From Comcast SportsNetTEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals and inside linebacker Daryl Washington have agreed on a six-year contract.The Cardinals had targeted the third-year pro throughout training camp as the next player to get a new deal. A second-round draft pick -- 47th overall -- out of TCU in 2010, Washington led the team in tackles last season with 111."I feel really good, really good," he said after practice on Thursday. "I'm glad it was able to get done before the season, sooner than later. I feel real good about the decision, about my agent Jordan Woy and the organization. I told them I wanted to be here for a long time and I'm glad it got done."Terms weren't disclosed but the deal contains guaranteed money, a pay raise over the next two seasons with a team option bonus in 2014.Washington, known for his extreme speed at a critical position in Arizona's 3-4 scheme, had 16 tackles for loss last season, the most by an Arizona player since 1995. He was one of five players in the NFL in 2011 with at least five sacks and two interceptions.He had two years left on the contract he signed as a rookie."It just shows they believe in me, they believe in my talent," Washington said. "It shows the kind of person I am, the kind of character that I have. I'm just excited right now, very excited."He joins defensive end Calais Campbell as players who signed long-term deals with Arizona in recent months."It just shows that they've got two potential great players for a long period of time," Washington said. "We're looking to really take over the defense and really show the organization that we're worth the pay."He said the contract does not create more pressure for him to prove he's worth it."It's more of a challenge," Washington said, "to go out there and play as well as they expect me to play. But I expect that of myself."Coach Ken Whisenhunt said "it's great when you have a young player that has made the strides that Daryl has.""We thought highly of him before we drafted him and he certainly hasn't let us down," Whisenhunt said, "so to know that he's going to be here for a number of years was a great thing."Washington has plenty of room for improvement."I think to continue on that upward scale is the next step for him," Whisenhunt said. "He learned the defense, understood what he had to do in the defense. He's been an explosive player, a fast player. When he knows what he's doing he's hard to block with the speed that he's got. He's all over the place and I think that just getting more and more comfortable in this defense and understanding where he has to be, he can get there fast, and that helps."The Cardinals had their eye on Washington throughout his college career "on a very good defense" at TCU, the coach said."For the fit in what we're trying to get done defensively, he has all the things that you like to see," Whisenhunt said. "He's smart, he's fast, he thumps a lot more than you think he would based on his size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds). He can cover, he can get down the field. All those things to play that linebacker position, a three-down linebacker, make him very valuable."Just his work ethic, that's one of the things that you look for in some of these young players, if they're going to be a leader, if they're going to be one of the guys that you count on defensively, they've got to be the right kind of guy, and Daryl is that."He is among five players from Arizona's 2010 draft class who will start in Sunday's season opener against Seattle.Campbell was elated to see Washington get the deal."He deserved it. He's definitely a great player," Campbell said. "I'd love to play with him a lot of years because he's going to make me look good and make all kinds of plays."Campbell said the Cardinals were smart to sign Washington now because he would have been a lot more expensive after this season."Because he's going to have a great year," Campbell said. "I'm predicting him to be All-Pro."
WALTHAM, Mass. – For most of training camp, R.J. Hunter and James Young have played it cool when asked about their shaky status with the Celtics heading into this season.
Both have talked about not letting it affect their friendship, which according to multiple team sources, is true.
But when it comes to the pressure of having your basketball future thrown into total chaos within the next 48-72 hours, that’s a different story.
Prior to practice Friday, Danny Ainge – the man who will decide their basketball fate – spent time talking with each of them on the sidelines, doing his best to keep their spirits up at a time of uncertainty.
The Celtics have a number of players whose basketball futures were in a similar state of limbo.
Amir Johnson was taken in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons with the 56th overall pick.
It was a veteran team that afforded Johnson few opportunities to prove his worth.
“All I tried to do was learn as much as I could in training camp, and pick up things as quickly as possible,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “When you’re a second round pick or undrafted, you have to do all you can to make a good impression.”
Isaiah Thomas echoed similar sentiments.
Thomas was the 60th pick – the last player selected – in the 2011 NBA draft, putting the odds of him just making an NBA roster slim to none.
Since then, he has become an All-Star who is easily the best player ever selected at that point in an NBA draft.
But like Hunter and Young, the pressure of not necessarily knowing your basketball fate can be worrisome.
