What to watch for: Bengals at Redskins

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What to watch for: Bengals at Redskins

What:Redskins vs. Bengals
Where:FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When:Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV:CBSAfter a triumphant opener in New Orleans, the Redskins didnt just stumble in St. Louis last week, they suffered a pair of significant injuries that could hamper them for the rest of the season.On Sunday, the Redskins (1-1) will get their first taste of life without two-time Pro Bowl selectionBrian Orakpoand defensive endAdam Carrikerin their home opener againstAndy Daltonand the Bengals (1-1).The defensive front seven was supposed to be the Redskins strength this season and Orakpo was supposed to lead the charge.Now its a major concern for a unit that yielded 31 points to the previously punchless Rams.The void left by Orakpo is so daunting, in fact, defensive coordinatorJim Haslettsaid he intends to use a trio of unproven reserves Rob Jackson,Chris WilsonandMarkus White in the hopes that three will equal one. None, however, has ever made an NFL start.In addition, the Redskins defense could be without starting cornerbackJosh Wilson(concussion) and strong safetyBrandon Meriweather(knee) against a Bengals offense that features a Pro Bowl quarterback-receiver tandem in Dalton andA.J. Green,plus running backBenJarvis Green-Ellis.Since the start of training camp, Coach Mike Shanahan has touted his teams improved depth.This weekend, well find out how much deeper the pool actually is.Injuries aside, there are a handful of other storylines the crew atwww.csnwashington.comwill be following: Among them:1) One unit that has been consistent for the Redskins thus far has been theRobert Griffin III-led the offense. It has racked up 40 and 28 points in the first two games and Griffin has been the talk of the league.Although the status of wide receiverPierre Garon(sore foot) remains unclear, Griffin could be primed for a big home debut against a Bengals defense that has struggled this far. In the first two games, in fact, Cincinnati that has yielded a total of 434.5 yards (30th) and 35.5 points on average (29th).2) Special teams remain a problem for the Redskins. A season after five field goals were knocked down, punterSav Roccapunts blocked in consecutive games. Both blocks, meantime, led directly to pivotal touchdowns for the opponent.This week, Shanahan professed confidence in special teams CoachDanny Smith, pointing out that players not scheme were to blame for both miscues. Either way, the unit must get turned around. And quick.3) How much will Griffin run the ball? Eyebrows were raised last week when the dual-threat rookie carried the ball 11 times for 82 yards totals that ranked just five and seven, respectively, behind running backAlfred Morris.Griffins ability to run for first downs, extend plays and make something out of nothing with his legs is a huge bonus for the Redskins. It could, however, prove to be an even greater risk.Although Griffin said hes well versed in how to avoid taking punishing hits, it should be pointed out that at least one last week appeared to stun him. On a 15-yard keeper up the middle in the second quarter, Griffin took a shot to the back of his helmet. One play later, he tossed arguably the worst pass of his fledgling NFL career, an off-balance, off-target throw that ended up in the hands of cornerbackCortland Finnegan.

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Wizards unlikely to pay any more free agents to attend training camp

Wizards unlikely to pay any more free agents to attend training camp

With the big-ticket item put to bed with Bradley Beal’s max contract, the Wizards are entering a dead period where little will take place leading into Sept. 27 training camp. But there still are key issues to be decided and one is filling out the roster.

By league rule, they can carry as many as 20 players during the offseason at one time. While they still have two spots open for the 15-man regular season roster, it's unlikely the Wizards will pay more players to attend camp.

So when they are said to have "signed" players from this point forward to a "training camp deal," it'll strictly be what's called a "make good" deal. In other words, it's non-guaranteed and the only way that player gets the money is if he makes the final 15. 

The reason for this is because the Wizards have locked in Jarell Eddie, Danuel House, Sheldon McClellan and Daniel Ochefu on deals with partial guarantees -- basically payments to bring them into training camp so if they don't make the cut they'll walk away with something -- that total about $400,000. Although the sum still is relatively small it does count against the $94 million salary cap. Any quality players still looking for a place to attend camp are more likely to go somewhere they have a better chance to make the cut or take guaranteed money now to go abroad like Aaron White did Friday

Micheal Eric played for the Wizards at Las Vegas summer league and was their best center. Even though he has had an invite on the table from the Wizards, the 28-year-old appears unlikely to accept because he wants money to attend, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.  

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New Nats CL Melancon to call Papelbon: 'It says a lot about his character'

New Nats CL Melancon to call Papelbon: 'It says a lot about his character'

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- When Mike Rizzo and Dusty Baker called Mark Melancon on Saturday from the visiting clubhouse at AT&T Park, one thing that impressed them right away about their new All-Star closer is that he planned to immediately check in with Jonathan Papelbon.

