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Eagles’ Jenkins talks mental health at summit

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The topic was mental health. Michelle Obama, addressing a crowd of more than 50 first-generation college-bound students at her annual Beating the Odds Summit at Howard University on Tuesday, looked over at Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins as she finished her point and signaled for him to take the floor.

“I know for me, mental health wasn’t anything we talked about when I was in school. But … I am in therapy once a week at this point in my life because I recognize that I’m somebody who’s responsible for a lot of things and I put a lot of pressure on myself, and so with that comes stress and a little anxiety,” he said.

“A lot of you, if you’re a first-generation college student, you’re the first one to do it, you feel like your family is counting on you, depending on you, you have these outside pressures that are on top of being a college student, you have to find ways to recognize that and deal with that in a healthy manner.”

This is how Jenkins spent his final day before the start of the Eagles’ training camp: A chair over from the former First Lady, speaking to a group that had overcome everything from homelessness to special needs to be in a position to receive a post-secondary education. Tuesday’s workshop was designed to equip the students with strategies to ensure they see things through, and Jenkins was called on to help in that messaging.

“For me, that was an easy yes,” Jenkins said.

The Players Coalition, co-founded by Jenkins, has supported Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative before. In May, coalition members including Anquan Boldin, Demario Davis and Josh Norman traveled to California for its college signing event.

A first-generation student herself, Obama started the Reach Higher Initiative during her time in the White House. According to stats provided by Obama’s camp, students from the bottom income quartile have a nine percent six-year college graduation rate, compared to a 73 percent graduation rate for students from the upper-income quartile. In some communities, as many as 40 percent of students who are accepted to college never make it there, for reasons that include financial burden and fear of leaving home.

“Every single one of you here had to get over some deep, dark obstacle, whether it was in your own mind or something that was real that was going on in your lives and that has given you the strength to do what you have to do next,” Obama said. “So I just want you to know: You can do this. You belong here. This was not a mistake.”

The Players Coalition has three main areas of focus: Criminal justice reform, community and police relations and education and economical advancement. Much of the effort since the coalition’s inception in 2017 has gone towards criminal justice reform. They are beginning to ramp up the other two pillars of the operation.

“We’ve already shifted some of that [focus] already. … We’ve started to roll out a little bit more in that area and will also be rolling out some campaigns around policing this fall,” Jenkins said. “We’re still growing in the development of all of these focus areas.”

The focus on the educational side was on display Tuesday, as Jenkins offered some advice to the students that Obama’s event had gathered.

“Allow yourself to grow. Allow yourself to grow into whoever it is you’re going to become. College is not the end goal, it is just a process,” he said. “So there is going to be plenty of times when you fail. You might meet some confusion. You may change majors. Whatever it is, you might take some time to figure out what you really want to do. Your beliefs may change as your experiences change. But treat college as just that: An opportunity to learn and grow as an individual and really find your own purpose.”

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Cowboys extend LB Smith on 5-year, $64M deal

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FRISCO, Texas — It wasn’t a contract extension for Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott or Amari Cooper, but Jaylon Smith‘s seven-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys that was signed Tuesday allowed owner and general manager Jerry Jones to feel happy.

“Y’all have been badgering my ass to get a contract done for the last three weeks. This is a contract story,” Jones said. “And this is a contract story that is not just this year or not just next year, this has it all. It has overcoming. It has talent. It has rewarding an ambition. Or it just has the beginning of what ambition will get you in the future. That’s the biggest, most exciting thing about this.”

When the Cowboys took Smith in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, they did not know if he would be able to come close to the level of player he was while at Notre Dame before suffering a significant knee injury that included nerve damage. Fourteen months into his time with the Cowboys, Smith could not lift his right foot without the aid of an orthosis.

After missing his rookie season, Smith has played in 32 straight games with 22 starts and signed a five-year extension that is worth $64 million and includes $35.5 million guaranteed, according to Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said.

“You took a risk, a $4.5 million risk, had I never been able to play again,” Smith told the Joneses, who were sitting next to the linebacker at the news conference. “So me understanding that, it was my duty for them to get the return on their investment. They’ve been able to do that. And now I’m fortunate enough to really be a Cowboy for life, [which] is what I want. I’m thankful to be here, for sure.”

Smith also shared his thoughts on his long journey back from injury on social media on Tuesday.

Almost immediately, however, the question became: When will the Cowboys sign their three Pro Bowl offensive stars?

Stephen Jones said the talks with the agents for Prescott, Elliott and Cooper have increased more than what they had while in Oxnard, California, for the first portion of training camp. He is “very optimistic” deals can be worked out for all three.

