Dallas Sports News
ARLINGTON -- What a week it’s been for Wings’ center Liz Cambage.
On Tuesday, she set a WNBA record by scoring 53 points in a win against the New York Liberty. Later that same day, she was named an All-Star for the second time in her career.
Cambage followed that up by setting another WNBA-record on Thursday in the Wings (14-9) a 90-81 win against the Washington Mystics (13-10) at College Park Center.
Cambage’s 35 points against Washington set a league record for the most points scored in two consecutive games with 88 total.
Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore previously held the record, scoring 80 points in a two-game span during the 2014 season.
“I guess I was feeling it again tonight,” Cambage said. “I don’t get caught up in records or MVP talk,”
From the opening tip, there was a buzz in the arena every time Cambage touched the ball. However, she struggled early on, shooting 2-for-7 in the first quarter.
Wings forward Kayla Thornton set the tone early, scoring 10 first-quarter points to lead Dallas to a 31-20 lead after one.
Thornton also had an impact on the defensive end by limiting Mystics forward and WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne to nine points on 3-for-14 shooting.
“My mindset was just coming in and just stopping her from what she wants to do,” Thornton said. “It just wasn’t me, it was my team helping me. Like I said, she’s a great player, she’s going to score, but you have to try to limit those touches.”
Offensively, the Wings flowed as Cambage did.
Dallas sat Cambage down for a two-minute span in the second quarter and went scoreless in that span. As soon as Cambage subbed back in, she scored six-straight points.
Washington countered with a 7-1 run in the third quarter to cut the Wings lead to 55-51 just over three minutes into the third quarter.
However, Cambage carried the Wings with 18 points in the second half to help them hold on for the win. Cambage finished with 35 points, 17 rebounds and four assists.
The Wings have won seven of their last eight games and are now in a three-way tie for third place with the Atlanta Dream (14-9) and the LA Sparks (14-9) and sit a game ahead of Washington.
On the second half of their back-to-back, the Wings will travel to Wintrust Arena to face the Chicago Sky at 8 p.m. Friday.
Dallas has only two more games until the All-Star break, which will finish out a stretch of four games in six days.
“After the All-Star break, we’ve got to go full board,” Wings head coach Fred Williams said. “Get your mind set for playoffs and climb up the ladder."
Skylar Diggins-Smith earns community service award: WNBA President Lisa Borders presented Wings' guard Skylar Diggins-Smith with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award on Thursday prior to the game.
Each season, a designated committee selects a winner from a group of nominated players for their work in the community. Diggins-Smith is the first player in the Dallas Wings' franchise history to earn the honor since it was first awarded in 2008.
Diggins-Smith has a longstanding affiliation with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America from when she joined the program as a first grader and she's been active in supporting it since making it to the WNBA. She hosted a surprise private screening of Black Panther for some children and coached in a basketball game between the kids and staff.
All-Star rosters revealed: All-Star captains Delle Donne and LA Sparks forward Candace Parker selected their teams on Thursday.
Parker selected both Cambage and Diggins-Smith for her team. The All-Star game will be played at 2:30 p.m. on July 28th at Target Center in Minnesota.
The Rangers began peeling off tradable assets Thursday on the eve of returning from the All-Star break by sending long reliever Jesse Chavez to the Chicago Cubs. The Rangers will receive Class A left-hander Tyler Thomas.
Thomas, 22, is 3-5 with a 2.88 ERA at low Class A South Bend of the Midwest League. He will go to Class A Hickory. Thomas was a seventh-round pick in 2017 from Fresno State.
Thomas saw his draft stock perhaps slip in 2017 with some late-season struggles. He entered the Cubs system as a slightly-built lefty (6-1, 175 pounds) with a slightly below average fastball, but with a very refined changeup. He has walked just 27 in 94.1 professional innings while featuring a fastball in the 87-88 mph range, a slurvy breaking ball and the changeup.
Chavez, a month shy of his 35th birthday, had been an effective long reliever for the Rangers. He pitched 56 innings over 30 games and compiled a 3.51 ERA.
Thomas is the third minor league pitcher the Rangers have acquired since the start of the season via trade. They added hard-throwing Emmanuel Clase in a deal for catcher Brett Nicholas and right-hander Jason Bahr in a deal with San Francisco two weeks ago.
Randy Gregory will soon rejoin the Cowboys, thanks to an application for reinstatement that spanned more than 2,000 pages.
What did it include? There were sections detailing Gregory's California treatment and his abstinence from substance abuse; expert opinions advocating why the defensive end could again live a healthy, productive life while playing for the Cowboys. The application also included a series of letters from teammates and league leaders alike, making a case for how Gregory has changed as a person over the last year and why he can be a blueprint for league success.
"I'm very excited for the public and media to get to know the real Randy Gregory," attorney Daniel Moskowitz, who spearheaded the application, said by phone this week. "To get to know his story, which is nothing short of remarkable."
Veteran teammates wrote letters to commissioner Roger Goodell with that same motive: to show Goodell who Gregory the person is and why they want Gregory back in their locker room.
"Randy is a good person, with a big heart and an infectious personality that can lift up the spirits of everyone around him," linebacker Sean Lee wrote. "He is intelligent, and I believe that is what will make this time different for him."
"He was matured with the birth of his child, and he's grown from everything he's been through over the past few years," defensive end Tyrone Crawford added. "I believe he can come back and be a success story in this league."
Safety Jeff Heath implored Goodell that a return is the best thing for "not only Randy the football player, but Randy the man."
Below are copies, followed by the full text, from each of the three letters SportsDay obtained:Linebacker Sean Lee
As one of the longest tenured players in our locker room, I have a unique perspective of the entire team. Being in the Dallas Cowboys locker room everyday allows me to understand the power and positive presence of my fellow teammates. Randy is exactly the type of person that would positively benefit from being back in the NFL, back with the Dallas Cowboys.
