Atlanta Falcons defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby will join All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones and Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant as players held out for the start of next week's organized team activities, multiple sources told ESPN.
Coach Dan Quinn previously said both Jones and Trufant would be sidelined during OTAs and likely up until training camp while coming off foot and pectoral surgeries, respectively. The statuses of Clayborn and Shelby were a little unclear despite injuries that ended their 2016 season prematurely.
Clayborn suffered a torn biceps in a Jan. 14 divisional playoff win over Seattle and was told a full recovery would take five months from when he suffered the injury. Shelby tore his Achilles in a Oct. 16 game at Seattle and faced up to eight months of recovery.
"Adrian Clayborn ... he's doing well," Quinn said at the end of March. "And then Derrick Shelby had an Achilles injury like the fifth week of the year. He looks good physically. He's actually changed his body. ... He looks different as a guy walking around. You can see the size, the strength. He looks great. .... All of them are in different phases of their rehab, but all we anticipate being fully ready."
When he said "fully ready," Quinn was referring to training camp and the start of the season. There is no need to rush any of the players back into action now, particularly Jones, who coming off a March 6 surgery to remove a bunion on his left foot. Jones told ESPN everything is on schedule for a training camp return in late July.
The Falcons officially begin OTAs next Tuesday after having their first three days of those activities wiped away this week due to an NFL rules violation from last year related to excessive on-field contact.
While the Falcons will be without Jones, Trufant, Clayborn, Shelby, and rookie first-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley from UCLA (shoulder rehab/NFL college finals rules) for OTAs, Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is set to participate after playing through the Super Bowl with a non-displaced fracture in his left fibula.
The Falcons have OTAs this coming Tuesday, June 1-2, June 5-6, and June 8-9. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-and-11 drills are allowed.
Mandatory minicamp is June 13-15.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Quarterback Geno Smith is relishing his new lease on life with the New York Giants. He's enjoying working alongside Eli Manning and with coach Ben McAdoo, the first offensive head coach of his professional career.
Smith also claims he's completely healthy despite surgery to repair a torn ACL some six months ago.
"I'm good, 100 [percent]," Smith said Tuesday at the 24th annual United Way of New York City Gridiron Gala. "I'm good."
Asked if he was at the point now where he would be cleared for training camp if it started today, he didn't hesitate.
"Yeah, of course," said Smith, who signed as a free agent with the Giants this offseason. He had spent the first four seasons of his career with the New York Jets after being a second-round pick out of West Virginia.
Smith, 26, needs to be healthy. He's in a crowded quarterback room after the Giants selected Davis Webb in the third round of this year's draft. Webb is now the potential successor to Manning and his spot on the final roster is secure.
Webb will likely spend his rookie season as the third-string quarterback. Smith is expected to compete with Josh Johnson for the backup role behind Manning.
Regardless of where Smith says he is physically in early May, expect the Giants to bring him along slowly and cautiously. McAdoo said as much recently in an interview.
It's a prudent approach. Linebacker J.T. Thomas also had his ACL repaired last season (in late September or early October) and said Tuesday night he's currently at 75-80 percent. Thomas has been running and doing some "mild cutting" so far, and has eyed the start of training camp for his full return.
"I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm at about 75-80 percent. I'll be ready to go in training camp," Thomas said. "I'm really, really trying to time the thing up, so when that light comes on Sunday there isn't any excuses why you won't see No. 55 on the field."
Thomas was injured while covering a kick in the final seconds of the first half of last season's opener against the Dallas Cowboys. It has been a while since he's been on the field playing football.
But Thomas said it helps mentally to be getting close to full strength and being back around his teammates this spring. The Giants defense is a close-knit group, as evidenced by the attendance at Tuesday night's event.
With Mark Herzlich being honored as a hometown hero for his work in the community, most of the Giants' linebacker room came out in support. Thomas, defensive captain Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson were at the Gridiron Gala.
The 24th annual gala focused on providing educational resources for kids living in New York City's most-challenged communities.
Atlanta Falcons starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who tore a ligament in his right ankle during his team's Super Bowl LI loss to New England, received medical clearance Tuesday to resume running again, a league source told ESPN.com.