“It just takes getting in the ballpark, then usually these things roll,” Stephen Jones said.

The Cowboys have made offers to Prescott, Elliott and Cooper that would rank in the top five in terms of average per year at their positions. Stephen Jones said the talks with Smith took a week and a half to finish and believes it would not take long to get the others signed if they had earnest discussions.

Smith’s deal does not directly impact how much the Cowboys can pay Prescott, Elliott and Cooper, but, Jerry Jones said, “There’s less pie, make no bones about it.”

“I wouldn’t say (plenty of pie is left),” Stephen Jones added. “We’ve obviously got a feel, and we still do want to get Amari and Zeke and Dak signed. That’s still huge for us. Very optimistic. I know they’re no different than Jaylon. They want to be here. They want to be Cowboys. I still stand by we want to get them contracts that they’re having their happy moment like (Smith) and it’s still good for the team.”

From the start of training camp, if not earlier, the Cowboys have been consistent in preaching they want to do deals that allow them to keep their core players together for the long term.

“The team takes precedent at a point over the opinion or the demand of the individual,” said Jones, who turns 78 in October. “The team takes precedent. This was a team move that we are talking about today. A real team move. The team takes precedent. And I’ve got the backbone to keep it that way.”

After the Cowboys’ preseason win against the Los Angeles Rams in Honolulu in which rookie running back Tony Pollard had 51 total yards and a touchdown, Jones joked, “Zeke, who?” Elliott’s agent, Rocky Arceneaux, told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that he and his client found the joke “disrespectful.”

Jones has not talked to Elliott since the joke, but added, “Look, I’ve earned the right with Zeke to joke. Period. I’ve earned it.”

The Cowboys believe Smith earned this extension. In the past two seasons, he has been credited by the coaches with 249 tackles. Last season, he was second on the team in tackles to go along with four sacks, five tackles for loss, 13 quarterback pressures, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

“He has never complained,” Jerry Jones said. “He has never wavered, never missed a workout, and he’s never quit. Not one time. He is admired by his teammates. He is admired by the people he competes against. His story is one that I would have done anything to be sure that it could be a Dallas Cowboys story.”



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Chargers bring back veteran WR Inman

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COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers added a familiar face to the team Monday, agreeing to terms with receiver Dontrelle Inman, a league source told ESPN.

The news was first reported by NFL Network.

Inman, 30, requested and was granted his release by the New England Patriots last week. Inman recently had a visit with the New York Jets but ultimately chose to return to the Chargers.

Inman played for the Indianapolis Colts last year, finishing with 28 receptions for 304 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The Chargers traded Inman midway through the 2017 season to the Chicago Bears for a seventh-round pick during training camp. He finished with 23 receptions for 334 receiving yards and a score for the Bears.

However, the former CFL standout posted his best numbers in the NFL during his first three-plus seasons as a pro with the Chargers, totaling 107 receptions for 1,463 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

A good route runner with sure hands, Inman has a good rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers. With Keenan Allen limited in practice because of an ankle issue and sore knee, Inman brings experience to a green Chargers’ receiver group that lost Tyrell Williams to the Oakland Raiders in free agency.

The Chargers created a vacant roster spot by releasing nine-year veteran long snapper Mike Windt, who lost a training camp battle to Cole Mazza.

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Chargers bring back veteran WR Inman

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COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers added a familiar face to the team Monday, agreeing to terms with receiver Dontrelle Inman, a league source told ESPN.

The news was first reported by NFL Network.

Inman, 30, requested and was granted his release by the New England Patriots last week. Inman recently had a visit with the New York Jets, but ultimately chose to return to the Chargers.

Inman played for the Indianapolis Colts last year, finishing with 28 receptions for 304 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The Chargers traded Inman midway through the 2017 season to the Chicago Bears for a seventh round pick during training camp. He finished with 23 receptions for 334 receiving yards and a score for the Bears.

However, the former CFL standout posted his best numbers in the NFL during his first three-plus seasons as a pro with the Chargers, totaling 107 receptions for 1,463 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

A good route runner with sure hands, Inman has a good rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers. With Keenan Allen limited in practice because of an ankle issue and sore knee, Inman brings experience to a green Chargers’ receiver group that lost Tyrell Williams to the Oakland Raiders in free agency.

The Chargers created a vacant roster spot by releasing nine-year veteran long snapper Mike Windt, who lost a training camp battle to Cole Mazza.

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