Cow­boys go­ing very young in sec­ondary

Cleve­land fires lead foot­ball ex­ec­u­tive, but will keep coach in 2018

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - FROM JOUR­NAL WIRES

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.”

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