The Washington Redskins, the NFL team of the Triangle long before the Panthers came along, will have two servings of local talent on the field later this summer.
Former North Johnston High School standout Willie Smith signed with the Redskins as a free agent on Tuesday, returning to his first NFL stop. The 28-year-old offensive tackle originally signed with Washington as a free agent in July of 2011 after his playing career at East Carolina ended.
He later played with the Raiders before spending the last two seasons in San Diego. He played in a career-high 15 games as a Charger last season, starting one game.
Smith, who helped North Johnston reach the regional championship game in football and the state championship game in basketball as a senior, started three games that first season with the Redskins in 2011.
He returns to a Washington squad that’s trying to remake its offensive line under second-year head coach Jay Gruden. So there’s opportunity there for Smith to make an impact and grab a starting position.
Garner’s Chris Culliver joined the Redskins earlier this off-season, signing as a free agent after spending four seasons in San Francisco.
They’ll join Smithfield-Selma grad Josh Snead in the battle for roster spots beginning next month. Snead, a running back, signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent this spring.
The Redskins open training camp on July 24 in Richmond, Va. The Broncos will announce their camp dates later this month. Between now and then the trio will finish up the organized team activities, practices and go through mandatory veteran mini-camps.
Archer Ks 15: Clayton’s Chris Archer keeps getting better. One start after notching a career-high 12 strikeouts for the Tampa Bay Rays in a win over Seattle, the right-hander struck out 15 Angels in eight innings of work on Tuesday night in Anaheim, Calif.
The 15 Ks tied the Tampa Bay franchise record for strikeouts in a game. Archer is the first Ray to strikeout 12 or more batters in back-to-back games. He’s also on pace to set a Tampa Bay record for strikeouts in a season at this point of the season.
“I had no clue. I was so locked into the moment,” Archer told mlb.com after the win over the Angels. “We’re in the opposing team’s yard so they don’t show how many strikeouts you have and I like that. I like staying in the moment and not focusing on it. …
“I knew that I probably had 10 plus but I didn’t think anything beyond that.”
For the season, Archer is 6-4 with a 2.01 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched.
At this point, it would appear that the right-hander is well in consideration for his first career All-Star selection.
As of June 3, he’s in the top dozen ranked pitchers in all of MLB in seven of the most important pitching statistics: strikeouts (second), innings pitched (sixth), wins (tied for 11th), ERA (seventh), games started (tied for first), WHIP (walks and hits combined per inning pitched, seventh) and opponents’ batting average (fifth).
Sands back in limbo with Indians: Jerry Sands’ status with the Cleveland Indians is back up in the air after the team designated him for assignment earlier this week. The Smithfield-Selma High grad hit a home run to help the Indians beat Seattle on Saturday after being called up for the second time this season from Cleveland’s Triple-A club in Columbus, Ohio.
The call up came with Carlos Santana on paternity leave and Sands was told it would probably be a short stay, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.
Sands, an outfielder/first baseman, hit .375 with six RBIs and the one home run in 24 at bats for Cleveland this season.
The Indians have until June 9 to trade, release or put Sands on waivers. He went through the same process after his first stint with the Indians this year, cleared waivers and was back playing at Triple-A.
Golf tourney to help Princeton football: The inaugural Bulldog Classic Golf Tournament, a three-person superball golf tournament to benefit the Princeton High School football program will be held on Friday, July 24, at the Cardinal Country Club in Selma. The event features a 1 p.m. shotgun start and the entry fee is $180 per team. Included will be a putting challenge, longest drive, closest to the pin, hole-in-one and par-3 birdie awards, awards for the top teams and a post-round dinner. Info: Travis Gaster at 919-369-7685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Golf notables: Clayton’s Monte Beebe won the low gross competition in the championship flight of the Tarheel Seniors event at Bentwinds Country Club on June 1. Fellow Clayton residents Jim Peedin (first flight) and Tom Miller (second flight) were third in their low gross divisions.