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QB Freeman wants slumping Bucs to finish strong

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QB Freeman wants slumping Bucs to finish strong

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay's postseason hopes have slipped away during a four-game losing streak that's also raised questions about whether Josh Freeman is the Buccaneers' quarterback of the future.

The fourth-year pro is closing in on becoming the first 4,000-yard passer in franchise history. Still, his inconsistency has created concerns about whether there is a limit to how good the Bucs can become with Freeman running an offense that sputtered again during a mistake-filled 41-0 loss to New Orleans.

The current skid ensures Tampa Bay (6-8) will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, yet Freeman said Monday there's still plenty to play for in the final two games of the team's first season under coach Greg Schiano.

The Bucs host St. Louis on Sunday, then finish at Atlanta.

``After every game we talk about just sticking together as a team,'' said Freeman, who threw four interceptions and also lost a fumble in his worst performance of the year against the Saints.

``You hate to see it come down to a game like that, but I think this is going to be a great time for our team to come together. We had a rough one. We dropped the ball, but now how do we respond to adversity? ... It's times like these when you really forge the nucleus of your team.''

Before Sunday, the Bucs had not lost a game by more than eight points. Schiano gave players Monday off in hopes that an extra day away from the practice field will help them get refocused for the Rams.

``I think our team is disappointed in what we did,'' Schiano said, explaining the decision to give the players the day following a game off for the first time all year.

``Thirteen games, every one of them either we won or it came down to a one possession game where we could have won if we had a possession to do it. That's competitive football,'' the coach added. ``And then we go out and throw our first clunker. ... But the sky's not falling. We've got a lot of good young players. We have some experienced really good players. We threw a clunker. Now, we've got to get over it.''

Freeman, who has one season remaining on a five-year contract that will pay him $8.43 million in 2013, said the remaining two weeks are about getting better.

He vowed to clean up the mistakes he made against the Saints, miscues he attributed mostly to some ``miscommunication'' between him and his receivers.

``I've got to communicate better, I've got to make sure everybody's on the same page, make sure everybody's doing exactly what they need to do,'' Freeman said, adding that he's also committed to making sure the team's preparation and effort doesn't suffer now that Tampa Bay is out of playoff contention.

``As a quarterback that's what I do every day. Everybody has their own style of leadership, but to the best of my ability I try to convey the message of do your job, sacrifice for your brothers,'' Freeman said.

``Even late in the game, guys were still trying to do everything they could to get something going. It says a lot about the character of the guys on our team. Even when the game's out of hand and things aren't going great, guys are still giving effort,'' Freeman added. ``There's no quit in this team. As the quarterback, as the captain, as a leader, it's great to see that. It makes it that much easier to motivate guys and lead.''

Schiano reiterated that while Freeman can play better than he has the past month, he's not concerned about his young quarterback, who's completed just 54.8 percent of his passes for 3,471 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Two years ago, Freeman led the Bucs to 10 wins in his first full season as a starter, throwing for 25 TDs against six interceptions and narrowly missing the playoffs.

The 24-year-old took a step back in 2011, throwing for 16 TDs and 22 interceptions en route to a 4-12 record that included a 10-game losing streak to end the season.

``If Josh Freeman wasn't coming in and just spending all kinds of time, and I wasn't getting texts ... asking questions at 10 o'clock at night about coverages and things like that, then yeah I'd have reason to be concerned,'' Schiano said.

``But I know everybody goes through better times and lesser times. I also know that those who persevere, those who work and tend to their knitting, are going to be fine,'' the coach added. ``Josh is tending to his knitting, so we're going to be fine. Just collectively we've got to fight our way out.''

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John Wall's new contract with Wizards official: 'It was an easy decision'

John Wall's new contract with Wizards official: 'It was an easy decision'

With his signature now on paper, John Wall's new contract with the Wizards, one that will keep him in Washington through the 2022-23 season, is official. The team made the announcement Wednesday evening with quotes from owner Ted Leonsis, team president Ernie Grunfeld and Wall himself included in a press release.

Wall, 26, will make around $170 million over four years beginning with the 2019-20 season. He was already under contract for about $37 million total for the next two years.

Once Wall made the All-NBA team following this past season he became eligible for the $170 million supermax contract. It took weeks to put together, but Wall says an agreement was never in doubt.

“Returning to the only team I’ve known in my professional career was an easy decision for me,” Wall said. “I want to thank my family, Mr. Leonsis, Ernie Grunfeld, all of my coaches and my teammates for their amazing support over the last seven years. I understand my role as the leader of this franchise and I will continue to work hard to improve my game and make our team better. Washington, D.C., is my second home and I take seriously my efforts in the community and look forward to strengthening that bond. Our fans are amazing and I’m excited to bring them and this city continued success and a team they can be proud of.”

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

Leonsis touted the organization's plan to build through the draft and how the retention of Wall proves it is working.

"John is an exceptional talent and a cornerstone for our team – and our city,” Leonsis said. “This signing means stability for the Wizards for years to come and solidifies our commitment to drafting and then developing talent here at home.  It’s John’s unique blend of skill and leadership that makes us a championship-caliber team.”

Grunfeld noted how this could further cement Wall's legacy with the franchise. Wall will have played 13 years with the Wizards by the end of this deal.

“John’s passion for winning, dedication to his teammates and commitment to the community have been on display since we drafted him seven years ago,” Grunfeld said. “He has constantly worked to improve and expand his game and has developed into an All-NBA player who has elevated our franchise and electrified our fans. We are thrilled that he will continue to lead us through the prime years of his career and look forward to watching as he solidifies his place among the greatest players in our team’s history.”

Last season Wall averaged 23.1 points, 10.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He and the Wizards won 49 games and their division for the first time in 38 years.

[RELATED: Continuity was key in Wizards' decision to retain Otto Porter]

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Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

RICHMOND - Jordan Reed will start Redskins training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. 

The team's PR informed the media that Reed is experiencing pain and soreness in one of his big toes. The move to PUP was characterized as precautionary and they want to ensure that issues don't linger into the regular season. 

DeAngelo Hall, Houston Bates, and practice squadder Kendal Thompson will join Reed on the PUP list. 

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER

For Reed, an integral part of the Redskins offense, there is a long history of injuries. In 2016, he missed time with a separated shoulder and a concussion.

Before Redskins fans freak out, remember Reed took part in minicamp and looked dominant. The PUP list also allows the Redskins to activate Reed once he's capable of practicing. 

Reed did not take part in voluntary OTAs with the Redskins in May, but was a full participant with the team at June's minicamp. 

Asked about injured players taking part in practice during Wednesday's press conference, head coach Jay Gruden opened up:

I think the injured guys are injured guys. We’re never going to change how we treat them. It’s the trainers’ job to tell us when they can go. I’m not going to keep a guy out of practice just because I think he might be injured. It’s up to the trainers and up to that player to let me know whether they can go or not. But like you said, we do have a luxury of having 88 or 87 healthy bodies where we can practice and function without somebody who is injured. That’s the trainers’ job​.

Expect much more on this development.

UPDATE: