NFL TRAINING CAMPS BEGIN TOMORROW
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
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
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
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
“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.