Does Dallas really have a chance with Dak Prescott? Some answers…

Cowboys fans with even the shortest memories probably expected Tony Romo to get injured at some point during this 2016 season. They just weren’t expecting him to get hurt before September. For the second time in three years, Romo has broken bones in his back, and while he was able to play through the transverse fractures in his back in 2014, he won’t be able to play through the compressed vertebrae he suffered against the Seahawks. Early reports suggest Romo will be out for a minimum of six games, leaving the Cowboys in a vulnerable state heading into the regular season.

Chicago Bears: The coaching staff likes wide receiver Daniel Braverman, a rookie seventh-round pick, and he could make the opening day roster.

Cincinnati Bengals: Rookie Andrew Billings will likely be placed on IR to begin the season, while Brandon Thompson will likely start the season on PUP. That frees up some spots along the defensive line.

Cleveland Browns: It’s just not possible to see former top-10 pick Justin Gilbert on the Browns’ roster. They forced him on the field over and over, and he was, at best, inconsistent.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys’ quarterback situation was thrown into disarray because of Tony Romo’s injury. Rookie Dak Prescott will start, but Dallas will add a veteran to back up Prescott at some point.

Denver Broncos: Trevor Siemian appears to have won the starting quarterback job, and Mark Sanchez could be cut. Another likely cut? Running back Ronnie Hillman.

How common is this injury? According to Dr. Robert Watkins Jr., orthopedic spine surgeon and co-director of the Marina Spine Center in Marina del Rey, California, it is relatively infrequent among professional athletes.

“Compression fractures are common in the elderly with weak bones but are pretty rare in young athletes,” said Watkins, who treats numerous athletes of all levels.

So what’s next for Romo? The primary focus for the early phase of recovery is minimizing discomfort.

Fractures are painful, and any movement can further aggravate that pain. While broken bones in the extremities can be casted to prevent movement while they heal, it’s not possible to externally immobilize a specific vertebral segment. Sometimes a back brace or corset is issued, as is the case with Romo, to help control spinal motion that might provoke pain. It cannot entirely restrict movement.

Ultimately, pain is the guide when it comes to an athlete progressing his activity; as the pain decreases, the athlete is encouraged to do more in the way of natural movement and physical exertion. Flexion and compression — the loading forces that contributed to the original injury — are minimized in the early stages to avoid aggravating the condition. As the athlete’s pain resolves and his conditioning improves, he can gradually return. The final phase is being cleared for contact, which depends on the healing progression and minimal risk of further injury.

Thrown in, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott responds under fire

SEATTLE — Dak Prescott knew he was starting the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams. He knew he would replace Tony Romo after a few plays in the second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.

He was able to overcome a first-and-20 situation by wisely checking the ball underneath to set up the 40-yarder by Bailey that tied the score at 10-10 at the end of the half.

The Browns’ approach to building a team has become clear over time. Stockpile picks. Take as many good players as possible who also demonstrated high character and let them grow together. Bypass the big-money signings until the team is at a point where spending that money makes a difference. Let the team develop on the field under Hue Jackson. Hopefully, eliminate the negatives and grow a winning culture. That’s the idea.

Already, the Browns have stockpiled 10 picks, five in the first three rounds. They also will receive compensatory picks for the free-agent losses of offensive tackle Mitch Schwartz, center Alex Mack and safety Tashaun Gipson.

Those all happened on the first day of free agency, and at the time there was much uproar. Paul DePodesta talked of just getting through that day, not getting emotional and sticking to the plan.

Clearly the plan was to gain compensatory picks for these free-agent losses. And the Browns will gain them. In the last draft, the Browns were given compensatory picks in the fourth (one) and fifth rounds (two). Four teams were given picks in the third round. Baltimore is a team that has made the most of compensatory picks.

Each pick matters. Each pick is a chip to move up or down to acquire the players the Browns want. If the team scouts and drafts wisely, each pick is far more valuable than just a single player.

