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Philadelphia Eagles optimistic on RT Jason Peters’ biceps injury while awaiting test results


PHILADELPHIA — Eagles coach Doug Pederson struck an optimistic tone when discussing the biceps injury to standout left tackle Jason Peters, while cautioning that all of the test results are not yet in.

“Early indication, I don’t want to speculate too much, is positive,” he said. “Kind of a day-to-day [situation] and I’ve just got to wait and make sure that all of the information is accurate.”

Peters left the game early in the second half against the New York Giants Thursday after extending his arms to try and block a defender who was shooting the gap. The NFL Network reported that he tore his bicep, but that it’s an injury he should be able to play through.

The 36-year-old Peters suffered a season-ending ACL and MCL injury last year, and this season has been playing through a quad strain. He was replaced in the lineup Thursday by Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

Right tackle Lane Johnson had to leave early as well after re-aggravating a high ankle sprain sustained last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Isaac Seumalo slid from guard to tackle when he went down.

Slot cornerback Sidney Jones, meanwhile, exited with a hamstring injury. Pederson described him as “week-to-week,” a designation that typically means a player will miss time.

Rookie Avonte Maddox, who has been playing safety the past two weeks, is a candidate to replace Jones in the slot.



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Jason Garrett’s future as Cowboys head coach on the line – Dallas Cowboys Blog


FRISCO, Texas — A day later, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett still would have punted from the Houston Texans’ 42 on the first possession of overtime instead of going for it on fourth-and-1.

“It just made sense to us, to me at that time, to go ahead and play field position,” Garrett said Monday.

The Cowboys never got the ball back and fell to 2-3 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who made it to the AFC Championship Game last season and have a punishing defense, coming to AT&T Stadium on Sunday.

Questions about Garrett’s job security haven’t stopped since the end of the 2017 season. Before the first padded practice of training camp in Oxnard, California, this year, one fan yelled, “Coach Garrett, I love you, but this is your last year.”

The calls on social media grew louder after the 19-16 loss to the Texans and will grow louder still if the Cowboys are unable to put together any kind of winning streak.

Garrett is 70-58, including 1-2 in the playoffs, as Cowboys head coach. In 2016, he was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year. He has won two NFC East titles. He has the second-most wins in franchise history to Tom Landry, but the decision to punt is viewed by some as the last straw.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has been steadfast in his support for Garrett, even though he critiqued the decision to punt. He has long viewed Garrett as his Landry.

Jones opened camp by succinctly stating Garrett was not on the hot seat, but even he has a breaking point.

Here are factors to consider:

Why is this season different from others for Garrett?

Start with the financial ramifications. Owners don’t like to pay coaches not to coach.

Garrett is signed through 2019 at $6 million per season. Only wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal has a contract that goes past 2019.

After the Cowboys went 4-12 in 2015, there was some talk inside the organization that Garrett could be in trouble a year after a 12-4 record and the controversial loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs.

Garrett was in the first year of a five-year, $30 million contract then, meaning Jones would have had to have eaten more than $20 million. Plus, quarterback Tony Romo started and finished two games that season because of a twice-broken left collarbone, offering up a good reason/excuse for the poor season.

The decision to stick with Garrett looked like a wise one in 2016, when the Cowboys finished 13-3 with a fourth-round pick in Dak Prescott substituting for an injured Romo. At the time, it looked like Jones’ willingness to stick with Garrett through the three consecutive 8-8 seasons in 2011-13 was going to pay dividends with a young team on the rise.

The Cowboys still have a young team, with only one position player older than 30, but they appear destined for another playoff-less season without a quick turnaround.

Would Jerry make an in-season move?

He has made one in-season coaching change since becoming the owner and general manager in 1989, elevating Garrett from offensive coordinator to take over for Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start to the 2010 season.

Garrett was viewed as a head-coach-in-waiting before Jones even hired Phillips as head coach in 2007.

Secondary coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard would be the most obvious candidate to take over if Jones made that kind of move. Richard has interviewed for head coaching vacancies in recent years while he was the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, but how would that help the offense?

How would a coaching change affect Prescott’s development?

The Cowboys entered this season hoping Prescott would play the way he did in the first 24 games of his career, when he had 39 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. In his past 13 games, he has 10 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

The Cowboys can look to sign Prescott to a contract extension after this season, but there has been nothing through the first five games of this season to suggest they should. At present, their priorities would be signing DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones to long-term deals before Prescott.

Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are the only voices Prescott has had in his three years. A new coach can bring fresh ideas, perhaps incorporating more creativity that has allowed young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to excel early in their careers. Of course, that new coach might want to bring in his own quarterback, but in 2003 Jones convinced Bill Parcells to go with Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson to see what those young signal-callers could do. He could do the same with whomever he chooses as Garrett’s successor.

Is this all on the head coach?

Of course not. Contrary to popular opinion, Jones has always been heavily influenced in personnel by the coach. Always. He did not draft Randy Moss 20 years ago, in part, because then-coach Chan Gailey did not want Moss.

The perception Jones picks the players and tells the coach to make do is flawed. He will make decisions that might run counter to the coach’s wishes at times, but the majority of the organization’s decisions come from a group that includes Garrett, Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones and vice president of player personnel Will McClay.

So far it looks as though the Cowboys went with a flawed approach at wide receiver and tight end in trying to replace Dez Bryant and Jason Witten by committee. Tight end Geoff Swaim has three of the Cowboys’ 10 pass plays of more than 20 yards on the season to lead the team. DeAndre Hopkins had nine catches for 151 yards for the Texans on Sunday, including the 49-yarder that set up the winning field goal. The Cowboys’ receivers combined for six catches for 80 yards.

The Cowboys tried to sign Sammy Watkins in free agency, but he opted to join the Kansas City Chiefs. Given the construction of the passing game, would Watkins have made that big of a difference?

Garrett has coached a team that will follow one of his mantras and “fight,” but the Cowboys haven’t been able to follow another of his mantras and “finish.”



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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says he explained OT punt decision to Jerry Jones


FRISCO, Texas — At the day-after analysis of the Dallas Cowboys‘ 19-16 overtime loss to the Houston Texans, coach Jason Garrett on Monday explained his decision to punt on the first possession of overtime to owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

After the game, Jones was critical of the decision to punt at the Houston 42 since the Cowboys did not regain possession and lost on a 36-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn with 1:50 to play in overtime.

“We were being outplayed there, not out-efforted but we were outplayed,” Jones said Sunday. “But it’s time for risk at that particular time. That’s not second-guessing, but we were taking some risk too at certain points in the game.”

After the game, Garrett defended the decision because he was relying on a defense that forced three punts, created two turnovers and gave up just two field goals in the second half. On Monday, Garrett relayed the message to Jones during their Monday meeting.

“We talked about the thought process behind that and why we made the decision like that based on how we were playing on defense in particular and what the details of the circumstances were,” Garrett said.

While Jones said he was not second-guessing the decision, the comment resonated with a fan base that wanted Garrett to go for it. Since quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott joined the organization in 2016, the Cowboys have converted on 18 of 19 fourth-and-1 situations, including one earlier in the Houston game.

Ten of Elliott’s 20 runs against the Texans went for no yards or loss yards, which played a factor in the decision. After the first quarter, Prescott threw for 111 yards and his receivers struggled making contested catches.

“I think the reasoning is the same. We’ve been aggressive going for it on fourth down. That’s been a good thing for us,” Garrett said. “But not every fourth-down situation is the same. I think we’re on the 42-yard line. It was a long 1. I was standing right there. So it was probably a hard and a half when we had it. We had a play that we liked. Unfortunately, they did a good job coming in and stuffing that. Actually we probably lost a little bit on the third-down play, so it got you to fourth and really kind of close to 2 … It just made sense to us, to me at that time, to go ahead and play field position.

On Monday, Garrett was asked if he still felt supported by Jones and offered a one-word answer: yes.



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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett punts on chance to be bold – Dallas Cowboys Blog


HOUSTON — Jason Garrett had a chance to make a statement about himself and his belief in the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense Sunday night.

Facing fourth-and-1 from the Houston Texans‘ 42 on the first possession of overtime, the Cowboys coach played it safe when the opportunity to be bold was staring at him in the face.

Garrett punted, trusting in a defense that held strong for most of the night.

The Cowboys never got the ball back and are now 2-3.

All they could do was watch hopelessly as Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 36-yard field goal gave the Texans a 19-16 win in front of the largest crowd to see a game at NRG Stadium, set up by a 49-yard catch and run by DeAndre Hopkins.

“We were being outplayed there, not out-efforted, but we were outplayed,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “But it’s time for risk at that particular time. That’s not second-guessing, but we were taking some risk, too, at certain points in the game.”

The differences between Jones and Garrett are stark.

Jones made his money as a risk-taker, drilling for oil in spots that many believed to be barren. Since owning the Cowboys, Jones has taken risks to great benefit (Charles Haley, Deion Sanders) and great loss (Joey Galloway, Roy Williams).

Garrett is more willing to play the percentages and is more averse to taking risk.

On Sunday, he had a chance to be bold and lead the Cowboys to a win in a game that never should have been that close.

A week earlier, the Texans were able to beat the Indianapolis Colts when their coach, Frank Reich, opted to go for it from his own 43 with 24 seconds left in overtime. Andrew Luck’s pass was incomplete, which set up Houston’s game-winning kick.

“I’ll just address it now: I’m not playing to tie,” Reich said after the game. “I’ll do that 10 times out of 10. That’s just the way it’s got to roll.”

A day later, Reich amended his “10 times out of 10,” saying it was not an absolute, but a sign of an aggressive mindset.

Garrett has been bold before.

In his lone playoff victory in 2014, he went for it on fourth-and-6 from the Detroit Lions‘ 42 with six minutes to play and down by three points. Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for a 21-yard gain and six plays later Romo hit Terrance Williams for the game-winning touchdown pass.

You don’t even have to go back to 2014 and the Lions. You can go back just one week ago against the Lions.

In the third quarter of the Week 4 win, Garrett elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 3. Elliott picked up 2 yards. He fumbled, but Blake Jarwin recovered the ball. On the next play, Prescott threw a touchdown pass to Geoff Swaim for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead.

Why did he go for it?

“Just to be aggressive and make it a two-score game and a tremendous belief in our offensive line and our runner against their defense in that situation,” Garrett said the day after the win over the Lions. “There’s a lot of talk about analytics and when you go for it, when you don’t go for it. Sometimes what’s missed from that equation is the fact that it’s a game played by grown men, and it starts with that. When you have a belief in the guys up front, and you can hand the ball to 21 and you feel good about that, that’s really where the decision-making process starts. And we certainly feel great about those guys. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go for it every time in those situations, but in that situation we felt like that was the right thing to do.”

Since Elliott joined the Cowboys, they’re 18-for-19 on fourth-and-1 or shorter.

If that’s how Garrett felt a week earlier, then clearly he did not feel the same confidence in the group against Houston.

“Yeah, it was a long 1,” Garrett said. “We had a third-and-2 (actually 1), and we didn’t make much on it and just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there. Chris [Jones] did a great job with the punt. They got the ball on the 10-yard line, and hopefully you make a stop and you win the game coming back the other way with a game-winning field goal.”

Quarterback Dak Prescott wanted to go for it, “but in that case you don’t question the coach’s decision on defense.” Elliott agreed with Garrett. “Obviously you would like a chance to go for it on fourth-and-1, but I don’t know if that was the best decision right there,” Elliott said.

The Texans had seven second-half possessions and had as many turnovers (two) as scores (two field goals), but then Hopkins broke free and the game changed, with the moment to be bold long gone.

“Any decision he makes, he makes, and we just got to hold it down and we didn’t,” defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said.,



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Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones questions Jason Garrett’s decision to punt in OT


Jason Garrett said he hoped to pin the Houston Texans deep in their own territory when he decided to punt on fourth-and-1 at the Houston Texans’ 42-yard line in overtime Sunday night. Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, however, thought his coach should have made another call.

“We were being outplayed. It’s time for risks at that particular time,” Jones told reporters after the Cowboys’ 19-16 overtime loss, adding he wasn’t “second-guessing” his coach.

The Texans started their eventual game-winning drive on their own 10-yard line after Chris Jones‘ punt. Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked the winning 36-yard field goal after Houston’s seven-play drive that was highlighted by DeAndre Hopkins‘ 49-yard reception in which he used two spin moves to avoid being tackled.

Garrett said the fourth-and-1 looked to be longer than 1 yard, and he cited the Cowboys’ failure to convert a short third-down play earlier in the game for his decision.

“You know, we had a third-and-2 and we didn’t make much on it and we just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there,” he told reporters.

Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the NFL in rushing, was held to 54 yards on 20 carries (2.7 yards per carry) Sunday night by the Texans’ defense and was stuffed for no gain on a third-and-1 play before Garrett made the call to punt. He said he hoped for a chance to convert the first down but wasn’t second-guessing his coach’s decision.

“I really don’t remember the field position we were in, but obviously, you would like a chance to go for it on fourth-and-1, but I don’t know if that was the best decision right there,” Elliott said.



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Jason Verrett of Los Angeles Chargers suffers Achilles injury


COSTA MESA, Calif. — Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett was diagnosed with a torn Achilles tendon on Friday.

Verrett was injured while running during a conditioning test Friday morning. The team said Verrett will undergo more testing on his Achilles on Saturday, but it is expected that he will miss the season.

The 27-year-old Verrett has dealt with the frustration of a left ACL injury suffered during a Week 3 contest in 2016 that never fully healed, requiring a second procedure in September of last year.

However, Verrett had worked without a brace this offseason and was fully cleared for the first time in nearly two years, with the hope of returning to Pro Bowl form in 2018.

Including the 2018 season, Verrett will have missed 55 of a possible 80 games in five seasons with the Chargers. He was a first-round pick out of TCU in 2014 and played in the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season.

Third-year pro Trevor Williams played well in place of Verrett last season and likely will be tasked with doing the same thing in 2018.

Verrett is in the final year of his rookie contract after the Chargers picked up his fifth-year option. He is scheduled to make $8.526 million in 2018.



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NFL 2018 retirements – Darrelle Revis, Jason Witten lead all-star squad


Editor’s note: This story has been updated after Darrelle Revis announced his retirement.

ESPN’s All-Retirement team is back for its third installment — a 23-man lineup of players who called it quits this offseason.

The squad is once again stocked with Hall of Fame pedigrees, All-Pros and Pro Bowlers, many of whom left the game with dignity intact. Fifteen of the 23 logged at least a decade despite a leaguewide push for younger and cheaper options through the draft.

There’s not a lot of depth on the defensive line and at wide receiver, but this roster could win some games in 2018.

Let’s get to it.


Quarterback: Carson Palmer

Palmer follows all-retirement alumni Peyton Manning and Tony Romo as accomplished signal-callers who battled injuries in their mid-30s. His 294 touchdowns and 46,247 passing yards over 14 seasons might not be enough for the Hall of Fame, but his moments of brilliance shouldn’t be overlooked — most notably, his air-it-out work late in his career with Bruce Arians in Arizona.

Running back: Matt Forte

A hybrid tailback/receiver before it was trendy, Forte announced his retirement after 10 seasons. From 2007-17, no offensive player compiled more yards from scrimmage than Forte’s 14,468, per NFL research. He never played fewer than 12 games in a season despite dealing with several injuries and fumbled 22 times over his career. A natural all-retirement star.

Running back: DeMarco Murray

Two-back sets with Murray and Forte will be fierce. Last week, the three-time Pro Bowler announced on ESPN that “it’s time for me to hang it up” after seven seasons. Murray was elite in 2014, slicing through defenses for 1,845 yards behind the Dallas Cowboys‘ offensive line.

Backup: Danny Woodhead. The former Chadron State star fought through an early-career knee injury to become a go-to target for Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.

Offensive tackle: Joe Thomas

Scientists made the perfect left tackle in a football laboratory and Joe Thomas came out. His quick feet, textbook hand usage and the durability to never miss a snap for 11 seasons make him a Hall of Fame lock and a bright spot in a dim Cleveland Browns era.

Guard: Richie Incognito

A bizarre career marred by a bullying scandal in Miami turned positive in Buffalo, where Incognito made Pro Bowls from 2015-17. The mauling guard played 12 seasons and beats out Joe Berger for one of the two guard spots. Incognito reportedly retired over liver and kidney issues.

Backup: Joe Berger. He overcame journeyman status as a reliable starter in Minnesota.

Center: Nick Mangold

One of the best centers of his generation started 164 games, made two All-Pro teams and helped keep the New York Jets‘ offensive line respectable through some lean years. Mangold was out of football for a year before announcing his retirement this offseason.

Guard: Eric Wood

Wood played most of his career at center but slides to guard because of Mangold’s presence. The long-productive Bill was forced into retirement because of a severe neck injury discovered in his season-ending physical. That doesn’t discount a football pedigree that includes 120 starts and one Pro Bowl.

Offensive tackle: Zach Strief

Strief and Orlando Franklin battled for starting honors here, but Strief’s career spanned five more years, he was routinely a Pro Football Focus favorite and a steady presence during the New Orleans Saints‘ uneven years. Drew Brees loved the guy.

Backup: Orlando Franklin. He played seven seasons and made it to one Super Bowl.

Tight end: Jason Witten

The all-retirement team is short on playmakers, but Witten provides a much-needed boost. After 15 years as a fixture in Dallas, Witten is the third- or fourth-best tight end of his generation behind Tony Gonzalez, Rob Gronkowski and possibly Antonio Gates. Witten started every game since 2007 and never caught fewer than 63 passes since winning the Cowboys’ full-time job in 2004.

Wide receiver: Vincent Jackson

Jackson hadn’t played since October 2016 because of a knee injury before quietly retiring this offseason. After 12 NFL seasons and 57 touchdowns, Jackson will always be known for his big-play ability. He and DeSean Jackson (no relation) were the only two players whose careers began in the 2000s to catch at least 500 passes and average at least 16 yards per catch.

Wide receiver: Rodney Adams

Adams will have to make his first NFL catch on the all-retirement team. Yeah, we’re a bit short here. The Minnesota Vikings waived their 2017 fifth-round pick last October and placed him on the practice squad. This offseason, he signed a futures contract with the Indianapolis Colts before announcing his surprising retirement in April.

Defensive end: Dwight Freeney

Somewhere, Freeney is still spinning into a backfield near you. Freeney is tied with Terrell Suggs for 17th on the all-time sacks list with 125.5. Perhaps most impressive is his late-30s productivity as a specialist. From 2015-17, he totaled 14 sacks on limited snaps with the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.

Defensive end: Da’Quan Bowers

Bowers officially announced his retirement this offseason despite not having played in the NFL since 2015. The 2011 second-round pick last played in the Canadian Football League but finished with 69 tackles and seven sacks in his NFL career. Bowers gets the nod over undrafted free agent Lowell Lotulelei for a defensive-line spot.

Linebacker: Paul Posluszny

The 11-year veteran was so respected in Jacksonville’s locker room that teammate Telvin Smith cried at Posluszny’s retirement news conference. Posluszny put together a complete career, with 881 tackles, 16 sacks and 15 interceptions, helping the Jaguars out of a losing albatross in 2017.

Linebacker: James Harrison

The NFL’s strongest man nearly stretched his career to 40, but ended it after last season’s Super Bowl push with the New England Patriots. A messy divorce with the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn’t discount his work in the black and gold as the franchise sacks leader. Plus, his wondrous workout videos on Instagram are still readily available for all to see.

Linebacker: Jerrell Freeman

Freeman played six NFL seasons before announcing his retirement in May to focus on “health and family.” After three years in the CFL, the Colts gave him a chance and he responded with 145 tackles in 2012. Drug suspensions tainted his stint with the Chicago Bears.

Linebacker: David Harris

Nicknamed “The Hitman,” Harris did a little of everything before ending his 11-year NFL run this offseason. He came swiftly off the edge or up the middle for 36.5 career sacks, logged an exhausting 1,109 tackles and was a locker room leader for the New York Jets.

Cornerback: Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie never became the game’s best cornerback, but he lived up to his first-round billing over 11 seasons. It’s hard to argue with 31 interceptions and 116 pass deflections. Life beyond the game has included a reality show tackling his life as a father of 14.

Safety: Kam Chancellor

One of the game’s great hitters is stepping away after nine seasons because of a neck injury. Chancellor was a throwback, tone-setting defensive back. He could change the game with an open-field hit, stop the run and direct traffic for cornerbacks. The fifth-round pick is a Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler.

Safety: James Ihedigbo

Ihedigbo was a part-time starter over six NFL seasons but broke out in 2014 with four interceptions and three forced fumbles with the Detroit Lions. He’s now making plays in the American Flag Football League.

Safety: Michael Griffin

Griffin signed a one-day contract in May to retire with the Tennessee Titans, who drafted him 19th overall in 2007. He rewarded that faith with two Pro Bowls and a second-team All-Pro selection in 2010. His career fizzled after a short stint with the Carolina Panthers in 2016.

Cornerback: DeAngelo Hall

Hall said in May that he was “done” with football. Then the Redskins issued a tweet that he hadn’t officially retired, though several injuries over the years will most likely force him to. The 34-year-old made three Pro Bowls and is the last NFL player to record four interceptions in a single game.

Cornerback: Darrelle Revis

Revis near-flawless work at cornerback will earn him a gold jacket soon enough. The four-time All-Pro announced his retirement Wednesday. He leaves the game as a Super Bowl champion, a seven-time Pro Bowler and the owner of one of the NFL’s best nicknames, Revis Island. He will be remembered as much for his business savvy, parlaying his greatness into several lucrative contracts with the New York Jets.





