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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Scott Brooks outlines one area of Wizards' offense that can improve this offseason

Scott Brooks outlines one area of Wizards' offense that can improve this offseason

Improving on offense next season from the last will not be easy for the Washington Wizards after the strides they made during their 2016-17 campaign. They were just that good.

In their first season under head coach Scott Brooks, the Wizards put up some serious offensive numbers. Here is a sample of where they ranked in the NBA:

109.2 PPG, 5th
111.2 Off. Rtg., 7th
47.5 FG%, 3rd
52.8 eFG%, 6th
41.3 FG/G, 2nd
87 FGA/G, 10th
23.9 AST/G, 6th
37.2 3PT%, 8th

The Wizards scored more points per game than any of the teams Brooks previously coached in Oklahoma City. Consider some of the Thunder teams he had with Russell Westbrook, who was first in the NBA in scoring this season, James Harden (2nd) and Kevin Durant (12th), and that is quite impressive. The Wizards at one point this year scored 100 points or more in 23 straight games and none of his OKC teams did that, either.

[RELATED: Top free agent shooting guards who could help Wizards, Beal]

All but one of those above categories, assists per game, marked an improvement for Washington from the season before. Not listed, though, are two major outliers. Despite ranking eighth in three-point percentage, the Wizards were just 16th in three-point makes and 20th in attempts. Those are things Brooks would like to see change in 2017-18.

"Our three-point shooting, I would like to make a few more," Brooks said. "Those are things that [GM] Ernie [Grunfeld] and I will discuss this offseason continues. We will figure out ways to improve our team."

The Wizards could improve on those categories from within, if Otto Porter re-signs and shoots more often and others like Markieff Morris, John Wall, Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre, Jr. continue to become more accurate. If they bring back Bojan Bogdanovic, the potential will certainly be there to rain threes with the best of them.

But clearly the Wizards will make at least some changes to their roster.

"I know that we will add pieces. Like every team and every year, you try to get better. You try to figure out how you can get better," Brooks said.

The most likely spot to make a change is at backup guard where they could use help behind Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards had Brandon Jennings as their primary backup during the playoffs and he was not a threat from three.

If three-point shooting is a big priority as they search for reserve guards, that would help the cause for guys like Patty Mills, Ian Clark and J.J. Reddick in free agency. The Wizards do have one draft pick, the 52nd overall selection in the second round, but it's highly unlikely they find a readymade three-point threat that late in the draft.

The Wizards were good at shooting threes in 2016-17, but clearly Brooks would like to see them take another step.

[RELATED: Top free agent point guards who could help Wizards, Wall]

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Redskins WR Josh Doctson is ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

Redskins WR Josh Doctson is ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

An Achilles injury robbed Josh Doctson of the bulk of his rookie season with the Redskins. After a strenuous offseason spent rehabbing and a clean bill of health, Doctson is ready to fight back.

"It feels good to be back out here with them and to be playing football again," Doctson said Wednesday at Redskins OTAs (full video above). "It's what I’ve been doing for a long time, it's why I’m here. I'm good at what I do."

Sure it's May and there was no contact, but Doctson showed how good he can look on Wednesday. He caught a number of balls throughout the two hour session and looked smooth in his routes. The second-year pro from TCU makes cuts while maintaining speed and balance, and the skills allowed him to get open a number of times to haul in passes using soft hands.

"Right now, so far, so good," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "I like the way he looks, like the way he runs and love the way he catches."

Late in the OTA session, Colt McCoy found Doctson for a deep touchdown. While the sidelines erupted, Doctson just calmly jogged back to the line of scrimmage and talked with coaches. 

Doctson explained that to "show my teammates, coaches and myself again that I can play with these guys, play at this level, it feels real good."

The Redskins will need the 6-foot-2, 202 lbs. Doctson this fall. With the exit of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards left the Washington offense. Free agent addition Terrelle Pryor will be expected to pick up a large chunk of that yardage, but Doctson will need to offset that loss as well.

"He’s been impressive. I think the big thing for him is the confidence in his Achilles and I think he’s got that right now. I saw him out there today and yesterday, the last two days he’s looked better and better. It looks like he can run down the field," Gruden said.

Doctson described the pain in his Achilles as "pretty much non-existent now."

Never a good place to look for nuanced analysis, last season some social media speculation suggested Doctson was homesick dealing with his injury. That theory seems foolish, as the receiver spent the entire offseason in Ashburn, working out and rehabbing.

"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling healthy," he said. "I got after it every day. It’s a tribute to my hard work why I'm feeling so feeling healthy."

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