In 2016, the Browns maneuvered to the point that four traded picks turned into nine players and three extra future picks in the first or second round.

After the game, Siemian was composed and said of the interception: “I just can’t turn the ball over, I made a bad decision. I want that one back. That one bad play, unfortunately you can’t have one bad play.”

As he did following the game, Kubiak reaffirmed Monday that while Siemian has to protect the ball better, Kubiak said of his play call, “Hell, man, that wasn’t a very good call.”

Sanchez was 10-of-17 for 120 yards with two lost fumbles — both in a four-play span just before halftime. Sanchez was emotional after the game, saying that he had “squandered” the opportunity to win the starting job.

“Going into my eighth year I know better, I know I’ve got to get the ball out,” Sanchez said after the game. “I know I can play this game and I know I’m better than I showed. Two really bad plays that took away from a great performance and potentially winning a job, so that’s really too bad.”

Given that the Broncos open the regular season on a Thursday night, at least three days before the other games, Kubiak said he wants to name the regular-season starter next week.

Marshawn Lynch takes some reps as Cal readies for opener abroad

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Linebacker Tamba Hali has been activated off the physically unable to perform list and will join the Kansas City Chiefs for practice on a limited basis Tuesday.

Dykes said Bears players enjoyed having Lynch around the team, and that the ex-running back serves as a mentor and an ambassador for the program.

“He’s been really great with our players and has interacted with their families,” Dykes said. “He loves young people and trying to have an impact on them. He does a lot of things that people don’t know about behind the scenes. We’re lucky to have him around.”

The rookie, Lynch, has put himself in consideration to be the team’s backup if Siemian wins the starting job. Lynch, even with a significant learning curve because of the difference between the offense he played in at Memphis and the one he’s in with the Broncos, isn’t going anywhere. He’s the prospect in waiting — the player the Broncos selected with the long-term plan in mind — and coach Gary Kubiak has given him a ton of praise for his progress.

That was evident Monday when Kubiak would not say if Lynch or Sanchez would enter Saturday’s game after Siemian.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will play later this week in his first game since he suffered a season-ending knee injury nine months ago.

Flacco told SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio on Tuesday that he will suit up Saturday against the Detroit Lions after sitting out the first two preseason games.

“You need to get back out there, [and] you need to get your mind used to getting ready for a game,” Flacco said. “And then, yeah, I need to get over that last hurdle, which is going out there and being a live target for guys to hit and see how I react to it.”

Flacco didn’t specify how long he would play Saturday, saying the team would approach it like a typical third preseason game.

After being held out of all offseason practices in the spring, Flacco has put together one of his best training camps. He has looked comfortable in his second season in coach Marc Trestman’s offense, and he hasn’t missed any reps with the first-team offense.

Hali missed all of training camp after having offseason knee surgery. Hali’s balky knees have prevented him from practicing much during either of the past two seasons.
His return means the Chiefs get back half of their standout pass-rushing tandem of Hali and Justin Houston. The Chiefs are unlikely to have Houston available when they begin the regular season on Sept. 11 against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. Houston had ACL surgery in February.

Hali, 32, is a five-time Pro Bowl pick. He is tied for 48th on the NFL’s all-time sack list with 86.

Tyvis Powell willing to be ‘water boy’ if that’s what it takes to make Seahawks’ roster

“He had a great game. He had a terrific game. Your first time out as a rookie and you know special teams is a big deal, he makes a great play on kickoff coverage on the 12, he has a fantastic and just classic block on the punt return. The ball that he almost kept out of the end zone was an extraordinary play too, just to make that play, and he has a pick,” said Carroll. “It was a great day, and I was really fired up for him. He’s looked really good at practice, and he made a big statement. I don’t remember a first-year guy having a first game that was that obvious like that. It was very impressive.”

Kapadia believes Powell has a good shot at making the roster, and after reading Carroll’s thoughts on Powell, that might be the case. Powell has been practicing at both ends of the secondary, at safety and cornerback, and Carroll plans to have Powell “going back and forth” between the positions.

