Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz held an open forum during a meeting Monday to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit down for the national anthem, according to multiple players in attendance.
Schwartz is deeply patriotic, several noted, and asks his players to line up side-by-side, hand over heart, to pay respect to the country’s servicemen and women pregame. He did not steer this conversation in any particular direction, instead encouraging his players to speak their minds.
“Coach Schwartz, he feels very strongly about the defense standing up for the national anthem and showing respect for this country and those that came before us, but he is also open to guys standing up for what they believe in,” said safety Ed Reynolds.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Believe what you want to believe outside but we’re all going to stand on this.’ No, ‘You can do what you believe in,’ which I think is cool for a coach. He wanted that conversation, but then he’s allowing you to kind of express yourself.”
According to one player who was in the meeting, Malcolm Jenkins, Leodis McKelvin and rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres were among those who talked during the session, which lasted about 15 minutes. Tavarres later told ESPN.com that he plans on sitting down for the national anthem when the Eagles host the New York Jets on Thursday.
“One thing that Schwartz made clear is he didn’t fault anybody or say, you can’t do this or you can’t do that, he just wanted us to know that, you guys have freedom of speech, and when you act on those things, how do you feel about them, where is it going and who do you want to direct it towards?” linebacker Najee Goode said. “There’s a lot of controversy with that stuff. ... Personally I wouldn’t have done [what Kaepernick did] because of the kind of controversy it draws to the team, the questions that guys [have to answer], stuff like that. There’s other ways to get out there to do things, to stand up and protest, but he has a right to do it. Really it was just, if you’re going to do something like that, tell the team, tell your guys because of the type of media it does bring.”
Opinions on the Kaepernick issue are mixed. Reynolds, for instance, said that he is going to stand for the anthem partly out of respect for his dad, who was in the Army Reserve, and his grandfather, who served in Vietnam.
“It’s not just about, ‘Oh I love America.’ But you stand up for family members that you have in the military, your appreciation of your freedoms here,” said Reynolds. “You might not agree with everything that is going on in this country, but at the same time, being in this country does allow you to live in a certain way, and other people would probably die for that, die for that opportunity.”
Defensive end Steven Means has family in the military as well but has not ruled out joining Kaepernick in protest.
“To be honest, I feel strongly about it, and I don’t think with my emotions and anger I’m mature enough to even elaborate on that,” Means said. “I didn’t say anything during the discussion just because of the bias ... everybody is entitled to their own opinion, so just not being able to see it from other people’s perspective, it can get me in a whirlwind of emotions, so I would just rather stay away from it.”
Are you in support of Kaepernick?
“I’m on that side,” he said. “But I’ve got family, like close aunts and cousins, uncles in the military, so you’ve got to just respect that side of it, too. But at the same time, I come from an environment where [social injustice] happens all the time and goes unnoticed. It’s just a touchy subject so I just refrain from really making any statements about it.”
Would you consider joining in that protest?
“I think I need to do some more deep thinking about it before I make a decision one way or another,” Means replied.
The conversation spilled over into positional meetings once the defensive meeting was over, a couple players said. It’s a topic that appears to be top of mind for many across the NFL.
“That might be a trend around the league, you never know,” said Reynolds of others sitting down for the national anthem. “How many guys on teams now will sit out? I think that’s what everyone is waiting for, like at that next game, how many guys are going to sit out? How many other guys are going to have a message?”
Romo is looking at missing extended playing time for the second straight season because of a compression fracture in his back, but Witten still is there to support his quarterback of 10 seasons and friend of 14 years.
Witten simply recounts 2014 as an example of why Romo will continue to succeed. After undergoing two back surgeries in 2013, including a discectomy that cost him that season’s final game, Romo returned in 2014 and had 34 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
“People are going to bet against him. That’s fine, and I don’t think that’s unfair to do so,” Witten said. “But if you know what he’s about, which everybody in this building does, he’s going to be back sooner than probably expected and he’ll play better than anybody thought he would, because I know that’s what he’s about. He’s going to prepare himself. This is a minor setback for him, and he’s done it his entire life, and that gives us all a lot of confidence.”
While coach Jason Garrett has yet to even rule Romo out for the season opener, sources have said the Cowboys quarterback will need six to 10 weeks to recover. Romo will be in a back brace for at least the next two weeks, with the aim to keep him as immobile as possible.
While others wonder whether Romo, 36, should consider retirement considering how the injuries have piled up, Witten would never suggest such a thing.
