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Conspiracy Theory: Believe What You See

Conspiracy Theory: Believe What You See

It didn’t quite seem to add up.

The members of the media were allowed to watch practice for the first 45 minutes on Thursday. It’s not unusual to see injured players out of the field riding a stationary bike (that’s not something that TO has a monopoly on; LaVar Arrington did it quite a bit the last couple of years) or, as Shawn Springs was on that day, standing out there in shorts and a jersey, playing catch, watching drills, doing what he could to stay engaged and involved even though it was unlikely that he would play.

It’s also not unusual for an injured player not to be out there, as was the case with Clinton Portis. Players often stay in the facility for treatment.

What is very unusual, however, is for a player to be inside the building for the beginning of a practice but a participant in the latter part of the session, the part that takes place after the press is booted out. But that was what happened with Portis on Thursday.

We came downstairs and went out to catch some of the players coming off the field to talk to them and to talk to Joe Gibbs. We expected to be able to talk to Portis but we were thought we would find him inside near the locker room. It was a mild day and all of those coming off the field were still wearing their shoulder pads. All except for Portis, that is, who approached the building dressed in sweats, no pads or helmet. It was only after we had talked to him for a few minutes that it was revealed that he had not only practiced but he had done so in pads. That particular bit of information was not revealed without prompting and the question almost went unasked because we had all assumed that he had just worked out, not practiced.

While this did have some of us curious, this feeling was dampened by what we heard Portis and Gibbs say. The story that was written and broadcast was on what we heard, that Portis was just 75%, and not on what we saw, that he had practiced in pads. Portis probably wouldn’t play on Monday night. A downgrade from questionable to doubtful or out seemed to be imminent.

In this space, I thought about writing about what I saw as opposed to what I heard, but I wasn’t all that convinced that Portis would play. It would have been a wishy-washy story and those usually aren’t very interesting. To pat myself on the back a bit, however, I did choose to take a wait and see stance on it, not amplifying the smokescreen or contradicting my earlier article and my gut feeling by writing that Portis was out.

Of course, most of the folks who wrote the “Portis is out” stories did not have the luxury of making that choice. They had to write something about it and the purpose here is not to fault their judgment in writing what they did. They went with the preponderance of the evidence even though there was some cause for reasonable doubt in plain view.

On Friday Portis again practiced and proclaimed that he was thinking along the lines of coming back in a week in Dallas. Again, the fact that he practiced was lost in the verbiage. Why the team would waste valuable practice time on reps for a guy who was virtually certain not to play was a question that went unasked.

The smokescreen continues, of course. We don’t know—and, more importantly, the Vikings don’t know—who will start and we don’t know how much Portis will play. But the “if” part of the smokescreen is over. Portis has been upgraded to probable and the Redskins would not risk the league scrutiny that would ensue in the wake of falsifying the official injury report. Barring a legitimate setback, Portis will play.

There are those out there who think that if Portis is not well enough to start that he should sit it out. The fact is that who starts is not relevant. What matters is how many carries Portis gets. I think he’ll get about 15 to 18 regardless of whether he starts or comes in off the bench.

Why not wait a week and have him come back against Dallas with a little more rest? First, you can’t go into any NFL game saying that you don’t need the services of one of your best players in order to beat that week’s opponent. Minnesota is a good, solid team that is very capable of springing what would be just a mild upset on Monday. Also, Portis had just a couple of weeks of training camp and he hasn’t played facing live contact save for those few plays almost a month ago. It is unlikely that he will carry a heavy load in his first game back regardless of whether it’s this week or next. He’ll need this game to get back into game shape if he’s going to return to his customary role of carrying the load against Dallas.

It appears that this was the plan all along. That’s my conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when the moved to Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

One of the longest eras in NASCAR will come to an end concluding the 2017 season.

Early on Tuesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that 18-year veteran, longtime Redskins fan and popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire at the conclusion of the current season.

Earnhardt, son of the late legendary seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt Sr., told his No. 88 team members before the organization released the news.

Last season, the 42-year-old missed the final 18 races of the NASCAR season due to a concussion. The injury resulted in a 32nd place finish in the NASCAR standings and it was the first time he missed the association's 'playoffs' since 2010. 

Throughout his long career, Earnhardt captured 26 race wins, two being the elusive Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Due to the legendary status of his father, he never quite lived up to the level many placed on the Earnhardt family name. His win total is roughly a third of his father's and has not won a championship. Best career points finish for Earnahrdt was third in 2003, and finished fifth three times (2004, 2006, 2013). Starting in 603 total races, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of those races, 253 times.

Despite the lack of a championship, he was named NASCAR's most popular driver 14 times, trailing only Bill Elliott who won that honor 16 seasons. 

RELATED: EARNHARDT FORCED TO RACE IN EAGLES-THEMED CAR

At the end of 2017, Earnhardt's contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after 10 seasons with NASCAR's most successful team. Prior to his tenure with Hendrick, he was a part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for eight years where he won 17 of his total 26 race wins. 

Currently, Earnhardt is 24th in the NASCAR standings, 50 points behind the cut-off for the final playoff spot. There are still 18 races remaining in the season for him to make up the ground with some of his best tracks still on the docket. In addition, a win would boost Earnhardt up into a playoff spot due to NASCAR's playoff system. 

With Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be one Earnhardt remaining in the Monster Energy Cup Series to carry the family name. Grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and nephew of Jr., Jeffery Earnhardt is a regular in the series. 

Hendrick Motorsports announced in their release that they will not name a replacement for Earnhardt Jr. just yet. During his 18-race absence in 2016, he was replaced by a young prospect, Alex Bowman and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.

It is anticipated either Bowman or 19-year-old William Byron, who Rick Hendrick signed to an Xfinity Series contract last season, will take his place. 

As a lifetime fan of the Washington football team, Earnhardt has been known to put his opinion of the team out there.

He was not happy with how the team handled Scot McCloughan situation, and publicly voiced his support of Kirk Cousins

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One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

Football coaches hate fumbles, and Jay Gruden is no different. Remember that Matt Jones had established himself as the Redskins lead running back despite persistent fumbling issues his first two years in the NFL. That was until a goal line fumble Week 7 in Detroit. Jones never played again in 2016. 

Fast forward to Thursday night's NFL Draft, and the buzz surrounding the Redskins interest in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could all boil down to fumbles.

Both Cook and McCaffrey visited Redskins Park, and both players possess the speed and game-breaking ability that could deliver big returns to the Washington offense. Since the NFL Combine, McCaffrey has emerged as the higher draft pick.

Their college statistics are fairly similar. Both players went for more than 5,000 total yards in three college seasons. The size is similar too, Cook gets listed at 6-foot, 209 lbs., while McCaffrey gets listed at 5-foot-11 and 203 lbs.

One area that's quite different: Fumbles. 

An average NFL running back fumbles once every 100 carries. Rich Tandler researched an incredible stat about the two players:

  • McCaffrey averages one fumble every 243 carries.
  • Cook averages one fumble every 63 carries. 

The difference is staggering. And it could be enough to keep the 'Skins away from Cook at 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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