“He’s certainly physically capable of doing that. He’s really fast, he’s really tall and long, he’s really coordinated and comfortable with the movements and stuff, he has good hand-eye stuff,” said Carroll. “It takes longer to learn our system at safety, physically it takes a long time to figure out the corner stuff, but he’s going to be going back and forth. We’re going to try to do the same format that we did with DeShawn Shead and see what happens. It makes him more valuable to us, it makes his spot on the roster more available, and with what he did on special teams, that’s the right idea I think if we stay with that.

Last week, we looked at the 10 most accurate passers from the 2015 NFL season using a metric (C%+) that adjusts for where the ball is thrown. Most of the usual suspects made the list, but what about the quarterbacks at the bottom?

The bottom three were bad enough that none of these players figure to be a factor in 2016. Nick Foles (minus-6.6 percent) was released and went to Kansas City. Johnny Manziel (minus-4.9 percent) is currently not in the league. Ryan Mallett (minus-4.9 percent) is a backup in Baltimore.

eyton Manning (minus-1.1 percent), who also ranked among the worst, showed it was time to retire after the first below-average season of his career.

But that still leaves six quarterbacks in the bottom 10 who figure to be a factor this year. The following is a look at those six quarterbacks, ranked by ascending C%+ from the 2015 regular season.

First, here is a refresher on how C%+ is calculated. The core idea is passing plus-minus, which estimates how many passes a quarterback completed compared to what an average quarterback would have completed, given the location of those passes. It does not consider passes listed as “thrown away,” “tipped at line” or “quarterback hit in motion.” Player performance is compared to a historical baseline of how often a pass is completed based on the pass distance, the yards needed for a first down, and whether it is on the left, middle or right side of the field.

This is what happens when you cross John Elway

Still, most assumed Osweiler would re-sign with the Broncos as Manning headed toward retirement. The fifth-year quarterback stunned the NFL with his decision to head to the Texans. Elway pivoted by trading with the Eagles for Mark Sanchez, and moving up in the first round of the draft to select Memphis’ Paxton Lynch.

“That’s why you can never lock into one solution,” Elway said. “You always have to have several options and go with what’s best. I haven’t talked to Brock about it. I’ve only kind of heard about it, of why he may have been a little bit upset about the way things went.”

RICHMOND, Va. — The Washington Redskins’ defensive line is champing at the bit to get to opposing quarterbacks, and the acquisition of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman should only help that cause.

Around The NFL caught up with Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker after Monday’s walkthrough and his anticipation to showcase the improved defense was evident.

“We got a little bit more nasty,” Baker told Around The NFL. “(Josh Norman) brings a nasty attitude towards our defense and it’s really helped out Bashaud Breeland. I haven’t seen him look this good.”

Washington’s defense ranked 28th in total defense in 2015. The leaky defensive unit allowed 380 yards per game, including 258 passing yards per contest. Yet the team still managed to win the NFC East.

Robert Griffin III was named the starting quarterback, and cornerback Joe Haden practiced for the first time since having ankle surgery March 18.

The next step: Get reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon on the field.

When might that happen? Hopefully soon, coach Hue Jackson said.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers shouldn’t have any new injuries to worry about, what with the Hall of Fame game being canceled. But there are still plenty of question marks as they head back to work Tuesday: Backup quarterback Brett Hundley still looked a little gimpy walking around the field in Canton on Sunday evening. He couldn’t have played in the Hall of Game but will try to play Friday against the Browns. Five players remain on the PUP list: Jordy Nelson (knee), Jared Cook (ankle), Ty Montgomery (foot), Corey Linsley (hamstring) and Sam Barrington (foot). — Rob Demovsky

BLACKHAWKS AMONG TEAMS IN CONTENTION TO LAND JIMMY VESEY

Vesey is a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, and captured the award as the best player in college hockey last season after scoring 24 goals and adding 22 assists in 33 games with Harvard University, where he played four years.

