...while RG3 leaves with an ugly knee injury

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...while RG3 leaves with an ugly knee injury

From Comcast SportsNetLANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Robert Griffin III reached too far for the football, his already injured right leg twisting gruesomely behind him.Just like that, Griffin was done. And so were the Washington Redskins.The Seattle Seahawks finally won a road playoff game, snapping an eight-game postseason skid away from home with a 24-14 NFC wild-card victory Sunday over the Redskins, who lost Griffin to another knee injury in the fourth quarter."I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there," Griffin said. "But every time you get on the field, you're putting yourself on the line."Griffin didn't know what the injury was, and coach Mike Shanahan said he was scheduled for an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.Washington won seven straight games to win the NFC East title and become the only team in the last 16 years to make the playoffs after a 3-6 start. But any hope for a late comeback win against the Seahawks ended once Griffin's heavily braced right knee buckled badly as he strained to field a bad shotgun snap in the fourth quarter. He lay on the ground, unable to recover the ball as the Seahawks pounced on it.Many fans in the stands stood in silence, their hands covering their faces as Griffin was being attended to. Several of Griffin's Redskins teammates also stood around the quarterback to see if he was OK.Though Griffin walked off the field under his own power after several minutes and saluted the fans, the Redskins (10-7) quickly announced he would not return."If you didn't pull him out then, you should get fired," Shanahan said.Griffin suffered a mild sprain of the lateral collateral ligament located on the outside of the knee against Baltimore on Dec. 9, caused when he was hit by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard scramble. He was limping earlier in this game, clearly still ailing from that injury."It was hard to watch RGIII tonight," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It was hard on him. He was freaking gallant."Despite Griffin's struggles, Shanahan left him in the game. Not that Griffin would have accepted an early exit."I probably would been right back out there on the field," Griffin said. "You respect authority, and I respect coach Shanahan. But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man, sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game."Griffin went to the locker room to get checked out after going down in a heap in the fourth quarter, but walked back out a few minutes later and stood on the sideline as only a spectator for the rest of the game.Seattle's Steven Hauschka kicked his third field goal of the game, and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins couldn't pull off the late-game heroics he displayed a few weeks ago against the Ravens when Griffin was first injured. Griffin was playing in his third game since spraining his right knee against Baltimore, which also brought Cousins into that game.While setting a rookie quarterback record with 815 rushing yards this season, Griffin captivated the D.C. area -- and the football world -- with his dazzling ability to pass and run. After four straight last-place finishes in the NFC East, the Redskins appear to have a bright future with their No. 2 overall pick.As long as Griffin is healthy, of course.Sunday's game was only the second playoff contest in NFL history between rookie quarterbacks, and before his injury, Griffin looked more like a first-year player than he had during Washington's impressive run to end the regular season. He completed 10 of 19 passes for 84 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and ran for 21 yards on five carries."I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way," Griffin said. "I'm the best option."Shanahan said he spoke with Griffin throughout the game about the quarterback's health."He said, Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there,'" Shanahan said. "I couldn't disagree with him."Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Russell Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and ran eight times for 67 yards for the Seahawks, who broke an eight-game postseason losing streak away from home.Wilson was among those who watched and worried after Griffin went down."He's a tremendous football player," Wilson said. "I just prayed he was all right."Seattle (12-5) will visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.Lynch's 27-yard run with 7:08 remaining gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game - and then Seattle held on for the win.Griffin tossed touchdown passes to Evan Royster and Logan Paulsen as Washington scored on its first two drives to take a 14-0 lead, but Seattle rallied to move on to the next round."We actually got a chance to sit at the dinner table and experience success," Griffin said. "It was a good meal, but now we want to go back and get dessert, and we'll be ready to get dessert next year."

Does Garoppolo need to play Thursday? ‘It’s not my call,’ he says

Does Garoppolo need to play Thursday? ‘It’s not my call,’ he says

FOXBORO - Hard to put a shine on the clunker that Jimmy Garoppolo submitted Friday night in Carolina. Another red zone interception dropped, a fumble recovered by a teammate and almost half (four) of his nine completions caught behind the line of scrimmage. 

