Tagged in: absence

Dak Prescott undergoes surgery on right thumb as Dallas Cowboys prep for QB’s absence

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had surgery on his right thumb Monday afternoon, and sources continue to believe he will miss six to eight weeks as he goes through rehabilitation.

Given that timeline, Prescott is looking at a return date of Oct. 30 vs. the Chicago Bears at the earliest, but it’s more likely to be Nov. 13 versus the Green Bay Packers in Mike McCarthy’s return to Lambeau Field.

Prescott suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his hand twice hit the hand of linebacker Shaq Barrett. After a screen pass to Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott went to the sideline because he could no longer grip the ball.

After the game, Prescott said, “I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been.” He visited with the team’s hand specialist, Dr. Thomas Diliberti, on Monday and had the surgery soon thereafter. “You know Dak’s personality, I mean, he would’ve had the surgery last night if they would have allowed it,” McCarthy said. “That’s the way he’s wired.”

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The Cowboys now have to figure out how to win without Prescott while he recovers, starting with Sunday’s matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals with Cooper Rush as their starter. The Cowboys are 5-7 in games without Prescott in his career, although Rush won his first career start last year against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 325 yards and two touchdowns.

He completed 7 of 13 passes for 64 yards after replacing Prescott against the Buccaneers.

“I think the biggest thing is especially at the quarterback position because obviously the importance of it, is don’t overreact to it,” McCarthy said. “… Because at the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we’re giving the players the tools to win the game on Sunday. The nice thing about Cooper is Cooper’s been in our system, knows our system inside and out. We won’t be in that position of trying not to do too much or vice versa. Cooper gives us the ability to keep playing.”

McCarthy acknowledged there is an emotional challenge the Cowboys will have to deal with in losing their leader.

In 2020, Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that knocked him out for the season, and the Cowboys lost their first four games without him.

“Definitely going to be tough, but being in the NFL, that’s all a part of this game,” running back Tony Pollard said. “It’s a 100 percent injury rate so guys get injured, so we just have to make up for it. Everybody has to lock in, continue doing what they’ve been doing and just focus on doing their job the best that they can.”

McCarthy stated the Cowboys are looking to add a third quarterback to the roster with Will Grier on the practice squad and ready to assume the No. 2 role in Prescott’s absence. He has started two games in his career, both with the Carolina Panthers in 2019.

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Tom Brady expected to play Saturday in Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason finale

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is expected to play in Saturday’s third and final preseason match match the Indianapolis Colts.

Coach Todd Bowles did not say it outright, but when asked Thursday if Brady will play, he responded, “Everyone who is healthy will play.”

Brady, who returned this week from an 11-day absence to tend to “personal issues,” is healthy and practiced in full Thursday, as well as Monday and Tuesday, with a veteran day on Wednesday. He took his usual number of reps and looked strong and focused.

It will mark the first time Brady has played this preseason, the first time he’s lined up with wide receiver Julio Jones in a game and the first time he’ll stand behind a remade interior offensive line featuring second-year center Robert Hainsey and rookie left guard Luke Goedeke in live action.

“It’s important for game continuity,” Bowles said of seeing Brady with the starters. “We have some new guys on the O-line. We have some new guys at receiver. So other than having practiced together, we need to see ’em in a game with certain situations and just the flow of it. No matter how long it is, we just need to see it.”

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Bowles stated he’s not concerned about Brady’s level of conditioning after such a prolonged absence, nor is he concerned that Brady didn’t have enough time to build up chemistry with Jones, wide receiver Russell Gage or tight end Kyle Rudolph.

“He missed 11 days, but he wasn’t playing in the first two [games],” Bowles said. “He’s fine with everything. We know his condition and it’s fine. He’s getting back with the guys. He’s throwing the ball and we’re good. I think it was built up before we left.

“It’s just having everybody intact, practicing at the same time. You know, his days would’ve fallen the same day Julio was off and obviously Mike [Evans] being injured — we didn’t have a full slate there either, but they got to see a lot of things from the side and got to talk a lot. And I think the chemistry’s good.”

