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Rangers get rare series win, 3-2 over Yankees

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm   Print This Print This

Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis did a bit of reminiscing when he noticed the stands filling up while he warned up in the bullpen before the game.

The veteran right-hander went out and provided a promising flashback performance against the New York Yankees, even after another leadoff homer by Brett Gardner. The Rangers clinched their first series in a month with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.

Lewis retired the last 13 batters he faced in seven strong innings, much like the 2010 AL championship series when he beat the Yankees twice — including the Game 6 clincher at home that got Texas to its first World Series. He had since missed the last half of 2012 because of elbow surgery and missed all of 2013, when he had an unprecedented hip procedure for a major league pitcher that was just short of a full hip replacement.

“I was definitely an adjustment period getting used to a prosthetic hip, I guess,” Lewis said. “As the weeks have kind of transitioned into the second half, I feel like every time I take the mound, I feel like I’m getting stronger, my mechanics are sharper.”

The Rangers had lost seven consecutive series since taking two of three against Minnesota from June 27-29. Read more …

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Astros over A’s 8-1

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 11:29 pm   Print This Print This

In at least one category, Dallas Keuchel is Clayton Kershaw’s equal. For at least one three-game series, Houston was better than Oakland.

Keuchel pitched a four-hitter and Robbie Grossman homered to cap a six-run first inning that sent the Astros past the Athletics 8-1 Wednesday.

Keuchel (10-7) pitched his fourth complete game of the season, tying Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the major league lead. And the Astros, 20 games under .500, won the series from the AL West-leading Athletics.

“(The A’s) do a lot of things well,” Keuchel said. “To get a complete game and get a win is something special in its own right.”

Marc Krauss beat out Oakland’s try for a double play in the first, and the Astros went on to match a season high for runs in an inning.

Keuchel struck out five and walked three.

Manager Bo Porter lauded Keuchel’s “plus-command” and willingness to use his secondary pitches. As he mixed his pitches up, Kuechel kept he A’s guessing and forcing the type of contact that can make for a good day. Read more …

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Cornerback Claiborne injures knee at practice

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 11:33 pm   Print This Print This

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne left Wednesday’s practice after twisting his right knee.

The team’s medical staff was going to evaluate the knee after the practice. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he didn’t know the severity of Claiborne’s injury but was not as concerned as he was the previous day about rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, based on the initial evaluation.

X-rays showed Lawrence had a broken bone in his right foot that will sideline him from eight to 12 weeks. Jones said he did not know if Claiborne’s injury was serious enough to need an MRI exam.

“[Head athletic trainer] Jim Maurer felt pretty good about it,” Jones said. “Our head trainer looked at it. Certainly it was enough to get examined. He’s been one of our highlights.”

Claiborne said his knee twisted when his cleats got caught in the ground as he attempted to make a play on the pass. He did not take another rep after the play, a back-shoulder fade to Terrance Williams in 7-on-7 drills, watching the rest of the practice from the sideline. Read more …

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Cowboys LT Smith inks $110M deal

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 11:32 pm   Print This Print This

By Todd Archer | ESPN.com

OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys have signed Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tyron Smith to an eight-year extension through 2023, making the total value of his contract worth nearly $110 million, according to multiple sources.

Smith, who the Cowboys view as a cornerstone of their future, is guaranteed $40 million and will receive a $10 million signing bonus, according to sources. He had two years remaining on his previous contract after the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie deal in the spring.

“Late last week, the Cowboys approached me with a deal I told my agents I wanted to sign,” Smith said in a statement released by his marketing firm. “My agents explained the pros and cons of this deal versus one that may be shorter term and/or higher guarantee. After careful consideration, I decided this long term deal was exactly what I wanted.

“Over the past three years, the Cowboys organization and Jones Family have helped me through trying times and I felt this was my opportunity to return the gratitude. I am beyond grateful for the Cowboys staff, my teammates, and the fans, and wanted to ensure I was locked in as a ‘Cowboy for Life.’ I want to thank everyone for their support and look forward to having a star on my helmet for the remainder of my career.” Read more …

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Romo unsure he’ll play in preseason opener

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 11:31 pm   Print This Print This

By Todd Archer | ESPN.com

OXNARD, Calif. — With the long-term view on the regular season, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he will play some in the preseason, but perhaps not the Aug. 7 opener against the San Diego Chargers.

