FRISCO, Texas — On Aug. 13, 2016, when Dak Prescott walked into the Los Angeles Coliseum for the first time, he was already envisioning what’s coming on Saturday.
Prescott was a fourth-round pick then, trying to show the Dallas Cowboys he could be Tony Romo’s backup, but the big picture was always on his mind. He was confident he would be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He was confident he would be in a position to take a team to a playoff game, as he will Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, Fox) against the Los Angeles Rams.
It wasn’t something he dreamed; it was something be believed.
“I guess I couldn’t imagine it being back in the Coliseum against the team I started off my career,” Prescott said, “but I’ve always talked about the confidence I’ve had in myself and this team. Nothing has changed.”
The Coliseum was abuzz on that warm August day. It was the Rams’ first game back in Los Angeles. The stadium was full of fans and the game was nationally televised, with ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew calling the action.
Prescott was starting because Kellen Moore, who is now the Cowboys quarterbacks coach, had suffered a broken ankle 10 days earlier and, as a veteran, Tony Romo was not going to play in the first preseason game.
Jason Witten didn’t play, but Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams did. Tyron Smith didn’t play, but Travis Frederick and Zack Martin did. Ezekiel Elliott was kept out because of a hamstring strain, but three-time 1,000-yard runner Alfred Morris played.
“We were playing that game with the idea that we wanted to see what we had,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “It really was probably everybody’s first glimpse of what Dak’s about.”
Prescott had only a couple of practices with the first-team offense during training camp in Oxnard, California, with Romo resting every third day. He did not take first-team snaps during organized team activities and the minicamp in the spring. Back then, the Cowboys just wanted him to get better at taking a snap from center.
When he joined the first-team huddle in camp, a future Hall of Fame tight end (Witten), three All-Pro offensive linemen (Smith, Frederick and Martin) and the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown catches (Bryant) were staring at him.
“Immediately off the bat, you could tell he was born to be a leader,” Frederick said. “And knew exactly what he was doing and what he wanted to be doing. He never struggled with calling the plays or you never saw him feel like the game was too big for him, even when you looked around the huddle and saw those guys that were there.”
So maybe it was not surprising to many that Prescott flourished against the Rams. He completed 10 of 12 passes in the first half for 139 yards and had touchdown throws of 10 yards to Bryant and 32 yards to Williams. He had a 14-yard run, too, and completely outperformed the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft and his counterpart Saturday, Jared Goff.
“At the end of the day, it was so much better than we thought it would be,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said.
Twelve days after his debut against the Rams, Prescott became the Cowboys starting quarterback when Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back.
Prescott has started every game since, winning 33 games, including his first postseason game against the Seattle Seahawks last Saturday in the wild-card round. He has a Rookie of the Year award on his résumé as well as a Pro Bowl appearance.
“I’m not saying I always knew he was going to be where he is now,” Linehan said, “but I think we all had a gut feeling that he was going to be a hell of a player in this league.”
Now he has the Cowboys in position to advance to their first NFC Championship Game since 1995.
When he walks out on to the Coliseum turf on Saturday, his mindset will not be too different from the one he had when he took the field on Aug. 13, 2016.
“I don’t ever just go out to play the game,” Prescott said. “When I go out, I go out to play the game, I go out with the mindset to win, like I’m the No. 1, like I’m the guy whether I was then or not. It’s just kind of the way I have to approach it all. It all worked out.”
Chiefs’ Hill meets with NFL investigators
It was a “very thorough interview,” according to the source.
Hill has been banned from the team’s training facility amid an investigation by the Kansas Department of Children and Families into possible child abuse, battery or neglect. The investigation began after officers in Overland Park, Kansas, were called to Hill’s home twice in March when Hill’s 3-year-old son suffered a broken arm.
Hill, a three-time Pro Bowler, remains subject to a suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
There is currently no criminal investigation, according to Johnson County District Attorney Stephen M. Howe.
Ex-RB Wood, woman indicted in child death case
LAS VEGAS — A former pro football player and his girlfriend have been indicted on murder and 20 felony child abuse charges in the death of the woman’s 5-year-old daughter, court officials said Tuesday.
Former NFL and Canadian Football League running back Cierre Marcelle Wood, 28, and Amy Taylor, 26, are accused of killing Taylor’s daughter, La’Rayah Davis, who was found lifeless on April 9 in Wood’s apartment.
Taylor and her daughter had moved in with Wood and his young daughter less than two weeks earlier.
A judge who heard evidence last month against Wood said it was clear that La’Rayah suffered before she died and that Wood and Taylor were responsible for her death.