The starting left guard position remains unclear, but Bowles said Goedeke, who is competing with Nick Leverett for the job, will get the start.

Goedeke struggled last week versus the Tennessee Titans with two holding calls, and he surrendered a sack.

The fifth, sixth and possibly seventh — if the Bucs choose to keep seven — wide receiver positions after Evans, Jones, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage are also up for grabs, with Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, Deven Thompkins and Jerreth Sterns all competing for those remaining spots.

As for Brady, whose mid-training-camp break was unprecedented in the NFL for any uninjured player, let alone a seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Bowles said he wouldn’t have given him the time off if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

“If it wasn’t a situation, that we hadn’t talked about it, and it wasn’t important, I wouldn’t have done it,” Bowles said.

“I have that kind of relationship as well do the coaches with a lot of the players and they all have private things that they come to us with. It just came to light more than the others. And we won’t sway away from that. We don’t give nobody breaks just to take breaks.”

When healthy, Brady has participated in at least one preseason game every year since he was drafted in 2000. The only preseason he did not take part in was in 2008 when he was a member of the New England Patriots and was dealing with foot and ankle injuries.

Godwin, who has been practicing with the team for three weeks and started 11-on-11 work for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in Week 15, is not expected to play, although the coaching staff has been encouraged by his progress.

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With Harden out, Trail Blazers down the Nets 114-108

Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden’s absence for a 114-108 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second match of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in double figures.

Simons stated Covington’s play against Durant boosted the team.

“I think RoCo did a good job of playing him the second half,” Simons said. “So that was that was big for us to slow him down and just kind of play team defense. We’ve been playing very hard, we’ve been making a lot less mistakes on defense. That’s been helping us.”

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Monday’s game was initially scheduled for Dec. 23 but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

In making up the game, both teams were playing the second of back-to-backs.

Portland led 87-81 going into the final quarter. Covington’s 3-pointer put Portland up 107-100 with 2:15 to go but the Nets closed within 110-105 down the stretch.

Ben McLemore’s 3 with 31.9 seconds left made it 113-105 and sealed it for Portland. McLemore finished with 20 points and five 3s.

“Certainly nobody in the world thought that we would win this game with the guys that we have missing, even though they’re missing some important players too,” Portland first-year coach Chauncey Billups said. “I’m more happy than anything for our team, to be honest. We’ve suffered a lot of losses in this building, a lot of bad losses.”

The Blazers again were without Damian Lillard, out with lower abdominal tendinopathy, and backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who has been out for 14 games after a collapsed lung. Fellow starters Norman Powell (COVID-19 protocols) and Larry Nance Jr. (right knee) were also out for Portland.

Meanwhile, Nets coach Steve Nash said the team was being cautious with Harden in a dense stretch of games and that Harden should be available on Wednesday at Chicago.

Irving, who has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from playing in New York due to the city’s vaccine mandate, has resumed playing on the road. For his first game last week at Indiana, he finished with 22 points in nearly 32 minutes.

Irving appeared to tweak his ankle in the fourth quarter but afterward said he was fine and would play Wednesday. He criticized Portland’s Nassir Little for diving on the play: “I tried to get out of the way but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball.”

Brooklyn led 62-55 at the break, paced by Durant with 20 points. It was his 19th straight game with 20 or more points, the second-longest streak of 20-point games in Nets history.

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Booker has first triple-double, Suns beat Clippers 120-114

Devin Booker’s first exposure to playoff basketball continues to be a revelation.

Not necessarily for him, but for the rest of the NBA.

Booker had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his first career triple-double and the Phoenix Suns overcame Chris Paul’s absence to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

“I don’t understand why everyone’s acting surprised at this point,” Suns forward Jae Crowder said about Booker’s big day. “This is his first time on this stage but he’s capable. He’s more than capable. He’re more than ready. He prepares like no other.”

Paul sat out because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained right knee.

Tied at 93 to start the fourth, the Suns went on a 12-2 run and pulled ahead 105-95 on Cam Johnson’s dunk with 8:08 left. The Clippers wouldn’t go away, though, cutting a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes to 116-114 when Terance Mann hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.