Schraeder is expected to begin running next week. He's been lifting weights at the team facility five days a week since the end of February, working out alongside fellow offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer.
The Falcons are scheduled to begin the offseason program April 17, and Schraeder is expected to participate. The injury, which did not require surgery, occurred in the second quarter of the Super Bowl, although Schraeder did not exit until his ankle finally gave out in the fourth quarter.
Schraeder is one of several offensive starters coming back from injuries. Wide receiver Julio Jones, who had surgery to remove a bunion on his left foot, won't be available for offseason workouts but expects to be healthy in time for training camp. Center Alex Mack played through the Super Bowl despite a hairline fracture in his left fibula. Mack was not scheduled to undergo surgery. Also, backup running back Tevin Coleman injured his ankle in the Super Bowl.
On the defensive side, Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant (pectoral surgery), defensive end Adrian Clayborn (biceps), defensive lineman Derrick Shelby (Achilles), and safety Kemal Ishmael (shoulder) are all coming off season-ending injuries.
A handful of Falcons have maintained a normal workout schedule at the team facility this offseason, including MVP Matt Ryan and backup Matt Schaub, who have been spotted running together ever since Schaub re-signed on March 8.
Back to work =¼
Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub were back to the grind today in Flowery Branch. pic.twitter.com/9YmqoUVEYe
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) March 27, 2017
Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman said he spends four days a week working out at the team facility.
The Falcons have scheduled another team offseason camp session for next month. Ryan paid for all of his teammates to come together in South Florida last April for the inaugural camp.
Having suffered a gruesome knee injury in the 2014 NFC championship against the Seattle Seahawks, Bowman missed the next season as he attempted to recover. He went on to return for the 2015 season and played well, though he wasn't quite all the way back to the high standard he set for himself.
Then, disaster struck again on Oct. 2 of last season when Bowman tore his left Achilles in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He's now more than four months removed from the injury and is well ahead of where he was at this point in his recovery from the knee issue.
Bowman said last week there's no comparison between the rehab required for tearing multiple ligaments in his knee and tearing an Achilles.
"It doesn't (compare)," Bowman said. "It's much more easy to deal with. I'm not spending those long hours warming up trying to get my workout in so it's definitely easier to deal with than my knee. I can definitely see a positive light at the end of the tunnel."
At the end of the season, Bowman said he had progressed to the point where he was able to run on a water treadmill but he didn't have a definitive date on when he'd be able to run again on land.
"I'm working every single day, doing everything the trainers are asking me to do," Bowman said. "There's no timetable set when I will be cleared to do every single thing but the sky is looking bright for me. I feel great and the key is just keep improving every single day and giving me confidence knowing that I will be back."
Despite having now gone through multiple serious injuries in the past few years, Bowman is clearly intent on getting healthy and getting back to being one of the league's best linebackers. Bowman is still only 28, signed a lucrative contract extension last preseason and sounds like a man who has something to prove as he works his way back from his latest injury.
"I'm a grinder," Bowman said. "Anything that knocks me down, I'm going to get back up. It's just who is going to stick beside me and remember what I've done and keep praying for me that I get back to where I was."
In general manager John Lynch, Reid has another experienced sounding board in place when one is needed.
"I think that’s awesome to have a former player in the GM role, somebody that not only understands the game of football but has played the game of football," Reid said. "So I think he has a different outlook on things when he makes those decisions, so I think that’s pretty cool."
Reid is equally excited by the addition of head coach Kyle Shanahan. While Reid did not play against the Atlanta Falcons when the Niners played there in December, he believes the chance to practice against a Shanahan offense will help him improve.
"They move the ball," Reid said. "I watched the Super Bowl; they did some great things and all year they did some great things, so it will be fun to go against a guy that like they said had one of the most prolific offenses in the history of football. So I think I need to take advantage of that opportunity as a defensive player to get better."
While Reid is still awaiting word on who his new defensive coordinator will be, he's continuing to work on getting back to full strength after a torn biceps cost him the final six games of the season. He suffered the injury in late November but is already mostly healed.
Reid said last week that his only restriction right now is he can't do any weight-lifting exercises that require him to lift with his palms facing down.