He has battled his personal issues, and he has learned from them. We have a saying around here, 'It's a privilege, not a right, to play, coach and work for the Dallas Cowboys,' and each of us takes this saying very serious and never takes for granted playing for this organization. Randy does not take the blessing of playing football for granted, and despite what he has been through over the course of the last two or three years, he is working hard to make himself better. He deserves a second chance to take advantage of his abilities, to positively contribute to this team and to the NFL, on and off the field.
Randy is a good person, with a big heart and an infectious personality that can lift up the spirits of everyone around him. He is intelligent, and I believe that is what will make this time different for him. With a second chance, he knows he has the opportunity to turn his life around, right any wrongs he has done and be a positive influence and role model to anyone who hears his story.
He has the right mindset to succeed. He has the right support system to succeed. He has the right teammates to succeed. Now, he just needs the opportunity to put these important influences back into his life, and he will be the man we all know he can be.
Please reach out to me if you have any more questions or need any other information.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Sean LeeDefensive end Tyrone Crawford
Over the course of the last several seasons, I have been through the rigors of the NFL and have been around a lot of players. Now, being a leader among the veterans, and more specifically the defensive line, I think back to when I first met Randy. I noticed something different about him. A desire to be better, a want to grow. He had his issues that kept him from attaining those goals right off the bat, but he did fight to move forward.
Randy always has been a good teammate. He was always good to me and to others on and off the field. He strove to be on time and go about things like a professional. He fought some demons that stalled his growth, but being away from the game that gave him structure, gave him perspective and taught him to reach from within has helped give him a view of what he wants his future to be.
It's important to him, it's important to us, to get him back around the guys he is familiar with, to be back in the room with me and some of the other veterans that will be there for him and help him grow into the man he wants to be.
As a rookie, he was always striving for respect in the locker room, while struggling to live up to the expectations of what someone else wanted him to be. That's what got to him, and at that age, it got to him, like it would anyone. I know from his time away, he has definitely matured. He was matured with the birth of his child, and he's grown from everything he's been through over the past few years. I believe he can come back and be a success story in this league and help out others.
If you need any clarification, or have any questions, please reach out to me.
Tyrone CrawfordSafety Jeff Heath
When Randy arrived in Dallas as our second round draft pick in 2015, I was beginning my third year in the league with the Dallas Cowboys. Getting to know Randy in his rookie year, I saw a good kid, with a good heart who means well. I got the vibe that he is a humble guy. He is quiet, and wouldn't necessary voice, but he cherished the relationships he was building within this building. He was very thankful that there were guys who had his back.
Just like everyone else, Randy encountered some bumps in the road that led to his suspension from the NFL. When I saw him recently, he told me he realized there are better ways to deal with his stress, and for him, it was to have a good group of people around who have his best interest in mind. Just recognizing that, and realizing that was an issue, is a huge step for him. The best thing for him is to be in this locker room, around his teammates.
For Randy, when he's in this locker room, he knows there are a bunch of guys who care about him, for no other reason than he is a part of the family. He is our teammate, and we want to see him do well. To isolate a guy like him, and not allow him to be around his teammates, is not the way to handle him. He does best when he knows people care about him. He is willing to really work on himself a lot in order to make relationships in the locker room with the new players, coaches and everyone around this football team.
I truly believe it is in the best interest of Randy, not only Randy the football player, but Randy the man, to be back with the team, around the team mentality, unity and structure. After being away for the last year, and working to right his life, Randy is ready to make his return and deserves a second chance.
If you have any questions, I would be happy to speak with you further on his reinstatement.
Thank you for your consideration,
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will play significant games all the way to the finish of this season.
That may not be the best thing for this club.
If the Rangers do not improve upon their first-half showing, they open themselves to being embarrassed in the second half. Their schedule is that difficult.
Starting with the opener of a three-game series against Cleveland on Friday at Globe Life Park, the Rangers will play 33 of their next 37 games against clubs that currently are at .500 or better. Of the final 65 games, 55 are against opponents that currently are at .500 or better.
These are not teams just hanging around .500.
Eight are at least legitimate playoff contenders: Arizona, Cleveland, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Two others with winning records are unlikely to reach the postseason: Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels.
The contenders need to win as often as possible against a club such as the Rangers. How the Rangers respond will be telling.
"We need to go out and play with our identity and really establish what that is right now," manager Jeff Banister said Thursday.
The schedule could turn into motivation for the Rangers, particularly with their younger players.
No one wants to be a tomato can, beaten up regularly by high-flying opponents.
"I feel like we're going to be the problem," center fielder Delino DeShields said. "Those guys fighting for playoff spots, we're going to be the problem for them.
"That's how you have to look at it. We have to elevate our game. It'll show a lot about each individual on this team, not folding but continuing to play hard."
Four spots in the AL playoff field will go to reigning World Series champion Houston, Boston, Cleveland and the Yankees. The Rangers will be heavily involved in the lone remaining AL race: Oakland versus Seattle for the second wild card.
The Rangers have 10 remaining games against each club. That includes playing Seattle in seven of the final 10 games of the season.
The Rangers will also be briefly involved in the "race" between Boston and the Yankees to avoid going into the postseason as the first wild card. They have a four-game series at the Yankees in the second week of August. The Yankees are 33-13 at home.
"It's going to be an interesting second half," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "The good thing is we're going to face a lot of good teams. When you face good, it gets the best out of you."
The Rangers will play Arizona and San Francisco for the first time this season in the second half. They were 23-35 against the other 10 opponents in the first half.
Play better, and the season will end with hopeful signs.
Play at that rate again, and the Rangers will lose 95 games for the second time in five seasons. They were also 67-95 in 2014.
Play worse, and this becomes one of the worst seasons in franchise history. The Rangers last had more than 95 losses in 1985, when they were 62-99. You know what comes after that.