The judge cited photos of numerous external bruises from what were described as finger-pokes to the girl’s abdomen, back, arms and legs. Autopsy findings showed La’Rayah had 20 newly broken ribs, internal bleeding, a lacerated liver and bruises to her heart, diaphragm and connective tissue.
Taylor told police she sat on the girl while disciplining her about a week before her death, according to court documents.
Wood told police he used exercise as discipline, and had La’Rayah do physical activities including running sprints in the apartment. On the day she died, La’Rayah fell backward while doing sit-ups and hit her head on the carpeted floor, he said.
Taylor told police she was at a grocery store at the time.
A scheduled bail hearing for Wood was called off after the indictment, filed June 14, moved the case to state court for trial with Taylor on charges that could get each of them life in prison if they’re convicted.
Wood plans to plead not guilty at his arraignment July 2, his lawyer Thomas Ericsson said.
Taylor’s public defender, Sarah Hawkins, declined to comment.
Wood played for the University of Notre Dame before NFL stints with Houston, New England and Buffalo.
He was released last year by the Montreal Alouettes in Canada. Ericsson said Wood worked in Las Vegas as a health care associate.
Cam Newton’s $1,500 plane offer shows it’s hard to stay under radar – Carolina Panthers Blog
If Cam Newton wanted to have a quiet offseason, he’s not succeeding.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback has caused quite a social-media stir. He was photographed all over Paris at Men’s Fashion Week, then was caught on video making a $1,500 offer to switch seats on the flight home (and denied).
The latter in particular drew attention — 4.5 million views on the video posted to Eli Edwards’ Twitter account as of Wednesday morning.
“Man, I don’t know,” Edwards told ESPN.com. “I’m not big on Twitter. I just posted the video on Twitter because I didn’t get the response on Instagram I expected. The Twitter one went viral.”
— Eli Edwards (@ElisaraEdwards) June 22, 2019
Edwards, 28, was headed home after proposing to his girlfriend at the Women’s World Cup. Newton was headed back to Charlotte to attend his annual 7-on-7 high school football tournament in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Edwards, a former Colorado State defensive end, initially ran into the former Auburn star at the ticket counter and recognized him.
When Newton missed his initial flight, as Edwards later discovered, the 2015 NFL MVP had to fly home in economy with a connection through Dallas. The 10-hour flight is tough enough on an average-sized person, but when you’re 6-foot-5, leg room is a premium.
So Newton offered $1,500 to a passenger in what appeared to be an exit-row seat.
And was turned down.
Twice. The first offer was for $1,000.
Edwards initially thought it was joke that Newton was flying in economy. He’s almost positive the passenger who turned down the offer didn’t have a clue who Newton was.
“No one did, honestly,” Edwards said. “I felt no one knew the situation except me.”
The video got arguably as much or more attention as when Newton, coming off his second offseason shoulder surgery in three offseasons, threw for the first time in practice during a three-day minicamp on June 11-13.
For comparison, Edwards said his proposal video that was posted internationally got only about 7,000 views.
Newton, known for his big smile, gave a sheepish grin after being denied and walked to his seat. He suffered through the flight and made it back in time for his tournament.
“To me, it didn’t look like he was mad,” Edwards said of Newton. “It looked like he slept about seven hours, so he couldn’t have been that uncomfortable.”
Meanwhile, social media was abuzz wanting to know everything from why the passenger turned down the money to why Newton was in economy.
“The guy asked Cam how tall he was,” Edwards said. “Cam said he was 6-6. The guy said he was 6-4. He was with the three other gentlemen. It was like asking a couple to move because they were all together.”
Newton also caused a stir with his unusual style in Paris.
Newton considers himself the “King of Swag,’’ at least in the NFL. From his signature designer hats, to loafers and no socks, to outlandish color combinations, the first pick of the 2011 draft was among a star-studded cast of athletes in Paris that included NBA star Russell Westbrook and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Here Newton is with Westbrook:
In an interview with ESPN.com in May, Newton mentioned Kelce as one of the few NFL players who might challenge him in style.
“Man, it’s a lot of [NFL] guys who take fashion extremely serious,” he said. “They dare to be different. Travis Kelce is one of them. Odell [Beckham] easily one of them. How can you forget about Antonio Brown?”
However, Newton owns bragging rights for the past two weeks thanks to an unusual encounter captured by Edwards.
“I feel like he was trying to be incognito,” Edwards said of Newton. “But with Cam’s appearance, you can spot him right away.”
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