“You’re constantly evaluating it and you’re constantly, I don’t want to say adjusting because you stick to the plan, but it’s a progression,” Romo said. “It’s leading up to San Francisco (on Sept. 7 for the season opener). I am going to play in the preseason, obviously. I think it’s important. The first game, we’ll talk about it as we move into the weekend.”

After having surgery to remove a cyst from his back last year, Romo did not play in the 2013 preseason opener in the Hall of Fame Game against the Miami Dolphins. He saw action in the second preseason game, completing six of eight passes for 88 yards in two drives.

Romo returned to practice on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday’s afternoon session as he continues to monitor his training camp work because of back surgery last December. Romo plans on practicing again Thursday with the Cowboys scheduled for an off day on Friday. Read more …

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Jones not worried over San Antonio

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 10:19 am   Print This Print This

By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he had no idea Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis had met with San Antonio officials about relocating the team.

Nor did he seem concerned about it.

“I don’t make a lot of this at all,” Jones said Tuesday afternoon. “Again, my interest in San Antonio is because of how important it is to the Cowboys and our history of having training camp there and the fact that we have such a tremendous fan base in San Antonio.

“The first I heard about it, I thought it was somebody playing a joke on me about him going to San Antonio.”

The San Antonio Express-News reported Davis met with several city officials on the weekend of July 18, including then-mayor Julian Castro and city manager Sheryl Sculley.

The report said the Raiders could play at the Alamodome until a stadium was built for them. The Raiders’ lease at O.Co Coliseum expires following the 2014-15 season.

For an NFL franchise to change cities, it needs support from 24 of the 32 teams.

The Cowboys have held training camp in San Antonio six times since 2002. Jones has always been protective of the San Antonio market.

“What I will say is San Antonio is very important to the Dallas Cowboys,” Jones said. “We have the exact same percentage of fans in San Antonio as we do in Plano, Texas — about 98 percent.

“It would be difficult for them to make headway. I’ll make sure of that. That would be very difficult. Now the Spurs are another story.”

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Dez Bryant takes leadership role seriously

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 10:18 am   Print This Print This

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Dez Bryant has yet to hit his prime, so he playfully protests when asked about being the old head among the Dallas Cowboys’ receivers.

“I’m not the old guy!” Bryant said with a kid’s goofy grin.

OK, Bryant is a little more than a year younger than Dwayne Harris. However, in terms of NFL experience, Bryant suddenly finds himself as the senior member of the receiving corps as he enters his fifth NFL season at the ripe old age of 25.

The leadership role rests firmly on Bryant’s shoulders after the Cowboys cut Miles Austin during the offseason. Truthfully, Bryant has transitioned into that role over the past year due to his ability as much as his experience. It’s only natural for young players, such as second-year receiver Terrance Williams or rookie Devin Street, to look to an elite talent to set the tone.

“There’s a greater responsibility when you’re the best player in the room,” receivers coach Derek Dooley said. “People generally look up to guys that have been to Pro Bowls and made these great plays. You can either be an example in a positive way or be an example in a negative way.

“I’m really blessed to have a guy like Dez because he has an incredible work ethic on the field and an incredible desire to get better in his trade. All that does is spill down to the rest of the guys.”

All old jokes aside, Bryant takes his responsibility as a leader among the receivers seriously. He helped build a brotherhood-like bond by frequently organizing offseason group dinners, when the receivers would typically shoot the bull until the restaurant closed and Bryant refused to let anyone else pay the bill.

Bryant radiates positivity, often going out of his way to praise the other receivers, publicly and privately. He carefully picks his spots to offer constructive criticism, too.

“He just doesn’t talk just to talk,” Williams said. “The times he does say something, people listen because it’s something that can help us all out. The times he’s coaching me, he’s coaching the whole group. We all pay attention to the stuff he says, because when he talks, he means it.”

More than anything, Bryant sets a tone with his approach to the game. He’s attentive and engaged in the meeting room, a far cry from the kid who used to be frequently tardy and struggle to focus in film sessions. Bryant has always epitomized passion on the practice field.