Twitter: @gfraleyAgainst the best
A look at the worst records in the majors when playing clubs that have a .500 or better record:Team Record Winning Percentage Kansas City 12-42 .222 Baltimore 15-47 .242 Chicago White Sox 12-31 .279 Detroit 14-31 .311 Rangers 21-40 .344
National writer's Cowboys predictions for next three years: Dallas wins another Super Bowl; Ezekiel Elliott's contract gets messy
Before getting started, a warning:
Take everything you're about to hear with a grain of salt.
Many predictions for the upcoming season won't come true, let alone predictions made for three years down the road.
But ESPN's Dan Graziano insists he has a crystal ball for this kind of stuff, and while this would normally call for a slow rolling of the eyes, it turns out he has some good news for Cowboys fans.
Really good news.
So, let's here it!
Graziano thinks that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have what it takes to lead Dallas on a deep postseason run. He predicts that the Cowboys will win one of the next three Super Bowls.
For you travel aficionados out there, this means you can start looking for flights and hotels in Atlanta, Miami and Tampa.
Here's what Graziano had to say:
It just feels as if people are sleeping on a team that went 9-7 last year while its best player/key to the offense was suspended for six games. Assuming Ezekiel Elliott plays all 16 games, there's no reason not to like the Cowboys as 2018 contenders. And with their dominant offensive line all under contract and Dak Prescott still on his rookie deal at quarterback, there's no reason to think there's any major drop-off coming in the short term.
What's more? He also predicted the Philadelphia Eagles won't win another championship in that span.
Graziano's second prediction is less fun... He thinks Elliott's starting price for a second contract will be high enough to make the Cowboys evaluate if he's worth the money.
[Le'Veon] Bell's situation isn't going to be the last difficult running back contract over the next couple of years. Running back is a weird position. Because of the rookie wage scale and the relative stagnation of veteran running back salaries, a back taken in the top five or 10 picks of the draft these days instantly becomes one of the highest-paid backs in the league. Teams aren't getting bargains on backs taken that high the way they are with quarterbacks and pass-rushers on their rookie deals. This is why the Cowboys are going to have a problem when Elliott's rookie deal ends. The Rams' 2019 fifth-year option on Todd Gurley is $9.63 million, which means Elliott's fifth-year option in 2020 is likely to be higher than $10 million, which means a high starting point for negotiations when Elliott's agent goes to the team to start discussions on a second contract. ...
Then again, if Elliott does help lead Dallas back to glory, maybe his pricetag wouldn't be an issue.
Training camp is just a week away for the Cowboys after an offseason of change.
This year's 25-day stay in Oxnard, Calif., will have a much different feel for Dallas with tight end Jason Witten and receiver Dez Bryant no longer around.
The youth movement is in full effect with only three players left on the roster who are 30 or older.
Over the next month, the Cowboys will whittle down their roster to the final 53 players and along the way show a few hints of what's to come in the regular season.
Here is one of the major storylines to follow as the Cowboys kick off training camp.
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith doesn't need to wear an ankle-foot orthosis brace anymore. That alone shows the progress he's made since his first season on the field in the NFL a year ago.
Smith said his drop foot condition, a result of his major knee injury while at Notre Dame, has improved so much that he moves just fine without a brace.
The Cowboys are hopeful Smith can return to his form from college, when he resembled a heat-seeking missile on many plays. Smith spent offseason practices at first-team middle linebacker ahead of first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch.
The Cowboys will look for ways to get both linebackers on the field at the same time alongside leader Sean Lee, but for now Smith enters training camp ahead of the rookie.
Smith said in June he feels faster now than he did in college. Smith's straight-line speed wasn't an issue last season, however, as much as his lateral movement appeared to be at times.
If Smith is anywhere close to what he was at Notre Dame, the Cowboys will feel even better about the second-round pick they used on him in 2016.
NFL, Players Association reach 'standstill agreement' on national anthem issue in wake of Miami Dolphins' threat to suspend protesting players
UPDATE (8:47 p.m.): The NFL and the Players Association released a joint statement, saying they have reached a "standstill" in their anthem dialogue.
The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA's grievance and on the NFL's anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.
The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice.
Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.
Updated story, from the Associated Press (10:40 p.m.):
The NFL is taking a knee when it comes to implementing the league's new national anthem policy.
The NFL and NFL Players Association have come to a "standstill agreement" regarding the NFL's revised anthem policy and the NFL's grievance against the league, the two sides announced in a joint statement Thursday evening.
As part of the agreement, the new rule requiring players and league personnel to stand for the national anthem has been put on hold pending further discussions between the NFL and NFLPA over the course of the next several weeks.
The joint statement comes only hours after it was reported the Dolphins implemented a "Proper Anthem Conduct" policy for the coming season. The new team rule states Miami players who protest on the field during the national anthem could receive up to a four-game suspension.
According to BuzzFeed, the joint agreement between the NFL and NFLPA will also nullify the Dolphins' anthem policy.
The NFL will likely hope to resolve the national anthem controversy before its annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2.
Original story, from the Associated Press:
Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.
The "Proper Anthem Conduct" section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the policy who insisted on anonymity because the document is not public. It classifies anthem protests under a large list of "conduct detrimental to the club," all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine or both.
Miami's anthem policy comes after the NFL decided in May that teams would be fined if players didn't stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" while on the field. The league left it up to teams on how to punish players. None of the team policies have been made public.
The NFL rule forbids players from sitting or taking a knee if they are on the field or sidelines during the national anthem, but allows them to stay in the locker room if they wish. The new league rules were challenged this month in a grievance by the players union.
The NFL declined to comment. Team officials had no immediate comment.
As the Rangers prepare for the second half of the season and kick their organizational overhaul into first gear, they approach it with 2020 vision.