“I would just simply say they don’t know who Tony Romo is,” Witten said. “I mean, (he's) the most competitive individual I ever met, whether it’s golf, basketball, Ping-Pong, cards, obviously football. So along with that you have to understand they’re all different injuries, so it’s not a nagging, continuing on the same injury. So even this we just lump it into one thing.
"I’m not a doctor. I’m not here to give him a sales pitch or anything like that, but I do know what he’s about, I know what his mindset is, and he’ll get back quickly and play at a high level.”
FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have not been shy in their quest to find a quarterback to back up Dak Prescott now that Tony Romo is looking at a long absence due to a compression fracture in his back.
Jameill Showers, however, hopes they look at him as Prescott’s backup.
“There’s going to be competition regardless,” Showers said. “My opinion, as an organization I don’t think it would be smart to just keep two guys. You never know when somebody will go down and when you’ll need somebody else. It’s pretty normal for teams to carry three quarterbacks, but it’s not going to change the way I approach my job.”
The Cowboys could place Romo on injured reserve at the start of the season, which would keep him out for the first eight weeks. That could also open up a spot for a third quarterback.
Head coach Jason Garrett likes to say injury provides opportunity. It has provided Prescott a chance to start and potentially helped Showers’ chances.
“You never know when your opportunity is going to come,” Garrett said. “It’s one of the best things Dak did in the game (against Seattle). Dak wasn’t scheduled to go in and play on Play 4 of the game. He was prepared for that opportunity, did a good job on the first play, helped us convert a third down and did a good job on the series he played after that. It’s a good example of the rest of our team, and it’s not different for Showers. You never know when your opportunity is going to come, so you have to prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally every day to be your best, particularly at that position. Both of those guys go about it the right way.”
In three preseason games, Showers has completed 19-of-37 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. He has not thrown an interception, and he has been sacked three times. Garrett has not decided whether Prescott will play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans, so Showers could end up playing the whole game.
“Obviously you have to show something, but I don’t approach it that way because I don’t want to think about this game any different than any other game I’ve played,” Showers said.
That’s easier said than done considering the final cuts come Saturday and a player’s livelihood is on the line, which Showers acknowledged.
“But you’ve been playing football your whole life, so you know how to switch things up and think (about) things in a different way,” he said. “You’re your biggest critic, and whether you make it or don’t make it, it’s kind of on me. I know I have the ability to, but that’s always going to be the mentality.”
FRISCO, Texas -- The Dak Prescott story seems to start the same way wherever he plays.
“I think,” Prescott said. “I’ve started at every level this exact, same way, unfortunately for those guys: High school, college and now the NFL I’ve become a starter because of injury, unfortunately.”
At Haughton (La.) High School, Prescott became the quarterback after the starter got hurt. At Mississippi State, he became the quarterback when the starter got hurt.
Jason Garrett won’t say it yet, but Prescott is looking like the Cowboys’ starting quarterback for at least the season opener if not several weeks after that with Romo in a brace because of a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra.
For the first time since 2006, the Cowboys will have a season opener with somebody other than Romo as their starting quarterback.
Romo and Prescott exchanged text messages on Saturday. Prescott told Romo he was sorry he got hurt and hopes he gets better soon. Romo told Prescott he has his back.
“But this is still his team,” Prescott said. “I'm just going to try to do my best to hold the fort down, I guess you could say, give this team a great chance to succeed and win games each and every week.”
Roger Staubach won the 1969 season opener as a Cowboys rookie, beating the St. Louis Cardinals by completing 7 of 15 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. Troy Aikman lost his first season opener as a Cowboys rookie, completing 17 of 35 passes for 180 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 28-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Quincy Carter was the last rookie to start a Cowboys season opener. He completed 9 of 19 passes for 34 yards and two interceptions in a 10-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And that’s the history Prescott walks into.
But the supporting cast of Prescott is much greater than what Aikman and Carter had. The Cowboys went 11-2-1 in 1969, but Craig Morton started the rest of the games that season.
Prescott has the best offensive line in football with three Pro Bowlers in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. He has a healthy Dez Bryant, something Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore didn’t have last year after Romo went down twice with a broken left collarbone. He will have Jason Witten, a 10-time Pro Bowler. And he can hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott, the fourth overall pick in the draft.
“I’m just going to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready to play my role as the starting quarterback and to get these playmakers the ball around me,” Prescott said. “We’ve got a number of playmakers, a great offensive line. The pressure is not really on me. I’ve just got to go out there and play my game and be myself.”
