Cowboys TE James Hanna to undergo knee surgery, sources say

Hanna has developed into a solid No. 2 tight end behind Jason Witten. He signed a three-year deal as a free agent to remain with the Cowboys in the offseason. In four seasons he has 33 catches for 286 yards and has started 29 games.

With Hanna out, that helps the chances of Gavin Escobar and Geoff Swaim of finalizing a spot on the 53-man roster. Escobar is returning from a torn Achilles late last season, while Swaim has had a solid camp, although he dropped two passes in the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Rookie receiver Chris Brown suffered a broken foot in Monday’s practice that will require surgery. Brown was taken off the practice field Monday on a cart. Depending on the severity of the surgery, Brown is looking at a recovery period of six to eight weeks, which means he could see his rookie season end before it really begins.

LATROBE, Pa. — It’s rare to see Ben Roethlisberger faking a handoff and bolting toward the basketball hoop. But Sunday’s practice was about as rare as it gets.

Players filtered into the Saint Vincent College gymnasium after heavy rains and lightning made the outdoor fields untenable.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the players got a “natural bone.”

“Sometimes, God’s with em,'” Tomlin said. “We worked above the neck. These are always valuable days for us. We find ways to make it productive to them.”

“I’m very disappointed I’m not able to compete in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, as I was really looking forward to defending my title,” Williams said in a statement to the tournament. “My shoulder inflammation continues to be a challenge, but I am anxious to return to the court as soon as possible.”

Elliott last practiced on Aug. 2. He has increased his rehab work over the last few days. Elliott did not play in the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams, but he went through a long running session in pregame warm-ups and was dressed in full pads for the game.

Walker, entering his eighth NFL season, had 33 tackles and two sacks in 15 regular-season games as a reserve for the Broncos in 2015. He was penciled in on the Denver depth chart as the starting right defensive end, replacing Malik Jackson, who left as a free agent for Jacksonville during the offseason.

Veteran receiver Lance Moore announces retirement

The undrafted pass-catcher out of Toledo joined the Saints in 2006 after spending his rookie season as a free-agent addition with the Browns. Over the past two seasons, Moore operated as a role player for the Steelers and Lions before signing with the Falcons last week. Projected to push Justin Hardy for snaps in the slot, Moore was a long shot to make Atlanta’s roster.

He won’t be crowned in Canton, but Moore enjoyed the kind of career plenty of NFL players would be thrilled with: 10-plus seasons, a highlight reel of big plays, a Super Bowl ring and the chance to team with one of the game’s finest quarterbacks in Brees. Moore has plenty to look back on.

Last week, Buccaneers backup quarterback Mike Glennon introduced a child into the world, and named him Brady.

Brady was born on August 3, which just so happens to be the same day four-time Super Bowl championship quarterback Tom Brady was born 39 years ago. It seems likely that the Glennons named their child after the Patriots quarterback, because, well, it just makes sense.

The Glennon camp is denying these allegations, but a certain teammate provides some interesting insight.

“Mike said he didn’t name it after Brady,” Jameis Winston told MMQB on Saturday. “But I know he was hoping that baby was born on Tom Brady’s birthday. I know that for a fact.”

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were excited about undrafted rookie wide receiver Andy Jones in the spring, and he has done nothing to disappoint so far in training camp. He won’t crack the top three spots held by Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, but considering the time Tony Romo is putting in with Jones, you can see the veteran quarterback likes what he sees. Jones is not the fastest, but he can create separation and does not drop any passes. “It’s not too big for him,” said executive vice president Stephen Jones. “And certainly all you have to do, he’s one of those that you look at in a uniform and go, ‘Wow.’ That’s pretty good and then he goes and plays and it’s still really good.” — Todd Archer

New York Giants

Quarterback Eli Manning is having a strong training camp. It has been 11 days since his last interception, and with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. back after missing several days with a leg injury, the offense has really been humming. Manning and Beckham tore up the defense Monday. On Tuesday, the defense will be in search of a little redemption after a rough few days. — Jordan Raanan

Reggie Ragland injures knee during Bills practice

The hammer-head linebacker was slated for a big role in the Bills’ defense and could wind up being a steal in the second round.

