Thu Jun 10 5:28pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) stands with head coach Mike McCarthy as they watch drills during an NFL football team practice Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott looks to pass during an NFL football team practice Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) looks on as quarterback Dak Prescott warms-up during an NFL football team practice Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) speaks with wide receivers Michael Gallup (13), Amari Cooper (19) and CeeDee Lamb (88) during an NFL football team practice Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
FRISCO, Texas (AP) Dak Prescott finished the offseason with his most vigorous practice since the horrific ankle injury that ended his 2020 season.
Then the star Dallas quarterback tried to declare the injury issue dead.
''I've buried the injury,'' Prescott said Wednesday after what ended up being the final practice of the mandatory minicamp for the Cowboys, who used the last of the three days for team bonding.
''I've buried it mentally,'' he said. ''And I think you guys and a lot of people around have to help me and bury it as well as we move forward. Put that right on the tombstone.''
As for the date on the ''tombstone,'' Prescott says about a month ago, which means about seven months after he broke and dislocated his right ankle in a gruesome scene in Week 5 against the New York Giants.
''Somewhere around Cinco de Mayo,'' he said. ''Yeah, had a good Cinco de Mayo, was a little active and at that time maybe did some little dance moves and I felt like I'm ready to go. So that was the time that I said in my head, `The injury's gone.'''
In reality, there are still plenty of questions for the player with the richest contract in the storied franchise's history, a $160 million, four-year deal signed in March. While the offseason work has steadily increased, Prescott didn't do 11-on-11 drills, in part to keep players from falling around that leg.
Coach Mike McCarthy said he expects the two-time Pro Bowler to be cleared for everything at the start of training camp, presumably in California on July 22 - roughly the nine-month mark since the injury.
''He hasn't missed anything that's been slated,'' McCarthy said. ''We're not naive. It's just like any player that comes back from injury, especially a major joint injury. The first year back there's going to be some things you have to work through.''
After camp starts, Prescott will have the mental hurdle of his first play in a preseason game. All those feelings are likely to return Sept. 9, when the Cowboys open the regular season against Tom Brady and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.
Along the way, Prescott said he hasn't bothered with timelines. In fact, he made sure he didn't have any.
''One of my goals and missions when I first got hurt is, I said, `I'm not going to try to beat anybody's timeline. I'm going to just go out here and work day by day and just try to get myself better,''' Prescott said. ''Because I knew the amount of time I had before I actually need to be ready for the season.''
The scramble drills in offseason practices were important for Prescott to test his ankle, and the Cowboys did more of them. Prescott said that was more for the team's situational work than his ankle. But there's no question what was on everybody's mind.
''He definitely had some moments from workouts probably three, four weeks back where I definitely felt once we were able to see him move in the pocket, out of the pocket-type drills, scramble drills,'' McCarthy said. ''Physically I think he's right where he needs to be.''
Both starting tackles also had season-ending surgeries last year. La'el Collins had a hip issue that kept him out all season, and left tackle Tyron Smith played two games before a neck injury shut down the seven-time Pro Bowler.
The blockers got to see the rehabbing side of the quarterback who replaced an injured Tony Romo in 2016 and never gave up the job while leading Dallas to the top seed in the NFC and winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
''The way Dak worked throughout the whole offseason, the way he pushed himself, the way he came back and is able to be on the field with everybody else right now, it's amazing,'' Smith said. ''It lights a fire under you to like, `Hey, push a little bit harder.' If your quarterback is going to push like that, we got to push the same way or even harder for him.''
Prescott said he has been encouraged by improvement in his football movement from his workouts to minicamp. He also said he never worried about the leg during drills, and is now past the residual pain.
''I say that because with all that gone and none of those effects, that's what allows me and helps me bury it,'' Prescott said. ''I don't even think about it before practice, pre-practice, but still doing all the necessary things and being smart that I am still only seven months away from the injury.''
It's actually eight months, but who's counting? Maybe Prescott means it when he says he hasn't been.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed first-round outside linebacker Joe Tryon to his four-year rookie contract on Tuesday. Tryon was taken 32nd overall in the first round of this year's NFL draft out of the University of Washington. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns around COVID-19, but he managed to record eight sacks in college in 2019. Depending on how ready Tryon is for the NFL after taking a year off, he's an exciting pass-rusher off the edge that could become an impact player right away for an improving Buccaneers defense. He has the size and strength to be a full-time pass-rusher, but he also has the technique to drop into coverage if asked to do so. If not for the fact that he didn't play at all in 2020, he might've been long gone at pick No. 32.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has been impressed with rookie running back Chris Evans so far this offseason. "He's got the most natural hands for a running back that I've ever been around," Callahan said. Evans was selected with the 202nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft out of Michigan. While the 23-year-old has the physical skills, he doesn't have a ton of experience. He probably won't be anything more than a late-round flier in much deeper fantasy leagues, but he could be dangerous in this offense eventually, especially in point-per-reception formats. Evans is obviously a much more attractive dynasty/keeper piece, but if Joe Mixon misses extended time with injury, there's definitely a path for Evans to find some relevant single-year appeal in a rising Bengals offense.