In addition to the texts with Romo, Prescott heard from other teammates expressing faith in him. Friends from high school and college called as well. He tried to put the phone to the side, but it was hard.
His conversation with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was short.
“Just that they had confidence in me; I was the next man up,” Prescott said. “Things happened a lot faster than I think we all expected it, but like I said, they have confidence. Just keeping the person that I am.”
That’s worked well in the preseason. Prescott has completed 39 of 50 passes for 454 yards. He has five touchdown passes and no interceptions. He has two rushing touchdowns as well.
But there is a massive difference between the preseason and regular season. The speed of the game is different. The scope of the game plan is different. New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has creative pressure packages, something Prescott has not seen yet.
Prescott said he prepares like he is the starter. Now he is the starter.
The Washington Redskins must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
There’s a clear order here with Cousins the starter, McCoy the backup and Sudfeld the young guy they want to develop, whether to become a future backup if Cousins signs a long-term deal or to possibly replace him (if he becomes that good and there is a sense among some in the building that he can become a starter within a couple of years). The Redskins want to make sure they’re covered for any scenario.
Seventh-round pick Keith Marshall has speed, but also durability concerns as he now has an elbow injury. They should place him on the practice squad. Meanwhile, Kelley outplayed him this summer and warrants a spot. However, don’t be surprised if the Redskins add a veteran, whether after final cuts or once the season begins (and their contract isn’t guaranteed for the year). Pierre Thomas, who joined them last December, remains unsigned. Jones and Thompson were obvious choices as the former will be the starter and the latter serves as the third-down back.
Ross is a bit iffy because he hasn't been as consistent as he was in 2015. But his speed is attractive and he can return kickoffs, too. They do like Maurice Harris and T.J. Thorpe, but both could be stashed on the practice squad as neither has stood out in games. The first four are obvious. Grant knows the routes well from each spot and that helps, though he’s made more noise in practice than games to this point. Doctson remains sidelined by Achilles tendonitis, but the expectation is that he won’t have to open the season on the physically unable to perform list.
The tough call here is Logan Paulsen, a smart player who has blocked well this summer. But Davis' abilities to block and to win down the field limits the need to keep just a blocking tight end. Paul can serve as a fullback in a pinch, too. Reed is a dynamic force.
Bryan Stork’s failed physical changed the last roster spot. That’s why Reiter made it on this list; his main competition appears to be Josh LeRibeus, who can play guard and center (though he had many growing pains at the latter spot in 2015). However, he has improved from last year and is bigger and stronger than as a rookie in 2015. Lichtensteiger will continue to start, and without Stork this means if anything happens to Lichtensteiger, then Long would take over. Kouandjio hasn’t had a great summer, but he offers size that’s worth developing. Lauvao looks close to being back after his 2015 ankle injury. Nsekhe has done a nice job as a third tackle.
DEFENSIVE LINE (7): Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Kendall Reyes, Ziggy Hood, Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea, Matt Ioannidis.
The hardest one to leave off is undrafted free agent Anthony Lanier and I’m not convinced that he’ll be left off. He’s worth trying to keep around in some capacity to develop because of his length and athleticism. Ioannidis can (eventually) play two spots for them -- nose tackle and end. Barring injuries, he won’t be a factor so he could make the team in part just because they don’t want to risk losing him. Hood won a job and might be one of their better offseason pickups. Paea hasn’t been what they hoped since signing him in 2015, but he provides good depth, something they always need up front. Golston does a lot for them -- special teams, nose tackle, defensive end. His wisdom remains valuable. Reyes doesn’t make many plays, but he’s worked with the starters most of the time.
The tough one was not including Perry Riley. But if he’s not going to start, then he doesn’t help them as much as some others. He would provide good depth, but isn’t as strong on special teams. It’ll save them $4 million in cap space they can use this year or carry into 2017. If Riley had won the starting job, it might have been bad news for Garvin, who is pretty much viewed as a special teamer. But with Foster starting, Garvin’s help on special teams will be important. Spaight looked good this summer and Cravens has developed nicely and should help early as a nickel/dime linebacker.
This was mostly an easy one, though the player I’d like to find a spot for is safety Deshazor Everett because of his ability on special teams. But the Redskins want to keep an extra defensive lineman instead. They’ll almost certainly stick with six corners and just four safeties. Toler was a pleasant surprise, but he shouldn’t be given his experience (47 career starts).