Not exactly what the Patriots were hoping for in the third, and perhaps, last preseason outing for their Week 1 starter. Which raises the question: does Garoppolo need to play Thursday in the Jersey swamp?

“It’s really not my call,” he said. “You always want to be out there with your guys. It’s just the nature of the beast; you’re a competitor, you want to be out there, but whatever Coach [Bill Belichick] asks me to do, I’ll do.”

Were Belichick to decide to keep Garoppolo on ice, that would mean the third-year pro would go 16 days between his ugly appearance in Carolina and opening night at Arizona. That is less than ideal. In fact, it seems like a bad idea for an unproven player in dire need of as many reps as can be afforded him (which is why playing Tom Brady last week still makes no sense in this man’s opinion).

“We have to take that into consideration, too,” admitted Bill Belichick. “Again, whether that overrides something or it doesn’t, we’ll just have to see, but yeah, it’s definitely a consideration.”

“I really don’t even think about it like that, to be honest,” said Garoppolo. “Whatever they ask me to do, they ask me to do. “

Garoppolo insists he found out he was starting against the Panthers with only slightly more lead time than he was given the week prior against Chicago. So, there’s a good chance if he plays this week that he won’t know until the day of, which is certainly an acquired taste.

“At first it was a weird - I can remember back in my rookie year it was a weird thing not knowing,” he said. “You just get used to it after a while, mixing and matching with all the different guys, knowing guys’ tendencies and how they play, and you just react to it, really.”

If Garoppolo does get that chance, the Pats need him to react more decisively and more confidently than his last time out. In a summer of unknowns, that’s one thing we can be sure of.

 

 

Krejci more disappointed in losing Eriksson than missing out on Vesey

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Krejci more disappointed in losing Eriksson than missing out on Vesey

BRIGHTON – The Bruins held their first informal skate at the new Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning and there were a number of players present that also took part in the Jimmy Vesey recruiting session a few weeks ago.

Both Torey Krug and David Krejci skated on Monday along with John-Michael Liles, Frank Vatrano, Adam McQuaid and Noel Acciari, and those two aforementioned Black and Gold veterans were also part of the recruiting group that met with the former Harvard captain at their new practice facility.

A few days later, Vesey spurned the Bruins to sign with the New York Rangers, and the reactions weren’t all that overheated from the B’s players. Krug played with Vesey on Team USA during the World Championships a little more than a year ago, and didn’t really begrudge the highly sought Hobey Baker Award winner choosing the Blueshirts.

“I’m not going to go into details. He had the right to do what he did, and obviously it was a smart decision to interview with all those teams and figure out the best fit for him,” said Krug. “We wanted to him here, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Now we move on, and there’s an opportunity for other guys to step in and take that spot. This group moving forward, we’re highly motivated this year.”

Krejci would have been Vesey’s center, as pitched by the Bruins management in the meeting with Vesey, but that wasn’t enough to woo him to play pro hockey in his hometown. Krejci said he was more disappointed losing linemate Loui Eriksson than falling short in the Vesey sweepstakes. The carousel of changing wingers will be moving once again for the B’s pivot.

“I wasn’t really disappointed with that guy. Obviously I’d heard he was a good player, but he has to prove himself on the NHL level. I was more disappointed that we weren’t able to keep Loui. I felt like we had some good chemistry going,” said Krejci, referencing 30-goal scorer Eriksson departing for the Vancouver Canucks and a six-year, $36 million contract. “It was tough to see him go, but I’m getting kind of used to seeing my guys, my favorite guys, going away [like] Milan [Lucic], Nathan [Horton] and [Jarome] Iginla.