"I feel good," Reid said. "I went to the doctor [Wednesday]. He told me if we had a game this week, I would be practicing. So I’m pretty much good to go. Time is on my side. Obviously there’s no rush for anything but it made me feel good that he said I would be practicing if we had a game this week."
In other words, by the time the 49ers open their offseason program, Reid will be cleared and ready to go.
"By the time OTAs come, it will be a thing of the past," Reid said.
Jones, who has battled a toe sprain since late in the regular season, expressed optimism Wednesday morning about having full participation, but Falcons coach Dan Quinn continued to take a cautious approach with his most dangerous offensive threat.
Jones said last week he expects to be fully ready to go in the Super Bowl. He has fought through injuries the entire season, although the toe sprain did cause him to miss two regular-season games.
Mack, who didn't practice last week after injuring his left fibula in the NFC Championship Game, returned to practice Monday in a limited role.
Quinn said Monday both Jones and Mack would see their practice time increase as the week progresses. The Falcons have closed practices at Rice University over the next two days.
No other Falcons showed up on the team's initial Super Bowl injury report. Veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, who usually gets a day of rest on Wednesdays, did not appear on the report.
Johnson broke his foot in the Texans' Week 6 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. That was his best game of the season, as he registered 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and a pass defensed.
Johnson said he had a Jones re-fracture in his foot, an injury he called "bad luck."
Having watched the Texans defense thrive without him for most of the season, ranking No. 1 in yards allowed per game in the NFL, Johnson is looking forward to seeing what the defense can do next season.
"It's definitely exciting," Johnson said. "I know I'm really determined and I'm really hungry just thinking about next season. Sitting out this past year was a big deal for me mentally as far as knowing how bad I want to be a great player and how bad I want to help this team, so I'm definitely looking forward to it."
With Johnson injured, cornerback A.J. Bouye stepped up, playing his way into a starting role and ranking as one of the NFL's top corners. Bouye also played his way into a big contract this offseason. He will be an unrestricted free agent and might prove to be too pricey for the Texans to bring back.
If Johnson can come back healthy and play at a high level, that would definitely ease the potential loss of Bouye.
"I think we got some great young players on the team and some great veterans," Bouye said. "I think it's a great mix of just youth and experience and I think we have a lot of growth to keep growing as a defense and it's exciting."
Johnson said he expects to be back for OTAs in the spring and is training for those now.
"[I'm] working hard, just training all offseason," Johnson said. "Getting ready for OTAs and all those type of things. Rehab, getting stronger physically. Just basically trying to do anything I can to get better."
The Kansas City Chiefs running back wrote that the injury, a torn meniscus, happened not during a game or even practice but during a post-practice session shortly after his most productive game of the season, on Oct. 16 against the Oakland Raiders.
“There’s been speculation that I tried to come back too quick, or that I wasn’t ready, but I honestly don’t think me coming back to play is what caused this to happen." Charles wrote. “I think, if anything, I was doing too much extra work on top of what I was doing with the team and the trainers."
“I thought that since I had a good game against Oakland, maybe I could do extra stuff before and after practice to get even better, and that kind of backfired on me," Charles wrote. “The week after the Raiders game, we got into practice, and everything was going normally. Afterward, I stayed out doing some more extra work. Nobody was really out there besides the running backs, everybody had gone back in, just the running back coaches and the running backs were still outside. There were 5-10 of us at most.
“We were running through some drills, and when I went to make a cut, my leg just locked up. It wasn’t painful -- there was just something weird about it. It locked up, and I couldn’t walk. I had to be carted off the field. They did an MRI, but you couldn’t tell what was going on or what was wrong with me. After you have a knee surgery like I had, it’s hard to tell from an MRI what’s going on. I just knew for myself that even after they worked on my leg, something wasn’t right. I wasn’t the same."
Despite the problem, Charles suited up for the Saints game but played little and got the ball just once.
Charles eventually went to see noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews in Florida. Arthroscopic surgery revealed the meniscus tear. Charles had the meniscus repaired via a scope and the other knee cleaned up through a scope as well.
“When they told me it wasn’t my ACL, I was thankful," Charles said. “You have to be. Once you go through an ACL tear -- or two, in my case -- and you find out it’s just the meniscus, there’s some relief there. When you go through the process with the ACL, that really gives you some things to think about. A meniscus is minor in comparison. People have played through it, and guys tolerate that. My body wasn’t adapting to it, but that’s OK. I was thankful my ACL was still intact because it meant there was still a chance for me."