None of these players faced any competition in training camp for a reason and they could give the Redskins a quality kicking operation for several more years.
The Minnesota Vikings must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday (Aug. 30) and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday (Sept. 3). Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
It would be three if Taylor Heinicke was healthy, but coach Mike Zimmer said last week Heinicke could still be out another 6-8 weeks after he sliced a tendon in his foot this summer. Joel Stave hasn't done enough to land a roster spot, so the Vikings will likely start with two QBs and hope they avoid an injury before Heinicke returns. In reality, though, if Bridgewater gets hurt, the Vikings' Super Bowl hopes will be in jeopardy.
The Vikings remain as deep here as any team in the league with the same trio they've had for the past two seasons. Peterson will get most of the work, but as McKinnon takes on a more diversified role in the offense and Asiata fills in as a capable blocker and receiver, there should be opportunities for all three backs.
FULLBACK (1): Zach Line
If the Vikings keep four tight ends -- as it appears they could -- some have speculated it could be Line who gets bumped off the final roster. It's hard to see that happening, though; he has turned into a trusted blocker for Peterson and an occasional receiving option out of the backfield.
There's plenty of depth in the group, but who will become the top receiver? Treadwell (the 23rd overall pick in the draft) doesn't figure to start right away, and Thielen has been pushing for a spot in the Vikings' three-receiver set while Wright nurses a calf injury. Things could be fluid at receiver for much of the season.
Ellison's return from a torn patellar tendon could put Morgan on the bubble, but the sixth-round pick has likely done enough to earn a roster spot after an impressive camp in which he has participated with the Vikings' first-string offense in Ellison's absence.
Injuries -- and the undisclosed illness that has kept Mike Harris off the field -- have sapped some of the Vikings' depth here, and there's no guarantee the group will be completely reformed following a year in which it allowed too much pressure on Bridgewater. The Vikings will hope for solid play from both of their tackles and keep their fingers crossed that Sullivan can stay healthy after two back surgeries.
The big question here is whether Floyd can stay healthy and get beyond the knee issues that have lingered since last season. If he can, the Vikings have a deep, versatile group that should have offensive coordinators working some late nights trying to devise their protection schemes. Griffen, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, is one of the league's best edge rushers, and Joseph could have been in the Pro Bowl if not for a turf toe issue that slowed him down in the second half. Watch out for Hunter, whom the Vikings believe could become a terror on the edge.
Kendricks has dealt with a hamstring strain since the end of training camp, but if he's ready to go, this should be a fast, disruptive group that has more depth than it had in the past. Lamur could push Greenway at the weak-side spot, or at least get on the field in some sub packages, and Robinson has looked much improved in his second training camp.
The Vikings have as much cornerback depth as they've had in a long time, particularly if highly-drafted youngsters such as Waynes and Alexander can be counted on. Sendejo seems to have an edge over his competitors at the second safety spot, but Griffin -- whom the Vikings signed from Tennessee -- could eventually nudge him out. The 6-foot-4 Kearse is an intriguing athlete who the Vikings could decide to keep rather than exposing him to waivers while trying to get him on the practice squad.
Walsh insists he has moved on from his crushing 27-yard miss in the wild-card round of the playoffs in January, and Locke is still the punter despite the Vikings' occasional intimations they could bring in competition for him. His status as the holder for Walsh also makes him an important part of the Vikings' special-teams group. McDermott received a new four-year, $4 million deal during training camp.
The Dallas Cowboys must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
Romo will miss at least a few games recovering from a compression fracture in his back, and the Cowboys could choose to put him on injured reserve to start the year, which would cost him the first eight weeks. The hope is Romo will miss closer to six weeks, which could put him on the field in early to mid-October. The Cowboys will add a veteran to back up Prescott at some point.
I’m keeping Darren McFadden on the non-football injury list to start the season, as he recovers from a broken elbow. He will miss the first six games, but it opens up a logjam at running back with how Jackson has performed. Dunbar’s recovery from a serious knee injury has been terrific, but his health will continue to be a question until he shows he can withstand a season.
FULLBACK (1): Rod Smith
I seriously thought about two fullbacks, with Keith Smith on the roster too, but I couldn’t come up with enough snaps. I went with Rod Smith over Keith Smith because he can play some tailback, if necessary. Both can play on all special-teams units.