“Dez sets the tone every day at practice,” No. 3 receiver Cole Beasley said. “He just has so much fire in him. It pumps all of our receivers up and makes us want to work. That’s what he does every day. He comes out here and works hard and pushes us to be better because he’s such a freak.”

Added Williams: “When you have somebody like that, you don’t want to let that guy down.”

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DeMarcus Lawrence out 8-10 weeks

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 10:15 am   Print This Print This

By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Cowboys second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence, a defensive end Dallas drafted to help their pass rush this year, will miss eight to 10 weeks with a broken right foot, sources said.

Lawrence was injured during a pass-rush drill against left tackle Tyron Smith on Tuesday afternoon. Lawrence tried a speed rush around the end, but Smith moved with him and drove the Lawrence into the ground. Lawrence’s foot appeared to get caught under him awkwardly, and he uttered a profanity as the play ended.

He stayed on the ground for a few minutes before limping off the field with trainer Jim Maurer. He was then transported off the field on a cart.

The Cowboys wanted Lawrence to be a major part of their defense as a rookie, which is one of the reasons they moved up to get him in the draft. He was competing with Jeremy Mincey for a starting position.

“His attitude … you can’t discourage him,” owner Jerry Jones said of Lawrence on Tuesday. “Physically, his hands, his quickness, his athletic ability, but basically the fact that he doesn’t get discouraged. Matter of fact, if he’s blocked, he’s that much more tenacious, and that may be the quality to have, other than athletic ability as a pressure player.”

The Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware this past offseason, and they hoped Lawrence could help compensate for his absence. The Cowboys had just 34 sacks last season, which tied for 25th in the NFL. George Selvie led the team with seven, which doubled his career total. Defensive tackle Henry Melton, coming off a torn ACL, is the most accomplished pass-rusher on the team with 15.5 career sacks.

ESPN.com’s Todd Archer contributed to this report.

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Jerry: No concern about Romo’s back

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm   Print This Print This

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he has no concern about Tony Romo’s surgically repaired back despite the franchise quarterback twice sitting out practices for precautionary reasons during the first week of training camp.

“He’s 100 percent,” Jones said. “He’s just being real smart and sensitive about having come off the back surgery. He’s certainly not losing any ground from the standpoint of opening up against San Francisco.”

Jones said Romo has not missed any more practice time than the team anticipated when the Cowboys opened camp. Head coach Jason Garrett said earlier Tuesday that Romo’s rest is based in large part on “honest feedback” from the quarterback.

“We feel real good,” said Jones, who visited with Romo before the afternoon practice that the quarterback observed. “We’re really pleased with the way he’s practicing and the work he’s getting done and what he’s doing both on and off the field, but nothing in any way would concern you certainly about his back.”

Jones said Romo might get less preseason playing time than normal, but he attributed that to the Cowboys wanting to get new backup quarterback Brandon Weeden as much work as possible.

“In the practices that we’ve had so far, it’s just been really impressive the way he executed, the way he’s picked his receivers,” Jones said. “You weigh it all and I’m really pleased with where we are and I’m certainly pleased with how his back’s feeling.”

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Tyron Smith gets 8-year extension

Posted/updated on: July 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm   Print This Print This

By Todd Archer | ESPN.com

OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys have signed Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tyron Smith to an eight-year extension through 2023, making the total value of his contract worth nearly $110 million, according to multiple sources.

Smith, who the Cowboys view as a cornerstone of their future, is guaranteed $40 million and will receive a $10 million signing bonus, according to sources. He had two years remaining on his previous contract after the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie deal in the spring.

Smith is the second member of the 2011 draft class to sign a lucrative extension in as many days, joining Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who signed a five-year extension worth $70 million.

Smith became the first offensive lineman drafted by the Cowboys in the first round since 1981 when he was selected with the ninth overall pick of the draft. He has started all but one game since joining the Cowboys and moved to left tackle in 2012.

The Cowboys have been in negotiations with his agents through the spring and talks picked up recently.

Smith does not turn 24 until December and will be able to hit free agency again by the time he is 32. Smith is considered a prototype left tackle with his athleticism and strength and was selected as a second-team All-Pro in 2013.

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