Make sure ball security is on point. See if they can play through some injuries. See how durable they are obviously and see what they can do in protection and [catching the ball] out of the backfield."

Meanwhile, third-string quarterback Colt McCoy will reportedly start. 

The game will be broadcast on NBC4 beginning at 7:30 p.m.


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<![CDATA['Skins Have "Started Process" For New Stadium]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:01:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/189*120/156661021+%281%29.jpg

In an exclusive interview with Comcast Sportsnet, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said that the organization has "started the process" of designing a new stadium.

“Whether it's Washington, D.C., whether it's another stadium in Maryland, whether it's a stadium in Virginia, we've started the process,” Snyder said. “We are going to push forward. We've started meeting with architectural firms. We are in the process of developing."

Sources told News4 these plans possibly include installing a new, domed stadium at the site of the old RFK Stadium, where the team had played for nearly 40 years.

"It's by far the best location for a football stadium in the metropolitan region," D.C. Council member Jack Evans said. "We tried the FedEx experience, and it has not worked."

"Our team should be at home," Redskins fan Julie Patterson said. Her father used to work as a vendor at RFK. "Everybody's gonna put everything on the line to get the [Redskins]."

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells said he would support the stadium being brought back to D.C., depending on the source of funding.

"If he wants the city to pay for it -- which he has not said -- then we're going to have to talk a lot about that," Wells said, admitting RFK didn't do much for the Northeast D.C. neighborhood where it was constructed. "If it's a smart, new way to do a stadium, where there's retail involved, restaurants, it needs to be a contributing asset to our city and to that neighborhood.

Sources also informed NBC12 in Richmond that Snyder has met with Gov. Terry McAuliffe to discuss a potential stadium in Virginia.

“I come at this as the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia," McAuliffe said last month during a visit to Redskins training camp in Richmond. "I am the chief jobs creation officer. My job is to grow the economy and I have a team here that is growing the economy. All the players live in Virginia. Most of the season tickets I’m told are Virginians. Everyone comes at it from a different perspective. My perspective as governor is I love the economic activity.”

"Really if you want to say second-rate site, go to Virginia," Wells said.

The Redskins currently play in Landover at FedEx Field, which opened in 1997. The Redskins' lease in Landover runs for another 13 years.

"Prince George’s County is proud to be the game-day home to the Washington Redskins and County Executive [Rushern] Baker wants to keep them playing in our county for the next generation of fans. The Redskins have been great community partners and corporate citizens to Prince George’s County," Scott Peterson with Baker's office told News4 Wednesday night.

“We've already seen some preliminary drawings and I'm going to be very retro with it,” Snyder told CSN. “It's gonna feel like RFK. It's gonna move like RFK. I love that, I actually asked architectural firms to do it and they said that they can do it. I said that I think the lower bowl sections are going to want to rock the stadium like the old days.”

Snyder offered no timetable for when the proposal for a new stadium would be approved.


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<![CDATA[Redskins Trim Roster to 75 Players]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:10:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/158824159.jpg

All NFL teams are required to cut their preseason rosters to 75 players by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, but the Redskins took care of theirs much earlier, announcing the 15 players that have been waived or released.

Below are the 15 aforementioned players:

  1. FB Stephen Campbell
  2. WR Cody Hoffman
  3. LB Jeremy Kimbrough
  4. WR Rashad Lawrence
  5. S Ross Madison
  6. DE Jake McDonough
  7. LB Adrian Robinson
  8. DE Jeremy Towns
  9. LB Rob Jackson
  10. G Adam Gettis
  11. CB Bryan Shepherd
  12. WR Rashad Ross
  13. TE Matt Veldman
  14. G/C Mike McGlynn
  15. TE Mike Caussin (Reserve/Injured List)

Of the cuts, Jackson is the most notable. The veteran and 2008 draft pick was bumped by a younger group of outside linebackers.

The Redskins have until Saturday afternoon to cut the remaining 22 players to form their 53-man roster for the regular season.


