KAZ’S KORNER

 

 

 

The National Football League begins its rigorous training period in preparation

for the 2019 season that opens the second week of September.

Our two Texas franchises—the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans—are

hoping to iron out a couple of trouble spots that should make each team playoff-bound.

The Cowboys’ main bone of contention deals with salary extensions for their two

of their main offensive weapons—quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel

Elliott, who still has two years remaining on his original rookie contract.

The big question about giving Prescott a salary extension is “whether he can meet

the sky-high expectations that come with the quarterback mega-deals in the NFL,”

according to this week’s edition of USA Today Sports Weekly.

Four quarterbacks now average more than $30 million a year (Russell Wilson,

Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz) and all four own a Super Bowl

ring.

Prescott has been available for every game, holding a 32-16 regular-season record

and winning one of three playoff games. He has completed 66.1% of passes for 10,876

yards, 67 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. He also has rushed for 18 more touchdowns.

Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are free agents following 2019, the article

points out.

The main roadblock confronting Elliott is the half-dozen scrapes with the law he

has encountered off the football field since his days at Ohio State.

One of the main attributes of an NFL superstar is trust by those doling out the

high multi-year contract extensions. That is still very questionable for the Cowboys.

Zeke has plenty of ammunition to support his monetary wishes. He has led the

league in rushing yards per game for the last three seasons. Only two other running backs

in NFL history have led the league three years in a row—Earl Campbell (1978-80) and

Jim Brown (1957-59).

The Houston Texans return to the Houston Methodist Training Center after

spending the last two training camps in West Virginia and will operate without a general

manager after the sudden firing of Brian Gaine, who spent just one full season in that

position.

Head Coach Bill O’Brien, who enters the first season of his four-year contract

extension, will also handle the general manager duties in addition to coaching the team

and calling plays again.

The two main problems to be corrected that were very apparent last season are the

offensive line and the defensive secondary.

The Texans are contemplating whether to start first-round draft pick Tytus

Howard at left tackle or guard. He’ll compete with incumbent Julie’n Davenport. Center

Nick Martin and right guard Zach Fulton return as starters and the Texans are hoping

Seantrel Henderson can remain healthy enough to be the right tackle to start the season.

According to Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle, it’s debatable whether

the Texans have upgraded the secondary with the addition of safety Tashaun Gipson and

 

cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson after losing safety Tyrann Mathieu and

cornerback Kareem Jackson to free agency.

Roby was disappointing as a starter last year at Denver and got off to a rough start

in the spring with the Texans after signing a one-year, $10 million deal. Johnson, a

second-round draft choice out of Kentucky, has great size (6-2, 213 pounds) and a 4.38

time in the 40-yard dash.

“Obviously, the Texans would like to avoid another slow start like last season’s,”

the Chronicle stated. “They began 0-3 before going on a nine-game winning streak and

finishing 11-5.

“To win consecutive division titles, the Texans will have to hold off the Colts,

who won twice at NRG Stadium, including a 21-7 victory in the Wild Card playoff.

“Indianapolis is favored to win the AFC South and compete for the Super Bowl.

Top to bottom, it should be the NFL’s toughest division,” the article predicted.

KWICKIES…The Houston Texans will begin training camp tomorrow with J.J.

Watt and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins both on the physically unable to perform

(PUP) list. Watt had knee surgery after last season while Hopkins hurt his right shoulder

in the first half of Houston’s loss to Indianapolis in an AFC wild card game.

New York Yankees’ reliever Mariano Rivera on Sunday became the first

unanimous Hall of Fame pick by the Baseball Writers’ Association. He pitched 19

seasons and is the career saves leader with 652. He was voted into Cooperstown along

with reliever Lee Smith, starters Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay and designated

hitters Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines.

Irishman Shane Lowry wowed his fellow countrymen by winning the British

Open by six shots at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush golf course. American J.B.

Holmes had rounds of 66, 68 and 69 before shooting a horrendous 18-over par 87 with

one birdie, six bogeys, four double bogeys and a triple bogey on the final round.

Manny Pacquiao, 40, won a split decision over previously undefeated Keith

Thurman (29-1). Pacquiao (62-7-2) knocked Thurman down in the first round and

continue his onslaught for 12 rounds. Two judges scored the bout 115-112 for Pacquiao

while a third scored it 114-113 for Thurman.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros’ critical need for No. 4 and No. 5

starting pitchers may have subsided somewhat after brilliant weekend performances by

rookies Jose Urquidy Saturday night (6-1 win) and another strong effort by Rogelio

Armenteros Sunday (5-3) win). Both pitchers combined to extend the Texas Rangers’

losing streak to seven games. The Astros’ offense has been produced by Yuli Gurriel,

who has hit 13 homers in his last 22 games, Michael Brantley, who blasted two homers

Sunday and is hitting .347 in Minute Maid this season and Yordan Alvarez, who was

hitting .333 through Sunday. Infielders Aledmys Diaz and Carlos Correa are expected to come off the injured list this week.