After promising start, Redskins' year skids off track

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After promising start, Redskins' year skids off track

FOXBORO - Back in September, it seemed like this might be the Redskins' year. They won their first two over the Giants and Arizona. Then, after a narrow loss at Dallas, they won on the road at St. Louis. Could Mike Shanahan find love and happiness in post-Haynesworth D.C.?No.It all blew up on them. Six straight losses from October 16 through November 20 removed any trace of optimism. Even their recent win - a 23-17 triumph at Seattle - was quickly undone by a home loss last Sunday to the Jets and the suspensions of two of their best players - tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams. Washington is now 4-8 and slogging through another hopeless December. They haven't made the playoffs since 2007 when Joe Gibbs was in charge. They've had six winning seasons since 1992. And in that 20-season span, they reached 10 wins just twice. The Redskins are quietly one of the league's most hapless organizations. This season, they are tied for last in the league in turnover differential (-13) and have the league's second-worst giveaway total (28). They are second-to-last in the league in rushing which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have Rex Grossman (69.8 QB rating, 15 picks, 57.9 completion percentage) commanding their passing attack. Add to the mix that Grossman is now without Davis, his No. 1 target by a wide margin (59 catches, 796 yards) and that his No. 2 is aging wideout Jabar Gaffney and you can see that things may be bleak for Washington offensively this week. Just as they've been bleak since early October.

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”