The previous two Hobey Baker Award winners are Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames (2014) and Jack Eichel of the Sabres (2015), so the possibility of Vesey landing in Chicago could immediately give the Blackhawks another dynamic scoring option.

CANTON, Ohio — Tony Dungy would like to see the NFL’s Rooney Rule used in the manner it was intended.

He pointed to Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Arizona’s Bruce Arians as examples of coaches who got jobs because teams were thorough in their searches.

Dungy, whose Indianapolis Colts won Super Bowl XLI in February 2007, has been a mentor to many NFL head coaches, including Tomlin, Lovie Smith and Jim Caldwell.

Tomlin has led the Steelers two Super Bowls, winning one in 2008. Smith, now the head coach at the University of Illinois, led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance, in which they lost to Dungy’s Colts. Caldwell, now the Detroit Lions head coach, served as an assistant on two different Super Bowl-winning teams.

Tomlin, Smith and Caldwell are black. Owners who hired them were willing to look beyond the norms, Dungy said.

“We’ve got to get past that.”

Dungy, who turned around perennial loser in Tampa Bay before winning the championship with Indianapolis, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He went 139-69 as a head coach, and had only one losing record — in 1996, his first year with the Buccaneers.

The Redskins will be moving to a sparkling new stadium at some point soon. Soon enough, we’ll figure out where it will be.

PHILADELPHIA — Under Doug Pederson, the Philadelphia Eagles may well be replicating Andy Reid’s 1999 quarterback plan. It doesn’t look that way to Donovan McNabb, the centerpiece of Reid’s plan.

Myles Jack’s knee feels fine, but the pain from his draft-night fall still stings

When I ask Jack to retrace the process starting from our initial sit down in Arizona, he tried to link up dates and happenings, such as his workouts for teams and his medical re-check at the combine. The idea was a chronological look at how he went from a sure-fire top-5 pick to a second rounder with crushed dreams.

But, as expected, it was a bit of a fog, the whirlwind of it all muddying up the details of the journey.

“I thought it was all good, but then I don’t run my 40 and it blows up,” Jack said. “Then it quiets down some, and a week before the draft it blows up again.”

After his pro day in mid-March, where he didn’t run his 40, there were expectations in the NFL community that he would have a second pro day and run the 40. At one point, he even told me he would run it.

But then he and agent John Thornton made the decision not to run the 40. That became an issue. What was he hiding?

“I could have run it, but why go out there and put up a number that isn’t an accurate or a representation of what I can run?” Jack said “They see me on film moving fast, and if they got a different number, it was going to throw them off. I will probably never run another 40 again. I don’t even want to think about the 40 after that.”

The next step was a trip back to Indianapolis, the site of the NFL Scouting Combine, for the medical re-check. There were differing reports that came from that. There were red flags of sorts, and some team personnel I contracted were concerned. Others said there was no issue.

There was talk of more surgery. There was talk of cartilage issues, which meant bone-on-bone, which usually can mean a shortened career. And then the new dreaded surgical word popped up: Micro-fracture. Once upon a time, three letters used to scare football players: ACL. Now it’s micro-fracture.

As the news started leaking out about knee problems, Jack continued the process. He worked out every day. No pain. He had individual workouts for teams, including the Dolphins, , Raiders and Jaguars. No pain.

In the days leading up the draft, Jack was the most-talked about prospect. Would he fall out of the top 10? Would a team take a risk? Was he a risk?

Jack went to Chicago with the intention that he would still be a high pick. Two days before the draft, the New York Post quoted him as saying he might need micro-fracture surgery down the road. That led to more questions.

“I got asked by a reporter hypothetically if such and such happens will I have to have micro-fracture surgery?” Jack said. “He kind of outsmarted me. I have to own up to it to this day and me being young he got me. A meteor could wipe up us off the Earth. Hypothetically, anything can happen. Bottom line, he outsmarted me. I am not a candidate for surgery.”

The night of the first round of the draft, Jack gathered his family and went to the ceremony expecting to hear his name called. He didn’t.

