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Adam Vinatieri misses another extra point in Colts loss to Dolphins

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich has gone from defending struggling kicker Adam Vinatieri earlier season by saying things like he had all the confidence in the world in him to now not speaking with as much certainty about his future with the franchise.

Vinatieri continued his season-long problems when he missed another extra point in the Colts’ 16-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Vinatieri’s missed extra point ruined a chance for the Colts to have an opportunity to kick a field goal to send the game into overtime. Needing a touchdown to win, the Colts were stopped on fourth down at Miami’s 8-yard line with 40 seconds left in the game.

“Really, no comment,” Reich said. “We’ve been committed to (Vinatieri). We’re going to always evaluate. Everybody gets measured. Everybody is held accountable, from top to bottom. That’s always the case. Nothing meant to read into that. That’s the reality of the business. There’s been no discussions about that between (general manager) Chris (Ballard) and I. That’s just the business.”

Of all the problems the Colts were expected to endure this season following Andrew Luck’s retirement, kicking wasn’t on the list with the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, Vinatieri, on the roster.

But Vinatieri, instead, has turned into almost a weekly problem for the Colts. He has missed six extra points and five field goals.

Five of Vinatieri’s six missed extra points have come when the game was within three points, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He is making just 16.7 percent of his extra points in those situations. Every other kicker in the NFL with at least two extra-point kicks has made over 75 percent of their attempts in that scenario.

The Colts are 5-4, a full game behind Houston (6-3) in the AFC South, but Vinatieri has been responsible for two of the losses — against the Chargers in Week 1 and the Steelers in Week 9 — and potentially Sunday’s loss to Miami with the missed extra point.

“It’s fine. It’s there,” Vinatieri said about his confidence level. “It’s not a matter of that. It’s just a matter of executing.”

When asked if he’s been dealing with any kind of injuries, Vinatieri said, “We don’t talk about injuries one way or another. I’m healthy enough to be out on the field.”

One of Ballard’s strongest attributes has been a desire to push for competition on the roster. That hasn’t been the case for Vinatieri outside of when they worked out six kickers prior to Week 3. Reich acknowledged earlier in the season that there are some different standards for Vinatieri because of the success he’s had during his 24-year playing career.

But staying loyal to Vinatieri has already cost the Colts some this season, and it may hurt them come December when they’re trying to make the playoffs.

“It’s the track record and it’s what we see in practice,” Reich said. “I believe this guy, mentally, to be one of the toughest guys to ever play. To do what he’s done in his career. That’s what’s going into (sticking with him). There was a stretch there of about four or five weeks where the operation was good for four or five weeks there. These misses have come in small bunches. There is an expectation there. We need to make those.”

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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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