“It’s tough not knowing, but at the end of the day all you can do is be the best at whatever they ask of you,” Thomas told CSNNE.com. “If it’s running a play, run that play the best way you know how. If it’s going to get a cup of water, be the best at getting that cup a water. It’s all about leaving your all out there. If you do that, you can live with the results because at that point, you did all you can do.”
Outwardly, both Hunter and Young have adopted that approach to the training camp which they knew going in would likely end with one of them being waived or traded.
And while each has shown noticeable growth through training camp, neither has done enough to separate themselves good or bad.
Most of Hunter’s bright moments have been balanced with struggles or inconsistencies.
Ditto for Young, who is headed into his third NBA season, while this will be Hunter’s second.
Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations, does not take the decision he and his front office has to make lightly. He is more than aware that the player he waives could potentially turn out to be a better pro than the one he keeps.
And this decision could potentially come back and haunt the Celtics if he doesn’t get it right.
As much as we talk about the players feeling pressure, Ainge and his staff are under a bit of pressure too when you consider both Hunter and Young were players he picked in the first round of their drafts.
And both players at the time were considered draft-night steals because each had been projected to go higher than where the Celtics picked them.
But at this point, neither has made a significant impact in the NBA, which is why both are on the cusp of being waived.
That said, they have done enough to where those flashes of strong play have given Ainge and his staff reason to pause and with that, make what all agree will be a well thought-out, difficult decision.
“Sometimes guys just cut themselves. Sometimes guys just win jobs, overwhelmingly win it,” Ainge said. “The guys that are in question have all played really well. I guess that’s refreshing. I’m happy for them that they are all playing well under the stress and pressure of trying to make a team and make a roster. I’m proud of all of them.
And when asked about having to cut a former first-round pick, Ainge responded, “there’s a lot of first-round picks that don’t make it in the NBA. So I feel confident, pretty comfortable that all of our guys are still going to be playing in the NBA.”
BRIGHTON, Mass. – One area where the Bruins are looking for more after a mostly positive first four regular-season games: the power play.
The B’s are a downright gross 1-for-14 on the man-advantage to start the season and were 0-for-4 on Thursday night while squeaking out a last-minute win over the New Jersey Devils. The early-season 7.1 percent success rate doesn’t have them last in the NHL, but only the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have performed at a lower PP clip.
It’s a subject that Claude Julien knew was coming from the B’s media, and so he was ready to answer for it ahead of Saturday night’s rivalry renewal with the Montreal Canadiens.
“I knew it was just a matter of time before that question came. It is what it is. I think we had some opportunities, but we haven’t finished,” said Julien. “At the end of the day our power play is judged by whether you score or not, and I thought our second period [vs. the Devils] wasn’t great. But our third period had some really good power plays, but we didn’t manage to score.
“Where we need to get to right now [on the power play], is to find a way to finish. There’s no doubt the absence of Patrice Bergeron there brings somebody else in, and maybe there’s not as much chemistry as we’re used to. But I think with him back now we can even be better, and get a little more movement…not be so stagnant. When we struggle a bit it’s because we’re a little stagnant, and we need to get a little better there.”
Quite a bit of the struggles go back to Bergeron missing the first three games of the season and the top power-play unit missing No. 37 from his trademark bumper role at the center of the PP action. The power play remained scoreless as the unit adjusted to Bergeron's return on Thursday night, but it seemed that things started to click a little bit as that game went on.
“It’s not moving right now. We’ll just work through it. There were times last year where it let us down, and there were times last year where it helped us through some tough moments,” said Torey Krug of the PP. “Right now we’re able to play through it, but at some point this team is going to need this PP to step up and score some goals. We rely on that, and the guys on the power play take a lot of pride in it.
“[Bergeron] does a lot of things for us. Instead of me having to go all the way to the other end to break the puck out where I’m losing 20 seconds and frankly it’s tiring to break the puck out, now we have him winning face-offs and we’re starting with the puck in the zone. That’s a big thing, and he collects puck like nobody else in the league. With him back on the power play it brings another important player to the forefront, but it’s a five man unit and when everything’s working out there [on the PP] we have a good unit.”
Now with Ryan Spooner expected to rejoin the B’s lineup, after being healthy scratch vs. New Jersey, that adds another dangerous power-play weapon that practiced with that unit on Saturday morning ahead of the traditional morning skate. The hope is that installing Bergeron and Spooner will help kick-start a special teams unit that’s been less than explosive, and not quite cohesive, in the first four games of the season.