Eagles

NFL Notes: Cowboys set to release Tony Romo

NFL Notes: Cowboys set to release Tony Romo

DALLAS -- A person with knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press that the Dallas Cowboys will release quarterback Tony Romo when the NFL year opens on Thursday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced a decision on Romo, who will get a chance to pursue a starting job elsewhere.

Romo will leave the Cowboys as the franchise leader in yards passing and touchdowns after losing the starting job to rookie Dak Prescott. Dallas' 10-year starter broke a bone in his back in a preseason game last year.

Romo, who turns 37 next month, threw for 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns, but could never match the postseason success of Super Bowl winners Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman (see full story).

Giants: Brandon Marshall joining on 2-year deal
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning and the New York Giants now have two legitimate threats on the outside.

The Giants found a complement to Odell Beckham Jr. on Wednesday by signing veteran free-agent receiver Brandon Marshall to a two-year, $12 million contact.

Marshall said the Giants' offer might have been the lowest that he got after being released by the Jets last week.

However, Ben McAdoo's team, which made the playoffs with an 11-5 record last season, offered him something else.

"It was all about championships," said Marshall, who has never made the playoffs since being drafted in the first round by Denver in 2006. "To get straight to the point -- it was all about a championship, they presented the best opportunity to be in a championship organization."

Marshall offers the Giants a lot. He is a big target at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and he has been productive. In 167 regular-season games with Denver, Miami, Chicago and the Jets, he has caught 941 passes for 12,061 yards and 82 touchdowns (see full story).

Bills: Tyrod Taylor will continue to start at QB
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Tyrod Taylor will remain the Buffalo Bills starter after the team announced it has restructured the player's five-year contract extension.

The team revealed the news in a press release issued Wednesday, a day before the NFL's free-agency period began. The Bills had until Saturday to determine whether to pick up the extension Taylor signed in August or part ways with the two-year starter.

Taylor's long-term future in Buffalo had otherwise been in question since the season ended, when general manager Doug Whaley declined to say whether the team was committed to keeping the player. Newly hired coach Sean McDermott also declined to discuss Taylor's future after he took over in January after Rex Ryan's dismissal.

Taylor has a 15-14 record in two seasons with Buffalo (see full story).

Redskins: Vernon Davis re-signs on 3-year deal
WASHINGTON -- When Vernon Davis mentioned after his 11th NFL season that he'd like to play six more, it brought some laughs.

He wasn't kidding.

Davis believes he can play for more than another half-decade and took a big step toward that goal by re-signing with the Washington Redskins on a three-year contract. The 33-year-old revealed the length of the deal on his Snapchat account late Tuesday night, and the team announced the new contract Wednesday morning.

The Washington native revitalized his career last season with the Redskins, starting 14 games and catching 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. In 11 seasons, the Maryland product has 505 receptions for 6,424 yards and 57 touchdowns.

"I felt like I just fell in love with the game all over again," he said.

Davis was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Denver Broncos in 2015 and won the Super Bowl as a complementary player. The Broncos let him go, allowing him to sign with the Redskins last year (see full story).

Dolphins: Exclusive rights free agents tendered
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins announced Monday they've tendered four exclusive rights free agents, including center Anthony Steen, who started seven games last year.

Also tendered were linebacker Mike Hull, cornerback Lafayette Pitts and tight end Thomas Duarte.

Steen, undrafted as a rookie in 2014, filled in when center Mike Pouncey was hurt last season. Hull and Pitts were valuable on special teams, and Duarte spent much of last season on the practice squad.

Exclusive rights free agents are players with less than three years of experience, and they are unable to negotiate with other teams.

Chiefs: Harris arrested for drug possession 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Kansas City Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris has been arrested on suspicion of felony possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Kansas City Star reports that Harris was a passenger in a car stopped Tuesday on Interstate 49. He was taken to the Bates County Jail, where he was booked and released. He has not been charged.

Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe says the car was stopped for a traffic violation. He says a trooper smelled marijuana and found the drug on Harris.

The 25-year-old Harris was the Chiefs' backup tight end behind Travis Kelce the last two seasons and has played in 32 games while making 20 starts.

Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews declined comment.

Panthers: Whittaker re-signs on 2-year deal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers have re-signed running back running back Fozzy Whittaker to a two-year contract as Carolina continued to retain potential free agents.

Financial terms of the new deal were not announced Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Whittaker served as Jonathan Stewart's backup last season in Carolina and rushed for 265 yards and averaged a team-high 4.6 yards per carry. He caught 25 passes for 226 yards.

He also served on special teams, returning 12 kickoffs for 275 yards.

Whittaker joined the Panthers in 2014 and has played in 55 games with four starts. He's rushed for 597 yards on 142 carries with two touchdowns and has 505 yards receiving on 63 catches with three touchdowns since his arrival.