Or 2021. Possibly 2022.
What’s clear is the rebuild won’t be completed by the trade deadline or by the coming offseason. This is a long-term project. And though it’s been clear since the first month of the season that this was the direction the team was headed, only now can it take the first big steps towards actually implementing changes.
The trade deadline may allow the Rangers to restructure the roster. It may allow for more experimentation with young players and more opportunities for them as well.
There is a laundry list of projects to tackle going forward. Here are five the Rangers can put to use over the final 65 games of the season
Fix Joey Gallo: Advanced metrics suggest Gallo has made marginal improvements in hitting the ball the opposite way, chasing pitches and hitting the ball hard. It has not translated to results. More egregious is this: Teams are taking away more hits with dramatic shifts and Gallo must combat that by being able to control his bat a bit more and lining the ball through the open left side. He can’t count on his career being rescued by an in-the-future rule; he has to take ownership of the situation himself. He made necessary adjustments last year at the All-Star break. He must do it again this year. It’s no longer OK to say he’s a “unique” player. Right now, his OPS makes him the antithesis of unique; it makes him extremely ordinary.
Exploit the system: The Rangers don’t have the trade chips who will, on merit alone, bring a haul to accelerate the rebuild of the farm system and the major league roster. They must use every avenue they can to maximize this window for acquisition. They did this recently by, in essence, buying right-hander Jason Bahr from San Francisco for taking on the remaining $4.5 million obligation on Austin Jackson. If they can “buy” other prospects by taking on some money for the remainder of this year, they should. If they can get a team to trade an international bonus slot or two in a deal, they should (especially if they make a trade with Atlanta, which is under penalty and can’t use its slots anyway). They should be particularly meticulous on waiver postings. There are no shortcuts to this rebuild, but there are windows that allowed for increased activity. The next six weeks are one of those windows.
Catch Isiah Kiner-Falefa more: For the last month, Kiner-Falefa has caught an average of once a series. The Rangers need to more equally split time with Robinson Chirinos and work Kiner-Falefa into the lineup in the infield once or twice a week, too. This would give him, on average four or five starts per week. He needs the reps and the more burdensome workload so the Rangers can get a picture of how this unique super utility possibility might work out. And Kiner-Falefa will make use of any fatigue or dropoff in his play as a baseline for how he must prepare going forward.
At-bats for Scott Heineman: It would be great if the Rangers got 150 at-bats each for Heineman and Willie Calhoun, but, with Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara all in the outfield picture, that may be tough to do. If they must pick one, they should go with Heineman. Offensively, he’s been every bit as productive as Calhoun this season, but he’s also more athletic and more versatile. He’s also older - he’s going to be 26 in December. There is no reason to waste major league service time on Calhoun, who is only 23, before he’s truly the best choice for a callup. Teams must consider that they will only have players for six seasons of major league service. It’s best to save as much as possible to be used at a time when it might make a difference in the standings.
Do something about starting pitching: If you think the starting rotation was an issue this year, consider 2019. Right now, it might consist of Martin Perez, and, well, that could be it. Cole Hamels could be traded; so could Mike Minor. More than likely the Rangers are going to be searching for at least three starting pitchers. It would be nice to have a couple emerge from the minors. The problem remains: There isn’t much there. Yohander Mendez, supposedly the most advanced prospect in the system, went backwards this year, was demoted all the way to Class A. He is currently at Double-A, will be out of minor league options in 2019, and has done nothing to earn a look. Ariel Jurado pitched just OK in his lone major league start. Pushing Jonathan Hernandez to the majors in September is possible, but should a guy who started the season at Class A be counted on as a piece for 2019? Whether Mendez or Jurado “deserve” long-term looks, the Rangers have to give them because they have no other choices. The other possibility: Maybe the Rangers experiment a little with some bullpen games the way other clubs have this year. The Rangers are in desperate straits when it comes to starting pitching.
The Cowboys D-lineman to watch in David Irving's absence; what DeMarco Murray's retirement signifies
Tim Cowlishaw, sports columnist for SportsDayDFW.com and The Dallas Morning News, author of Drunk on Sports and panelist on ESPN's "Around the Horn,"answered questions about the Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks, Stars and local college sports in his weekly reader mailbag. Here are some highlights:
Question: Will Dak Prescott rebound or disappoint once again in 2018? Or will Zeke's presence make it irrelevant?
Tim Cowlishaw: I don't think Zeke makes anything irrelevant. Dak still has to play very well for this team to have a chance in what I believe is again a very tough division. And I assume Dak will be comfortable in this offense with these receivers, but I don't know if the team will have enough playmakers to get the job done. Regardless, I expect Dak to have better numbers, a higher passer rating and fewer interceptions in 2018.
Q: Should Randy Gregory be Plan A for the Cowboys in David Irving's absence?
Cowlishaw: I think Gregory should be one of the guys in the mix, but nothing more than that. Taco Charlton should be better in his second season, and you never know what you might get from Charles Tapper or rookie Dorance Armstrong. But I think the guy to watch is Kony Ealy, the veteran they picked up this offseason. He had five more sacks in his first three seasons in Carolina than Lawrence had in his first three seasons here.
Q: Do you think DeMarco Murray's sudden retirement is foreshadowing for what could happen with Zeke?
Cowlishaw: Not the retirement part, but the manner in which running backs are viewed, yes. Murray was about as good as a back can be in 2014, his fourth year. After seven seasons, he was done. Teams would rather play rookies than fifth- or sixth-year backs. I think it's going to be difficult for Zeke to get a second contract in Dallas. That's a long way off, so we shall see how it goes, but you can take the Le'Veon Bell situation into consideration as well. You can't play a lot better than Bell has for five years and he's had trouble getting a second contract, although Pittsburgh did make a viable offer and he turned it down. Running backs that play at age 30 are going to become a rare thing, although it should be mentioned Elliott came into the league a couple years younger than Murray did.