The Chiefs placed Charles on the injured reserve list after the surgeries, on Nov. 1. He was eligible to return to the Chiefs late in the season and Charles wrote that he discussed the possibility of making it back with Andrews. But the Chiefs didn’t activate him and Charles didn’t write why or whether he could have returned to play.
Charles, who turned 30 on Dec. 27, was similarly vague about whether he will again play for the Chiefs. He has one more season remaining on his contract.
“I honestly don’t know what the future holds for me," he wrote. “I know it’s God’s will and God’s purpose to determine what’s next for me. I’m just thankful. I’m thankful for my friends and my family and the people that surround me and support me through these humbling experiences. This is another crisis, another time falling down, but I know I’ll always get back up.
“What I do know is that I still want to play football. I was only 29 years old this season. My goal right now is to just focus on the now and my rehab and let the rest sort itself out later."
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he expects every player to practice Tuesday as the team digs into preparation for Saturday's divisional playoff matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.
"We're in a good shape in that way," Quinn said of the overall health of the team. "We anticipate, for tomorrow, everyone to be able to participate. So that's a good thing from our standpoint. There's a chance that some may be (limited), but we look strong heading into tomorrow."
The Falcons had a closed walkthrough Monday.
As the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the Falcons earned a first-round bye, allowing injured players to rest up. Some of the bigger concerns, outside of top wide receiver Julio Jones' continued recovery from a toe sprain, was how cornerback Robert Alford and left guard Andy Levitre would respond coming off knee and hip injuries. Quinn previously said top-pass rusher Vic Beasley Jr. would have no limitations after suffering a shoulder injury.
Alford's status seems to biggest question mark of them all after he was held out of practice last week. The Falcons previously lost top cornerback Desmond Trufant to season-ending pectoral surgery, so they can ill-afford to be without Alford as well. He was injured in the regular season finale against the New Orleans Saints.
Quinn didn't sound overly concerned.
"We thought (Alford) looked good today," Quinn said. "It was limited today in terms of the speed that we worked with, but to see him move and kind of have his intent right, we were encouraged for sure."
Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, who tied Jones with a team-leading six touchdown receptions, just returned from a toe/ankle injury last week. Rookie tight end Austin Hooper also returned to practice last week off an MCL sprain.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- General manager Ryan Pace's first order of business in free agency two years ago was signing Pernell McPhee to a five-year contract at an average annual cost of $7.750 million ($15.5 million of the deal was guaranteed).
McPhee, the highest-paid member of Chicago’s defense, spent the first six weeks on the physically unable to perform list after knee surgery robbed him of the opportunity to participate in the offseason program or training camp. He also missed Week 17 due to a shoulder injury.
In nine appearances in 2016, McPhee was primarily a rotational player, finishing with 16 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble.
McPhee being able to return at all is impressive, but any enthusiasm is tempered by the $7.675 million in cap space he ate up. That number will climb to $7.825 million in 2017.
McPhee, who’s collected close to $16 million from the Bears, played well for a chunk of 2015 before issues with his knee wore him down. McPhee is talented, but like so many other Bears, the problem comes down to availability.
McPhee’s played in only 23 games in Chicago, collecting a total of 10 sacks. He had a career-high 7.5 sacks for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.
Still, Pace is undeterred.
“There might not be a player I’m more proud of than Pernell and the way he’s responded from this injury and the changes he’s made, not just in the building but out of the building with his diet and his weight and his work ethic,” Pace said. “He’s one of the top leaders on this team and people follow his attitude and his physicality. I think he got healthier and healthier as the season went on. I can think of practices when we were in the indoor [facility] and I’d see him coming around the corner, with the speed, and that’s the Pernell I’m used to seeing. Unfortunately with the shoulder injury, pursuing the ball, he’s going to overcome that.
“Pernell is a professional, Pernell is a leader and I think he’s going to get healthier and healthier. To answer your question, he is worth the investment and I hope to see that more next season.”
McPhee has a $200,000 roster bonus due on June 1.