The Panthers already have re-signed several players, including defensive linemen Charles Johnson, Mario Addison and Wes Horton; and wide receiver Brenton Bersin.

Lions: Hyder, Copeland and Jones tendered
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have tendered defensive ends Kerry Hyder and Brandon Copeland and wide receiver TJ Jones.

The Lions announced the moves Wednesday.

Hyder had a team-high eight sacks last season, emerging as a surprising standout . He was undrafted in 2014 and spent nearly two seasons on practice squads with the New York Jets and Lions before making his NFL debut in the last game of the 2015 season.

Copeland, who primarily played on special teams, had 11 tackles and forced a fumble last season. Jones has 15 career receptions for 225 yards and a TD in 13 games.

All three players are exclusive rights free agents, who have less than three years of experience and are unable to negotiate with other teams.

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

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USA Today Images

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

ASHBURN, Va. — Quinton Dunbar takes pride in the way Washington Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray makes every member of the secondary prepare as though he's starting.

"When you get in, you are expected to play like a starter," Dunbar said.

That approach has come in handy this season. Already 2015 All-Pro Josh Norman, fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland and safety Stefan McClure have gone down with injuries, and second-year safety Su'a Cravens left the team to contemplate retirement.

It's possible Breeland, who sprained his left knee Sunday against San Francisco, and Norman, who has been out with a broken rib, play Monday night.

If they can't go, Washington will lean heavily on Dunbar, Kendall Fuller and rookies Montae Nicholson, Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey against quarterback Carson Wentz and the NFC East-leading Eagles.

"It'll be a great challenge because he's playing extremely well," Gruden said.

"Our guys will have to step up. That's just the way it is. There's a lot of teams around the National Football League this time of year that are dealing with key injuries at certain positions and we just had a couple of them at the corner spot. Fabian, Dunbar, they'll have to step up and play well (along with) Holsey, Fuller."

Breeland began the 49ers game as the top cornerback with Norman out and took a block at the knee from offensive lineman Joe Staley. Gruden said Breeland escaped serious MCL damage and is a quick healer, so he could be ready to face the 5-1 Eagles.

Norman will ramp up his running and exercise this week, and Gruden said "there's a chance" he plays Monday.

The news isn't so good for rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who could miss three weeks or more with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, and kicker Dustin Hopkins, whose right hip rotator muscle strain will force the Redskins to work out free agent kickers this week.

Even with all the injuries in the secondary, Washington hasn't yet had to look for external help because it has four 2016 or 2017 draft picks on the roster and able to take on extended roles.

"We are as strong as our weakest link and we always talk about not having the drop-offs," said Fuller, a 2016 third-round pick. "Anybody who is in there, we trust to make plays."

The Redskins have had no choice but to trust their young players, including Dunbar, a 25-year-old converted receiver. Injuries to D.J. Swearinger and Nicholson on Sunday almost forced Fuller to move from cornerback to safety where he saw no snaps at practice, and Moreau had to take over on the outside when Breeland was hurt in the second half.

Moreau, a third-round pick who missed the start of training camp with a torn pectoral muscle, said players follow Swearinger's lead to be ready for any situation.

"We got dogs," Moreau said. "We all trust each other. We all feed off of him, and we know that."

Of all the young defensive backs, no one has made a bigger leap than Dunbar, who was a receiver at Florida. Gruden joked that Dunbar isn't "really smart enough to know the magnitude of the situation he's in" and just goes out and plays.

Dunbar said after what he went through growing up that football's a pleasure for him and he doesn't blink. But he has made incredible strides since shifting to cornerback.

"Mentally I'm a thousand times better," Dunbar said. "I always had the physical attributes, man. It was more mental for me -- just breaking down the offenses, learning what's coming and stuff like that."

That'll come in handy against Wentz as the 3-2 Redskins try to close the gap and keep this a competitive division race.

From the coverage to the pass rush, Washington's defense must be better against Wentz than it was in a 30-17 loss in Week 1.

"We've got to figure out a way to contain Wentz," Gruden said. "He killed us with the off-schedule plays, and he's been doing that consistently throughout the year. That's why they're 5-1. It's a big game for us. We know that."

Roob's Random Points, part 1: Eagles' power ranking, playoffs, I-95 traffic tips

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USA Today Images

Roob's Random Points, part 1: Eagles' power ranking, playoffs, I-95 traffic tips

Are the Eagles the best team in football? Parking in Northern Liberties? Carson craziness? And Modern Baseball's final shows?

You can find it all in Part 1 of this week's 25 Random Points! Look for Part 2 at some Random time in the near future!
 