Q: Did the Cowboys make a mistake in not locking up DeMarcus Lawrence at the current price point?
Cowlishaw: No, I like their approach of having him play for that contract. He was an outstanding player last season. That makes one out of four for him. He had 14.5 sacks in 2017 and nine sacks total in his first three seasons. If Lawrence is great this season and they end up having to open the bank for him, that's not the worst thing in the world. Actually, it's what this team needs.
Editor's note: This is the 28th in a series of Cowboys player profiles leading up to training camp. To see more profiles, click here.
Size: 6-3, 201 pounds
Age when season starts: 26
Drafted: Signed by Jaguars in 2014 as undrafted free agent
Experience: Fifth season
Contract status: First year of 2-year, $12 million deal signed with Cowboys in free agency
2017 stats:Name Position Games, starts Receptions Yards TDs Catch % Allen Hurns WR 10, 8 39 484 2 69.6
2017 recap: Hurns' best career season came in 2015, when he was the only receiver in the NFL to catch a touchdown in seven straight games. Hurns caught 64 balls for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns that year. He's since missed 11 regular-season games across the last two years to injury including a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him five games in 2017. But while in, he is productive. Hurns has caught 189 balls for 2,669 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career. His 69.6 percent catch rate last year was the highest of his career. Advanced analytics site Pro Football Focus graded Hurns 23rd best among receivers factoring in grades for receiving, running and blocking. His 72.3 run-blocking grade during 237 relevant snaps ranked 13th best among receivers. The only Cowboys receiver in 2017 who graded higher was 2017 seventh-rounder Noah Brown, who scored 74.2 across 113 run-blocking snaps.
2018 outlook: In the passing game, Dak Prescott will hope Allen Hurns returns to his 2015 form when a touchdown nearly every week became the norm. Hurns showed in 2017 that when healthy, he's a reliable target - a change from Dez Bryant who caught just 54.8 percent of Prescott's passes last year and dropped 12. Pro Football Focus analyses suggest Hurns should also make a case for how he can contribute to Ezekiel Elliott's production. The run game is the fabric of the Cowboys offense, so any player who proves investment and ability to contribute to it will win coaches over more quickly. Not to mention Hurns will join a line of first-round talents when he blocks. As the Cowboys receiver room lacks a "true No. 1" option, Hurns enters a new team with open route trees, creative play calling from new receivers coach Sanjay Lal and opportunity. Hurns should make a case early to contribute from a room that includes Terrance Williams, slot receiver Cole Beasley, rookie Michael Gallup and jack-of-all-trades Tavon Austin. Hurns joined a group of Prescott's newer targets to train in Orlando last week:
Inside Jordan Spieth's opening round at British Open: From the top 5 to 70th place in a 4-hole span, thanks to 'a brain fart'
Jordan Spieth's opening round of the British Open at Carnoustie was an up-and-down affair.
Spieth, who entered the tournament as the defending champion, jumped off to a hot start. He birdied two of the first four holes to move to 2-under early and claim a spot on the front page of the leaderboard -- a place he stayed for the majority of his round.
Spieth's most impressive hole of the day may have come at No. 8, when he made a difficult up-and-down from the fringe of the par 3 -- much to the surprise of announcer Jerry Foltz.
He peaked at 3-under after carding a birdie at the 11th hole. The birdie came after he found the rough off the tee, but he managed to scramble for a lengthy birdie try -- one he made with ease.
That would be Spieth's final birdie of the round, though. After three straight pars at Nos. 12, 13 and 14, Spieth found his first real trouble of the day at No. 15, where he ended up dropping two strokes with a double-bogey. It was his first blemish of a round that was otherwise bogey-free.
Spieth later said his decision-making at No. 15 was "a brain fart," saying his second shot was "a really, really poor decision," according to ESPN's Tom Hamilton.
He sandwiched his final three holes with bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18 to ultimately post a 1-over round of 72. He ended up in the famous (or if you ask Jean Van de Velde -- infamous) Burn on the 18th hole.
Spieth went from a spot in the top five after his birdie at No. 11 to heading into the clubhouse at a tie for 70th place when his round was over.
With the 72, Spieth snapped his streak of consecutive British Open rounds in the 60s at five. Following the round, Spieth spoke about how it felt like a missed opportunity.
"I felt like I was really going well," Spieth said, according to ESPN. "I had a nice par save after driving it in the bunker at 6. Other than that, it was very stress-free. I was putting the ball where I needed to, having maybe no more than four feet for par on every hole. It was just a clean round of golf. I've done a bit of that this year, just the decision making that's cost me.
"But the misses toward the end were the exact misses that I've been having and I'm working away from. My swing just didn't quite hold up to the end of my round. Those long irons really hurt me today."
Luckily for Spieth, his 1-over score got better as the day progressed. Even though he headed into the clubhouse in 70th place, he ended up gaining about 20 spots on the leaderboard over the course of the afternoon as the course toughened up and players ahead of him dropped strokes.
ATLANTA -- Playing football in College Station made a ton of sense in Jarrett Stidham's mind when he was looking for a place to transfer.
After Stidham left Baylor in 2016 after coach Art Briles was fired and sat out a year at McLennan Community College, the former 4-star quarterback recruit out of Stephenville lobbied former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin to open up a roster spot.
Two years later, Stidham is a senior at Auburn trying to lead the Tigers to back-to-back SEC title games. But had things worked out differently, Stidham might have ended up A&M.
"Honestly, coach Sumlin, he didn't recruit me too hard," Stidham said Thursday at SEC media days. "I probably tried to recruit myself to A&M a little bit harder."
Stidham said "ideally, A&M was a close spot." Transferring to the school down Highway 6 and being close to his family was incredibly appealing.
