Starting Monday professional tennis is backin Washington and with a double your fun kind of vibe, not to mention a new name. Traditionally thistournament is all about the mens (ATP)tour, but the first year under the Citi Open label the Rock Creek hard courts will also host the womens (WTA) version. As for who is specifically in the field, your familiarity with the names may vary. Mardy Fish headlines the ATP side of the aisle, but the second-highest ranked American in the world also sports one of the few recognizablenames in the event, previously known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. With the stars of the tennis world competing for gold, silver and bronze over in London, familiar names like Andy Roddick and John Isner, not to mention notable international stars are not in D.C.Same goes for the WTA field, which includes a trio of young seeded American women led by Sloane Stephens, plus former it-girl Melanie Oudin, working her way back up the charts. After playing in College Park last year during a different week, organizers folded that event into one that has been played in the D.C. area since 1969.Fish, one of two top 20 players competing this week in either draw, is the obvious men's favorite. However, despite the lack of star power in the field, do not assume winning this week will be yes, I am going there - shooting fish in a barrel easy for the thirteenth ranked player in the world. No. 17 Alexandr Dolgopolov, South Africa's Kevin Anderson and former top-10 player Tommy Haas round out the top four seeds. All have impressive wins on tour this season and Anderson and Haas have accomplished what Fish has not: win a title in 2012.Fish is also recovering from an ankle injury suffered 10 days ago, which forced him to withdraw in Atlanta. He also has not had much recent success in Washington, but a win this week could springboard the 30-year-old toward a strong close to the season and a successful U.S. Open. Taking home the winners portion of the 1.049 million purse would not be too shabby either (playing in significantly lesserevent compared to the men in terms of their respective tours,the women'stotal purse is220,000).Here is what else you need to know about the 2012 Citi Open:Mens Draw- Finals on August 5Top seed: A six-time tour winner, Fish has twice reached the quarterfinals in Washington, most recently in 2006, but has not won more than a single match in a given year since. He pulled out last year as the No. 2 seed with a heel injury. Others to watch: The Ukrainian Dolgopolov, the No.2 seed, reached the finals in Brisbane earlier this year34-year-old and former top 10 player Hass is the last man to have defeated Roger Federer this year, taking down the eventual Wimbledon champ in the finals at HalleThe 6-foot-8 Anderson defeated Roddick and Isner on his way to way winning a hard courts title in Delray Beach back in FebruaryAmerican Sam Querry is seeded eighth.Blast from the past: Longtime American stalwart and 2002 Washington champion James Blake returns to D.C. for the ninth time. Perhaps being on familiar turf or rather, hard courts will turn around what has been a losing season.Womens Draw- Finals on August 4Top seed: Ranked 28th in the world, 21-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is aiming for her fourth career title and first in 2012. Though she prefers clay, Pavlyuchenkova showed her court diversity with a run to the quarters on the grass at Eastbourne this summer.Others to watch: No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens tops the three Americans seeded in Washington, including Vania King (4) and Coco Vandeweghe. Stephens, ranked 52 in the world and a rising 19-year African-American talent from Florida, reached the round of 16 at the French Open and round of 32 at Wimbledon. South African Chanelle Scheppers is the No. 2 seed.Blast from the past: Melanie Oudin, remember her? The precocious 17-year-old American stormed the tennis gates in 2009 including a run to the quarters at the U.S. Open and reached a ranking of 31 in 2010. Since there have been more downs then ups, but while currently outside the top 100, Oudin has recently begin move back in the right direction.
The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.
NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.
Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.
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And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.
This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.
One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.
So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.
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Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.
This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.
Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.
In the latest installment of CSN's Wizards Tipoff podcast, we break down the NBA trade deadline and whether the Wizards and other teams around the NBA did enough to improve their chances at a deep playoff run.
Julie Donaldson was the host with NBA analyst Tony Massenburg, Wizards Insider J. Michael and Wizares reporter Chase Hughes on hand. They went through the biggest deals of the 2017 trade deadline, including the Wizards' trade with the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Bojan Bogdanovic.
They also broke down whether the Wizards and Celtics should have thought bigger and traded for Paul George or Jimmy Butler. Also, can DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis truly co-exist? All that and more right here: