Dak Prescott: I like what we have

When the Cowboys’ locker room opened to the media earlier this week, it was Jourdan Lewis, not Orlando Scandrick, and Dak Prescott, not Jason Witten, who were leading conversations.

The names have changed but leaders remain, Prescott insists.

There’s definitely still some big voices in that locker room, Prescott said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. There’s definitely a lot of energy in that locker room. That’s part of being a young team. It’s different, but it’s not bad. It’s actually great.

The team would be sold only if the trust comes to the determination that Bowlen’s kids will never be prepared to lead the franchise, and any such determination is still a ways off. Now, if there is one Bowlen child who’s shown promise, it’s probably 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen, a Notre Dame grad and Duke MBA. As for how the ownership situation has affected the team, the truth is, it really hasn’t much. The Broncos renewed a league-high 98 percent of their season tickets for 2018 coming off a 5-11 season, and they won a Super Bowl a couple years back under this arrangement.

Via JoeBucsFan.com, all pending criminal charges against Ward have been dropped.

Ward had faced an allegation of felony marijuana possession and misdemeanor paraphernalia possession. There also was at one point an allegation that Ward had failed to show up in court in connection with the marijuana charge, but Ward’s lawyer insists that the allegation was false. Stephen Romine, who represents Ward, tells PFT that Ward never failed to appear for anything, and that law-enforcement officials erroneously and inexplicably alleged that Ward had failed to appear in court in October, when in fact the original charges were never filed until late December.

Ward signed with the Buccaneers after being cut by the Broncos shortly before the start of the regular season. He presumably will not face NFL discipline as a result of the incident.

The 31-year-old defensive back played an integral role in the Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50. He spent four years with the Browns before spending three years with the Broncos.

Last season, Ward appeared in 12 games, with four starts.

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Kaepernick’s lawyer hints someone is ready to dime out the NFL

The attorney for former 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid is hinting that a witness in their collusion case can come forward with concrete evidence of a conspiracy to keep them out of the league for kneeling during the national anthem.

This depends on Iguodala’s availability. The Warriors could keep starting Kevon Looney. But if Iguodala plays — again, Game 2 at the earliest — Green anchors a small lineup. He leads the Warriors in postseason rebounds, steals, assists and blocks, impacting the game in so many ways, including emotionally. Green will spend a lot of time on LeBron — if not Green, then Durant, if not Durant then Iguodala, if not Iguodala then Thompson. They have great defenders everywhere. Thompson has played well since re-emerging. He’s a stud offensive rebounder and provides rim protection.

Kyle Korver leads Cleveland’s sub pack. Obviously, a terrific threat from 3, he’s underrated defensively, one of the better team defenders around, not great one-on-one. Jeff Green, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. are making initial Finals trips. When Nance and Thompson play together, the Cavs have good energy and shot-blocking. The Warriors bench is basically hold the fort for the starters.

Start off with home court. If it goes seven games, the Warriors are home — as defending champs — while the Cavs need to win a third straight series without that home court. Yes, LeBron has been superb, but getting misty over him playing 48 minutes against Boston needs to be tempered with a reminder: Wilt Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes one season, playing six overtime games.

Greene was previously the team’s president of business operations, but those duties were taken over when Brian Lefemina was hired from the league office two weeks ago. As recently as this morning, Greene was listed on the team website as president of hospitality.

The resignation came just before a new story in the New York Times which listed new details about Greene’s involvement in a trip to Costa Rica in which cheerleaders said they felt like escorts. The team had promised they were immediately looking into the allegations.

Herndon recently signed his rookie contract, which is for four years and worth about $3.1 million.

Peele said the accident remains under investigation.

The victim of the most gruesome NFL injury last season may never play again, but will now continue his rehab with a contract in hand.

The Bears re-signed Zach Miller to a one-year deal Monday, just seven months after the tight end nearly lost his leg in the aftermath of a brutal play in the end zone during a game against the Saints in October.

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Colin Kaepernick deserves endorsement even if he’s not in the NFL

Colin Kaepernick deserves endorsement even if he’s not in the NFL More SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell spoke to his sources within Seattle’s organization and uncovers a different story of how their issues with Kaepernick unfolded. You can forgive the Adidas executive who on Friday said the company would be interested in signing a deal with Colin Kaepernick, apparently unaware Kaepernick has an existing deal with Nike. The forgiveness ends there. Inexplicably, Nike did not bother to clear up the situation until late Wednesday afternoon.

But, as Heath alluded to, it served as a reminder of the business side of the sport. That’s a part of life. Nothing lasts forever, Jones said. He was an incredibly dominant receiver here and I was lucky to see it and be a part of his dominance while he was here. Jones said his level of play went to another level because of Bryant and he will miss their one-on-one battles in practice.

But what about the rest? Who are the other top options for teams in need of a quarterback?

Earlier on, teams will have to decide between Kyle Lauletta, who soared after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, and Luke Falk, the large-bodied passer out of Washington State with a deep arm. In the mid- to late rounds, Nic Shimonek has potential, and some team is likely to buy low on J.T. Barrett’s athleticism.

Let’s meet the sleepers at the most important position in football.

Kyle Lauletta entered Senior Bowl week as an intriguing FCS prospect with questions to answer. The most significant one was common for quarterbacks from lower-tier schools: Can he look comfortable against a higher-caliber defense, particularly alongside other passers who have received far more hype?

The answer came quickly, as Lauletta impressed in practice throughout the week and then ripped up the game itself. He threw three second-half touchdown passes and finished the Senior Bowl with 198 yards through the air, which immediately vaulted him into Day 2 consideration.

Lauletta is the ideal target for a team with a fine short-term solution at quarterback and other priorities in the first round. The New England Patriots are one such example, as Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier noted earlier this month.

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Larry Fitzgerald recruiting Kirk Cousins to Arizona

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t have much time left in his NFL career, and what time he has he wants to spend catching passes from a good quarterback. And so Fitzgerald is recruiting Kirk Cousins to Arizona.

Cousins posted on Instagram a picture of himself and Fitzgerald, with a message that Fitzgerald has been recruiting him.

Wynn converted from left guard to left tackle as a senior and excelled. At 6’3 and 313 pounds, he’s a natural fit along the interior. The versatile blocker plays with exceptional balance and almost always manages good run fits and square pass sets. He is quite difficult to beat because he’s a patient blocker…until he needs to bury an opponent. He’s also athletic enough to excel in the Seahawks’ zone blocking-heavy scheme.

A consistent and well-coached offensive lineman is exactly what Seattle needs after it’s relied on multiple projects during the last few seasons.

The incoming wide receiver class is underwhelming. Only one or two prospects are even considered first-round prospects. That doesn’t matter as long as a franchise selects the right prospect.

But that has been hard to do recently, with an awful three-year stretch of first-round draftees: Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller V, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Seahawks have told the veteran cornerback he would be released today, setting him into the market before the start of the league year next Wednesday.

Even though he’s coming off a torn Achilles and a cleanup surgery to the other one, Sherman should be sought-after commodity, particularly for teams close to contention.

And while the Seahawks defense had already begun to fade, seeing so many big names discarded still pulls a startling curtain on what was one of the league’s top defenses.

Patterson is an interesting guy. He has elite speed and playmaking ability as a kickoff returner. He can scare people on some catch-and-runs or jet sweeps, but really isn’t a consistent weapon for an offense. He has an eye-opening statistic in that he’s averaged more yards per rush in his career (10.3 avg.) than on receptions (10.0 avg.). Now, he’s obviously had about four-times as many catches and rushes, including 30-plus in four of five seasons, but the reality is that he’s just not a consistent, reliable option on offense. So, his first role in his new home with the Patriots will likely be returning and covering kicks.

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No. 25 Miami holds off NC State 86-81 for ACC road win

We’re a great catch-and-shoot team, Brown said. And we have recently shot a lot of 3s off the dribble or late in the shot clock. But today it was just easy for us: drive, kick, open 3s, one more pass. It was just all in rhythm.

The guy is a winner, he’s been a winner, he’s going to win, D’Antoni said.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 26 points, Draymond Green had 21 and Curry added 19 on a night he went 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts and 6 of 20 overall. It was just the sixth time in his career that he’d attempted 20 or more shots while making six or fewer.

It was just one of those nights where I personally didn’t have the right vision on the floor, he said. So I’ve got to take that responsibility for that one. It was pretty bad.

Clemons, the Big South’s leading scorer, made three triples and reached 20 points for the 50th time while extending his nation-best streak of double-figure games to 68. Marcus Burk added 14 points and Shane Whitfield eight rebounds and eight points for the Fighting Camels (11-9, 5-3), who have won five of their last six.

Randy Phillips scored 10 points to lead the Highlanders (13-8, 6-2), who had won eight of their previous nine games. Ed Polite had nine points, eight rebounds and four steals. Jones had nine points with six assists.

Radford had the game’s largest lead in the first half of eight. They led 35-33 at halftime.

I wouldn’t want to be the guy who’s late tomorrow, special teams captain Matthew Slater said Wednesday, via the Boston Herald. But look, I don’t think we’re going to have an issue. Guys understand we need to be here. The expectation is what it is. We live in New England. There’s going to be weather. Give yourself some extra time; as simple as that.

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We should note that Austin Rivers was playing quite well before injury claimed him, too.

Left tackle Tyron Smith had to miss almost another whole game Sunday against Seattle, and although it didn’t quite turn into the Atlanta game with Adrian Clayborn operating his own turnstile, the Cowboys missed Smith greatly against the Seahawks’ swarming edge rush.

Smith, banged up for much of the season, wasn’t his same, elite self when playing. At right tackle, La’el Collins wasn’t an adequate replacement for retired stalwart Doug Free. Left guard had a shaky final answer in retreat Jonathan Cooper. A team that was used to having five studs up front was down to two, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin.

But perhaps the biggest reason for L.A.’s timely turnaround has been Lou Williams, who is scoring like crazy (including 33 on Tuesday in a win over Memphis and 40 the other night against Charlotte) and proving to be one of the best cheap pickups of the summer. Williams is the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week. He’s only making $7 million this year.

Jameis Winston is coming off his best game of the season, but on a short week, it looks like he’ll be short a few weapons. Cam Newton is locked and loaded with his array of wonderful toys, led by Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers should also be able to run all over Tampa Bay’s depleted front.

He’ll move around and gun-sling to make a few big plays, but overall, San Francisco’s offense will be contained by Jacksonville’s superb pass rush and secondary. Blake Bortles will keep rolling on the other side, even on a long road trip.

The Steelers won’t have Antonio Brown, but they’ll have plenty of frustrations from the Patriots game to take out on the Texans. Martavis Bryant, Le’Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster are enough weapons to drive Houston’s awful run defense batty. The Texans have DeAndre Hopkins, but pretty much nothing else is working.

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Brown is on the cusp of becoming the first player to ever register 100-plus catches in five consecutive seasons.

He already holds the record for most overall catches and receiving yards in any five-year span and will continue adding to that total through the 2017 campaign.

If the Steelers play him extensively down the stretch, Brown has an outside chance of becoming the first receiver to ever record a 2,000-yard season. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson has come closest with 1,964 yards in 2012.

LaVar essentially ran former Chino Hills High School head coach Stephan Gilling out of town with constant nagging and criticism about how he was running the team and coaching the Ball brothers. Once their feud became public, Chino Hills dropped Gilling as their coach.

He also pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills partially because LaVar asked new coach Dennis Latimore to add four new players to their roster to play with his son and Latimore refused to do so.

Clearly, LaVar is a father who wants to have input on how his sons are coached, who they play with, and what they do on the court.

Turnover Patriots. The Steelers bring pressure on a third-and-2 play. Brady stays in the pocket and attempts to loft a pass to James White. But his throw is picked off by Steelers linebacker Vince Williams, who returns it to the Patriots’ 22.

The Steelers advance near midfield but are forced to punt after Roethlisberger fails to connect with Le’Veon Bell on a third-down pass. The Patriots will take over at their 11.

Touchdown, Patriots. Brady finds Brandin Cooks in the end zone for a 4-yard score three plays after New England’s fourth down conversion. But Stephen Gostkowski misses the extra point and the Patriots trail 17-16.

If there’s a problem with Ayton at Arizona, it might be that he loves his face-up game too much. No one can stop him inside at the college level, so it’s hard to blame Sean Miller if he would prefer him to live in the paint.

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He last tweeted in April and he hasn’t posted on Instagram since May

His older brother, Averion Jr., was the more outspoken one in the family, constantly butting heads with their father, who coached them both at Channelview. Hurts was more reserved. He listened closely and soaked up his surroundings without the slightest hint of reaction.

Coach Saban will be telling me something and he’ll be like, ‘I know you think I’m crazy,’ Hurts said. I’m like, ‘No, Coach, I don’t think you’re crazy. Remember, my dad was my coach and that’s a whole different ballgame.’

I mean, what the hell are you supposed to say as a player here? It sounds like whoever our culprit is told Ewing he does indeed practice that shot. That was his second mistake. The first was taking that shot in the first place.

I bet you whoever he was won’t be taking that shot anymore. He might be riding the bench.

Once the eyewitnesses die, a lot of weird stuff gets remembered, and a lot of stuff that seemed important at the time gets forgotten. I got to wondering what history will remember about 2017 — what a late-21st century kid raised on baseball trivia books, This Date In History radio segments and her granddad’s memories will know about this past season. To answer that requires first figuring out what gets remembered and why.

So, with the help of a few smart baseball friends, I charted 114 years of baseball by the single most memorable fact of each season — the one thing a fairly serious baseball fan has probably heard of from that year.

Houston beat Orlando without James Harden, who missed his first game since his hamstring injury on New Year’s Eve and is expected to miss several more. A contributing factor? Newly signed Gerald Green playing in just his fourth game with the team.

Green led Houston in scoring with 27 points on 7-of-10 shooting from deep, and the 31-year-old is looking like a perfect fit in the shooter-friendly Mike D’Antoni system. That should be obviously, right? Seriously, a union between these two — Green and D’Antoni — is long overdue.

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