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<![CDATA['Skins Starting Offense Could Play Final Preseason Game]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:57:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/196*120/Robert+Griffin+III+RGIII+RG3+454033560.jpg

Typically, NFL starters sit out the fourth and final preseason game as the regular season looms. Yet according to News4's Dianna Russini, the Redskins starting offense may take part in a few series against the Buccaneers Thursday.

The Redskins had a poor showing Saturday against the Ravens in a 23-17 loss. Among other iffy performances, Robert Griffin III was sacked three times and his last pass attempt was intercepted. 

For a team still adjusting to a new coach in Jay Gruden and the accompanying systemic changes, perhaps a few more drives would not hurt, though there is certainly risk involved. 

Gruden will address the situation following practice Monday.


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<![CDATA[WaPo Editorial Board Stops Use of "Redskins"]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:25:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/RedskinsFlag+.jpg

In yet another media-related boycott of the Washington Redskins, the Washington Post's editorial board said Friday that it will no longer use the polarizing moniker when referring to the team.

"While we wait for the NFL to catch up with public opinion and common decency we have decided not to use the slur ourselves except when it is essential for clarity or effect," the board said in a statement.

Keep in mind that the editorial board's decision does not affect the news-gathering side, which will continue using "Redskins," according to executive editor Marty Baron.

Other online and print publications that no longer publish "Redskins" include The Seattle Times, Slate.com, The Kansas City Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, New Republic and Sports Illustrated-affiliated TheMMQB.com.


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<![CDATA[Manziel Fined for Flipping Off 'Skins]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:25:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/206*120/453799298.jpg

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has been fined $12,000 for extending his middle finger to the Redskins bench during their preseason game Monday.

Following a third-quarter incompletion, ESPN cameras caught Manziel flipping the bird toward the Redskins as he trotted toward the huddle. 

"I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up," Manziel said following the game.

That slip-up will cost Manziel, who will start the season as the Browns' backup after Brian Hoyer earned the starting job.

“It was hilarious,” Orakpo told ESPN of Manziel’s gesture earlier this week. “We were messing with him a little bit, just saying this ain’t college and stuff like that. We were having a little fun. … Manziel flipped us off. It was something funny. We were all laughing on the sidelines.”


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<![CDATA[Matt Williams Must Impersonate Babe Ruth]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:04:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/201*120/453925696.jpg

In an absolutely ridiculous development, the Nationals won via walk-off again Thursday when an Arizona Diamondbacks throwing error in the bottom of the ninth allowed Denard Span to score and secure a 1-0 victory.

For those keeping (or losing) count, that is five walk-off wins in Washington's past six games. The Nationals are the first team since the 1986 Houston Astros to have such a stretch and the seventh team to do so since 1900, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 

Of course, that is 10 straight victories overall too. That means manager Matt Williams must reprise his Babe Ruth impersonation as he promised in May.

“As in any situation with games or any of that, timing is important,” Williams told reporters with a smile. "So I wouldn’t imagine that right now is the proper time. It’s probably not appropriate. But in some form or fashion, at some point, probably in the privacy of some stadium somewhere, we’ll bring it out again. I don’t know when that will be.

“It’s not appropriate. You talk to folks and you say ‘Hey, boy, sure we’d like to win 10 in a row.’ But at some point it will be fun and appropriate but not right now.”

While we wait, click here for a sneak preview, courtesy of Williams from June 1991


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<![CDATA[ESPN Predicts Redskins Will Finish 7-9, Last in Division]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:25:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/453832182.jpg

There is certainly an abundance of optimism in Washington as the Redskins prepare to erase the painful memories of a 3-13 season.

According to ESPN The Magazine, the Redskins will indeed improve upon their disastrous 2013 season, but not enough to return to the postseason. The magazine projects Washington to finish with a 7-9 record, which would place it in the NFC East basement.

Here is how ESPN believes the season will play out game-by-game:

The magazine says that the Redskins will win 10 games "if new coach Jay Gruden's pass-heavy offense gets RG3 in sync with his explosive trio of weapons." However, they will win six games "if their failure to address a horrid secondary proves costly and the O has to score 30 to win." 