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NFL 2018 retirements – Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray lead all-star squad


ESPN’s All-Retirement team is back for its third installment — an entire 22-man lineup of players who called it quits this offseason.

The squad is once again stocked with Hall of Fame pedigrees, All-Pros and Pro Bowlers, many of whom left the game with dignity intact. Fourteen of the 22 logged at least a decade despite a leaguewide push for younger and cheaper options through the draft.

There’s not a lot of depth on the defensive line and at wide receiver, but this roster could win some games in 2018.

Let’s get to it.


Quarterback: Carson Palmer

Palmer follows all-retirement alumni Peyton Manning and Tony Romo as accomplished signal-callers who battled injuries in their mid-30s. His 294 touchdowns and 46,247 passing yards over 14 seasons might not be enough for the Hall of Fame, but his moments of brilliance shouldn’t be overlooked — most notably, his air-it-out work late in his career with Bruce Arians in Arizona.

Running back: Matt Forte

A hybrid tailback/receiver before it was trendy, Forte announced his retirement after 10 seasons. From 2007-17, no offensive player compiled more yards from scrimmage than Forte’s 14,468, per NFL research. He never played fewer than 12 games in a season despite dealing with several injuries and fumbled 22 times over his career. A natural all-retirement star.

Running back: DeMarco Murray

Two-back sets with Murray and Forte will be fierce. Last week, the three-time Pro Bowler announced on ESPN that “it’s time for me to hang it up” after seven seasons. Murray was elite in 2014, slicing through defenses for 1,845 yards behind the Dallas Cowboys‘ offensive line.

Backup: Danny Woodhead. The former Chadron State star fought through an early-career knee injury to become a go-to target for Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.

Offensive tackle: Joe Thomas

Scientists made the perfect left tackle in a football laboratory and Joe Thomas came out. His quick feet, textbook hand usage and the durability to never miss a snap for 11 seasons make him a Hall of Fame lock and a bright spot in a dim Cleveland Browns era.

Guard: Richie Incognito

A bizarre career marred by a bullying scandal in Miami turned positive in Buffalo, where Incognito made Pro Bowls from 2015-17. The mauling guard played 12 seasons and beats out Joe Berger for one of the two guard spots. Incognito reportedly retired over liver and kidney issues.

Backup: Joe Berger. He overcame journeyman status as a reliable starter in Minnesota.

Center: Nick Mangold

One of the best centers of his generation started 164 games, made two All-Pro teams and helped keep the New York Jets‘ offensive line respectable through some lean years. Mangold was out of football for a year before announcing his retirement this offseason.

Guard: Eric Wood

Wood played most of his career at center but slides to guard because of Mangold’s presence. The long-productive Bill was forced into retirement because of a severe neck injury discovered in his season-ending physical. That doesn’t discount a football pedigree that includes 120 starts and one Pro Bowl.

Offensive tackle: Zach Strief

Strief and Orlando Franklin battled for starting honors here, but Strief’s career spanned five more years, he was routinely a Pro Football Focus favorite and a steady presence during the New Orleans Saints‘ uneven years. Drew Brees loved the guy.

Backup: Orlando Franklin. He played seven seasons and made it to one Super Bowl.

Tight end: Jason Witten

The all-retirement team is short on playmakers, but Witten provides a much-needed boost. After 15 years as a fixture in Dallas, Witten is the third- or fourth-best tight end of his generation behind Tony Gonzalez, Rob Gronkowski and possibly Antonio Gates. Witten started every game since 2007 and never caught fewer than 63 passes since winning the Cowboys’ full-time job in 2004.

Wide receiver: Vincent Jackson

Jackson hadn’t played since October 2016 because of a knee injury before quietly retiring this offseason. After 12 NFL seasons and 57 touchdowns, Jackson will always be known for his big-play ability. He and DeSean Jackson (no relation) were the only two players whose careers began in the 2000s to catch at least 500 passes and average at least 16 yards per catch.

Wide receiver: Rodney Adams

Adams will have to make his first NFL catch on the all-retirement team. Yeah, we’re a bit short here. The Minnesota Vikings waived their 2017 fifth-round pick last October and placed him on the practice squad. This offseason, he signed a futures contract with the Indianapolis Colts before announcing his surprising retirement in April.

Defensive end: Dwight Freeney

Somewhere, Freeney is still spinning into a backfield near you. Freeney is tied with Terrell Suggs for 17th on the all-time sacks list with 125.5. Perhaps most impressive is his late-30s productivity as a specialist. From 2015-17, he totaled 14 sacks on limited snaps with the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.

