After a month-long hiatus for the summer Olympics, the Washington Mystics and the rest of the WNBA returns to action this week with the locals playing at Indiana on Thursday. Depending on one's point of view, the break for the Mystics (4-14) was either: Much needed so the players and coaches could analyze and ponder how best to fix the woes of the first half, one that included three losing streaks of at least four games. Or...Poorly timed seeing as the Mystics closed the first half with a rousing 70-53 win at New York, their largest margin of victory on the season.Sure, you can point to the latter position with some legitimacy, but the overall ills during those initial 18 games cannot be denied. Slow starts were a repeat offender; Washington did not own a lead at the end of the first quarter until the 13th game of the season. Spotty point guard play certainly did not help generate consistent early offense.The one constant on offense and on the boardsremains forward Crystal Langhorne, who topped the team in points (16.6) and matched Michelle Snow with a team-high 6.7 rebounds. The former University of Maryland star combined with DC native Monique Currie for 40 points in the victory over New York and tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Mystics stunning 67-66 win over the Fever (10-7) on June 15.Overall the Mystics offense has been stagnant and simply lacking, averaging a league-low 69 points per game. Currie (10.6) is the only other playing averaging double figures, Matee Ajavon (9.2) is averaging nearly five points a game fewer than she did last season, sinking only 32 percent of her shots. The real issue for coach Trudi Lacey's squad offensively comes with those directing traffic. Free agent signee Dominque Canty went from starting point guardto waived after only five games. Second-year guard and former first-round pick Jasmine Thomas is still transitioning into a floor leader role and the growing pains are evident at times.In-season pick-up Shannon Bobbitt became a 5-foot-3 sparkplug for a while, but she failed to tally a single point in four of her last five games. Natasha Lacy also received time, but nothing stuck. Even if the losses continue to mount, letting Thomas and 2012 first-rounder Natalie Novosel take control of the backcourt at some point could be Lacey's best path.Indiana, led by Olympic Gold medalist and small forward Tamika Catchings, ended the first half in second place behindEastern Conference leading Connecticut. Catchings paces the Fever in points (18.2), rebounds (7.4) and steals (2.0), though the do-everything star missed 10 of 14 shots in the June loss to the Mystics. The two sides square off three times over the final five-plus weeks of the regular season including twice in Indiana where the Fever are 6-3.Meanwhile the Mystics lost seven of eight road games with the win at New York representing the only triumph away from the Verizon Center. Seeing as they open the second half playing six of eight on the road, the Mystics better hope they remembered that winning formula.
Redskins fans, the following sentence may cause your jaw to drop so hard, it will break through the floor of wherever you are, and maybe even break through the floor below that one, too: Andre Roberts has been a nice role player for the Detroit Lions so far this year.
Is the ex-Redskin, whom many fans dubbed "Dropberts" because he wasn't exactly the most sure-handed receiver to come through town, setting the league ablaze with his performance? No, not even close.
But Roberts has done very well as a punt returner for the 3-3 Lions (his major highlight being an 85-yard score versus the Bears) and, last week, hauled in one heck of a touchdown catch against the Rams.
Here are those two plays (no, the man you're about to see in the two videos isn't someone else who just so happens to be named Andre Roberts. It is in fact the same Andre Roberts who played for the Redskins in 2014 and 2015):
Is the legendary Andre Roberts Revenge Game about to be upon us? It's almost time to find out.
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Last year the Redskins got some quality defensive snaps from Kyshoen Jarrett, a rookie defensive back out of Virginia Tech. He was a valued member of the defense but it appears that his career has been derailed by a severe neck injury.
They may have found another Hokie who can fill at least some of the role that Jarrett filled last year. Third-round pick Kendall Fuller started off slowly as he nursed an injured knee back to health. He was inactive the first three games and then he came in at nickel cornerback in Week 4 and it looks like it will be hard for anyone to push him out of the lineup. Last week, in fact, Jay Gruden said as much.
“I think he’s going to be a nickel here for a long time,” said Gruden. “Yes, we love the way he plays. I love his work ethic.”
This week, Joe Barry was even more expansive in his praise of the rookie and of the program that produced both Jarrett and Fuller.
“You know, I’m going to give Virginia Tech a little plug right here because I said the same thing about Kyshoen Jarrett last year,” said the Redskins defensive coordinator. “He was just very mature, very football savvy, and Kendall is absolutely in the same mold. He is a rookie. He’s obviously young, that’s obvious. But he’s very mature for his age, football mature I’m talking about.”
What does he mean by “football mature”?
“Very detailed, asks great questions,” said Barry. “You know, the biggest thing, playing any position but especially playing DB and specifically the nickel corner, you’ve got have a plan every week on how you attack the guy that you play based on what type of player that is, and usually young guys don’t get that. Usually young guys say, ‘Oh, I get the call, I’ve got to play the call.’ You know, ‘I’ve got to play my leverage, I’ve got to do my job.’ But you learn as you’re in this league, you’ve got to approach every single wide receiver different. And it’s cool that Kendall already understands that.”
Fuller had some good background coming into the NFL. He went to Virginia Tech, know and “DB University” for producing a number of NFL corners and safeties including Fuller’s three older brothers. He has been exposed to NFL-level defensive back savvy since his older brother Vincent was drafted by the Titans in 2005.
Vincent played until 2011. Kendall would be seeing his brother Corey playing for the Lions on Sunday but Corey is on the PUP list with foot injury. Kyle Fuller of the Bears also is on the shelf, sent to IR after getting a knee scoped. So for the time being, Kendall is the only active Fuller in the league. But he carries the benefit of growing up in an NFL family.
“He already really gets it and that’s why I talk about his awareness, his savviness, his instincts, whatever you want to call it,” said Barry. “He has that and it’s really neat.”