Buffalo is already without first-round pick Shaq Lawson to start the season after the pass rusher underwent shoulder surgery earlier this offseason. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport delievered more bad news for Bills ‘backers: Kevin Reddick will miss time with an MCL sprain.

After a down season for his defense in 2015, Ryan’s early plans for revamping his defense are being stymied by injuries.

Dallas Cowboys

1 to 10 percent: Tony Romo had an MVP-caliber season in 2014, but he didn’t take over as the starter until age 26 and has made only four Pro Bowls. He has neither the longevity nor the peak to seriously threaten. … Zack Martin has made Pro Bowls in each of his first two seasons, but it’s virtually impossible for an interior lineman to make serious HOF headway after two years.

Dez Bryant rolled off three consecutive monster seasons before a foot injury blew up his 2015 campaign. His average season during that run — 91 catches, 1,312 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns — would qualify as most star wideouts’ peak campaign. At the moment, Bryant hasn’t done enough. He has two Pro Bowls from those three huge seasons, but he still needs to add quite a bit to his résumé to stand out in a generation with so many incredible wide receivers. If he looks fully healed from the foot injury and doesn’t have any recurrences over the next couple of seasons, Dez will be in much better shape. 25 percent

Tyron Smith has made it to three consecutive Pro Bowls, throwing in an All-Pro berth in 2014. He has the added benefit of being young for his draft class; as mentioned earlier, Smith just finished his age-25 season and doesn’t turn 26 until December. Just over 30 percent of post-merger players who made three Pro Bowls by 25 made it to the Hall of Fame. Elite offensive linemen also typically enjoy longer careers by virtue of the possibility for veteran tackles to kick inside to guard. It certainly appears Smith is in the middle of a long streak of consecutive Pro Bowls. 35 percent

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has more than 1,000 career receptions and 11,000 receiving yards. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Jason Witten should be about as much of a lock for the Hall of Fame as any active non-quarterback. The only argument you can make is that he hasn’t had a blow-away season, but his consistency has been remarkable. Witten hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season and has caught at least 60 passes for 700 yards in 12 consecutive campaigns. He’s second on the all-time tight end leaderboard for catches and receiving yards behind Tony Gonzalez, and he’ll join Gonzalez in Canton one day. 95 percent

Lance Moore has landed back in the NFC South.

After a two-year stint in the Rust Belt, the 10-year veteran has signed with the Atlanta Falcons, the team announced Friday. Moore reportedly worked out for the Chargers earlier this week before San Diego signed fellow veteran James Jones.

Moore won a Super Bowl during his eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints, with whom he caught 38 touchdowns and compiled 4,281 receiving yards as Drew Brees’ second and third option. He never found his place in Pittsburgh in 2014, but felt rejuvenated with the Lions in 2015, playing in the slot and earning 337 yards on 20 catches in 14 games.

The 2013 draft was a mess, but here are three first-rounders with hope

The Raiders’ defense is improving by leaps and bounds, he has cover skills and an ever-improving pass rush and front seven in front of him. I love Raiders defensive backs coach Rod Woodson, who believes he can cull more from Hayden, and few have Hall of Famer Woodson’s first-hand knowledge of the position.

Despite upgrades to the roster, Hayden still has a chance to see the field. David Amerson stepped into a starting corner spot for Oakland, but that doesn’t mean Hayden couldn’t supplant him, and the safety pair of newcomer Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson should be able to give the corners the freedom to jump routes. It’s do-or-die time for Hayden in Oakland, and I’m not ready to write him off just yet.

LB Jarvis Jones, No. 17, Steelers: This team knows a thing or two about drafting linebackers, and it hasn’t been all that unusual for some recent edge players — be it LaMarr Woodley, Cam Heyward or Jason Worilds — to take time to find their way in this 3-4 defense. So Jones needing some time to get himself going shouldn’t be a total shocker.

When drafted, he looked like a perfect fit for this scheme, though he too came in with injury concerns. He has been a sporadic contributor at best and his pass rush has yet to really flash at the NFL level.

On the bright side, he did start 15 games last season, more than his first two seasons combined. He also produced his first career interception in 2015 and forced a fumble. Yes, this is modest production … but at least he was regularly on the field, a necessary first step. Some of the other outside linebackers need work, too. James Harrison is like 40 by now (actually, he’s 38) and mulled retirement. Bud Dupree, a 2015 first-round pick, didn’t exactly have a scintillating rookie campaign.