Defensive end: Da’Quan Bowers

Bowers officially announced his retirement this offseason despite not having played in the NFL since 2015. The 2011 second-round pick last played in the Canadian Football League but finished with 69 tackles and seven sacks in his NFL career. Bowers gets the nod over undrafted free agent Lowell Lotulelei for a defensive-line spot.

Linebacker: Paul Posluszny

The 11-year veteran was so respected in Jacksonville’s locker room that teammate Telvin Smith cried at Posluszny’s retirement news conference. Posluszny put together a complete career, with 881 tackles, 16 sacks and 15 interceptions, helping the Jaguars out of a losing albatross in 2017.

Linebacker: James Harrison

The NFL’s strongest man nearly stretched his career to 40, but ended it after last season’s Super Bowl push with the New England Patriots. A messy divorce with the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn’t discount his work in the black and gold as the franchise sacks leader. Plus, his wondrous workout videos on Instagram are still readily available for all to see.

Linebacker: Jerrell Freeman

Freeman played six NFL seasons before announcing his retirement in May to focus on “health and family.” After three years in the CFL, the Colts gave him a chance and he responded with 145 tackles in 2012. Drug suspensions tainted his stint with the Chicago Bears.

Linebacker: David Harris

Nicknamed “The Hitman,” Harris did a little of everything before ending his 11-year NFL run this offseason. He came swiftly off the edge or up the middle for 36.5 career sacks, logged an exhausting 1,109 tackles and was a locker room leader for the New York Jets.

Cornerback: Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie never became the game’s best cornerback, but he lived up to his first-round billing over 11 seasons. It’s hard to argue with 31 interceptions and 116 pass deflections. Life beyond the game has included a reality show tackling his life as a father of 14.

Safety: Kam Chancellor

One of the game’s great hitters is stepping away after nine seasons because of a neck injury. Chancellor was a throwback, tone-setting defensive back. He could change the game with an open-field hit, stop the run and direct traffic for cornerbacks. The fifth-round pick is a Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler.

Safety: James Ihedigbo

Ihedigbo was a part-time starter over six NFL seasons but broke out in 2014 with four interceptions and three forced fumbles with the Detroit Lions. He’s now making plays in the American Flag Football League.

Safety: Michael Griffin

Griffin signed a one-day contract in May to retire with the Tennessee Titans, who drafted him 19th overall in 2007. He rewarded that faith with two Pro Bowls and a second-team All-Pro selection in 2010. His career fizzled after a short stint with the Carolina Panthers in 2016.

Cornerback: DeAngelo Hall

Hall said in May that he was “done” with football. Then the Redskins issued a tweet that he hadn’t officially retired, though several injuries over the years will most likely force him to. The 34-year-old made three Pro Bowls and is the last NFL player to record four interceptions in a single game.





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Terrell Owens questions how Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett still has a job


The Dallas Cowboys have reached the playoffs just twice since Jason Garrett took over midway through the 2010 season, and Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens is baffled how the head coach continues to keep his job.

“When you really look at it, it doesn’t make sense for Jason Garrett to continue to have his job,” Owens told 105.3 The Fan on Wednesday. “[The Cowboys are] not really expanding or progressing even as a team under his coaching tenure there.”

Garrett has a 68-55 record since taking over on an interim basis in 2010, and he is the second-longest-tenured coach and second-winningest coach in franchise history after Tom Landry.

He signed a five-year deal after directing the Cowboys to a 12-4 record in 2014.

After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention during the 2017 season, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he understood the frustration, but “I feel good about our head coach.”

Owens, however, believes the team’s lackluster performances under Garrett comes at the result of his players taking the blame.

“At the end at the day, how can you keep allowing the players to be the scapegoat for what’s not happening, especially when you have a head coach that’s supposed to be offensive-minded?” Owens said. “They’re supposed to direct and lead the team to where it hasn’t gotten in a number of years, and they’ve pretty much been in a standstill under coach Jason Garrett.

“… It all boils down to players being the scapegoat for his inability to lead the team as he should. For me it’s mind-boggling. I don’t understand. And I think Jerry [Jones] — again he’s the owner at the end of the day, he has to feel good with himself about the decisions — but I just don’t understand why this guy [Garrett] still has a job.”

Owens played three seasons with the Cowboys from 2006 to 2008, when Garrett was the Cowboys’ assistant head coach and offensive coordinator under Bill Parcells. Overall, T.O. played 16 NFL seasons, and he ranks second all-time with 15,934 receiving yards, third with 153 receiving touchdowns and eighth with 1,078 receptions.

