Nene, Crawford out against Thunder

Nene, Crawford out against Thunder

WASHINGTON (AP) Nene and Jordan Crawford are out for the Washington Wizards against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

Nene (right knee tendinitis) has played just 20 games this season while dealing with a foot problem (plantar fasciitis), but he had played in the Wizards' previous eight contests. He's averaging 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Crawford (sore left ankle) is averaging 15.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Cartier Martin (hyperextended left knee) is also out.

With John Wall and Trevor Booker already inactive, Washington will have just 10 players available.

Trevor Ariza, who missed the last 17 games with a left calf strain, will return against Oklahoma City, according to Wizards coach Randy Wittman. Wittman said A.J. Price will also return Monday after missing 15 games with a broken right hand.

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Following NFL trend, Redskins sell naming rights for practice facility

Following NFL trend, Redskins sell naming rights for practice facility

Throughout the league, NFL teams have sold naming rights to their practice facilities. Now the Redskins are joining that club through a partnership with Inova: Redskins Park, the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Va., will be renamed Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, the team announced.

The partnership will go well beyond just naming rights, as the team and Inova will work together to promote health and wellness throughout the D.C. area including television (NBC4) and radio (Sportstalk 570/ESPN980) programming, as well as developing plans to improve health in the community, including breast cancer awareness and concussion testing.

The team's decision to sell naming rights to Redskins Park should come as no surprise. The two closest geographic teams to Washington both have sold naming rights to their practice facilities: The Ravens practice at the Under Armour Performance Center and the Eagles practice at the NovaCare Complex. A host of teams have sponsors attached to their practice locales, including Pittsburgh, Houston and others.

"We are not only excited, we are honored to be working with Inova, a world class leader in healthcare," Redskins CMO/EVP Terry Bateman, Redskins said in a release. "This partnership will benefit the community and uphold our commitment to have the healthiest fans in the NFL."

Earlier this year, the Redskins announced that Dr. Robin West of Inova would take over as team physician. That move made West the first female team doctor in the NFL. Inova is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that serves more than 2 million people throughout the D.C. area and beyond.

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Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for QB Joe Flacco

Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for QB Joe Flacco

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka have put 25 key Ravens under the microscope this month, forecasting a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day.

This is the final installment, ending with the Ravens’ most important and highest-paid player.

RELATED: RAVENS PLACE SIX ON PUP LIST

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Joe Flacco, 31-year-old quarterback

Best-case scenario:

Flacco enjoys his best season, becomes a more consistent regular season quarterback, and leads the Ravens to the playoffs.

Why it could happen:

Already a Super Bowl MVP, Flacco is entering what should be the prime of his career.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees all had their best statistical seasons at age 30 or older. It’s a great sign that Flacco has recovered well enough from knee surgery to be ready for training camp. Barring any setbacks, the knee shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s also important that Flacco is working with the same coordinator, Marc Trestman, for a second straight season. Trestman and Flacco had growing pains in 2015, but they’re beginning this season with far more familiarity with each other. Meanwhile, the additions of wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Ben Watson give Flacco two additional veteran targets.

On paper, Flacco has more weapons than ever, particularly if tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Breshad Perriman are healthy enough to be factors. Flacco’s arm strength, toughness, composure in pressure situations, and ability to make every throw are hard to question.

If rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley and the rest of the offensive line give Flacco time to survey the field, the stage is set for Flacco to have his best season.

Worst-case scenario:

Flacco’s game doesn’t ascend to another level, and as a result, neither does the Ravens’ offense.

Why it could happen:

Stats aren’t everything, but Flacco has never thrown for more than 4,000 yards in a season, has never thrown for 30 touchdown passes in a season, and has never had a quarterback rating higher than 93.6, which he had in 2010.

All of that may have to change for the Ravens to make the playoffs. Flacco has been a phenomenal post-season quarterback, but it remains to be seen if he can eliminate some of his regular season valleys. The Ravens invested more heavily in Flacco during the offseason, rewarding him with a three-year, $66 million contract extension that included a $40 million signing bonus.

To whom much is given, much is expected.  

Meeting higher expectations, while bouncing back from his first major injury, is the challenge facing Flacco.

RELATED: CAN SUGGS STILL BE AN IMPACT PLAYER?

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Can Redskins' Cousins continue to avoid the turnover bug?

Can Redskins' Cousins continue to avoid the turnover bug?

During the Kirk Cousins franchise tag/long-term contract debate, the question of whether or not Cousins could continue to play as well as he did in the last 10 games of 2015 was pivotal. In that stretch of games he completed 72.4 percent of his passes with an average of 8.7 yards per attempt with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating was 119.1.

Those who saw that run as a fluke were not inclined to want the Redskins to give Cousins a long-term deal near the top of the quarterback pay scale. Those who saw the stretch as things clicking for a quarterback in his first year as a starter were inclined to lobby the Redskins to lock him up no matter what it cost.

How realistic is it to expect Cousins to repeat that stretch over a full season? It would be difficult. His completion percentage of 72.4 would top Drew Brees’ single-season record of 71.2 percent. The passer rating of 119.1 would be the fourth best of all time, better than any season ever posted by Tom Brady, Steve Young, Breese, and others.

From the same perspective, it might be a little easier for Cousins to repeat what he did in the interception department. In the last 10 games he threw three of them in 315 pass attempts, a percentage of 1.0 percent. Eight quarterbacks have had an interception percentage of 1.0 or lower for a full season. Some of them, like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, are among the best quarterbacks ever. Others, like Damon Huard, Nick Foles and Joe Ferguson, are not.

A look at the single-season leaders list implies that some luck may be involved when it comes to interception avoidance. You see a lot of players, like Huard, Ferguson, Seneca Wallace, Brian Griese, and, yes, Robert Griffin III who have seasons ranking in the top 30 of all time and never came close to duplicating it again. Griese, for example, had 1.2 percent of his passes intercepted in 10 games in 2000. In his 10 NFL seasons before and after that he never had an interception percentage lower than 3.6; his career average was 3.5 percent. That’s about a percentage point over average.

Was Cousins just lucky towards the end of last year? Some who have looked at the latter part of his season closely think so. Matt Williamson does scouting work for ESPN and some other publications. Focusing just on the last half of the season, he said that he saw a lot of interceptions dropped.

While he only threw two interceptions during that eight-game stretch, quite a few more easily could have ended up in the other team’s hands - and probably should have. This was even truer in his uninspiring playoff game against Green Bay, the last time we saw Cousins.

I will say that I am suspicious of statements like that. How many is “quite a few”? Four? Ten? More? What is the standard for a “drop”? And all quarterbacks benefit from would-be interceptions that get dropped. How do Cousins’ dropped picks compare to those of other quarterbacks? More? Fewer? About the same?

But there it is and you can take it however you would like. The fact that he had a career 3.9 interception percentage going into that 10-game stretch lends some credence to the theory that Cousins benefitted from some good luck. But it’s also possible that he figured out how to avoid the turnover bug after 15 NFL starts prior to the game against the Bucs that got things rolling for him.