December 15, 2017

Washington Redskins: Week 3 Injury Report

With the Washington Redskins on a short work week by playing the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football this week all injuries no matter how relatively minor could play huge in who is and is not available for Washington. To better understand the matchup against the division rival Giants, we list all of the Redskins injuries below:

[Read more…]

Virginia Tech: Hokies’ plan for replacing injured Motuapuaka and other notes

After a big, needed win over FCS opponent Furman the big news of the week for the Virginia Tech Hokies leading up to their first away game against Purdue was the loss of starting middle linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka.

Motuapuaka exited the game against Furman in the third quarter, in what was originally deemed a minor injury. Earlier this week it was instead revealed that he had an MCL sprain and could be sidelined for four weeks, a substantial loss for Bud Foster’s defense. While Motuapuaka struggled against Ohio State, the depth behind him is thin in the form of Sean Huelskamp, a walk-on redshirt sophomore, a true freshman Carson Lydon.

Middle linebacker is an especially important position on the defense as they are responsible for calling plays and reading and adjusting the defensive positioning to match the offense along with heavy responsibilities in the run and pass attack. Even with Motuapuaka’s shortcomings, he was clearly the best the Hokies had.

Huelskamp will be the starter for now, as his three years in the system likely means he has a better handle of the play calls and adjustments needed. How well he can actually play the position once the ball is snapped though is up for debate. A walk-on isn’t likely to have the same physical tools as a real recruit.

Lydon on the other hand was a solid three-star prospect and certainly has the physical tools, but like with fellow freshman Dwayne Lawson on the offensive side, it’s uncertain whether he can handle all the pre-snap responsibilities. The Hokies were originally planning to redshirt him, but head coach Frank Beamer indicated that those plans would change in his weekly radio appearance Monday. Expect him to mix in with Huelskamp to start and if he adapts well, to slowly take the reins full-time.

Either way this will be a hard adjustment for the Hokies who were already weakest on defense at linebacker heading into the season. They’ll have to lean even more on their talented and experienced defensive line and corners until Motuapuaka returns.

 

Other Notes

  • Tech’s defense has famously had the Lunch Pail which has carried a number of traditions including placing dirt from the fields of vanquished foes inside and being awarded to the defensive MVP of the week. Well now Tech’s offensive line has introduced a trophy of their own, a custom designed meat tenderizer lovingly titled “The Fool’s Hammer” which is awarded to the offensive lineman with the best week in practice. Maybe that’s what’s been behind their resurgence early this season, or it could be Wyatt Teller mauling every defensive player in sight.
  • Advanced Stats Corner: Virginia Tech checked in as the 25th best team in the nation in the F/+ Combined Rankings which is overall advanced measurement of how a team performed on offense, defense and special teams. That’s 4th best in the ACC behind Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. Interestingly, by S&P+ component stats, one of the pieces used to make F/+, the Hokies offense is what’s holding up the team so far, at No. 10 in the nation, while the defense is down at No. 61. Expect that to change as the season progresses, but a good sign nonetheless for a beleaguered unit.
  • Ever since David Wilson left campus for the bright lights of the NFL it’s seemed impossible for the Hokies to settle on even two tailbacks they liked, running through large combinations of players. That’s continued this season with J.C. Coleman, Trey Edmunds, Travon McMillan and Shai McKenzie all seeing significant time. Running backs coach Shane Beamer indicated this week that that isn’t likely to change soon. And don’t forget Marshawn Williams, who is nearly ready to return from his torn ACL.
  • The Hokies will be making the trip to West Lafayette, Indiana for their first road game of the season against the Purdue Boilermakers, their second Big Ten team in three games. The Boilermakers won’t be quite as tough as Ohio State though, they’re ranked No. 82 in the F/+ Combined Rankings. However, any road game is still a significant test for a team counting on a couple of green players in important roles.

Week 1 Sunday Morning Updates: Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins

The Washington Redskins take on the Miami Dolphins at FedEx Field at 1pm.

Injury Updates

Redskins

Probable: DE Frank Kearse (shoulder), C Kory Lichtensteiger (finger)

Inactive: QB Robert Griffin III (concussion), OLB Jackson Jeffcoat

 

Miami Dolphins

Probable: T Branden Albert (knee), RB LaMichael James (shoulder), WR DeVante Parker (foot), CB Jamar Taylor (thigh)

Doubtful: T Jason Fox (concussion)

 

Television

CBS: Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (color commentary), Evan Washburn (sideline)

 

Radio

ESPN 980 Redskins Radio Network: Larry Michael (play-by-play), Sonny Jurgensen (color commentary), Chris Cooley (analysis), Doc Walker (sideline)

 

Betting Line

Miami -3.5

INACTIVES

The Washington Redskins have announced the following inactives and lineup changes for today’s game against the Miami Dolphins:

The Redskins declared the following players as inactive:
o No. 10 QB Robert Griffin III
o No. 19 WR Rashad Ross
o No. 53 LB Jackson Jeffcoat
o No. 61 G Spencer Long
o No. 68 T Tom Compton
o No. 74 G Arie Kouandjio
o No. 85 TE Anthony McCoy

On Saturday, the Redskins signed No. 96 linebacker Houston Bates (6-3, 250) to their active roster from the team’s practice squad. The team released No. 73 defensive end Frank Kearse.