1. Watching football all day Sunday, it was impossible to ignore the reality that the Eagles are as good as anybody out there. One after another, the teams you wondered where the Eagles stacked up against lost. The Packers lost Aaron Rodgers and then lost meekly to the Vikings. The Falcons, once unbeatable in Atlanta, lost at home to the Dolphins. The undefeated Chiefs lost at home to the Steelers. The Broncos, who come to the Linc in a couple weeks, lost at home to the winless Giants. The Redskins barely hung on at home against the winless 49ers. And meanwhile, the Eagles just keep on winning. If I had to rank the 32 teams right now, the Eagles would be at No. 1. I'm sure the Chiefs would have something to say about that based on a head-to-head win and an identical 5-1 record. But as far as where everybody is today? You can make a compelling case that the Eagles are the best team in football. Yep.
 
2. A big theme on Twitter since Thursday night has been fans saying, "Calm down, don't get carried away, settle down, it's only six weeks." You know what? This team hasn't done anything since 2008 and they're now 5-1 with four straight wins, a hot quarterback and the best run defense in the NFL. There's nothing wrong with getting excited!
 
3. Of all the areas he's improved, Carson Wentz's interception ratio is the most dramatic and most important. He's seeing the field better but more than anything he's just not forcing throws like he did last year. With three INTs in 207 attempts, he's got the sixth-best INT ratio in the NFL out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks (1.45 per 100 attempts). This after ranking 17th out of 36 last year (2.31). Based on all 281 QBs in NFL history who've thrown 750 passes, Wentz now has the eighth-best career INT ratio at 2.09.
 
4. I'm crushed that they shut down the giant free parking lot behind the Acme across the street from the Piazza where Germantown Avenue hits 2nd Street. There is now officially nowhere to park in Northern Liberties.
 
5. Once the Phillies were eliminated from playoff contention, Philly's streak of consecutive seasons without a team advancing in a postseason series increased to 21. That goes back to a 76ers team led by Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday eliminating the Bulls in an Eastern Conference first-round series on May 10, 2012. That streak includes six Phillies seasons and five 76ers, Flyers and Eagles seasons. Not only is that streak about to be smashed to smithereens, I also wouldn't be surprised at all if all four teams advance in a postseason series over the next year.
 
6. Speaking of the Smithereens, they are without a doubt one of the most underrated American rock bands of the last quarter century. Here's my Smithereens Top 10: 1. Strangers when we Meet, 2. Behind the Wall of Sleep, 3. A Girl Like You, 4. Only a Memory, 5. Blue Period, 6. Yesterday Girl, 7. Top of the Pops, 8. Time Won't Let Me, 9. Drown in my own Tears, 10. House we used to Live In.
 
7. The Eagles are only the 10th team since 1970 with 750 or more rushing yards gained and fewer than 400 rushing yards allowed after six weeks.
 
8. Wentz's current streak of eight straight games with one or more touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions is the longest by an Eagles quarterback since Randall Cunningham had a 12-game streak in 1990.
 
9. If he throws three touchdowns Monday night, Wentz will become the first Eagles QB to throw three TD passes in three straight games in 64 years — since Bobby Thomason in 1953 (three at Pittsburgh, four vs. the Giants, three vs. the Colts). Only one QB has thrown more than one TD pass against the Redskins this year. Wentz. Of course.
 
10. Attending one of Modern Baseball's final three shows over the weekend was a genuinely moving experience. Modern Baseball — or MoBo, as they're affectionately known because MoBa looks stupid — is a beloved Philadelphia pop-punk band whose lyrics by co-songwriters Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald are deeply personal and resonate in a powerful way with the 17-to-22-year-olds who make up most of their massive world-wide audience. MoBo over the past seven years made a completely unexpected and meteoric rise from playing basements at Drexel to 20,000-seat arenas opening for Brand New. But the band is going on hiatus — perhaps temporary, perhaps permanent — because, as Ewald wrote on the band's Facebook page, "The project we started as a source of joy and positive expression had become something that was slowly eating away at our mental health and our friendships." But I'll tell you what … seeing 1,500 fist-pumping, body-surfing kids at Union Transfer joyously singing along to literally every word to every song Friday night really makes you realize just how much this band meant to so many people. A powerful, profound experience.
 
11. I once sat on a flight next to the manager of a Hard Rock Café. He had a great quote: "We're not a restaurant. We're a T-shirt store that also sells hamburgers."
 
12. LeGarrette Blount played in his 100th career regular-season game on the final day of last year with the Patriots. Thanks to the wonders of the Pro-Football Reference, we can compare his rushing average in all his games since No. 100 with every other running back since 1950. The result? Blount's rushing average of 5.6 after his 100th career game is the highest by any NFL running back in Game 101-on since Doak Walker averaged 6.2 yards from 1953 through 1955.
 
12½. Pro Tip: When there's an accident on 95 South near Center City, take the 2nd Street ramp off 95 and then turn left on Market and get back on 95 South. Even if you haven't passed the accident, the ramp is so long — 9-10ths of a mile — it will get you past a ton of blocked traffic before dropping you back on 95 South.