Washington signing linebacker Kendricks to bolster defense

December 21, 2020

Washington is signing veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks off the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad to boost a defense that has struggled in the first half much of the season.

Agent Douglas J. Hendrickson confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Monday, less than 24 hours after

Washington was missing starting linebackers Cole Holcomb and Kevin Pierre-Louis and lost reserve Shaun Dion Hamilton to injury against Seattle, and their status for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers aren't clear. Washington can clinch the NFC East title with a victory and a New York Giants loss to Baltimore.

Getting starting quarterback Alex Smith back would be a boost even after

Washington is the only team in the NFL not to score on its first drive of a game this season.

“We still have a ways to go,” coach Ron Rivera said. “A big part of it is just knowing how to go out and start a game. We really haven’t started a game the way you would like to. We’ve finished games the way we would have like to.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The defense buckled down in the final 25-plus minutes of the Seahawks game and forced another turnover when Daron Payne intercepted Russell Wilson in the fourth quarter. With No. 2 pick Chase Young and 2019 first-rounder Montez Sweat rushing the quarterback so effectively, the unit has the potential to be one of the best in the league.

But like the offense, it takes time to warm up.

“I feel like we just come out and we know what they’re going to bring to us, and we just try to shut it down,” Payne said. “I feel like if we get a grasp of what’s going on early in the game, we’ll be better off as a team.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Maybe the turf at FedEx Field? The much-maligned surface hasn't been an issue of late, possibly because the stadium isn't being used to host concerts and other events over the past several months. But young safeties Troy Apke and Jeremy Reaves slipped on long rushing plays by Seattle on Sunday, including Carlos Hyde's 50-yard touchdown run.

Washington has one more home game this regular season, but would also host a playoff game if it wins the division.

STOCK UP

Third-down back J.D. McKissic has become a key part of the offense and rushed for 51 yards in rookie Antonio Gibson's absence. If Gibson's toe injury lingers, McKissic showed he can handle the load.

STOCK DOWN

Receiver Terry McLaurin has been dealing with an ankle injury since before the Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas, and it's showing. McLaurin isn't making excuses, is gutting through the pain and is still a primary target, but clinching in Week 16 and giving him some rest could go a long way.

INJURED

Smith's right calf, Gibson's toe and Holcomb's concussion are all major questions. Smith is experienced enough to start even without a ton of practice snaps, and Rivera said Sunday the team is hoping to get Gibson back against Carolina.

KEY NUMBER

7 — Wins that currently 6-8 Washington probably needs to wrap up the NFC East, the weakest division this season.

NEXT STEPS

Rivera wants his players not to think about playoff scenarios or overlook the

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



share story

Ottawa faces Calgary, looks for 4th straight home win Calgary Flames (9-10-2, fifth in the North Division) vs. Ottawa Senators (7-14-1, seventh in the North Division)
4 MINS AGO OLEANTIMESHERALD.COM
Blue Jackets take on the Predators on 3-game slide Columbus Blue Jackets (8-8-5, fifth in the Central Division) vs. Nashville Predators (8-11-0, seventh in the Central Division)
4 MINS AGO OLEANTIMESHERALD.COM
Vegas visits Anaheim after Tuch's 2-goal game Vegas Golden Knights (11-4-1, first in the West Division) vs. Anaheim Ducks (6-10-4, eighth in the West Division)
4 MINS AGO OLEANTIMESHERALD.COM
Sacramento takes on Detroit, seeks to break 9-game skid Sacramento Kings (12-20, 13th in the Western Conference) vs. Detroit Pistons (9-23, 15th in the Eastern Conference)
4 MINS AGO OLEANTIMESHERALD.COM
Top scorers square off in Edmonton-Toronto matchup Toronto Maple Leafs (15-4-2, first in the North Division) vs. Edmonton Oilers (14-8-0, second in the North Division)
4 MINS AGO OLEANTIMESHERALD.COM