The Dolphins declared the following players as inactive:
o No. 29 CB Will Davis
o No. 36 CB Tony Lippett
o No. 38 RB Jonas Gray
o No. 58 LB Chris McCain
o No. 74 T Jason Fox
o No. 83 WR Matt Hazel
o No. 96 DT A.J. Francis

On Friday, the Dolphins signed No. 65 center Sam Brenner (6-2, 310) and No. 38 running back Jonas Gray (5-10, 225) to their active roster from the team’s practice squad. The team released No. 66 center/guard Jacques McClendon and No. 5 quarterback Logan Thomas.

For the Nats and Strasburg, at what point is enough, enough?

STRASBURG LEAVES START WITH “UPPER BACK” INJURY; ANOTHER SHUTDOWN LOOMS?

I was going to start this column by listing all the members of the Washington Nationals 40-man roster who spent time on the disabled list this season. But I stopped for fear I wouldn’t have room to actually make my point after that.

We’ve already seen plenty of “What wrong with the Nationals” or “Most disappointing team in the majors” pieces being written about the club, but the simple fact remains: The organization was able to field its projected starting lineup twice this season — all season — and not until late August when they were already 5 1/2 game out in the division. [Read more…]

MLB Trade Deadline: Where do Nats fit in?

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is this Friday. It’s a frenzied time of year, with baseball fans glued to social media to see who their favorite team has picked up — or traded away.

Fans of the Washington Nationals are no different, with rumors the team has been attached to acquiring big-name relievers such as Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon and former Nats-Tyler Clippard, who was traded to the division-rival New York Mets on Monday.

It’s easy to assume, then, that the Nats are looking for bullpen help. The anchor of the bullpen, Drew Storen, has All-Star qualifications this season, but the rest of the equation is still a work in progress. Matt Thornton, quietly, has been excellent, but Tanner Roark has been wildly inconsistent, Blake Treinen was demoted and David Carpenter, a basement-bargain pick-up, was disabled.

So it only seems that a deal for consistent reliever would be in the offing.

But looking at the roster, it’s hard to determine, other than that, what the Nats really need.

We still haven’t seen the real Nats on the field this season with all the injuries. It’s easy to see Anthony Rendon back in uniform, and imagine Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman joining the team as well to finally field the team Mike Rizzo thought he put together at the start of the season.

Many have been trying to make the point that the Nats are in first place without all these starters on offense, so their re-joining the team will be better than any trade deadline acquisition — without giving up any prospects to do so.

But what are the Nats getting with these guys coming back to the lineup? Rendon is still young and should reasonably perform up to standards once he gets him MLB timing back. Span was performing admirably before his balky back required a now-lengthy stay on the DL. But Werth and Zimmerman have been accumulating injuries the past several seasons and there’s really no way to tell what they are going to provide to the offense until they are back in the lineup.

We can’t just assume they will both return to their pre-injury performance level. Werth’s age, and the nature of Zimmerman’s injury, really leave the door open to what level of play they’ll bring once they return to the field.

It’s one thing for a fan to look at the sheer number of players returning from the DL and assume things will be better once all these players are back in the lineup. And there’s no doubt Rendon and Span should provide a boost to the top of the order.

But counting on Werth and Zimmerman to provide pre-DL production is a risky move for anyone looking at the roster with an analytic approach.

 

Strasburg fairly sharp in rehab start with Harrisburg

Washington Nationals rehabbing starter Stephen Strasburg was reasonably sharp in a five-inning appearance for AA-Harrisburg on Wednesday. The righty, troubled with ankle, neck and back problems — but reportedly no arm pain — allowed one earned run on four hits and no walks, striking out six. The important part is that he told reporters he felt fine after the appearance.

From the Senators’ press release:

Strasburg allowed two runs overall, but just one was earned, while he walked none and struck out six in his rehab start with Harrisburg. Strasburg threw 71 pitches, 46 of which were strikes, in his five innings. Richmond’s Kelby Tomlinson hit an RBI double off Strasburg in the third inning and Mitch Delfino singled in a run in the fourth.

According to The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, Strasburg started 16 of 20 batters faced with a strike and the pitcher “looked comfortable”.

Manager Matt Williams, in his press conference before tonight’s matchup against Tampa Bay at Nats Park, said the team will evaluate how Strasburg feels in the next couple of days to determine if he’ll make another rehab start or rejoin the Nats.