Free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate remains available on the open market after being released by the New York Giants following two disappointing seasons. The 32-year-old hasn't received much interest, but he wants to continue playing and mentioned the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams as three teams he'd be interested in joining. Tate wouldn't mind reuniting with quarterback Matthew Stafford in LA after enjoying three 1,000-yard seasons with Stafford in Detroit. The veteran wideout caught just 35 of 53 targets for 388 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games (four starts) for New York in 2020. He was benched at one point and dealt with a calf injury, so Tate will have to prove he's worth a spot on fantasy rosters again if he signs with a new team.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was arrested in Los Angeles on Sunday after police saw a submachine gun in his car. Officers noticed a bag with an Uzi sticking out in plain sight in the car, and Clark was then arrested on suspicion of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. He was booked into an LA county jail and released Monday on $35,000 bond. "We are aware of the matter, which will be reviewed under the NFL's personal conduct policy," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks before being traded to the Chiefs in 2019. Clark has been a Pro Bowler each of the last two years with KC, so any suspension would be bad news for the Chiefs defense. He has 49 sacks in 91 career games, including 14 total in the last two seasons.
Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was shot four times on Monday while visiting an aunt in Washington D.C. "Wrong place, wrong time," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "In talking to him today, he's going to be OK - that's all that matters. We're thankful he's OK. He will make a full recovery." The 21-year-old suffered superficial exit wounds and will not need to have surgery. The Vikings selected Twyman with the 199th overall pick back in May. He was the first interior defensive lineman to lead Pittsburgh in sacks when he had 10.5 in 2019 since Aaron Donald achieved the feat six years earlier. Twyman opted out of the 2020 season in college due to concerns over COVID-19.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark was reportedly arrested for felony possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle Sunday, June 20. He was released on bond Monday, June 21.
Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins, who was the No. 16 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, was arrested on Sunday for excessive speed and reckless driving, according to the Scottsdale Police Department. The 22-year-old was observed going 76 mph in a 35-mph zone in Scottsdale, Ariz. Collins signed his fully guaranteed four-year rookie deal with Arizona on June 8 and is expected to start right away in 2021. The All-American from Tulsa is a big and physical presence in the middle of the field. Despite his size, he moves smoothly and is great in zone coverage. Although he shouldn't be considered a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Collins has excellent closing speed and change-of-direction ability. It's not a great start to his rookie campaign, but Collins should pair nicely with last year's first-rounder, Isaiah Simmons.
Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Tyron Smith (neck), Zack Martin (calf, concussion) and La'el Collins (hip) didn't do much on-field work during spring practices, but all three are expected to be full participants when training camp begins at the end of July. The trio combined to miss 36 games in a lost 2020 season. The Cowboys were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations a year ago without Smith, Martin and Collins. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick also retired. Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015, but he said his injury is no longer something he's worried about. Collins said he's dropped around 10 pounds and is moving around fine. With these three linemen back healthy, Dallas' offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, which is obviously great news for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, said the team's new offense under coordinator Joe Lombardi puts a lot more on his plate. "It's pretty similar. I think there are just more personnel [groups], more formations and a lot more put on the quarterback with going up to the line of scrimmage," Herbert said. The sky is the limit for Herbert, but it's not easy for a young signal-caller to have to learn a whole new offense in just his second season. It might be a lot to expect Herbert to make another big jump in Year 2 after throwing 31 touchdowns in 2020. The 23-year-old is one of the best young QBs to own in dynasty/keeper leagues, but he should be more of a low-end QB1 target in single-year leagues in 2021.
Baltimore Ravens WR Sammy Watkins was the best receiver at the team's minicamp as he made several contested grabs. QB Lamar Jackson said it's fun to throw to Watkins.
Fantasy Spin: Watkins hasn't been able to stay healthy and has one 1,000-yard season in his seven-year career. He could still be worth a WR4/5 flyer, but the upside isn't there for much more.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay couldn't be more happy with the team's new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. "Bro, this dude's a bad MF-er," McVay said, laughing. "Whatever people say about him, as good as it can be, he's even better than advertised. It makes sense to him. The guy's ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences, the feel that he has, it's pretty special and unique. And man, his feel for people, his authentic way of connecting with his teammates, his coaches, this guy, it's great being around him." The 33-year-old was often undervalued while with the Detroit Lions, but now he has higher expectations with a much better supporting cast around him. Health is a concern, but Stafford is an excellent selection as a QB1 with upside after the bigger names at the position come off the board.
New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley, who opted out last season and played two partial games in 2019 due to injury, has looked slimmer and quicker in practices this offseason.
New York Jets WR Keelan Cole 'will be in the wide receiver rotation' following an impressive minicamp, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew will likely handle both kick and punt return duties this season, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.
Free-agent RB Todd Gurley (Falcons) would be the No. 3 running back if he signs with the Detroit Lions behind RBs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett
Cleveland Browns WR Rashard Higgins (undisclosed) missed the last two days of minicamp because of a undisclosed injury. The injury is considered minor.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith has been working out with QB Jameis Winston on a regular basis this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Smith is in line for a bigger role this season and likely will be one of the starting receivers for the Saints. He has played well at times over the last few years and can be a deep threat option in the passing game. Fantasy players can consider him a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver.
Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson said he is open to playing on the one-year franchise tag this season. He said there is no news regarding a long-term contract with the Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has been one of the top receivers in the NFL over the last few seasons and will continue to be the main focus in the passing game for Chicago. He is a weekly must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Titans) is interested in continuing his career.