But at the end of the day, he ended up at Auburn, where he threw for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions to help the Tigers represent the SEC West in the conference title game for the first time since 2013.
Stidham said even before his re-recruitment started following his time at Baylor, he had a hunch he was going to end up at his current school.
"I kind of knew that Auburn was the spot for me and sure enough, it worked out," Stidham said.
Former Cowboys WR Drew Pearson joined Dennis & Cowlishaw on 103.3 FM ESPN to talk Cowboys. Here are some highlights:
On the Cowboys' receivers:
"I think they should be excited. What's not to be excited about? They got a lot of potential there. They got some experience coming in. They got some new blood, and I think that's what they need. You look across the board at the performance of the wide receiver group, I give it a negative. They needed to do something to improve that. This thing about who's going to be their go-to receiver -- that is the most overrated term in all of sports for offensive football. If you're the go-to receiver, I think most teams have success when they don't have a go-to receiver.
"When I came in 1974 after starting my rookie year, my second year in the league, I made All Pro. We knew we had nothing. We didn't make the playoffs or nothing. I was a go-to receiver and was the only Cowboy to make All Pro that year. But in 77, 78 and 79 we're rolling into Super Bowls. How did we do it? We did it with spreading the football around. Tony Gill had over a 1,000 yards. I had over a 1,000. Tony Dorsett rushed for over 1,000. I think your best offense is when you don't declare anyone the go-to receiver. The quarterback, your reads should lead you to where the ball is supposed to go and that should be to the open guy. It doesn't matter if he's the go-to guy or not."
On the mentality of having a star receiver versus not:
"If you're so called go-to receiver, if he's going to be that guy he's got to be that guy all around. He can't be a negative influence otherwise. Whether it's practice skills, missing meetings or any of those kind of things. You can't be a leader doing those kinds of things. I think a locker room is better without those kind of guys. I call those guys destructive achievers. Those are the kind of guys, they are the best teammates you can have. But as soon as you run into adversity along the way, they're the first ones to point their fingers at other people and never at themselves. That negative influence can be infectious to the other guys.
"If you're the elite guy and you're not doing things the right way, then the other guys say if he's not going to do it I'm not going to do it. Our influence in our locker room was Roger Staubach. If he was working out then I needed to be working out. That's the kind of influence you need to have in the locker room. If they see the captain of the team doing things that are positive, then they're going to do things that way. I think with Dez [Bryant] being gone, it's going to be a different atmosphere in that locker room. And you're going to see guys like Cole Beasley or Terrance Williams be a little more assertive because they're not afraid of being subject to criticism of someone who thinks that's better than they are."
On if he's surprised Dez Bryant is not signed yet:
"I am surprised. You got all three members of the 88 club with no jobs as training camp comes. I can feel it. I feel it in my bones, I feel it my system, that it's this time of year. I think eventually some team will give Dez a shot. He's gotta prove that it's not that he can improve his play on the field, it's that he can be a different player in that locker room, and be a positive influence to whatever team he joins instead of a negative influence."
On who should wear 88 next:
"Don't end it, just put on hold for a while. Let it fester, cool out and marinate. And then eventually someone will come along and you'll say that's the guy. That'll be the next 88. But don't dissolve the club. We just had one member who just didn't fulfill the full obligation as a club, and that is to come in as a Cowboy and finish as a Cowboy. Maybe that was his fault, maybe it wasn't his fault but that's just the way it is. We gotta make sure the next one that comes in is the right one. I think by extending the process a little longer and letting somebody earn that right eventually, then that's the way to go."
Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who won the American Century Championship Sunday, shot a 74-76--150 Monday and failed in his attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur. His 4-over score tied for 15th at Mascoutin Golf Club in Berlin, Wis., and he missed qualifying by 10 shots.
Romo would have pocketed $125,000 for winning the American Century Championship celebrity event in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., but he elected to retain his amateur status.
In Dallas-area qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, Triston Fisher (11-under 131) of Southlake and Logan Lockwood (133) of Van qualified at Texas Star in Euless. Gaven Lane (4-over 148) of Argyle and Matthew Griggs (150) of Prosper qualified at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton.
The U.S. Amateur is Aug. 13-19 at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course in California.Campbell elected to Texas Golf Hall
Chad Campbell, who grew up in Andrews and now lives in Colleyville, was one of four men elected to the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, the organization announced this week.
Campbell, who was elected in the professional player category, will be joined by Billy Ray Brown, Bill Moretti and Bill Macatee, along with Austin Country Club, in an induction ceremony at San Antonio Country Club on Oct. 8.
Campbell has four victories and 56 top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish after losing a playoff in the Masters, during his 18-year career on the PGA Tour.
Brown, of Missouri City, was selected in the amateur player category. Moretti was honored in the golf professional/teacher category. Macatee, who works on golf broadcasts, was honored in the lifetime achievement category. Austin Country Club will be added to the Texas Registry of Historic Golf Courses.Locals advance at U.S. Junior championships
Parker Coody of Plano defeated Ting-Wei Hsieh 1-up in the round of 64 at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.
Avery Zweig of McKinney shot a 4-over 146 to advance U.S. Girls' Junior match play at Poppy Hills GC in Pebble Beach, Calif. Libby Winans, the Class 6A state champion from Plano East, survived a 14-player playoff for 10 spots in the round of 64.Heath's Watkins rolls to Dallas Junior title
Matthew Watkins of Heath ran away with the boys 15-18 division of the Dallas Junior Championship, shooting a 15-under 201 at Tenison Park's Highlands course. Runner-up Austin Kelley of Grapevine was 20 strokes back.