What do you think? What will the Redskins' record be at the end of the season?


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<![CDATA[Nats Keep Walking Off]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:43:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/210*120/453882120.jpg

Within the past week, much Gatorade has been spilled at Nationals Park. On Wednesday, Anthony Rendon's pinch-hit single drove in Bryce Harper in the bottom of the ninth as Washington walked off again in a 3-2 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Nationals' latest victory -- their ninth in a row, one shy of matching the franchise record of 10 -- was their fourth walk-off win in their past five games.

After tying a franchise record by winning three straight games via walk-off prior to an 8-1 victory Tuesday, Washington is just the third team in the past 20 seasons with as many wins of that type over a five-game span, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Cubs and Royals did so in June 2009 and April 2000, respectively.

"It's absolutely epic," Harper told reporters. "That's the best word I can put out there."

Five of the Nationals' past six victories have been by one run. Their recent run has them nursing a seven-game lead over the Braves in the NL East with 37 games remaining.

"It's gratifying for [the players], it's exciting for them," manager Matt Williams said. "It's not a whole of fun in the dugout for the staff, but that's OK."


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<![CDATA[NFL Ref Avoided Redskins Games Because Of Name]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:25:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/208*120/183953692.jpg

In an interesting story written by The Washington Post's Mike Wise, longtime NFL referee Mike Carey revealed that he avoided assignments to work Redskins games because of the team's nickname.

“I’ve called them Washington all my life,” Carey told Wise. “And I will continue to call them Washington.

“It just became clear to me that to be in the middle of the field, where something disrespectful is happening, was probably not the best thing for me."

Carey, a highly respected official who worked for the NFL for nearly two decades, "essentially told his employers his desire for a mutually respectful society was so jeopardized by Washington’s team name that he could not bring himself to officiate the games of owner Daniel Snyder’s team," according to Wise. Carey did not reveal exactly who honored his request other than to say that he would communicate with the person making up the officiating assignments.

While the issue has certainly become a hot topic of conversation recently, Carey did not work a Redskins game after 2006. He now works as a rules analyst for CBS, which is leaving the decision regarding whether to use the name during broadcasts up to the on-air talent.

“There was an epiphany for me that it was time," Carey said when asked about his decision eight years ago. "I was never comfortable with the name. I’ve never said [the team’s name] in my games. But then I realized it wasn’t an option to be part of them anymore. For me, I just knew. I knew that everybody — everybody — deserves a level of respect."


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<![CDATA[Redskins DBs Pay Tribute to Michael Brown]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:25:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/217*120/Screen+Shot+2014-08-19+at+11.26.19+AM.png

As the Redskins' defensive backs took the field prior to their preseason game against the Browns on Monday, they did so with their hands up. It was a symbol of solidarity for Michael Brown, the Missouri teenager whose death sparked the ongoing turmoil in Ferguson.

"We just wanted everybody to know that we support Michael and acknowledge what happened in Ferguson,'' safety Brandon Meriweather told USA TODAY Sports. "Crazy things happen every day in this world.

"It was all of ours idea, something we decided to do as a group just to show our support.''

“Anytime you get an opportunity to do something like that, it’s something that needs to be discussed, something that you truly need to believe,” safety Ryan Clark told reporters. “That could have been any one of us. That could have been any one of our brothers, our cousins, just anyone.

“We have voices, even though sometimes we don’t like to see it that way, we do have voices. We got the opportunity to do something.”


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<![CDATA[LaRoche's 1st Career Walk-Off Homer Lifts Nats]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:51:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/453793144.jpg

The Nationals extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games Monday with a 5-4 victory against the Diamondbacks, their third walk-off win in a row after Adam LaRoche hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning.

Washington's third straight walk-off win tied a franchise record set by the Expos on July 26-28, 1988. The Nationals also became just the second team in the majors to accomplish that feat this season, joining the Rays, who did so May 22-24.

Even more impressive than that is the fact that LaRoche's home run Monday was the first-ever walk-off home run of his career.

