Players bond over memories of .... childhood pets?

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Players bond over memories of .... childhood pets?

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jeff Fisher took an offbeat approach for breaking the ice when St. Louis Rams veterans and rookies met for the first time. Besides standing and reciting their names, schools, favorite movies, etc., during introductions, the new players were asked to recall the name of their first pet along with how it died. Fisher said several mentioned hamsters and turtles, while some remembered the family dog or cat getting squashed by trains or buses. "We had one whose parents just put him down that morning," Fisher said Wednesday. "You know, it was sad. No, it was good. Good introduction." Cornerback Cortland Finnegan recalled lighthearted goings on when he was a rookie playing for Fisher in Tennessee. There, he got saddled with the nickname Fido. "It's something coach Fisher always throws in there for giggles," Finnegan said. "I played the nickel and I would always run after the wrong guy." Rams rookies got hung with nicknames, too. Finnegan said one looked like Greg Oden, and another resembled Gonzo, the Muppet. There are limits to the frivolity. Players won't be asked to sing and Fisher went out of his way to emphasize there will be no hazing, no rookies taped to goal posts or the like. "They're here to help us win," he said after the team completed a second day of organized team activities. There is fresh optimism surrounding a franchise that's a sorry 15-65 the last five years. Defensive end Chris Long, the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, is playing for his fourth coach entering his fifth season and can't recall a vibe quite like this. "There's been a lot of changes since I've been here. This is by far the one I'm most excited about," Long said. "I think we're all very excited about it. It's a new beginning for a lot of people and, in the same sense, you have to re-prove yourself." Fisher does not seem worried about all those lean seasons in the recent past. "We've completely forgotten about last year," the coach said. "This is a team that's going out there to win, period. There's players that are emerging that were here. There's players that are improving. We've got an influx of talent through free agency and the draft and we're going to play hard and win games." Fisher said much of the base offense and defense have been installed. The Rams worked on situational play and the red zone Wednesday and might delve into the two-minute offense on Friday. A handful of rookies have been unable to attend. Running back Isaiah Pead, a second-round draft pick, was among four who attend schools on the quarter system and can't participate until the end of exams. Plus, Pead and two wide receivers who could get plugged into the offense immediately, second-rounder Brian Quick and fourth-rounder Chris Givens, are attending an NFL rookie premiere event in California. "It's mandated by the league that they come out there, so unfortunately they're missing some quality work," Fisher said. "It's a photo thing, and (trading) cards and those kinds of things. Really great timing." The Rams added a pair of veterans for depth, signing free agent linebacker Mario Haggan and offensive tackle Barry Richardson, and both were on the field Wednesday. Richardson started every game the last two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs and the 32-year-old Haggan also has been strong on special teams.

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Morning tip: Wizards prepare for another 3-point shooting center with Nets

Morning tip: Wizards prepare for another 3-point shooting center with Nets

The way the Brooklyn Nets are using Brook Lopez will force the Wizards' hand to defend the 7-foot center on the perimeter. It's another assignment for Marcin Gortat, who has gained a lot of experience with that recently, in Monday night's game at Barclays Center (CSN+, 7:30 p.m. ET).

"He's going to have the same issues," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said about his 6-11 center. "Brook shot nine or 10 three-point shots in the last two games. I don't think he touched the paint."

In fact, Lopez has attempted 33 three-pointers in the last four games combined. That's an average of eight per game.

Lopez already has shot 102 in just 17 games. In his previous eight seasons combined, he shot 31. 

The Wizards have faced more spread fives than they probably were prepared for going into the season. Marc Gasol forced overtime with a long ball in what would be a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and DeMarcus Cousins posed serious challenges though the Sacramento Kings fell short. 

Lopez isn't the most athletic big man, but he still averages 19.6 points and shoots 37.3% from three. His rebounding has dipped (5.2) to a career low for a full season. 

"I'm goiing to stay away from the rim. I got to guard him," Gortat said. "I'm 100 percent sure he's got to guard me, too. I'll do everything necessary to make him work defensively. We all know he's going to take 15 to 20 shots. We just got to accept that. We got to make sure he's going to miss as many as possible."

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Need to Know: Murphy and Kerrigan a potent sack combo

Need to Know: Murphy and Kerrigan a potent sack combo

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 5, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Jay Gruden conference call 3 p.m.

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 6; Panthers @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 19

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (possible concussion/stinger)
Postgame injury report

Redskins vs. Cardinals by the numbers

—Kirk Cousins passed for 271 yards. While compiling those yards he moved up six spots in the team’s record book for single season passing yardage. He passed four different quarterbacks in the process and passed Mark Rypien and Joe Theismann twice.

—Cousins also moved past Jason Campbell for sixth on the team’s career passing yards list.

—DeSean Jackson caught a 59-yard pass from Cousins in the third quarter. It was his 35th career reception of 50 yards or longer. Since he entered the league in 2008 no NFL player has more.

—Ryan Kerrigan sacked Carson Palmer in the second quarter, giving him 10 for the season. He now has his second career season with double-digit sacks; he had 13.5 in 2014.

—Trent Murphy recorded a third-quarter sack of Palmer; he now has eight sacks this season. He had a total of six in his first two NFL seasons.

—Dustin Hopkins kicked a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. It was the second-longest of his career. He hit a 54-yarder in Atlanta last season.

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