“So I’m going to have to play my game, and find chemistry with whoever is going to play on my line. I did meet him, and talked to him a bit. In the summer there aren’t many [hockey] things for people to talk about, so this [Vesey watch] was something for people to talk about. Obviously there was pressure on him, but he brought it on himself, I guess. I feel like he would have been a good fit on our team, but he made the decision he did. I don’t know exactly why he made the decision that he didn’t want to stay [in Boston], but it’s his career and he has all the right to decide where it is he wants to play.”

So Vesey becomes just another Harvard grad headed to New York City to start his career, and the Bruins will likely turn to Vatrano or perhaps rookie playmaker Danton Heinen as left wing candidates alongside Krejci and David Pastrnak after Boston missed out on both Eriksson and Vesey this summer. 

 

Branch: 'I ain't saying a damn thing' about reason behind suspension

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Branch: 'I ain't saying a damn thing' about reason behind suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch was suspended by the Patriots for about a week, a period spanning from before the team's second preseason game against the Bears to just before its third preseason game against the Panthers. When asked about Branch's time away from the field, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called it "a club matter." 

Branch was back in the Patriots locker room on Monday following his first practice since being reinstated, and he followed his coach's lead when it came to shedding light on the reasoning for his week-long departure.

"If Bill ain't telling ya'll, I ain't saying a damn thing, I guarantee that," Branch said. "If ya'll looking for something from me, it ain't happening. I'm just happy to be out here and get ready to play against the Giants. Glad to be out here with my teammates. We're all grinding for the same goal so that's where we're at right now."

Branch was asked if his team-issued suspension was the source of any embarrassment now that he's back.

"I ain't got nothing to be embarrassed about," he said. "Everything's copacetic. My teammates are good. The coaches are good. There's no reason for me to be embarrassed at all."

Branch did acknowledge, however, that the time he missed could have been better spent. While the Patriots practiced without him, he worked out on his own in order to try to stay in shape. At Monday's practice, he was not part of a group that went down to a separate field to do conditioning following warm-ups -- perhaps an indication that his conditioning was where the team expected it to be upon his return. 

"Everything in life is a learning experience," Branch said of his suspension. "I could definitely say it's a learning experience. Every snap on the field is valuable. Every one I missed out there, you know, other people are getting better while I was, you know, staying stagnant or going down with the personal workouts I was doing. I missed some valuable time out there."

Branch is a a big personality on a team that typically takes a business-like approach to the field. Oftentimes during training camp or pre-game warm-ups, when there is music playing within earshot, Branch is not afraid to break out a dance move or two. He also is one of the few Patriots who chooses not to participate in organized team activities in the spring, opting instead to show up for mandatory minicamp before returning home until having to report for training camp. 

Might his seemingly care-free style wear on teammates or coaches, he was asked?

"You gotta ask them, man," he answered. "I'm out here to have fun. I don't want to play football and be mad. If someone else has an issue, you gotta ask them. It ain't my problem."

Signed as a free agent after he was released by the Bills in 2014, Branch has made an impact as a consistent contrbutor on the interior of New England's defensive line. He made 17 starts for the Patriots last season, including both playoff contests, often lining up next to former first-round pick Malcom Brown. 

A second-round selection out of Michigan back in 2007, Branch has had a long and productive career, providing teams with an impossible-to-teach 6-foot-6, 350-pound frame. With the Patriots, though, he's had a bit of a revival as 2015 was his second-highest season-long grade he's ever received from Pro Football Focus, behind only the season he had in 2011 as a member of the Seahawks.

"I love it here," he said. "Love the guys in the lcoker room. Love everything. The atmosphere, the winning attitude. Everything about being here is awesome so I love this place."

The fourth preseason game is traditionally a game that's used by teams to get a look at players vying for final roster spots. Branch seems to be a safe bet to make the roster based on his skill set and experience, but he said he's hoping to play against the Giants on Thursday after having missed each of the last two preseason games.

"Definitely. Like I said before, every snap on the field is valuable experience and time missed if you don't get it," he said. "Every rep I get out there, I'm going to use my full ability to make sure I get everything I can out of it."