Undrafted rookie Andy Jones just can’t crack the list. Whitehead gets the fifth spot because of his return ability, and the Cowboys can use him in some special offensive packages. If the Cowboys go with a sixth receiver, then they would have to go lighter at offensive line or fullback. From a depth perspective, this might be the best the Cowboys have been at receiver since Romo has been the quarterback.
Allow me to speculate here: I think the Cowboys will find a trade partner for Gavin Escobar. The former second-round pick was playing late in the fourth quarter versus the Seattle Seahawks, with Traylor getting more snaps with the regulars. James Hanna should open the season on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing knee surgery.
The starters are set. Leary could be a trade commodity, but the Cowboys will want to get something good in return, because Leary offers terrific injury protection. Green is the swing tackle for now, but I believe the Cowboys will look for a veteran caught in a numbers crunch elsewhere and bring him in to compete with Green.
DeMarcus Lawrence will open up on the suspended list, and who knows if Randy Gregory will wear a uniform in 2016, so that opens up some spots. The Cowboys are stronger at defensive tackle than they have been in recent years, but the end spot remains a question. I believe the Cowboys will either add a player off waivers or make a trade before the roster is set for their final pass-rusher. Ryan Russell has had chances to earn his way on to the roster, and I just don’t see it.
I was tempted to only go with six linebackers because of Nzeocha’s Achilles strain, but he showed enough against the Los Angeles Rams to stick around. Where’s Rolando McClain? Suspended, and I don’t think he will ever wear a Cowboys uniform again. After opening camp on the non-football injury list, Wilson has shown more awareness than he did as a rookie.
In my initial projection in June, I didn’t have J.J. Wilcox on the roster. I haven’t seen a ton from Frazier, but Wilcox will not be with the team in 2017, so it makes sense to see what Frazier can become. Olatoye took some snaps at safety over the summer. I went with six cornerbacks to protect myself because of the health of Scandrick and Claiborne. By the way, if there is a training camp/preseason defensive MVP, it is Claiborne.
Bailey is among the best kickers in the game, and Jones is an underrated weapon, with his ability to place the ball and kick for power. Ladouceur has been perfect on every snap of his career.
After three preseason games, the picture is becoming clearer. Here is our latest projection for the New York Giants' 53-man roster:
Nassib hasn’t played well in the preseason, but the Giants have said they aren't going to press the panic button. These are their two quarterbacks, for better or worse.
Williams appears to have impressed the coaching staff enough this summer to secure his roster spot. Darkwa makes the team essentially as a special-teams player. The Giants can carry five running backs because they don't have a traditional fullback.
Injuries have left the Giants thin at this point. This is all contingent on Johnson's being healthy. Matt LaCosse had a spot until the knee injury.
If Victor Cruz is on the roster (and he is as long as there are no additional injury setbacks), the Giants need to go heavy at wide receiver. King has earned a spot on the roster ahead of undrafted rookie Roger Lewis, who should make it to the practice squad.
The Giants are thin on the line. It was hard to even come up with eight offensive linemen. Don’t be surprised to see the Giants add several veteran linemen after final cuts. Right now, Cleary makes it as a backup guard/tackle, and Gettis has worked his way back into the center/guard mix after an awful preseason debut.
Okwara has really made his mark the past few weeks. He’s an interesting undrafted prospect who earned a spot on the roster this summer. Several veteran offensive linemen have raved about him.
Seven might be deep, but it appears the Giants are going to utilize all kinds of packages to get by without a three-down middle linebacker. J.T. Thomas is the odd man out right now because he hasn’t played enough this summer.
Wade brings more to the table at this point than undrafted rookie Donte Deayon, who is a prime practice squad candidate. Wade can play inside and outside and contribute on special teams. The other four cornerbacks appear firmly entrenched in the rotation.
This is all contingent on the health of Darian Thompson (shoulder) and Mykkele Thompson (concussion). The Giants seem sold on Mykkele, even though the on-field results haven’t been great. Justin Currie and Cooper Taylor get squeezed as a result. Bennett Jackson was never given a chance this summer.
Brown will be on a reserve list while he serves his Week 1 suspension. Look for the Giants to scour the waiver wire for a Week 1 kicker.
The Philadelphia Eagles must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here's a final 53-man roster projection:
It will become the rookie's team eventually, but Bradford is hoping to push that succession plan into 2017. So long as the Eagles stay competitive, he should get his wish.
Mathews is injury-prone. Sproles is 33. Smallwood is a rookie. Barner is unproven. But the hope is that they can combine to make a serviceable backfield.
