Jerry Jones came up with Cowboys’ pregame response

AP

Cowboys players didn’t know how they were going to respond during the national anthem Monday until owner Jerry Jones presented an idea before the game.

The Cowboys, with Jones and his family among them, collectively took a knee at midfield before the national anthem began. They rose after a few seconds, returned to the sideline and stood arm-in-arm for the Star Spangled Banner.

The move seemed to appease everyone, though some fans booed before realizing the Cowboys weren’t going to kneel during the anthem. The Cowboys’ pregame response could become the model on how to send a unified message without drawing criticism.

“I was just happy we were able to do something together,” receiver Brice Butler said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Initially, we had a certain plan. Then Jerry came and spoke to us before the game and was like, “Just trust me on this; let’s do this together.’ That was Jerry’s plan. I actually liked it, because everybody did it.”

Jones has made it clear in his public statements that he wants the Cowboys to stand for the national anthem, and Dallas remains one of only six teams not to have a player protest during the Star Spangled Banner since the start of the 2016 season, according to the Dallas Morning News. Jones, though, also realized after President Donald Trump’s tweets last week that his players felt the need to respond.

“I enjoy a lot of confidence that our players know that I know my way around the NFL and know that this was a way to basically do both,” Jones said. “So, as you know, I’ve had a lot of criticism over the years for being too close or being too supportive of players. So I don’t ever have to worry about being trusted, or for that matter, believing that we can do it.

“There’s no question we wanted to do something that others could take a look at and say, ‘This is the way to make a statement about that.’ I just don’t believe we’ve gotten to the point in this country where we have to basically be disrespectful of the flag, yet stand up and say, ‘Look, . . . we need to do some things about unity and about equality.’ I don’t know why you have to create controversy, much less controversy regarding the flag. This is an answer to it.”  

Brandon Marshall: I didn’t spit on an Eagles fan

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Before last Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall exchanged words with an Eagles fan who was on the field during warmups at Lincoln Financial Field.

Video of that conversation along with an account from someone else who was on the field appeared on Sporting News this week that included an accusation of Marshall spitting on the fan after coming back for a second round of jawing. Marshall was asked about the incident on Tuesday and denied hocking any loogies in the fan’s direction.

“No, absolutely not,” Marshall said, via SNY.tv. “I think that if anybody does that — a fan, or a player — should be suspended, should probably pay a fine, and you should have a public apology prepared and they need to read through it on camera. So, absolutely not. But, that’s the world we live in. I’m sure because there was a lot of cameras around, he had his camera, all of his buddies had their cameras out. There should be video evidence of anything on his face or on his body. So, I’m not worrying about that.”

Assuming Marshall’s right about the lack of video or other evidence, there wouldn’t seem to be anywhere for things to go on the spit front.

Timmons reportedly visited Steelers practice earlier this month

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The suspension of Dolphins linebacker Lawrence Timmons has ended, but the mystery lingers.

Over the weekend, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported that Timmons showed up unannounced at Steelers practice on the Friday prior to Week One. Miami’s game already had been scrapped due to Hurricane Irma, and the Steelers let Timmons enter the team facility and watch some of practice from the sidelines.

La Canfora, who also reported that Timmons’ suspension would last beyond Week Three and that he may never again play for the Dolphins, wrote that “most players and team officials had no idea” that Timmons would be visiting the team, but that one source said Timmons informed “a few coaches” of his desire to visit the team. Coach Mike Tomlin reportedly was aware of the situation.

A Dolphins spokesman tells PFT that the team was not aware of the situation before the report emerged. The league’s tampering policy doesn’t expressly address situations like this, stating only that a team cannot permit a player under contract with another team to “use” its facilities, including the weight room, training facilities, practice fields, running tracks, etc. So if Timmons, for example, got a workout in at the Steelers’ facility, the Steelers would have technically violated the rules.

Even if the Dolphins don’t cry foul, the situation is sufficiently unusual and potentially close to the line to make a league-office investigation into the situation reasonable and justified — especially since Timmons reportedly has told former teammates that he’d like to be back with the Steelers.

