COSTA MESA, Calif. — By signing backup quarterback Geno Smith to a one-year deal on Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers put Cardale Jones on notice that he will have competition for the No. 2 quarterback job during training camp.
“He’s a very young player,” coach Anthony Lynn said about Jones at the NFL scouting combine. “People forget this guy never lost a college football game. He’s 6-foot-5, 260, can move around pretty well and has a strong arm.
“Every day in practice he makes throws that make you shake your head. He’s a highly intelligent young man. There’s no reason why he couldn’t be our future quarterback.”
The addition of Smith doesn’t mean the Chargers won’t select a quarterback in this year’s draft. General manager Tom Telesco and the rest of his staff have been doing extensive work on this year’s quarterback class.
Telesco also watched Mayfield, Darnold, Rosen and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph play in person last season.
In Smith, the Chargers bring in a player who Lynn is familiar with and who fits his desire to have a mobile quarterback who can threaten the defense with his legs.
“When you have a guy who can move around a little bit like Lamar, you make a defense play 11-on-11,” Lynn said about Jackson at the combine. “And sometimes, they think that’s not fair. But when the offense can go 11-on-11, that’s a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare. That’s what he brings to the table.”
Lynn spent two seasons with Smith during the 2013 and 2014 campaign when he served as running backs coach for the New York Jets.
Smith backed up Eli Manning last season. He started Dec. 3 when Manning was benched for a week. Manning had been the NFL’s active leader in consecutive starts at 210.
Smith was solid, completing 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, the 27-year-old Smith adds another quarterback to the mix of players competing for a spot on the roster and perhaps serving as an eventual replacement for Philip Rivers.
A 2013 second-round selection by the Jets, Smith never lived up to lofty expectations during his four seasons with the team.
Smith had his share of issues with the Jets. Smith was sucker-punched by linebacker IK Enemkpali, forcing him to spend time on the injured reserve, and he also lost the starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015.
And Smith was benched against the Chargers in 2014 because he missed a meeting the day before the game. He got the meeting time mixed up because they were on the West Coast. Michael Vick started, and the Chargers rolled 31-0.
However, the physical tools are still present for the talented quarterback from West Virginia, and the Chargers provide Smith another opportunity to prove his worth in the league. For his career, Smith has competed 58 percent of his passes, throwing for 6,174 yards, with 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
The addition of Smith to the quarterback room likely means Rivers’ good friend Kellen Clemens, who served as the backup quarterback for four seasons, will not return.
And along with Jones, Smith likely will have additional competition in the quarterback room from this year’s draft. The Chargers have not selected a quarterback in the draft during Telesco’s tenure since drafting Brad Sorensen in the seventh round of the 2013 draft.
Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott takes blame for blowout loss to Arizona Cardinals
“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse,” Elliott said of not having Prescott because of a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle. “I’m just going to keep saying it over and over — I started the game out with two fumbles, gave the ball away and gave them all the momentum they need to go take off. I want to say I’m sorry and this one is on me. I need to be better.”
Elliott finished with 49 yards on 12 carries and caught a team-high eight passes but for just 31 yards. However, it was fumbles on back-to-back drives in the first and second quarters that changed the complexion of the game.
The first fumble came after catching a short pass from Andy Dalton on second down, but safety Budda Baker stripped the ball free and Jordan Phillips recovered. Eleven plays later Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk hooked up for a 6-yard flip for a touchdown.
Two plays into the next possession, Elliott fumbled again with Phillips poking the ball free at the Dallas 30. Five plays later, Kenyon Drake scored the Cardinals’ second touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“I mean, when you’re fumbling every game obviously teams are going to lock in on it and go for it even more,” Elliott said. “That’s even more of a reason I need to figure it out, man. I don’t want to keep talking about it, but I’ve got to figure out a way to figure it out.”
When the Cowboys took the field after Elliott’s second fumble, Tony Pollard was the running back. When Elliott returned to the field after eight snaps, there was a murmur among the crowd.
“Every player that plays in this league, no different on our football team, if you don’t take care of the football, it does affect your opportunities,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Tony got an opportunity and I thought he did some really good things with his opportunities.”
Elliott has lost a career-high four fumbles in six games and the opponents have turned every takeaway into a touchdown. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the other top-10 rushers have combined for three lost fumbles in nearly 900 fewer touches this season. Elliott has 133 touches, while the nine other backs have 1,014 touches.
“I’m giving the ball away,” Elliott said. “I wasn’t helping my team. I think they did the right thing and gave some of those reps to TP, but I can’t do that. I have to be a guy this team can lean on, especially at times like right now with so many of our starters hurt and not playing. So it’s not acceptable and I need to figure it out.”