After being inducted in his third year on the ballot, Owens will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

When asked to compare Garrett to Andy Reid, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles during Owens’ two seasons there in 2004 and 2005, T.O. said there was no comparison.

“That’s a slam dunk,” Owens said. “Andy Reid is by far the best coach that I’ve had. And I say that because he realized the talent that I had and he utilized me to the best of my abilities.

“… I knew what I provided. I knew my skill set, and Andy Reid utilized me to the best of my ability. I was playing lights out when I played for Philadelphia. If I would have continued to play there, there’s no telling what my statistics would have been at the end of my career.”

ESPN’s Todd Archer contributed to this report.



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Jason Witten’s presence remains as Cowboys look for new TE – Dallas Cowboys Blog


FRISCO, Texas — Jason Witten’s name remains above the locker he occupied since the Dallas Cowboys moved into The Star in 2016. The stars representing his 11 Pro Bowls serve as a reminder of a career that should land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His retirement is not yet two weeks old, and teammates half expect to see him at workouts because he had been such a presence at the offseason program for his 15 years.

Coach Jason Garrett isn’t sure how long Witten’s locker will remain, but maybe there is a hidden message to it’s not being taken down.

“The guy who sat in that locker and the locker over at Valley Ranch made a big impact in this organization and this league for a long, long time,” Garrett said. “I believe his impact will be long-lasting around here. We talked about the standard he established as a player and as a person, and we’re going to try to uphold those standards that he set for 15 years in his Hall of Fame career. We wish him nothing but the best.”

The Cowboys have to carry on without Witten. Replacing him will be more difficult than replacing Dez Bryant, the franchise leader in touchdown catches. The Cowboys added veteran free-agent Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson to a group that had Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley coming back. They also took Michael Gallup in the third round.

At tight end, only Geoff Swaim has caught a pass in a regular-season game among the tight ends on the roster, and he has just nine receptions. Blake Jarwin was active for one game as a rookie in 2017. Rico Gathers has not been on the active roster in his two years. The Cowboys drafted Dalton Schultz in the fourth round.

Now ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” analyst, Witten was asked to assess what remains in his wake.

“Those guys will be OK,” Witten said. “Sitting in those meetings with them and going through this the last few years, they know what it takes to play that position, and I hope that I’ve shown them that.

“But they can’t put the pressure on themselves. They just need to go play and feel confident in their system. Scott Linehan has had success with tight ends, so they’ll figure out their roles and what they want to do, and really more than anything, they’ve got to get comfortable in this Dak-friendly offense that they’re building in Dallas.”

While Swaim has the most experience and Gathers is the most intriguing considering his days as a power forward at Baylor and a couple of impressive catches in the preseason, Jarwin might have the most upside.

Had the Cowboys not called him up to the active roster from the practice squad halfway through last season, he might have a Super Bowl ring in his possession. The Philadelphia Eagles wanted to sign Jarwin, but he opted to remain with the Cowboys.

He came to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State with a reputation as a pass-catcher more than a blocker.

“There’s a lot to like about him,” Garrett said. “He’s a big guy [6-5, 260]. He’s got good length. He’s a very good athlete. He runs down the field really well. He can make plays in the passing game at the short, medium and down the field. We saw that right from the start.

“The thing where he’s really gotten better is as a blocker. We haven’t seen him in a game-type situation, but he works very hard at that part of his game. I do think he’s gotten stronger in the last year, so I think that will help him in the physical part of the game. He’s a developing player, but there’s a lot of good traits there.”

One of the reasons why Jarwin chose to sign with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent was to have the opportunity to learn from Witten.

“Just how to be a true competitor and be a master at your own craft,” Jarwin said. “Never seen a guy beat him to the locker room in the morning and never seen a guy leave later than him after a game. To see that as a young player, as a rookie, that was really special for me growing in the future.”

The Cowboys are not in a hurry to add a veteran to the tight end mix. They want to see what they have in Swaim, Jarwin, Gathers and Schultz. Perhaps later this summer they will add another tight end.

Witten played so well and so much for so long that the Cowboys never really had to develop a tight end for the future. That changes now.

“This gives a lot of young guys an opportunity,” Garrett said. “And in a lot of ways that’s going to help them grow that much more quickly. They’re not standing there, watching, learning that way. They’re in there. They’re in the fire. I think that will help them that way.”



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