No charges for Jarvis Landry after battery investigation

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News broke in August that Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry was under investigation for battery by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office as the result of an incident with the mother of his child earlier this year.

The woman said Landry did not inflict any physical harm and Landry said the same, but the investigation continued into September. It has now come to an end and Landry will not be facing any charges.

“I am very thankful that this matter is over and my family and I can put this behind us now,” Landry said in a statement, via Adam Schefter of ESPN. “I greatly respect and appreciate the Broward County State Attorney’s Office for their hard work and thorough investigation into this matter and I am thankful that they were able to come to a conclusion that reaffirms the true facts that no crime was committed. My daughter’s mother and I will continue to co-parent to raise our child in a happy and healthy environment. I would like to thank my family and friends for their continued support throughout this process.”

The NFL was reportedly doing its own investigation into the matter and, as we’ve been reminded in the Ezekiel Elliott case, the absence of criminal charges doesn’t mean the league won’t try to impose discipline on a player.

Bears OC: Mike Glennon doing enough to win games

AP

During an appearance on PFT Live Tuesday morning, Bears running back Jordan Howard said that none of the team’s players are thinking about the possibility of a coaching change and that they are all behind Mike Glennon “as long as coach says he’s the starter.”

There’s no sign that John Fox is thinking about making that change and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains provided a succinct reason why when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.

“Mike is doing exactly what he needs to do to win games,” Loggains said, via ESPN.com.

Glennon did enough for the Bears to win in Week Three. He was 15-of-22 for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception while the Bears were running for 220 yards in last Sunday’s 23-17 overtime win over the Steelers.

Loggains suggested he’d have better numbers if not for several drops by receivers, which may be the case but the Bears haven’t been particularly threatening through the air with 4.8 net yards per pass attempt through their first three games. They lost two of those and it may not take too many more before the topic of starting Mitch Trubisky becomes a popular one in Chicago.

Texans cut wide receiver Andy Jones

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The Texans cut wide receiver Andy Jones, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Houston claimed Jones off waivers after the Cowboys waived him Sept. 2. He made his NFL debut in the Texans’ season opener and played one snap against the Jaguars.

The Texans, in need of a tight end for their Week 2 Thursday night game, cut him the following week. They re-signed him last week, and he was inactive against the Patriots.

Jones spent all of last season on the Cowboys’ practice squad.

Bills release Deandre Coleman

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The Bills released defensive tackle Deandre Coleman on Tuesday.

Coleman lasted only a week on the 53-player roster. The Bills signed him last week with defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Jerel Worthy injured.

Dareus was sidelined with an ankle injury, and Worthy spent his third week in concussion protocol.

Coleman’s release is a sign that either Dareus or Worthy will return this week.

Coleman has played 10 career games, including five last season with the Bills. He was inactive Sunday against the Broncos.

Packers put another tackle on injured reserve, their third this year

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The Packers might be getting healthier in general, but they’re running short at one position in particular.

Via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, the Packers put another tackle on injured reserve, with tackle Kyle Murphy going there Tuesday with a foot injury.

He started the opener at right tackle and the last two weeks at left tackle. He’s the third tackle to go on IR for the Packers this year, joining Jason Spriggs and Don Barclay.

The Packers also can’t be sure that regular right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) is going to be ready for Thursday’s game against the Bears, as he didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice. He came back last week but aggravated the injury and didn’t finish the game against the Bengals.

They’re fortunate that left tackle David Bakhtiari is back in practice after missing the last two games with a hamstring problem, but they have legitimate depth issues there.

Their backups now are Justin McCray, Adam Pankey and Ulrick John, who was signed off Arizona’s practice squad this week. McCray was signed as a street free agent in March, and started in Week Two. Pankey’s an undrafted rookie who was promoted from the practice squad two weeks ago. John started three games for the Cardinals last year, but he just arrived in Green Bay yesterday.

Arthur Moats: Steelers lacked focus for the game after anthem conversations

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With the exception of the Rams and 49ers, who played on Thursday night, every team in the league had a spotlight on what they would do during the playing of the national anthem and many of them held meetings in the hours leading up to kickoff to come to a decision about how they’d handle the situation.