I believe this defense will start to make strides again, and in this scheme Jones should be in position to make more plays, with no fifth-year option a motivating factor for him as well.

He’s No. 21 in your program, No. 4 in the 2016 NFL Draft and No. 1 among rookies in jersey sales through one week. That’s running back Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, folks.

No. 21 is No. 1 when it comes to jersey sales through the first full week after the draft.

— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 5, 2016
Is this all that surprising? Not really. There’s a reason they call the Cowboys “America’s Team.” If they don’t have the largest fan base of any team in the NFL, it’s pretty close. And when a team with a fan base of that size not only has a high draft pick, but uses it on an exciting skill position player, they’re going to sell a lot of jerseys. (These are presumably full jerseys and not the kind that cut off just below the shoulder pads so everyone can see your abs.)

Elliott is followed on the rookie jerseys sales list by the No. 2 and then No. 1 picks in the 2016 draft. Division rival Carson Wentz, the future quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, is in second place for his No. 11 jersey. Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick and new QB of the Los Angeles Rams, saw his No. 16 uni sell the third-most among rookies during the first week of his career.

No word on whether Elliott’s jersey sales have helped the Cowboys defense in any way.

Shaq Lawson has a big fan, possible endorsement due to Google alerts

It’s not hard to figure out from where new Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Shaq Lawson got his name. There’s a very famous Shaq that was taking the basketball world by storm when Lawson was born in June 1994. Shaquille O’Neal had just finished his second NBA season, one in which he had averaged 29.3 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.9 blocks when Lawson’s father, Lawrence, chose to name his son Shaq because he was such a long baby, according to the Buffalo News.

“We do think that the way we play will feature some of the physical traits that he has,” Garrett said shortly after his club drafted Tapper. “He plays the right way.”

Other thoughts on the Cowboys’ 2016 draft class:

Critics will argue that running backs are the easiest position to find and thus spending a first-round draft pick on one — especially as high as No. 4 overall — is almost by definition a reach. Dallas may have paid a premium price for Ezekiel Elliott, but make no mistake: he is an elite talent, with the blend of vision, power, speed, hands and competitiveness as a blocker to be a three-down difference-maker immediately for the Cowboys. Drafted into an optimum situation with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and a terrific offensive line aiding his transition into the NFL, Elliott is the odds-on-favorite at this early point to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year this season.

Perhaps in part because Elliott offers immediate impact potential for a team built to win now, the Cowboys’ decision a round later to select injured linebacker Jaylon Smith was a surprising one. Like Elliott, Smith’s talent is undeniable. Prior to tearing multiple knee ligaments in his knee on New Year’s Day in a Fiesta Bowl loss to Elliott and the Buckeyes, Smith looked like a strong candidate to be the Cowboys’ choice at No. 4 overall. Therefore, it is difficult to question the Cowboys for gambling on Smith 30 picks later. Last week Jerry Jones stated that the Cowboys will not place Smith on Injured Reserve this season, hoping instead that he will be ready in time for a potential playoff run.

With all due respect to Smith, it was a different post-draft declaration by Jones which created even more buzz, with the always opinionated Cowboys’ owner expressing regret that he didn’t push harder for a trade up to land former Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. The Denver Broncos ultimately offered more, trading up with the Seattle Seahawks to land the 6-foot-7, 240 pound Lynch at No. 26 overall.

What we learned: 10 takeaways from Thursday

Is Thomas Rawls a lock to carry the load early in the season for the Seahawks? The second-year back is not ready for camp as he tries to recover from a serious leg/ankle injury and Pete Carroll has hesitated to promise Rawls the starting job. The position battle to see who else emerges in Seattle is one to watch.

Good news for the Saints, as safety Jairus Byrd was healthy enough to open training camp on the field for the first time in three seasons.

Coach Todd Bowles made a few things clear about his quarterback position on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first full day with the Jets. Fitzpatrick is definitely the starter. Geno Smith is the backup and isn’t going anywhere. That would seem to put Bryce Petty’s job in jeopardy.

At least Fitzpatrick’s hair showed up in midseason form:

Okay…NOW it’s official.

