Cowboys going very young in secondary
Cleveland fires lead football executive, but will keep coach in 2018
FRISCO, Texas — Jourdan Lewis doesn’t recall sitting around at training camp with fellow rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods, plotting their takeover of the secondary for the Dallas Cowboys.
There was this little thing called the depth chart, and they weren’t at the top of it.
“We had a lot of guys in front of us at first,” said Lewis, a thirdround pick out of Michigan. “We were just trying to learn the playbook in training camp and we didn’t know that we would have this opportunity coming late in the season.”
It’s coming because of injuries, attrition and a demotion, leading to the possibility that all three could start Sunday at the New York Giants (2-10) as the Cowboys (6-6) try to keep faint playoff hopes alive.
For Dallas, it could be the best look yet at the future in the secondary after letting four veterans go in free agency and drafting four potential replacements .
Awuzie was the highest draft choice, a second-rounder out of Colorado, so logic had him being the first to get significant playing time before hamstring issues kept him out of six of his
first nine games.
Lewis played nearly 90 percent of the snaps in Week 2 at Denver after injuries to Awuzie and freeagent pickup Nolan Carroll, who was later cut. Lewis has been out there since. He’s tied for the team lead with seven pass breakups.
Woods was the long shot as a sixth-round pick, listed as a safety coming in but now set to play cornerback in the slot with Orlando Scandrick expected to miss at least one game because of a small fracture in his back suffered in last week’s 38-14 win over Washington.
JETS: Wide receiver Robby Anderson was limited at practice after tweaking a hamstring, and his status for the game Sunday against the Broncos in Denver is uncertain.
Anderson was a full participant Wednesday, but was listed on the team’s injury report with a hamstring issue. Coach Todd Bowles says the second-year receiver had a setback Thursday but hopes it isn’t serious.
The Jets’ offense would take a big hit if Anderson is unable to play. He’s having a breakout season with 49 catches for a teamleading 821 yards and seven touchdowns.
BROWNS: Sashi Brown brought analytics, a bevy of draft picks and some stability to Cleveland.
But since he was unable to produce more than one win over two seasons, Brown was fired Thursday by owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam. Although they jettisoned their lead football executive, they chose to keep coach Hue Jackson around for another season despite a 1-27 record.
“I appreciate Jimmy saying that,” Jackson said following practice as the Browns (0-12) prepared to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. “My focus of coming here to the Cleveland Browns is to coach the football team and help get this organization turned around. I haven’t been able to do that yet. That is something that I think we all want to do — Jimmy and Dee, obviously.”
STEELERS: Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent surgery Wednesday night to stabilize his spine.
The team announced Thursday that Drs. David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon performed the surgery after Shazier was transferred from a hospital in Cincinnati to one in Pittsburgh.
Shazier, 25, suffered the injury while hitting Cincinnati’s Josh Malone in the first quarter of Pittsburgh’s 23-20 victory over the Bengals on Monday night. Shazier motioned to his lower back immediately following the hit and was taken off the field on a stretcher.
BILLS: Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White shook nervously in anger at his locker Thursday while accusing New England’s Rob Gronkowski of being a dirty player for blindsiding him in the back of the head Sunday during the Patriots’ 23-3 victory.
As for the NFL issuing Gronkowski a one-game suspension for the hit Sunday, White turned away from the TV cameras and muttered: “It’s a joke, dog.” White then turned back toward the cameras and said he didn’t know what to say.
“He is what he did. A dirty shot. So what’s that make him? A dirty player. Simple,” White said.
“I’m laying there. He snuck me. My back turned. He could’ve broken my neck,” he added. “I’ve got a son to raise, and all of that. People don’t think of that when they just react.”