NFL news and notes: Wentz's confidence building, Gordon waiting on call that won't come

By Sports Desk August 21, 2019

A team are opting to sit the majority of their starters this week as squads prepare for their third NFL preseason game.

Another team, however, are in jeopardy of being without one of their star players into September as a contract issue continues to keep him off the field.

Those stories and more in Wednesday's edition of NFL News and Notes.


Three things that matter

Wentz confident in week one availability

After missing time in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is feeling more optimistic about his health heading into the regular season.

"I'm ready for week one," Wentz said at his news conference. "I'm really not worried about it, to be honest. Every year, coming in, it's always going to be that first hit, no matter if it's three months off, six months off, 10 months, 12 months. It doesn't really matter. That first hit wakes you up real quick and it's football mode again."

Wentz will look to play a full 16-game season for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2016 after dealing with knee and back injuries the last two years.

Gordon's holdout headed into regular season

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon could reportedly extend his holdout into September after contract talks failed to progress. Gordon, who is due to earn $5.6million in the last season of his five-year rookie deal, is seeking a new contract or to be traded from Los Angeles and has remained away from the team's facility for the entire preseason.

Gordon said earlier this week he is "just waiting on the call," though it seems the 26-year-old could be waiting a while.

Colts buck tradition and opt to rest starters

In a surprise move, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich announced most of the team's starters will not play in Thursday's third preseason game against the Chicago Bears, noting the team are still finalising their roster.

"Right now, the best thing is we’re looking to figure out who are the guys that are going to be on this roster," he said, per the team's official website. "There's spots open. This is very competitive."

It had already been determined that quarterback Andrew Luck will not practice this week. But given he is only practiced three times since April and still has not seen any preseason action, it is becoming more likely that backup Jacoby Brissett will be named the starter for week one.

Two things that don't matter

Cooper dealing with foot injury

The Dallas Cowboys receiver admitted he is dealing with plantar fasciitis in the heel of his left foot but is optimistic he will be able to resume practice at full strength this week. Amari Cooper has not been ruled out for the remainder of the preseason but it is unlikely he will take the field before the team's September 8 opener against the New York Giants.

"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger it doesn't matter," he told reporters. "I had 1,000 yards on plantar fasciitis. I'm not really worried."

Cooper clearly is not panicked, and neither are the Cowboys, but it is certainly an injury worth monitoring.

Lewis to compete on "DWTS"

Retired linebacker Ray Lewis is set to take his famous swag to the dance floor, as it was announced he will be featured on the 28th season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." He joins fellow athlete and retired NBA star Lamar Odom as the only professional athletes to compete this season.

It is a safe bet that Lewis will break out his classic intro shuffle during the first episode.

One video you have to see

Retired defensive end Chris Long, a two-time Super Bowl champion and the 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient, is encouraging players to continue protesting.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

The XFL is back, as the league teased its February 2020 return by announcing team names and unveiling logos for each of its eight franchises.

Related items

  • Cowboys stars Prescott & Cooper should 'make as much money as they can' - Frederick Cowboys stars Prescott & Cooper should 'make as much money as they can' - Frederick

    Travis Frederick wants Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper back in Dallas, but appreciates the Cowboys stars deserve a chance to sign lucrative contracts this offseason.

    The Cowboys have some interesting decisions to make as starting quarterback Prescott and his number-one target Cooper are both scheduled to hit free agency.

    Re-signing Prescott is surely the top priority for Dallas after he threw for 4,902 yards in his fourth season - a total only Jameis Winston could better across the NFL - and they will almost certainly use the franchise tag on the quarterback if they cannot iron out a long-term deal with the 26-year-old.

    Last week Hall of Famer and ex-Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith suggested Prescott should take a discount to return to Dallas, freeing up more cap space to keep former first-rounder Cooper, yet starting center Frederick knows this is also an opportunity for both men to sign their first big contracts in the NFL.

    Speaking before Smith's comments were aired, Frederick told Omnisport: "It's a business so as a person I hope so many good things for all of those people.

    "I want them to go and make as much money as they can and do all of those things.

    "From a selfish standpoint, I'd love to have them back on the team but first and foremost for me is those guys take care of themselves and their families."

    Should Prescott and Cooper return to Dallas in 2020, they will be playing with a new head coach in Mike McCarthy.

    The Cowboys replaced Jason Garrett with the ex-Green Bay Packers head coach after they went 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs, and Frederick cannot wait to get to work with a man who won a Super Bowl ring in his previous job.