“It’s really hard to talk about that night, the raw feeling of it,” he said. “You walk the red carpet. You invite people out, your girl, your mom, your grandma. Everyone is dressed up. You have your whole family in the green room waiting to hear your name called and you keep hearing other tables screaming and other people’s (walk-up) music being played. Then I look up at the TV and see (NFL Network Insider) Ian Rapoport talking about my knee. It was frustrating. What could I do? Show them I had a 50-inch vertical jump? Go play Arena Football? I didn’t know what I could do to end all the doubt.”
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Myles Jack poses with his mother on the red carpet on the first night of the NFL Draft.
Getty Images

When the first round was over, he retreated to his hotel. At one point, he told his family he wanted to be by himself.

“I was sitting in the living room trying to figure out what happened,” Jack said. “It wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.”

The next morning, Jack was antsy. So, like he has a lot of times in his life, he needed a gym — a basketball gym. He and his uncle and brother took an UBER to a court to play some hoops. It was after one of his dunks that his uncle said he needed to film it and send it out on social media, a sign that he was fine. Jack slammed one down, the uncle taped it and it went out into cyberspace leading up to Day 2. It went viral.

“It had over 1 million interactions on social media,” he said. “It kind of took off.”

Even then, some skeptics analyzed the way he came down. Was he protecting the knee? That’s how bad it got.

“I was starting to think there was an obsession with my knee,” Jack said.

That night, the Jaguars moved up to the fifth spot in the second round to take a player they considered strongly in the first round. Jack’s nightmare was over. He was in the NFL, even if it cost him a bundle during the process.

Jack was on the field this past weekend for the team’s rookie orientation. He was the only linebacker on the field, so he did a lot — with no problems. He learned the middle, which is where he will eventually become a star. The Jaguars have already compared him to Seattle’s Bobby Wagner.

“I would say he’s in really good shape right now,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “I think he’s in the 230s, something like that. He just looked in good shape and I know he feels good about where his weight is right now. He moved around pretty good.”

That doesn’t mean the knee talk is over. It might be that way his entire career. The doubters seem to be waiting for the moment when it becomes an issue.

“A METEOR COULD WIPE UP US OFF THE EARTH. HYPOTHETICALLY, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.”– Myles Jack

“Time bomb?” Jack said. “Who came up with that? Who knows what will happen in the future? I don’t even sweat my knee. I don’t even guard it. I don’t count my steps. My muscle memory is back. I can do it all.”

On his first night in Jacksonville, Jack went to a local restaurant for chicken wings with some of his new teammates. As they waited for the order, a fan came up to him.

“You should have went in the first round,” the man said. “If it wasn’t for your knee.”

Jack said he just smiled.

“All I can do is tell them it’s fine,” he said. “It was a different journey than I expected. But I am here now. All I can do is go out and play football. Just play ball, and see what happens.”

By any reasonable measurement, Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs of his era, and probably in NFL history. He’s led the league in rushing yards three times and rushing touchdowns twice. He’s made the Pro Bowl in every season that didn’t get cut short due to injury or suspension and he’s a four-time first-team All-Pro. In nine seasons, he has rushed for 11,675 yards and 97 touchdowns. Those figures rank 17th and 10th all-time, respectively.

According to AP himself, the back end of his career is going to be even more special. “Not to be cocky or anything, but I know, at 31, my end is going to be better than my beginning,” the Vikings star told Peter King of The MMQB. “One thing I know, and will remain true: These young guys will never outwork me. I put my body through the grind. Just knowing how my body remains healthy, age is not really affecting me. It’s my mindset. I don’t get into the 30-year-old running-back thing, that you’re done at 30. I am getting stronger with age. Honest, last year [when he won his third rushing title at age 30] was a disappointment to me, because I know I can do more. Honest, it was.”

Peterson considers last year — when he led the NFL in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns — a disappointment? Well, I guess that’s one way to make sure you’re always motivated.