Elliott said he focuses on keeping the ball tight in practice. The Cowboys do ball-handling drills every day in practice.
“I just got to have a short memory,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to get that behind me and play some good ball and get on a roll.”
Elliott has gone a career-long six games without a 100-yard outing. He had a five-game drought in Weeks 10-14 last season. He had not gone more than two games to open a season without a 100-yard game to his credit.
Some of that can be pinned on a defense that has struggled, but 84 of the 218 points the Cowboys have allowed this season have come off turnovers.
“He understands that. He knows that,” Dalton said. “Zeke’s going to get this thing fixed.”
He also knows he needs to get it fixed quickly.
“At the end of the day, Zeke is our bell cow, and we need to get it right,” McCarthy said. “He’s part of the plan. He’s going to be part of the success. We have to get it right. We have to take care of the football and that’s for everybody that touches the football on our team.”
Kyler Murray’s run of success at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium continues as Arizona Cardinals roll
AT&T Stadium is 41 miles from Murray’s hometown of Allen, Texas. He went 5-0 in high school there, including three straight state championships in Texas’ highest level of prep football; 1-0 in college after leading Oklahoma to a Big 12 championship; and now 1-0 in the NFL.
Murray made another memory Monday night.
He threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns on just 9-for-24 passing, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk, the second of two touchdown passes to Kirk, who had 164 yards and six touchdowns in three games at AT&T Stadium while at Texas A&M. Murray also hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 60-yard pass in the fourth quarter.
“It’s special; I’m not gonna lie,” Murray told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game. “I tried to not make it about me all week, ’cause it’s not about me. It’s about my team. And we came out here and got the job done against a good Cowboys team. But … coming back home — I think anybody wants to get a win when you come back home, so I’m happy we did.
But it wasn’t just Murray who had a meaningful return to AT&T Stadium.
The last time Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury coached in AT&T Stadium was his last game at Texas Tech, a 35-24 loss to Baylor on Nov. 24, 2018.
On Monday, when the Cardinals’ offense couldn’t find its rhythm early in the game, Murray took it upon himself to make something happen.
He had runs of 15 and 10 before converting a fourth-and-1 with an 11-yard run. He finished with 74 rushing yards and a touchdown, which was his 10th rushing touchdown since the start of 2019, his rookie season. That was second most among quarterbacks in that stretch behind Buffalo’s Josh Allen, who has 12.
Monday was the fifth time this season that Murray had a passing and rushing touchdown, the most in the first six games of a season in NFL history. It was also the sixth time since the start of last season that Murray had a passing and rushing touchdown, the second most during that stretch.
Murray also became the third player in league history with 30 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns in the first 25 games of his career. He did it in 22 games, tying with Daunte Culpepper for the quickest to do it.
It got to a point Monday night that the Cardinals were seemingly able to do what they pleased on both sides of the ball.
Kirk had 2 catches for 86 yards and 2 TDs. Hopkins finished with 73 yards on two catches. Running back Kenyan Drake had 169 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
The Cardinals forced Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to fumble twice and scored on both possessions, which were on short fields. The first was caused by safety Budda Baker, who also had his first career interception and a sack, and was recovered by Jordan Phillips, who forced the second one which was recovered by cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.
Outside linebacker Haason Reddick had two sacks in place of Chandler Jones, who was put on injured reserve last week after undergoing surgery to repair a torn biceps.
Dallas Cowboys right guard Zack Martin exits with concussion
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have lost another starter on their offense with Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin suffering a concussion with 5:07 left in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals.
He was ruled out as the second half began with the Cowboys trailing 21-3.
Martin spent a considerable amount of time in the blue tent getting looked at by the medical staff. He headed to the locker room at the start of the second quarter.
The Cowboys are playing their first game without quarterback Dak Prescott, who suffered a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle in last week’s win against the New York Giants. The Cowboys placed Prescott on injured reserve Monday, and he faces a 4-6 month recovery period.
A once-vaunted offensive line is now gutted. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick retired in the offseason. Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith had season-ending neck surgery last week. Right tackle La’el Collins is on injured reserve because of hip surgery and did not play a down this season.
Joe Looney, who replaced Frederick, is on injured reserve with a knee injury but expected to return. In the season opener, the Cowboys lost tight end Blake Jarwin to a torn ACL.
The Cowboys’ current offensive line, from left to right is: Brandon Knight (undrafted free agent, 2019), Connor Williams (second-round, 2018), Tyler Biadasz (fourth round, 2020), Connor McGovern (third round, 2019) and Terence Steele (undrafted free agent, 2020). McGovern entered the game with two offensive snaps in his career.
The Cowboys scored a season-low three points in the first half.
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