SEATTLE -- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played with a glove on his throwing hand during the last five games of his 2016 season, and now that it’s over, he said he doesn’t believe he’ll need surgery to fix his right middle finger.
“I think it’s going to heal with rest,” Stafford said. “I think, that’s my plan right now.”
Stafford injured the finger when he clapped hands with Chicago’s Leonard Floyd in Week 14 on Dec. 11. The quarterback played the remainder of that game with a full glove on his hand, and then the next week against the New York Giants, he wore a black glove with the middle finger covered and the rest of his fingers exposed.
In the final three games of Detroit’s season, he switched to a white glove with his middle finger covered and the rest exposed.
Statistically, Stafford struggled when wearing the glove. He threw five interceptions in the final five games of his season after throwing five in the first 12 games combined. In the Lions' 26-6 playoff loss to Seattle on Saturday, Stafford completed 18 of 32 passes for 205 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
In two of the games he played with the glove, the Lions did not score a touchdown on offense.
The quarterback said several times he did not think the injured finger was affecting his play, but during his final five games, he didn’t have any games in which he completed better than 63.4 percent of his passes. Before the injury, he completed passes at a higher rate in all but three games.
“I don’t think it affected me too much,” Stafford said. “Obviously I’m not 100 percent, but I battled. I feel like I threw the ball accurately enough. There’s definitely some throws I wish I had back, but a healthy finger does that sometimes, too.
“It’s just more of an annoyance than anything that it happened and I had to deal with it.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins dropped off the final injury report heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers and will play in his first career playoff game.
The Pro Bowl cornerback was dealing with a back injury that forced him to miss a Week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was pulled at halftime in the regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins. The move was believed to be precautionary and Jenkins said he felt “great” this week.
The only two players on the final injury report this week are defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) and Owa Odighizuwa (hamstring). Pierre-Paul was officially ruled out. Odighizuwa is listed as doubtful.
Safety Nat Berhe (concussion) was not given a designation. He sat out the final five games of the regular season after suffering his second concussion of the year.
Coach Ben McAdoo said Berhe is still in the concussion protocol, but it appears he could be ready to return Sunday.
“He’s still finishing up,” McAdoo said. “He is still being evaluated. He still has to be cleared.
“We will evaluate it. We have to take a look. There are a lot of guys that we have to take a look at [Saturday].”
Hart, however, may not start. Marshall Newhouse could reclaim the starting right tackle spot after a strong performance against the Redskins.
“Yeah, we are going to take a look at practice [Saturday] and see how it goes,” McAdoo said.
“It is still up in the air,” McAdoo said. “We will go out and take a look [Saturday]. Everyone is going to play, but we will go out and take a look [Saturday] and see how we perform.”
No matter who starts at safety opposite All-Pro Landon Collins, the Giants' secondary is in much better shape than earlier in the season when they faced the Packers. Cornerback Eli Apple left that game early with a leg injury and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wasn’t 100 percent as he struggled with a groin problem.
This time both are healthy, and Jenkins appears ready for his first career playoff game.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the next step in his recovery on Friday. He took reps and threw on the scout-team offense in practice for the first time since suffering a sprained ACL and MCL in his left knee in Week 11 of the regular season.
Tannehill will not play in Sunday's wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers but hasn't ruled out returning if Miami advances in the divisional round to play the top-seeded New England Patriots.
“It’s exciting to be back out there. I put in a lot of work to try to get myself ready to go,” Tannehill said Friday. “Taking the first step and getting back out there is huge.
“We’re still working through [a timeline]. At this point, I’m just taking it day-by-day still and we’ll see what happens next week.”
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said the team feels better about Tannehill practicing next week if it advances beyond Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. According to Gase, Tannehill would have to practice more for the team to feel comfortable enough to start him.
One of the major factors being weighed by the Dolphins is the potential for re-injuring Tannehill's knee. He doesn’t know at this point if any surgery would be required in the offseason.
"We’re being smart with it,” Tannehill said. “If there’s a huge risk of doing further damage, then clearly he’s not going to let me go back out there. That’s what we’re working through now.”
In other injury news, Dolphins starting cornerback Byron Maxwell will be listed as doubtful with an ankle injury and is expected to miss his third straight game. The team also released backup defensive end Jason Jones on Friday.