Other age group winners: boys 7-10, John Tijerina of Grand Prairie; boys 11-14, Pranav Tayi of Flower Mound; boys 13-14, Barrett Wisener of Dallas, who was second in the 11-14 division; girls 15-18, Stephany Barbosa of Dallas; girls 11-14, Tristan Gabbard of Rosenberg; and girls 7-10, Caoimhe Gormley of Harker Heights.Watters Creek's Avara wins NTPGA event
Clint Avara, director of instruction at The Courses at Watters Creek, made a 12-foot putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Brandon Bingaman, assistant pro at Bent Tree Country Club, in the NTPGA's Prize Possessions Eastern Championship at Gentle Creek Country Club in Prosper.
Stuart Hendley, director of instruction at Dallas Athletic Club, and Robert McMillan, director of instruction at McMillan Golf Academy, shared the Senior Division title. Each shot 2-under 142.
It's time for Day 1 of the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland. Dallas native Jordan Spieth will attempt to defend his title when he tees off at 3:58 a.m. CST. Spieth will play with Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Follow along for live updates below.
Now that the draft and free agency have flown by, it's time to take a look at the Dallas Stars' roster and what the team's contracts look like for the upcoming 2018-19 season. Today we examine the goalies. Figures are via spotrac.com.
Players: Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin
Breakdown:Player 2018 cap hit Years left on deal % of team's cap Bishop $4.9 million 5 [Age 35 season] 6.91 Khudobin $2.5 million 2 [Age 33 season] 3.51
*Includes the 2018 season
Total cap hit for 2018: $7.4 millionBen Bishop
--In his first season with the Stars, Bishop started 51 games and compiled a 26-17 record. It was his most wins since his 35 wins in the 2015-16 season, which was also the last season he was an All-Star.
--Bishop has the 14th-best save percentage in NHL history and the ninth-best among active players.Anton Khudobin
--Last season, he finished with a 16-6 season with 800 saves and a .913 save percentage.
--Khudobin had the fourth most ties plus OT/SO losses last season with 7.More Dallas Stars coverage
The last time the Rangers entered into such a significant rebuild, they had one giant asset: The most desirable bat on the market with more than a year to go before free agency.
This time around there is no Mark Teixeira to trade and there is a lot more to rebuild.
Over the next two weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, general manager Jon Daniels' sole goal must be to maximize trade assets to help accelerate a rebuild that seems like at least a two-year proposition.
Here's a look at the Rangers most likely to be dealt--or at least discussed--from most likely to be traded to least likely (and as Daniels has said, nobody is really off the table; if a club makes a genuine overture about just about anybody on the roster, the Rangers would be obligated to at least consider the possibilities):Jake Diekman
A power left-handed reliever on the cusp of free agency makes Diekman exceptionally likely to be traded. The problem is his splits against lefties (a slash line of .300/.451/.400/.851) doesn't stand out if a team is looking for a lefty to retire lefties.
But look a little deeper: Since June 1, Diekman has held lefties to five hits and two walks in 22 plate appearances.
One appearance in particular may have left a potential buyer with a very nice impression. He struck out Boston lefties Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland and also struck out AL home run leader J.D. Martinez in a 12-pitch relief outing last week.
The Red Sox don't have a lefty in their bullpen. There would seem to be reason to think there is a potential match. Also, don't be surprised if there is no deal for Diekman until the last hours before the deadline. This would not bring a major return.Keone Kela
He has emerged as the closer many thought he would be when he first broke in in 2015.
Here's the thing: Most contenders don't need closers; they need setup guys. Maybe Jose Leclerc would fit more for them, but the Rangers would probably rather move Kela, who has two more years of service time and, thus, is two years closer to free agency.
Would Kela view moving to a setup role, even in a playoff race, as a demotion from closing or would he just keep on dominating?
Cleveland and Houston, which just sent down Ken Giles, might be the exceptions who could use closers, but it's hard to see the Rangers dealing a guy who can be as dominant as Kela within the division and to their archrivals.
Cleveland, which might get a chance to see him up close this weekend, makes more sense. Third baseman Nolan Jones might be a target, but a middle infielder might be more likely.Cole Hamels
The Rangers should deal Hamels and be willing to pay a significant amount of the $15 million still owed to him in order to bring back a legitimate prospect. The question is whether there will be a contender willing to give up a prospect for a guy who has looked like he is in decline.
Over his last nine starts, he's averaged less than six innings per outing while compiling a 5.51 ERA and allowing an .853 OPS.
The situation is further complicated by his no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to all but nine teams; if the Rangers try to deal him to somebody on the no-trade list, he could try to get his $20 million option for 2019 guaranteed as incentive.
He can't block a trade to Seattle, which has interest, or Philadelphia, where he spent a decade. He could block a deal to Oakland, which has creeped into the AL wild card race, and he's pitched well at the Coliseum (a 3.10 career ERA). As he tries to build a market for free agency, it might serve him to pitch in a pitcher's park.Mike Minor
The wild card. A poor outing on the final day before the All-Star break aside, he's pitched well, probably better than Hamels. He's also under control for two years after this one at a very affordable rate.
And he could be transitioned back to the bullpen into a possibly dominant lefty reliever. In fact, given that he's pitched more innings this year than in any full season since 2014, he might make the most impact for a contender as a reliever.
All the teams mentioned for Diekman and Hamels might also be fits for Minor.Jurickson Profar
It always seemed far-fetched that Milwaukee would take on significant salary and part with prospects for a rental such as Manny Machado, but the Brewers flirtation with the idea underscored they are looking for a shortstop upgrade.
The .567 OPS Milwaukee has gotten from the position makes it the second-worst shortstop production in the majors. Profar, who is under control through 2020, would fit Milwaukee's attempts to capitalize on success this year and set up a longer-term window for contending.
Would the Brewers return starter Luis Ortiz, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2014, in a deal? Perhaps not. But Marcos Diplan, whom the Rangers traded to the Brewers in the 2015 Yovanni Gallardo deal, might make some sense. He's 21, only recently moved to Double-A and might, along with Jonathan Hernandez and Edgar Arrredondo, give the Rangers a trio of nice arms at Frisco.Shin-Soo Choo
There is no way to deny Choo has had a great year, but his value would only be to an AL team where he could be the primary DH.