Rueben Randle and Chris Givens were both released by the Eagles on Sunday, opening the door for the recently-acquired Green-Beckham and Huff to make the roster. Turner, an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Tech, has been one of the surprise stories of camp.
Doug Pederson seems to like the idea of having four tight ends on the roster, with one of them (perhaps Pantale) serving as a fullback when needed. Burton has been catching everything thrown his way this summer. He could end up making plays for this team.
The Eagles released veteran Andrew Gardner on Sunday, which could open the door for one of the young offensive linemen to make it. Rookie guard Dillon Gordon out of LSU is an interesting prospect and has even been getting looks at fullback in camp. Perhaps his versatility helps land him a place on the roster. An extra spot could open up if Johnson is suspended to start the season.
The Eagles have reportedly been shopping former Oregon defensive tackle Taylor Hart, but the release of Mike Martin could signal a roster spot for him. Means and 2014 first-round pick Smith have been battling for the fourth defensive end spot. Here we have both making the cut. Curry's ability to move inside from time to time should allow defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to go light at defensive tackle if need be.
Linebackers are often key members on special teams. The Eagles will have to get creative here, as Hicks, Kendricks and Bradham are projected starters while the 31-year-old Tulloch will probably be limited in his contributions on that front. Rookies Quentin Gause or Myke Tavarres could end up on the team for special teams/depth purposes.
Smith was teammates with Wentz at North Dakota State. An undrafted rookie, he has impressed this preseason and was even given first-team looks Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. Jenkins sang his praises afterward and said he wouldn't be surprised if he ends up on the 53. Rowe has fallen on the cornerback depth chart but should make the team.
Cody Parkey has seemingly been behind in the kicker competition all summer. His missed extra point against the Colts couldn't have helped his chances of beating out Sturgis. Dorenbos' second act as a full-time magician/entertainer will have to wait another year.
Randle caught eight touchdowns for the Giants in 2015 but was up and down during his time in New York, and did not generate a ton of demand in free agency. He ended up signing a one-year deal worth just over $1 million to join the Eagles in the hopes of proving that concerns about his approach to the game were based largely on misunderstandings.
"... I feel like I get read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort," he said recently. "If I go out there and make a one-handed catch and make it look effortless, I get praised for it, but if I do all these other things effortlessly, it’s like I’m not giving much effort. It’s just kind of one of those things, you just have to go out there and just make some plays and see how it goes from there."
Randle saw very little action with the first team in the Eagles' win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday as whispers grew that he might not be in the plans.
Givens, meanwhile, got the start against the Colts in what proved to be one final showcase. The fifth-year pro had some success when paired with Sam Bradford earlier in his career, catching 42 balls for 698 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie, but has experienced a statistical decline in the seasons since.
The Eagles also released long snapper John DePalma, cornerback Randall Evans, offensive lineman Andrew Gardner, defensive tackle Mike Martin, safety Nick Perry and cornerback Denzel Rice while placing rookie defensive end Alex McCalister (calf) and linebacker Joe Walker (knee) on injured reserve.
The Eagles are now at the 75-player roster limit in front of Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.
Romo fractured his collarbone twice during the season and missed all or part of 14 games. Bryant broke a bone in his foot and played in only nine games. They spent the entire offseason working together in anticipation of reuniting on the field this season.
“It was a complete shock,” Bryant said of Romo’s injury. “All the work he’s done and put into this point, to see him go down is pretty bad.”
Romo is expected to miss six to 10 weeks because of the injury, though coach Jason Garrett has refused to put a time frame on how long Romo will be out.
Bryant, who missed Thursday’s game because of concussion symptoms, watched the game on TV at home. As soon as he saw the hit, Bryant said he knew something was wrong with the 36-year-old quarterback.
“I could tell from the way he was laying [that] he was hurt,” he said.
Bryant spoke to Romo early Saturday.
“Actually, [we] had a talk before it came out,” Bryant said. “Me, knowing [Romo], he’s going to get himself right, and he’s going to come back stronger than ever. I told him to keep himself right, stay in the best shape, keep fighting, and you’ll be back.”
Bryant suffered his concussion after a glancing blow from safety Barry Church on Aug. 22. Crawford suffered his concussion the previous day. Neither player made the trip to Seattle for last week’s preseason game.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said both players would go through individual drills Sunday but would not go through any team drills. They are scheduled for more tests later. The Cowboys have not played their starters in a final preseason game in years, so the next game action for Bryant and Crawford is likely to be Week 1 against the New York Giants on Sept. 11.