But don't expect a showdown over language in Taylor's contract that would guarantee him $27.5 million if the Bills release him in March while he is still injured.
If the Bills don’t want to keep Taylor, it remains in the quarterback’s best interest to get healthy as soon as possible so he can find employment elsewhere, even with the potential for a substantial payday hovering in the event he is released while injured.
The day after Taylor was evaluated in Philadelphia by Dr. William Meyers for potential surgery on a lingering groin injury, the Bills issued a statement Thursday morning noting that Taylor "elected" to have the procedure and that the Bills were "informed" of his decision late Wednesday.
The easy conclusion to draw is that the Bills were bracing for a legal battle if they decide in March to release Taylor and the quarterback argues that he should be due $27.5 million in injury-guaranteed 2017 salary. Taylor's contract guarantees him that amount even if he is released "due to a professional football injury suffered while performing his services under this Contract [and] Player is unable, in the sole judgment of Club's physicians, to perform his playing services for Club."
However, Taylor's core muscle surgery was performed with the Bills being aware of, and involved in the process to have it done, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. This was not a surprise to the Bills, whose doctors told Taylor that surgery was possible and they even recommended that he visit Dr. Meyers, sources told Schefter.
In the event Taylor filed a grievance or lawsuit against the Bills seeking his injury-guaranteed salary, the team's statement Thursday would be the basis for an argument that the team did not make the decision for Taylor to have surgery. Considering Taylor played through his groin injury this season, the team could argue he was able to "perform his services" prior to the surgery and should not trigger the guaranteed salary.
However, such a legal battle seems unlikely.
First, it remains in Taylor's best interest to get healthy as soon as possible. If he was truly interested in earning his $27.5 million injury-guaranteed salary from the Bills, he could have theoretically delayed the surgery and forced the Bills to release him while still unable to pass a physical in March. Instead, Taylor is having the surgery now. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported last week that Taylor is expected to be recovered in time for free agency, which make sense: Taylor would need to pass a physical with any team that would sign him after the Bills potentially release him.
Second, Taylor's contract contains offset language that would reduce the amount of the Bills' injury guarantee by the total amount of his salary and bonuses due from a new team during the 2017 season, according to an industry source who has viewed Taylor's deal. If a new team signed Taylor to a contract that paid him $10 million in bonuses and salary, the Bills would owe him only $17.5 million. Taylor would not be able to double-dip.
While the wording of the Bills' statement Thursday attracted some attention, it does not necessarily mean a legal battle is looming. If the Bills decide Taylor is not in their plans for 2017, the cleanest path for the quarterback would be to simply sign with a new team and avoid trying to leverage his groin injury into a bigger payday.
Crawford, who had five sacks last season, finished with 4.5 sacks this season but did not play the final two games because of a shoulder injury. Lawrence, who led the Cowboys with eight sacks in 2015, missed the first four games because of a suspension and the final three games because of a back injury and had just one sack this season.
While neither player is sure they will practice Thursday or Friday, both said they will be ready for the Jan. 15 divisional-round game.
“We’re ready,” Lawrence said. “It’s the playoffs, baby. It’s time to go get it.”
Whenever the Cowboys’ season ends, both players could be looking at surgery for the second straight offseason. Crawford had surgery on his right shoulder last year and Lawrence had back surgery.
But the recent time off has been beneficial.
“It helped the aggravation in my back calm down a lot,” Lawrence said. “Now I feel a whole lot better than when I was at that Giants game (Dec. 11) that we played. I’m just ready to get back out there and roll with my brothers.”
Crawford will wear a sling for added protection.
“Obviously with what I’ve got, it’s not going to be feeling great, but good enough to go,” Crawford said.
In the absence of Crawford and Lawrence, David Irving and Benson Mayowa became bigger parts of the Cowboys' pass-rushing rotation. With Crawford and Lawrence, the Cowboys might finally have the group coordinator Rod Marinelli wanted all along.
“Practice is good for everybody, just working the fundamentals and keys and ins and outs of the defense, really,” said Lawrence, who had two sacks in the Cowboys’ two playoff games in 2014. “And being able to play off your brothers and knowing what they’re doing. I’ll be out there. My body is feeling a whole better and I’m going to do everything I possibly can.”