There is little need for that.
The contractual obligations the Rangers still have to Choo (about $50 million) would further complicate getting a deal done. Barring one of the playoff contenders suffering a catastrophic injury in the next two weeks, it appears Choo stays in Texas at least through the season.Adrian Beltre
It is becoming more and more clear that there is mutual interest in Beltre finishing his career with the Rangers in 2019.
The Rangers could market Beltre's hunt for 500 homers, the all-time games played at any individual position and a farewell tour. It would be a nice way to close out the Globe Life Park Era.
Maybe the only thing that could change this is Boston making a legitimate overture that would bring the Rangers a prospect and still allow for the 2019 reunion. The chances of this are slim.
Randy Gregory will join the Cowboys at training camp in Oxnard, Calif. next week.
The Cowboys' second-round pick in 2015 was conditionally reinstated into the NFL on Tuesday, 18 months after a losing his appeal on a season-long suspension. Repeated violations of the league's substance-abuse policy sent Gregory away from the team, barred from contacting the Cowboys for 18 months.
Now Gregory is back.
He'll join teammates in Oxnard for practices, meetings and conditioning. Once those close to him arrange appropriate clinical resources in Dallas, Gregory will be clear to participate back home, too.
So what happens to his contract?
Gregory's agent Steve Weinberg explained by phone Tuesday evening.
Gregory signed a 4-year, $3.81 million contract as the Cowboys' second-round selection in 2015 (60th overall). He played 12 games his rookie season for a base salary of $435,000, a high ankle sprain knocking him out of the four others.
In 2016, violations of the league's substance-abuse policy - failed and missed drug tests - warranted four- and 10-game suspensions. His four-game suspension cost $216,757; the 10-game suspension, another $510,018. Gregory forfeited $781,813 in 2017 when suspended without pay, per Spotrac.com.
Now, he'll return in 2018 to a base salary of $781,813 - what would've been his 2017 salary.
His base salary is set to jump to $955,217 in 2019 - again, what would have been his 2018 salary when he signed the deal as a rookie.
He'll become a free agent in 2020.
But, Weinberg explained, Gregory's two-game 2016 changes the terms of his 2020 free agency. He'll be a restricted free agent instead of an unrestricted free agent since he didn't play the six games in 2016 to count as an accrued season for rights purposes.
Here's how Gregory's salary, cap hit compare to the team pass rushers:Player Base salary Cap hit Cap % DeMarcus Lawrence $17.143M $17.143M 8.86% Tyrone Crawford $6.0M $9.1M 4.7% Taco Charlton $920,836 $2.279M 1.18% Kony Ealy $800,000 $1.234M 0.64% Randy Gregory $781,813 $1.04M 0.54% Jihad Ward $953,618 $953,618 0.49%
Editor's note: This is the 27th in a series of Cowboys player profiles leading up to training camp. To see more profiles, click here.Terrance Williams
Size: 6-2, 210
Age when season starts: 29
Drafted: Third round in 2013, 74th overall
Experience: Sixth season
Contract status: In second year of 4-year, $17 million contract with potential out in 2019
2017 stats:Name Position Games, starts Receptions Yards TDs Catch % Terrance Williams WR 16, 14 53 568 0 67.9
2017 recap: Terrance Williams, like Dallas’ passing game as a whole, struggled in 2017. He caught 53 balls for 568 yards and scored no touchdowns. Williams’ yards-per-catch dropped to a career-low 10.7 yards after he averaged 13.5 in 2016 and more than 16 the first three years of his career. Williams’ 67.9 catch percentage was better than those of Cole Beasley, Brice Butler and Dez Bryant. Williams’ best career year was 2014 with quarterback Tony Romo. Williams caught 37 balls for 621 yards and eight touchdowns that year, averaging 16.8 yards per catch.
2018 outlook: Williams missed offseason practices with a broken foot that required surgery. He also was arrested in May after crashing both his Lamborghini and electric bike, and charged with public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor. The Cowboys expressed support for Williams, and the NFL hasn’t said it will investigate. Should Williams return healthy and eligible for the season, he is expected to start. Dak Prescott will look to Williams and slot receiver Cole Beasley after losing pass-catching options in Dez Bryant (released) and Jason Witten (retired) this offseason. The revamped group will also feature free agent signing Allen Hurns and third-round rookie Michael Gallup. Dallas brought in Rams RB/WR/punt returner hybrid Tavon Austin during a draft-weekend trade as well.
ATLANTA -- Missouri senior quarterback Drew Lock still has some thoughts about a particular interaction against Texas last season.
After Lock threw his 44th touchdown of 2017, he looked toward his sideline and mimicked the act of tightening backpack straps, performing his signature "securing the bag" celebration for the 44th time of the season.
Later in the game, as the clocked ticked down in the Longhorns' 33-16 defeat of Missouri in the Texas Bowl, Texas coach Tom Herman mocked Lock as his players started celebrations of their own. During a media session Wednesday at SEC media days, Lock was asked about the incident and still had some strong feelings about it.
"If a head coach- does anyone know how old he is? I don't know -- a head coach at the University of Texas, which is one of the top five programs of all time, is mocking a dance I do after I throw a touchdown, I think I'm playing some pretty good quarterback right there at that time," Lock said.
Lock was 18-of-34 passing for 269 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Tigers' loss.
The senior is considered one of the top returning quarterbacks in the SEC after he passed for 3,964 yards and 44 touchdowns last season. The latter number, of course, meant he secured the bag 44 times last season.
"It just so happened that, that last time was the one time that everyone blew up about it," Lock said. "It was to our sideline. Let that be noted. It was not toward Texas. I have never talked directly to the University of Texas at that game."