We have re-signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The salsa is back in the Big Apple.

Victor Cruz will be on the Giants’ practice field when the team begins training sessions on Friday and will not be placed on the PUP list, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of his progress.

The injury-afflicted wide receiver hasn’t played a game since suffering a season-ending knee injury in October 2014. He planned to return in 2015, stirring Giants fans fantasies of a lethal Odell Beckham-Cruz combo on the wings. However, a calf injury sidelined him for the season, leaving everyone to wonder when he’d ever return to his full form, or the field.

When Cruz participated in individual drills in May’s organized team activities, he called the workout a “turning point” and promised the plan was “to be full go” by the beginning of training camp. The Giants wideout is currently on schedule, but updates on Cruz’s health have become the most predictably unreliable reports in the league.

Cowboys’ Randy Gregory facing additional suspension

The situation on the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive front seven continues to grow ever bleaker.

Defensive end Randy Gregory, already suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, is enrolling into a treatment program as he faces the prospect of an additional suspension, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the player’s plans.

The real worry, per Rapoport, is that Gregory has shut out people in his inner circle. It’s now hoped that treatment will help him resolve the problem and allow him to get his football career back on track.

The latest ban is also for violation of the NFL’s Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse, which will likely bring the suspension to at least 10 games. There is concern amongst the Cowboys’ braintrust, Rapoport added, that Gregory might not play again.

“I don’t want to comment on that,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett in response to news of Gregory facing suspension, according to the Cowboys’ official website. “I’m not commenting on Randy Gregory.”

A consensus top-10 talent leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Gregory plummeted to Dallas in the second round due to a failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Nebraska star also was late to pre-draft interviews amid concerns about his ability to handle the “mental rigors” of professional football.

Needless to say, the Cowboys were well aware of the risk in drafting Gregory.

Executive vice president and chief operating officer Stephen Jones made it clear months ago that the second-year edge rusher was on thin ice.

“This is a disappointment,” Jones said in February. “We have been clear with Randy about what his responsibilities are and what is expected of him. This is something that he is going to have to work through and correct.”

Along with Gregory’s lengthy absence, the Cowboys also have middle linebacker Rolando McClain serving a 10-game suspension and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence sitting out the first four games.

The front office is under increasing pressure to import pass rushing help over the next six weeks.

Suspended WR Josh Gordon meets with Roger Goodell

Gordon, who hasn’t played a game since December 2014, was spotted in April hanging out with free-agent quarterback — and former Browns starter — Johnny Manziel in Southern California. Still, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown told The Plain Dealer in June that he believed Gordon was making progress.

“I’ve talked with Josh twice on the phone, and the last time I talked with him he sounded very motivated and I think he was in rehab and feeling good about it and discovering some things about himself,” Brown, an advisor to the team, said. “He really seemed ready to take responsibility for himself.”

Brown also suggested that coach Hue Jackson and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam would welcome Gordon back if he’s reinstated, but Cleveland certainly isn’t waiting around after selecting four receivers — Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton — in this year’s draft.

Gordon’s return would give the Browns an uber-talented weapon to bolster their ailing offensive attack. As it always seems to be with this player, though, we’ll need to wait and see what comes next.

If Ray Rice has an opportunity to play in the NFL again, he plans to use his game checks to battle the issue of domestic violence.

The former Ravens running back was released by Baltimore in September 2014 after video surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice told USA TODAY’s Tom Pelissero on Wednesday that he would donate his entire 2016 salary to organizations and programs aimed at the prevention of domestic violence and the support of its victims.

“All the scrutiny that I’ve got, it was deserved, because domestic violence is a horrible thing,” Rice said. “Me donating my salary is something that’ll be from the heart for me. I only want to play football so I can end it the right way for my kids and for the people that really believed in me. But I know there’s a lot of people affected by domestic violence, and every dollar helps. It’s raising awareness.”

Matt Spaeth’s long run with the Pittsburgh Steelers is over.

The team announced Thursday that Spaeth has been released with the designation of failed physical.

“Matt never fully recovered from knee surgery that occurred this past offseason, and he will not be ready to return to football activities at this time,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team. “Matt played an integral role in our Super Bowl XLIII Championship run, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”