    "I'm excited to get a chance to work with him," the offensive lineman added.

    "I know he's got a proven track record.

    "He's a guy who has done really well in the past so really excited just to have a new take on things and get to know him more and get to know his system a little bit more."

  • Giants will benefit from ex-Patriot Judge's winning mentality - Solder Giants will benefit from ex-Patriot Judge's winning mentality - Solder

    Nate Solder knows all about the New England Patriots' winning culture and feels that will rub off on the New York Giants following Joe Judge's appointment as head coach.

    The Giants last month hired former New England special teams coordinator Judge to succeed Pat Shurmur following a disappointing 4-12 campaign.

    Judge was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams on Bill Belichick's staff, though his new role with the Giants is his first as a head coach.

    Offensive lineman Solder, who won two Super Bowl rings in New England when Judge was there, believes his new head coach can bring 'The Patriot Way' to New York.

    "He's a disciplined guy, he's a tough guy," left tackle Solder told Omnisport.

    "He's got a winning model. He's won a lot of championships, been part of a championship games.

    "I think those are all things that are going to benefit us hugely going forward."

    The Giants are moving on without Eli Manning in 2020, the veteran quarterback having called time on his 16-season career after he lost his starting spot to rookie Daniel Jones in 2019.

    Manning led the Giants to two Lombardi Trophies but his Hall of Fame candidacy remains a bone of contention, with his supporters highlighting his titles and longevity as his detractors point to average numbers.

    Solder, though, has nothing but praise for Manning's dedication to his craft.

    "What an honour," he said of playing with Manning. "I got to play with Tom Brady, I got to play with Eli Manning. I'm truly blessed for that.

    "I've learned so many great lessons from him in terms of competitiveness, preparation and Eli's steadfastness through so many ups and downs.

    "He was so steadfast and he was just consistent every day. He was the same guy.

    "That's not easy to do, especially in the isolating position of being a quarterback, with so many expectations. I thought he did an excellent, wonderful job."

    First-rounder Jones certainly impressed after replacing Manning, though, finishing the season with 3,027 yards passing with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games.

    "I think he's absolutely going to be better in his second year," Solder said of Jones.

    "He did a lot of great things this year. It's tough to be a quarterback in this league, he's got a lot to learn, but he's very committed to getting better and I think that's going to pay off."

  • NFL owners back new CBA deal, leaving final decision in players' hands NFL owners back new CBA deal, leaving final decision in players' hands

    NFL owners have backed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and invited the league's players to get the deal over the line.

    Plans to expand the fixture schedule have proved a divisive issue amid a push for a 17-game regular season.

    The existing deal expires at the end of next season and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently insisted player welfare continued to be a priority.

    The NFL said in a statement on its website that the new CBA would "transform the future of the game".

    Now, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) will need to examine the terms on the table and give a two-thirds majority approval, before all players are then given the chance to vote.

    Only then can the CBA be enacted, and there is no guarantee of the players' support. Initial talks within the NFLPA will reportedly begin on Friday.

    Speaking last month, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who is an NFLPA vice-president, accused the NFL and team owners of putting a "price tag" on player safety in pushing for the extra game.

    He and other suspect the move is a stepping stone to an 18-game season.

    Sherman said ahead of the Super Bowl: "I don't think it's something the players are interested in, honestly. If that's the point they're negotiating on, I think these negotiations are going to go a lot longer than anticipated."

    The NFL said in its statement on Thursday: "Following more than 10 months of intensive and thorough negotiations, the NFL players and clubs have jointly developed a comprehensive set of new and revised terms that will transform the future of the game, provide for players - past, present and future - both on and off the field, and ensure that the NFL's second century is even better and more exciting for the fans.

    "The membership voted today to accept the negotiated terms on the principal elements of a new collective bargaining agreement. The Players Association would also need to vote to approve the same terms for there to be a new agreement.

    "Since the clubs and players need to have a system in place and know the rules that they will operate under by next week, the membership also approved moving forward under the final year of the 2011 CBA if the players decide not to approve the negotiated terms.

    "Out of respect for the process and our partners at the NFLPA, we will have no further comment at this time."

    A report on the NFL website said the CBA proposal included an option for the future 17-game schedule, along with increasing the players' share of revenue from 47 to 48 per cent - reportedly rising to 48.5 per cent in the event of the 17-game season being implemented.

    It also includes the plan to expand the play-offs to make it a 14-team competition, starting immediately.

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