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Packers plan to have Rodgers back on field Sun.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers, who was a last-minute scratch from Thursday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens because his back tightened up, is expected back on the field the next time the Green Bay Packers practice.

That session is scheduled for Sunday.

“Yeah, that’s the plan, but you know, a lot of it is going to be predicated on how he feels,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Friday. “I think he feels better, but we’ll see Sunday.”

LaFleur had planned to play Rodgers “about a quarter so” with the starters in what would have been his debut in the Packers’ new offense, but LaFleur said the team held out Rodgers as a precaution. Rodgers did not play against the Texans in the preseason opener, when almost all of the starters were held out.

Given that Rodgers hasn’t played in a preseason finale since 2012, that would leave next week’s third exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders as the most likely time for him to play, if does at all, before the Sept. 5 season opener against the Chicago Bears. The issue is the game next Thursday is in Winnipeg, Canada, at IG Field, which has a FieldTurf and has never hosted an NFL game.

The Packers will send their football logistics/team travel manager to Winnipeg early next week, but LaFleur did not anticipate any issues with the field.

“No, we’ll evaluate the surface obviously before we play the game,” LaFleur said. “Matt Klein’s going up there a couple of days early, so he’ll be able to evaluate it as well. It seems like it’s a relatively new stadium. It looks pretty nice, but I guess until we get there, we won’t know.”

Without Rodgers, the starting offense played two series with DeShone Kizer at quarterback in the 26-13 loss at Baltimore. They turned the ball over on downs and managed a field goal.

Last summer, Rodgers played just seven snaps in the preseason, but LaFleur was hoping to get Rodgers more work than that given that it’s a new offense.

“I just think those guys all going out together prior to the Chicago game just to work the kinks out, if there are any, but just to try and get into a flow of the game,” LaFleur said. “Having him hear the play calls when he’s actually the guy out there, get in and out of the huddle. I thought he’s definitely helped stress that urgency to the other 10 in the huddle and I thought last week was better. It’s more or less just getting into that flow.”

The only other injury update LaFleur provided was about himself. He conducted both his postgame news conference Thursday and Friday’s briefing without the walking boot he has worn on his left foot since he under surgery in June to repair his ruptured Achilles.

Asked whether he’s done with the boot, LaFleur said: “I’m trying to be. I told ‘Flea’ [head athletic trainer Bryan Engel], I’m not wearing that boot this week. So we’ll see.

“I’ve been pretty good up to this point. I’ll just tell you, you’re not used to standing for that period of time in that boot. By the end of the game, my heel is on fire. So I’m ready to get out of it.”

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Cowboys hoping to reach deal with Dak Prescott, avoid franchise tag

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INDIANAPOLIS — Time might be running out, but Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones remains confident a long-term deal can be worked out with quarterback Dak Prescott before the organization will need to use the franchise tag.

Jones said there are no talks scheduled with Prescott’s agent, Todd France, but the team intends to meet with him at some point this week during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Jones said there is no scenario in which the Cowboys would move on from Prescott in 2020.

“I mean, Dak’s our quarterback. He’s our quarterback for the future and we have nothing but the greatest respect for him,” Jones said. “He’s a competitor. He’s won a lot of football games for us. Obviously, he, like us, we all want to take that next step and get into a championship game and get to the big game and ultimately win a championship. So there’s no thoughts like that.”

Jones acknowledged the sides have not spoken since September when the Cowboys thought they were closing in on an agreement that would have made Prescott among the top-five paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

“It just kind of stopped. We kind of left it where it was,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t say there was anything acrimonious. They felt they were done where they were. We felt like we were kind of where we were and we never really got going again.”

Despite the inactivity, Jones believes a deal can be consummated before March 12, the final date in which the club can use the franchise tag. That is two days later than the original deadline because of the ongoing discussions with the NFL and the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement. Jones said there are “a lot of moving parts,” that go into negotiations when it is the final year of the CBA. With a new CBA, the Cowboys would lose the chance to use the franchise and transition tags but it would ease up some of the issues in getting a long-term deal completed.

Jones would not get into whether the Cowboys would use the nonexclusive franchise tag, which would cost $27 million but allow Prescott to shop the market, or exclusive tag, which would cost $33 million and prevent teams from signing him.

“I just don’t think we’ve had our hands around what the next steps are,” Jones said. “Obviously we didn’t end up getting it done because they were pretty entrenched with their thoughts and we were pretty entrenched with our thoughts. I think really that’s the facts of the world we work. Certainly we’ve done a lot of thinking about it and looking at it and we’ll see where it ends up.”

Prescott is not the only high-profile free agent the Cowboys want to re-sign. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn are also set to be free agents. Without a CBA extension, the Cowboys could theoretically use the franchise tag on Prescott and transition tag on Cooper. If there’s a new CBA, then they would only be able to use one tag, thus making it more likely Cooper, Jones or Quinn could hit the market.

“We haven’t gone into any details with players since the end of the season. We are really wanting to see where the CBA is,” Jones said. “The way I look at these contracts, the two we are talking about [Prescott and Cooper], when things get momentum they can happen in 24 hours. It’s just a matter of can you get some traction and [be] headed in the right direction.”

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Chattanooga State asst. Volonte Bell killed in accident

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Volonte Bell, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Chattanooga State and the older brother of New Orleans Saints safety Vonn Bell, was killed in a traffic accident Sunday night, the school confirmed.

Chattanooga State head coach Jay Price spoke glowingly to the Chattanooga Times Free Press about Volonte Bell, who was in his third year with the team.

“I spoke with his mother this morning and she was trying to be strong, but this is just a very sad day for all of us who knew him,” Price said. “Volonte was just a positive, energetic guy who was always upbeat. Anybody who met him will tell you the first thing you always noticed was his smile and that’s the thing a lot of us will remember him for.

“This was probably his last year to coach with us because he was too good at such a young age not to be moving up. His personality made him a perfect fit for the coaching world because he never met a stranger, he could talk to anybody and didn’t mind working hard. He had such a bright future ahead of him. It’s just hard to believe.”

The Chattanooga police department would not confirm the names of anyone involved in the accident. But according to police, the 29-year-old male later identified as Bell was pronounced dead on the scene shortly before 10 p.m.

According to police, he was driving a Honda Civic and failed to slow down before striking a trailer that was being towed by a Volvo truck in front of him in the middle lane of traffic.



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Ex-Browns DE Chris Smith eyes NFL comeback after girlfriend’s death

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Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith, whose girlfriend was killed in a traffic accident last September, is making a comeback and is looking to sign with an NFL team, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Smith is feeling better and ready to resume his career, the source said.

Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a driver on Interstate 90 in Cleveland. She had been a passenger in Smith’s 2019 Lamborghini and exited the vehicle when it had a tire malfunction and hit the median.

The couple had just had a daughter together the month before.

Smith started two games for the Browns in 2018, but compiled only one tackle in eight games following Cordero’s death.

The Browns released Smith on Dec. 3.

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