While Tony Romo’s absence because of a compression fracture in his back is taking up most of the headlines, the Cowboys welcomed back defensive end David Irving (groin) and linebacker Andrew Gachkar (thumb) to practice Sunday. Gachkar had surgery on his thumb Aug. 5, but the hope all along has been that he would be back in time for the season opener. Fullback Rod Smith was back to practice for the first time in two weeks due to an infection.
Safety J.J. Wilcox was not in pads for Sunday’s practice.
His answer almost always changed.
He said 4 to 5 years. He said 5 to 6 years. He even said another eight years when he was hosting his football camp back in Burlington, Wisconsin.
There was no doubt Romo was feeling as good as he has felt since undergoing two back surgeries in 2013. He had surgery in March on his collarbone, but he participated in every part of the offseason program, not missing an organized team activity or minicamp practice. Away from football, he was more active as well, playing tennis and basketball.
According to a source, Romo will need six to 10 weeks to recover, but the Cowboys are not putting a time frame on when he will be able to return to the field.
Romo will play again this season, and a source said he is not contemplating retirement at all, despite the injuries that have popped up the past few years.
This will be the fourth straight year Romo has missed games.
Despite entering his 14th season and turning 36 in the offseason, the Cowboys have maintained Romo is younger than his calendar years suggest because he did not play at all in his first three seasons.
But he must add the compression fracture to a left collarbone that has been broken three times (2010, 2015), a back that required the removal of a cyst (2013) and a repair of a ruptured disk (2013). He has played through a broken rib and punctured lung (2011). He played with torn rib cartilage in 2014.
Romo’s mind is willing, but is his body able?
"That's a fair question," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "Obviously questions are popping up with him. We're aware of that. He's aware of that. You also would like to think he's just having some bad luck and this thing will right itself at some point. Anybody would have to take a look at the point that he's starting to have some injuries.”
Romo is signed through 2019. He is set to make $8.5 million this year and count $20.835 million against the cap. He has base salaries of $14 million, $19.5 million and $20.5 million remaining.
Jones, however, made it clear that the Cowboys are not ready to walk away from Romo.
“We’re supportive of him,” Jones said. “Our focus is to get him healthy as soon as possible.”
For the first time since Romo became the starting quarterback in 2007, the Cowboys seriously considered a future without him. Leading up to the draft, the Cowboys worked out all of the top quarterbacks: Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch.
They nearly traded back into the first round to select Lynch, but opted not to part with their second- and third-round picks. After the draft, owner and general manager Jerry Jones lamented not going harder for Lynch. It wasn’t the same level of regret Jones professed when the Cowboys passed on Johnny Manziel in 2014, but it was noteworthy nonetheless.
And now they are looking at Prescott as their starter when the season begins Sept. 11 against the New York Giants and potentially a few more weeks after that.
It didn’t take the Cowboys forever to find Troy Aikman’s successor. It just seemed that way. They started Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. They traded for Drew Henson, who was the last rookie quarterback to start a game for the Cowboys in 2004. They signed veterans like Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe.
On Oct. 29, 2006, Romo made his first career start, and the Cowboys finally had their quarterback. There have been great moments and agonizing moments. The Cowboys have won just two playoff games with Romo, but they would not have sniffed the possibility of making the playoffs without him in those other years.
It seems as if eulogies are starting to be written for Romo. The Cowboys aren’t writing them. Those close to Romo aren’t, either.
Stephen Jones spoke with Romo many times over the past two days.
“He’s driven for this not to be like last year,” Jones said. “He’s certainly not deterred, and he really feels like it’s going to be different, but he can get through this and that he also feels very confident that our team can win football games without him while he’s not here. He’s driven to help Dak win football games for us so that when he gets back that we have a great chance to have a great season, get in the tournament and contend for a championship. Nothing’s changed.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One night after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem, the entire New York Giants and New York Jets teams were on their feet as the song was played by the Northport (New York) High School Choir before their preseason matchup at MetLife Stadium.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has his reasons for standing.
"I think, personally, the flag is the flag," Cruz said. "Regardless of how you feel about things that are going on in America today, and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things of that nature, you've got to respect the flag, and you've got to stand up with your teammates. It's bigger than just you, in my opinion.