"It says a lot about his character and makeup, and that was a big reason why he was such an attractive target to us," said Rizzo, Washington's general manager. "His performance level is great but his makeup and character are a lot of the reason that we went out and got him. That tells me he's team-first and Mark Melancon second."

Washington sent reliever Felipe Rivero and pitching prospect Taylor Hearn to the Pirates to acquire Melancon, who supplants the struggling Papelbon as Washington's closer. Rizzo and Baker also spoke to Papelbon, who made it clear he "wants to win," Baker said.

Melancon is expected to join the Nationals on Sunday for their series finale at San Francisco.

Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington tried to tell Melancon he had been traded. And tried. And tried.

"I felt bad because I missed his call three times because my phone was on silent, so I woke up to that," the reliever said after he awakened from his nap and learned of the deal.

A 31-year-old right-hander, Melancon has converted 30 of 33 saves with a 1.51 ERA this season and joins his fifth organization in eight years. He is making $9.65 million and is eligible for free agency after the World Series; as part of the swap, the Pirates will pay Washington $500,000 on Sept. 1.

Once considered a possible successor to Mariano Rivera when he broke into the majors with the New York Yankees in 2009, Melancon said during the All-Star break he knew a trade was possible, given his contract status.

The move comes as the Pirates find themselves on the fringe of the wild-card race. While general manager Neal Huntington stressed the team remains committed to reaching the playoffs for a fourth straight season, the opportunity to deal Melancon -- who led the majors with 51 saves in 2015 and had 33 in '14 -- for two young arms with friendly long-term contracts was too good to pass up.

Baker's bullpen is taxed.

"We're getting some reinforcements," he said of Melancon.

Rivero is under team control through 2021 and hit 100 mph on the radar gun regularly during an extended relief appearance against the Pirates this month. If Melancon left as a free agent, Pittsburgh would have received a high draft pick as compensation.

"We knew full well that holding Mark Melancon would have been a good return, but at the end of the day we felt this was a better return for us," Huntington said.

This was the well-traveled Melancon's fourth season in Pittsburgh after he also pitched for Houston, Boston and the Yankees.

He will move his family once more -- his wife and three kids.

"This has been a blast. Pittsburgh has a special place in heart. My family has been treated so well," Melancon said. "The experiences we've had, just running through my mind all the wild-card games, just big games that we've been in. From where we started, to where we are now, it is an honor. It is an honor to be a Pirate. We got to go through those experiences together. My teammates are my best friends."

Papelbon is 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA and has allowed eight runs and seven hits in his past three outing. Manager Dusty Baker wouldn't say earlier Saturday whether Papelbon still was his closer. Baker pulled Papelbon from a game Thursday in the ninth inning.

Rivero, a 25-year-old lefty, is 0-3 with a 4.53 ERA this season. Hearn is a 21-year-old lefty who was the Nationals' fifth-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft.

Pittsburgh will plug the 25-year-old Rivero into a seventh-inning role, with Neftali Feliz working the eighth and Tony Watson in the ninth. Watson was an All-Star in 2014 in a set-up role and will take over a position where Pittsburgh has enjoyed plenty of success during its rise from mediocrity. Each of its previous three closers: Melanon, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan, made the All-Star team wearing black and gold.

Manager Clint Hurdle will miss Melancon but is confident in his bullpen options.

"I love the guy, love the family. Happy we had him. He helped us, I believe we helped him," Hurdle said. "We are not giving up anything, we aren't lowering the bar. We are not settling. Our organization made a baseball trade, with confidence that our bullpen is going to be in a good place. We are going to be able to compete this year, we are going to be able to add to our competition level in the years to come."

Huntington hinted the team may try to take the money it will save by not paying the remaining portion of Melancon's contract and use it before Monday's trade deadline. The Pirates need help in the starting rotation, which has been forced to turn to rookies Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow quickly as established players Jeff Locke, John Niese and Juan Nicasio faltered.

[RELATED: Nats may have gotten a steal with Melancon]

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VIDEO: Niles Paul mercilessly beats Chris Baker with pads during CSN interview

VIDEO: Niles Paul mercilessly beats Chris Baker with pads during CSN interview

Chris Baker always seems to be the guy photobombing his teammates. This time, they exacted revenge. 

As Baker sat down with Redskins Insider J.P. Finlay, a parade of Redskins clowned in the background. The best was Niles Paul, who battered Swaggy with what look like foam bats used in ball security drills.