Strasburg is an integral part of the Nats rotation and hopefully the week and a half off allowed his various ailments to recoup to allow him to throw with his normal mechanics.

REPORT: Werth out two-plus months with fractures in wrist

MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reported earlier Thursday that a CT scan of Washington Nationals LF Jayson Werth’s injured left wrist revealed two fractures and that his source indicated Werth could miss until August with the recovery.

The team has not commented as of this posting time.

Werth injured the wrist on May 15 when he was hit by San Diego’s Odrisamer Despaigne. The original x-ray and MRI reportedly showed no structural damage, though Werth has experienced soreness and swelling ever since and has not been able to participate in any baseball related activities.

For now, the Nats should turn to Michael Taylor to get the bulk of at bats in left field. Taylor, 24, is hitting .219/.265/.370 in 102 plate appearances in two stints with the Nats this season. He has 3 homers, 13 RBIs and 4 SBs. He should be able to provide solid-to-plus defense in left field.

If Taylor’s bat doesn’t heat up after a month of playing time, the Nats may have to turn to the trade market to explore other options, depending on Werth’s prognosis. Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson have played left field this season, but both are inadequate fielders and contact-challenged at the plate. Both are better suited for pinch-hit duty rather than playing in the field every day.

One immediate outside option: the Orioles DFA’d Alajandro De Aza on Wednesday. The 31-year-old is a career .265/.328/.401 hitter, is a good defender and could come on the cheap.

Washington Nationals injury update: Rendon could start rehab stint Friday

Before Tuesday’s series opener with the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams told the assembled media his start third baseman, Anthony Rendon, was nearing a rehab assignment after completing simulated games at extended spring training. When asked if Rendon was still experiencing discomfort in his sprained left knee, Williams recounted s discussion he had with Rendon.

“I talked to him last night,” Williams said. “I asked him, ‘Do you have pain?’ He said, ‘No, there’s no pain any more…'”

Out since March 9 with the sprained knee that was initially diagnoses “day-to-day,” Rendon played three innings earlier Tuesday and experienced no setback. According to Williams, Rendon is scheduled to play five innings on Wednesday, then have an off day, at which point should there be no setback, he’s begin a rehab assignment at one of the Nats affiliates.

Williams reiterated that at this point, it’s about getting Rendon back into baseball shape.

“So beyond the pain, that’s probably the biggest thing. His swing will come. The timing will come. All of that. But we don’t want him getting out there too quickly and not being in baseball shape and ready to go.”

Williams straddled the fence as to where Rendon might play when he returns, but its most likely he’ll resume playing third base, if for no other reason to prevent wear and tear on the knee.

“Third is a little less demanding right now. So as he gets into the swing of it, he may get over to second base as well, but for right now it’s going to be third just to make sure that we can try to monitor it as much as possible. Doesn’t have to move as much, there’s no real threat of a guy sliding in there a lot, on double play balls things of that nature.”

Regardless of where Rendon plays in the field, the Nats need to get his bat back into the lineup. Entering play Tuesday, the Nats have hit a combined .226/.298/.380 this season and could certainly use the shot in the arm that Rendon’s bat would be.

Washington Capitals Practice Update: Fehr out, Johansson iffy

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz addressed the media Monday about the Caps’ newest injuries. Trotz announced forward Eric Fehr will be out at lest two games [ed. There are currently just two games scheduled] with an upper-body injury sustained in Sunday’s Game 3 when Islanders forward Kyle Okposo checked Fehr hard into the boards.

Trotz also said this injury is not related to the injury that forced Fehr out of three games at the end of the regular season.

Forward Marcus Johansson was limited in practice due to a lower-body injury, reportedly a cut o n his lower leg sustained after colliding with Cal Clutterbuck in Game 3. Johansson played through the injury Sunday but is iffy for Game 4.

The Caps have forwards Michael Latta and Andre Burakovsky in reserve. Latta seems to be the more logical fill-in for Fehr and the rookie Burakovsky could get the call should Johansson’s leg be deemed not fit for Game 4.

The Caps trail the Islanders 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Washington Nationals notes: Stammen to DL, Cedeno DFA’d

The Washington Nationals placed RHP Craig Stammen on the 15-day disabled list today with right forearm stiffness and recalled RHP Taylor Jordan from AAA Syracuse.

Jordan made one start in Syracuse, throwing six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and one walk, striking out five. Jordan will assume Stammen’s long-man role in the bullpen.

Stammen has a 0.00 ERA in five appearances covering four innings, but after pitching for the fourth time on five games, experienced soreness in last Tuesday night’s loss to Boston and will be shut down for a while to let swelling and soreness subside.

Jordan will join RHP Rafael Martin as new additions to the bullpen since opening day. The team designated LHP Xavier Cedeno before Tuesday’s game and recalled Martin.

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