The Steelers have drawn more attention than many of those teams for both their players’ decision to remain in the tunnel and the repeated attempts by coach Mike Tomlin, president Art Rooney II and players to explain how they reached it. There may be even more after a couple of those players said that they thought the time spent discussing the anthem affected their focus on Sunday.

“We truly lacked the focus that we needed to,” linebacker Arthur Moats said on 93.7, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Man, we spent a lot of time going from Saturday, Sunday morning to even today discussing the anthem issue and how we were going to handle it and things like that, and I thought that guys just lacked a little bit of focus when it came to playing in the game.”

Moats said the team “lacked a lot of detail,” something quarterback Ben Roethlisberger agreed with when making his own appearance on the radio station later in the day. Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the players’ comments at his press conference.

“Was it a distraction? I’m sure it was in a lot of ways but we still have a job to do and hopefully we learn from it because if we’re as good as we desire to be there are going to be distractions moving forward,” Tomlin said. “That’s just the nature of this thing. It’s professional football.”

As mentioned at the start, the Steelers weren’t the only team to wrestle with the anthem question last weekend. Fourteen of them, including the Bears, found a way to do enough to win on Sunday.

Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy are sharing the bench instead of the carries

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Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy were expected to carry the Seahawks’ running game this season. Instead, they’re sharing the bench, with rookie Chris Carson having become the team’s lead back.

Rawls played one of 73 offensive snaps against Tennessee. Lacy, inactive in Week 2, did not play against the Titans despite being active.

Carson had 11 carries for 34 yards, and C.J. Prosise spelled him with four carries for 9 yards.

It is difficult,” coach Pete Carroll said of Lacy and Rawls’ lack of playing time, via Gregg Bell of The News Tribune. “They want the ball every snap. I don’t blame them. They are great competitive kids, and they didn’t feel like one.

“It is difficult.”

Carroll said the Seahawks need more carries for their running backs, which hasn’t happened because Seattle has fallen behind too much. Rawls has five carries for 4 yards this season and Lacy five carries for 3 yards, and the team’s running backs — minus Russell Wilson‘s rushing yardage — are averaging 63.3 yards per game.

Prosise has an ankle injury, which could give Rawls and/or Lacy more chances this week.

Carroll said he has talked to both Rawls and Lacy about their roles, but he wouldn’t say what he told them.

“Not a message to share with you,” the coach said.

Bucs won’t let people come to team HQ to meet Gerald McCoy

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On Monday, Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy extended an open invitation to anyone with criticisms of him or his teammates to come to the team’s headquarters and ask to see him so that he could come down for a face-to-face conversation.

If you were planning on making the trip, you should go ahead and make other plans because the team isn’t as keen on the idea of letting just anyone stroll into the place.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the team said their policy is that no one will be allowed past the gate of their facility unless they have “official business with the team or an employee or a visitor form that has been filled out and left at the guard gate on your behalf.” That policy will not be changed to satisfy McCoy’s desire to host a summit with the “social media tough guys” that led to his invitation.

Unless McCoy offers up an alternate meeting place, it would seem that any dialogue between him and his critics will be limited to cyberspace.

Lawrence Timmons reinstated, will play Sunday

AP

The Dolphins have reinstated Lawrence Timmons, and the linebacker will play Sunday against the Saints, PFT  has confirmed.

A week ago, the team suspended Timmons indefinitely after he went AWOL the day before the Dolphins’ season opener against the Chargers. Coach Adam Gase declined to answer questions about Timmons on Monday.

The Steelers made Timmons a first-round pick in 2007. He recorded 35.5 sacks and played and started every Steelers’ regular-season game since 2010.

The Dolphins signed him to a two-year, $12 million deal in the offseason.

Miami made a trade with New Orleans for linebacker Stephone Anthony a few hours after announcing Timmons’ suspension last week.