He entered the game with 235 career regular-season home runs, the second-most among players who never hit a walk-off homer. Only Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira has more with 361 career home runs.

"[It's] nice to get my first one -- it took me long enough," the 34-year-old told reporters. "I got every bit of it, I did. Just a crazy few days. I don't know how we've gotten these walk-off situations the last few days, but we have and have been able to grind back."

LaRoche is hitting .306 with six home runs and 12 RBIs in August. 


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<![CDATA[RGIII Still Can't Slide]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:20:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/205*120/4537924741.jpg

Much of the focus of the Redskins' preseason game against tbe Browns was on Cleveland's quarterback competition (and Johnny Manziel's middle finger), but Robert Griffin III was by no means invisible.

He finished 6-for-8 for 112 yards and an interception, but he also scrambled four times for 24 yards, leaving himself vulnerable to big hits from the Browns' defense.

He slid awkwardly on multiple runs and absorbed unnecessary contact from three Browns as he ran toward the sideline on one particular play in the first quarter. Griffin even came up limping following one cringe-worthy slide. He suffered a thigh contusion during the game, but it is not considered serious. 

“It’s something we have to continue to talk to him about: how important he is to this franchise,” coach Jay Gruden told reporters. “When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself. He’s had a career where he’s been able to get out of those predicaments with his speed and athleticism. But here, being that it’s a 16-game season with all the great talent that’s across the league, he’s got to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little bit better.”

In a recent article on ESPN.com, a "high-ranking personnel evaluator" told Mike Sando that Griffin's running style is unsustainable and leaves him susceptible to hard-charging defenses.

"He is not going to make you miss," the anonymous evaluator said. "Some of these other quarterbacks can shake a guy or make a move."

Following his gruesome knee injury two seasons ago, Redskins fans watch Griffin scramble through their fingers. To his credit, Griffin is aware that he must improve in regards to avoiding such contact.

“It’ll continually be a work in progress,” Griffin told reporters when asked about his decision-making when he takes off with the ball. “I’m going to keep focusing on getting down in those situations — knowing when to fight for those yards and when not to.” 


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<![CDATA[Walk-Off Weekend Has Nats Streaking]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 09:40:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/453758772.jpg

In both of their games against the Pirates over the weekend, the Nationals trailed late, Saturday by three runs in the bottom of the eighth and Sunday by one in the bottom of the ninth.

Yet in each instance, Washington celebrated in walk-off fashion, sweeping their second straight series and extending their winning streak to a season-long six games.

Saturday, Wilson Ramos' ground-rule double to deep right scored Bryce Harper to secure a 4-3 victory after Kevin Frandsen and Adam LaRoche sparked the rally in the eighth. The Pirates had won 61 straight games against the Nationals/Expos franchise when leading by at least three runs in the eighth inning or later, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Then on Sunday, after Rafael Soriano blew a save with the Nationals leading 4-2 entering the top of the ninth, Asdrubal Cabrera (who was hitting a MLB-worst .197 with runners in scoring position over the past two seasons for players with a minimum of 200 at-bats) singled in Jayson Werth to tie the game. Scott Hairston's sacrifice fly in the 11th brought home Werth for the victory.

The Nationals, the hottest team in baseball with their current winning streak, now lead the Braves by six games in the NL East.


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<![CDATA[Cleveland's QB Competition Comes to Washington]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:07:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/452727898.jpg

There is much intrigue surrounding a preseason game between the Redskins and the Cleveland Browns on Monday at FedEx Field, as Cleveland's well-publicized quarterback competition will ultimately be decided. 

Browns coach Mike Pettine recently said that he hopes to announce either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel as his starting quarterback Tuesday for Week 1 against the Steelers.

How both fare against the Redskins will provide Pettine with vital information. Hoyer will start, but the plan is for Manziel to receive equal time with the first-team offense.

"I think it's a little overblown as to who the starter is going to be," Pettine told reporters last week. "The key component, as I've stated earlier this week, is that we are going to balance the reps. We will play it a little by ear as it goes on, we haven't truly decided as far as the rotation but the goal is, for when we look at the stat sheet at halftime, that they both have the same amount of repetitions and hopefully they both get a good amount of work."