"I think you go up there, you're with a team, and you go and you know you pledge your allegiance to the flag and sing the national anthem with your team and then you go about your business, whatever your beliefs are."
Kaepernick's decision to sit for the anthem was because of his views on the country's treatment of racial minorities.
Several Giants, including Cruz, didn't agree with his method of demonstration. Offensive lineman Justin Pugh went on Twitter Saturday afternoon and said he thought it was disrespectful to those who put their lives on the line to not stand for the anthem. Cruz explained why he wouldn't have gone that route.
"Colin is his own man. He decided to sit down and that is his prerogative, but on a personal standpoint, I think you have to stand up there with your team and understand that this game and what’s going on around this country are bigger than you," Cruz said.
The NFL doesn't have a rule that requires players to stand for the pregame anthems. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Saturday that "players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."
LANDOVER, Md. -- The uneven outing produced questions and not yet enough answers. Did the Washington Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins struggle in the first quarter because they haven’t played enough in the preseason? Did they turn it around in the second because of what they did -- or because they were facing Buffalo’s backups?
Both questions can be applied directly to Cousins. His numbers were bad in the first quarter (3-for-9, 17 yards, one interception). They were excellent in the second quarter (9-for-14, 171 yards, three touchdowns). What Washington mostly wanted was to find an offensive rhythm, have some good drives and exit healthy.
For Cousins, it indeed was an inconsistent outing, with some excellent plays and some decisions that will get in him in trouble no matter if it’s summer or the fall. But it also was his longest outing of the summer and a chance to learn.
“A lot of the stuff will be easily correctable,” Cousins said.
Here’s a look at his night:
What I liked: Cousins made a few nice throws and good decisions. He stepped up in the pocket once when feeling pinched from the sides, but kept his eyes downfield and hit receiver Ryan Grant, placing the ball away from the defender all over one side. A penalty nullified the play, but Cousins did a nice job here. I like how he responded to a bad first few series, but that’s to be expected. Cousins threw a pretty corner pass to Pierre Garcon for a touchdown. Cousins had several passes dropped, which obviously isn’t his fault. The one to Reed down the left seam was a pretty pass, but the tight end lost the ball. Each of the drops would have resulted in big gains.
Play I liked: The 39-yard catch and run to DeSean Jackson. Why? Because I like the design of the play with the receiver on that side (Garcon) clearing out the corner. That leaves Jackson running a shallow cross to a vacated area. If he makes the first defender miss, then he has a chance to get a lot of yards. They ran similar plays in Richmond, not always of the same variety but of the same idea: Clear out an area. It also requires good protection and patience by the quarterback, waiting until the receiver clears the zone defender on that side.
What I didn’t like: Cousins threw off his back foot a few times, unable to get much zip on the ball, which led to a near-interception (on the play before he threw one). The real issue was pressure up the middle vs. center Kory Lichtensteiger. Cousins had tight end Vernon Davis breaking open over the middle. But because Cousins was drifting back, there wasn’t much on the ball and he couldn’t get it over the defender about five yards in front of Davis. But there were other times when Cousins had to make an arm throw; that’s when it gets dicey for him. He threw behind Grant on one pass, but I also wonder if he expected the receiver to do something else (it’s happened before with Grant). It might have just simply been a miss. Cousins was off-target in some games last season and it was an issue Friday at times.
The interception: Cousins looked left for tight end Jordan Reed off the line, but though he was somewhat open, it would have been a very short gain. So he quickly went to the other side of the field for Rashad Ross. One problem: receiver Ryan Grant was open on the same side of the field as Ross, but it appears Cousins’ eyes went from Reed to Ross. The other problem was where he threw the ball.
“He missed it inside, which you can’t do on a comeback route,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “I don’t know if it’s rust; it could be rust. He had some pressure in the pocket on his feet and didn’t get enough on it.”
On the interception negated by a penalty, Cousins took a chance in a tight window with a throw to Davis. But the window was tighter in part because Davis was being held (by the player who tipped the ball). It was a decisive throw as Cousins stepped into the pass.
Overall: It wasn’t a great night at times for the offense in general and Cousins was a part of that -- bad throws, holding penalties, dropped passes. It was a good finish, one they hope to build on, and Cousins was a big part of that as well. The good news for Cousins is that he’s taken every rep with the No. 1 offense from the offseason on, which is more than he had last year when he didn’t take one until after the second preseason game.
NFC EAST SCOREBOARD
Final Philadelphia 33 Indianapolis 23 Final New York 21 New York 20