Dez Bryant insists he’s still an elite wide receiver

AP

Dez Bryant caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014 when he earned All-Pro honors and contract worthy of an elite wide receiver. Since then, he has played 25 of 35 games and has made 92 receptions for 1,311 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Of course, he played through injuries the past two seasons and had five different starting quarterbacks.

Bryant smirked when asked if he’s still a top-tiered wide receiver.

“That’s funny to me,” Bryant said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It doesn’t bother me, because I know I am.”

Bryant has 11 catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns this season, going against Janoris Jenkins, Aqib Talib and Patrick Peterson in the first three weeks. On Monday night against the Cardinals, he made two catches for 12 yards and a touchdown. But his 15-yard touchdown ranks as one of the league’s top plays thus far, as Bryant caught the ball at the 13-yard line on a shallow cross and then carried seven Cardinals into the end zone with him.

“I was talking to my teammates [before the touchdown],” Bryant said. “I was like, ‘As soon as I touch it, I’m scoring.’ When I get a good ball, I’m going to score, put it in the end zone. And it happened. It was amazing.”

Bryant has never worried about his numbers, despite what some outsiders might think. As long as the Cowboys are winning, Bryant is a happy camper, and he celebrates touchdowns by teammates as much as he does his own.

“It’s amazing part about this team,” Bryant said. “You’ve got a lot of stars on this team. I think that’s the coolest part about this team. It can be anybody on any Sunday.”

Dak Prescott excels when throwing on the sprint

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It took the Cowboys a while to get going on Monday night. When they did, they often made it look easy, especially when quarterback Dak Prescott was running hard.

The difference between the teams last night came in many ways at the most important position on the field. The Cardinals, who love to throw the ball down the field, had a hard time buying time for Carson Palmer, who still has an arm by NASA but, in many respects, a body by LEGO. With the offensive line simply failing to keep the rush away from a quarterback whose feet seem to move the fastest when he’s not moving at all, the Cardinals were unable to do what they wanted to do.

Prescott did everything he wanted to do, specifically when he ran out of the pocket. Or, more accurately, sprinted out of the pocket.

His accuracy seems to improve when throwing on the sprint. Indeed, his two most important throws of the night — both to Brice Butler — came when running to the right and unleashing a laser-guided missile.

Three times he threw on the run as the designed play, completing two for 90 yards. Three other times he threw on the run after being flushed out of the pocket, completing two for 54 yards.

That’s 4-6 for 144 yards when throwing out of the pocket.

Coupled with his ability to use the zone read not as a crutch but as a well-timed change of pace, Prescott currently is capable of being as dangerous as any quarterback in the league.

And that’s just what he can do with the ball in his hands. His leadership skills quite possibly had something to do with running back Ezekiel Elliott not slumping his shoulders and accepting the fact that the Arizona defense was going to be able to shut him down. Though he seemed to be running in mud early in the game, Elliott eventually improved, doing just enough to balance Prescott, who quickly has become far more important to the Dallas offense than any running back could be.

Which could be the best news for the Cowboys as they move three games in to Prescott’s second season.

Marcus Cooper happy Bears are playing on a short week

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Bears cornerback Marcus Cooper made a major mistake last Sunday when he slowed down short of the end zone on a blocked field goal return and lost the ball after being hit by Steelers tight end Vance McDonald.

The Bears wound up getting the ball back after a lengthy sorting out process and kicked a field goal with no time left on the clock in the second quarter to take a 17-7 lead. They wound up winning the game 23-17 in overtime and Cooper said it was a “great feeling” to know that his error didn’t contribute to a loss.

On Tuesday, Cooper said he’s happy that the Bears will be playing Thursday so he doesn’t have to dwell on the blunder for too long.

“Things happen,” Cooper said, via the Chicago Tribune. “There are going to be ups. There are going to be downs. Fans are going to be up and down with you as well. Luckily for me, it’s a short week. So I’m not trying to focus on that. We’ve got Green Bay coming up and it’s just putting my focus there.”

Bears coach John Fox said after the game that Cooper would learn from the mistake, something he reiterated on Tuesday while adding that Cooper is “too much a part of our team” to leave behind.