Robert Griffin III -- like Manziel, a former Heisman Trophy recipient -- can commiserate with "Johnny Football" about the attention and scrutiny he has received.

"You can’t fight that battle," Griffin told The Washington Times. "There’s always going to be something that you say or something that you do that somebody’s not going to like. It's not to be liked, but to be yourself and if that's who Johnny is then that’s who is if he accepts that.... The media probably won’t accept that, they'll probably continue to cover it and do whatever they want to do with it. From my perspective, for what I've had to go through, it's hard to fight some of the stuff that’s been said. But, you have to just continue to be yourself."

Meanwhile, coach Jay Gruden plans to play his starters for only a quarter, so Hoyer and Manziel should both see reps against the Redskins' top defenders within the first 15 minutes. Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is now in charge of the same in Cleveland, which should allow for a bit of interest.

For the Redskins, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, both of whom sat out of the preseason opener against the Patriots, should play Monday, giving the team and the fans their first glimpse at Washington's revamped receiving corps.  


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<![CDATA[Snyder, Gruden Take #IceBucketChallenge]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:00:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/BvGLhoQCMAEfcFx.jpg

On Thursday, I shared with you Keith Olbermann's challenge to Daniel Snyder to participate in the #IceBucketChallenge to raise money and awareness for ALS.

Well, I doubt that Snyder accepted Olbermann's specific dare, but the Redskins owner and coach Jay Gruden were both drenched following practice Friday. 

Here is more visual evidence of the challenge, which also featured former Redskin Joe Theismann, president/general manager Bruce Allen and PR guy Tony Wyllie.

I have yet to be challenged, though I would not be opposed to being completely dry while making a donation.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit the ALS Association


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Photo Credit: @NBCDianna]]>
<![CDATA[Nats Make Franchise History Against Mets]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:22:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/230*120/453621578.jpg

The Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Mets on Thursday in a 4-1 victory, taking a six-game lead over the Braves in the NL East with roughly 40 games remaining in the regular season.

In defeating New York (which included a rare Stephen Strasburg road win), Washington set a franchise record.

The Nationals have now won 11 straight games at Citi Field, their longest-ever road winning streak against a single opponent. The previous record of 10 as the Expos came against the Cubs from 1982 to 1983. Washington has outscored New York 74-21 during the streak. 

Meanwhile, the 11th straight loss to the Nationals at home was also a franchise record for the Mets, overtaking their 10-game skid against the Braves at Shea Stadium from 1991 to 1992.

There have been significantly longer losing streaks of this particular kind in recent history; Toronto snapped a 17-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium last month and the Rays lost 18 straight in Cleveland from 2005 to 2010.

Yet the Nationals have four more games in New York from Sept. 11 to 14, and four more victories at that time could realistically solidify a division title and playoff berth.

In the mean time, the Nationals return to Washington for a 10-game homestand beginning Friday against the Pirates.

"We played really well here," manager Matt Williams told reporters in New York. "Now we've got to go do it at home."


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<![CDATA[Redskins File Appeal of Trademark Ruling]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:00:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/197*120/182622212+%281%291.jpg

Thursday, the Washington Redskins filed their appeal of the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s June decision to cancel several of the team's trademarks because it was "disparaging to Native Americans."

"We believe that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence, and we look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision," said Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, in a statement.

According to the release, "the appeal is in the form of a complaint, effectively starting the litigation anew, this time in a federal court before a federal judge, and not in the administrative agency that issued the recent split decision."

The team will argue that its First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated.

"Specifically, by cancelling valuable, decades-old registrations, the Board improperly penalized the Washington Redskins based on the content of the team’s speech in violation of the First Amendment," the statement said. "The complaint also alleges that the team has been unfairly deprived of its valuable and long-held intellectual property rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment."

While the case is in federal court, the Redskins’ federal trademark registrations remain in full force and effect, giving them the right to use its marks and to enforce them against infringers and counterfeiters.


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