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But that’s where the rally stopped for Los Angeles.

“I have no excuse,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we played hard and competed. A little credit — they were making shots and we didn’t. But I loved our fight. I loved what I saw.”

Booker scored on a dunk on the next possession to seal Phoenix’s eighth straight triumph, getting a free lane to the basket on the blown defensive coverage.

The sixth-year guard was a surprising omission from the All-NBA teams released a few days ago but he certainly looked the part on Sunday.

He wasn’t worried about where this game ranks among his best performances.

Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Booker continues to cement his superstar status and was productive and efficient in one of the best games of his career. He shot 15 of 29 from the field, carving apart a defense that had to play just 36 hours after closing out the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

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Without Embiid, 76ers roll past Wizards and into 2nd round

Ben Simmons challenged Seth Curry during an afternoon “Call of Duty” session to score 30 points and send the 76ers into the next round of the playoffs. With Joel Embiid hurt, Simmons told Curry he would do his part and get a triple-double.

Maybe there’s something to this pregame gaming hobby.

“Clearly Seth listens to Ben so we’re going to use Ben as a translator for Seth from this point forward,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers stated.

Fire up the console for another round.

Curry scored a playoff career-high 30 points and Philadelphia defeated Washington 129-112 on Wednesday night to end the Easter Conference series in five games, overcoming Embiid’s absence because of a knee injury.

Atlanta awaits after beating New York in Game 5 later Wednesday. Game 1 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

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Sixers fans couldn’t wait, chanting “We want Brooklyn!” as the seconds ticked off in Game 5.

Embiid gets a few extra days of rest.

With an NBA title still in sight, the 76ers will need their injured franchise center — healthy and ready to roll — in the second round versus Atlanta.

“Jo’s been huge for us all year. It’s only right we give him as much time as he needs to get right and come back and help us win it all,” Curry said.

Tobias Harris added 28 points and teamed with Curry and Simmons to carry the offensive load with Embiid out. Simmons had 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to keep the top-seeded 76ers in the hunt for their first championship since 1983.

Embiid is day to day with a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee and he was reduced to Philadelphia’s biggest cheerleader as the Sixers put the misery of last season’s first-round sweep behind them.

Embiid gave a sneak peek that the injury suffered in a Game 4 loss might not keep him out very long.

The NBA MVP candidate had the crowd going wild when he hit the court for pregame warmups. He shot jumpers around the perimeter, fadeaways, even some free throws — all without any sort of noticeable knee brace under his white leggings —- and put on a show that proved his absence might not last beyond Game 5.

Rivers, in his first campaign, said he expected Embiid to return in the postseason.

“I don’t know when or how early,” he said. “I’m hopeful. I think that’s a better way of putting it.” Sixers fans broke out “Trust the Process!” chants over the final minutes and the laborious rebuilding plan that brought the franchise Embiid and Simmons will surely need both of them to finish the job.

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has surgery to get pacemaker

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is taking an immediate medical leave of absence after having surgery Wednesday to get a pacemaker, the team revealed.

The team stated Boone’s surgery went “as expected” and that he will spend the night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, to rest and recover. Boone was “in good spirits,” the team said.

General manager Brian Cashman said Boone could return to the team in two to three days.

The 47-year-old Boone, who had open-heart surgery in 2009, said in a statement that he has had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath over the past six to eight weeks. He said further tests in New York before spring training indicated he had a low heart rate, necessitating the surgery.

“My faith is strong, and my spirits are high,” Boone said. “I’m in a great frame of mind because I know I’m in good hands with the doctors and medical staff here. … They are confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.”

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Boone, entering his fourth season as manager of the Yankees, said he looks forward “to getting back to work in the next several days.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition, a 4-1 victory over Toronto in Tampa.

Mendoza, 41, was a minor leaguer mostly with San Francisco and the Yankees from 1997-09 and is starting his 13th season working for the Yankees. He joined the major league staff as quality control and infield coach under Boone in 2018 and succeeded Josh Bard as bench coach for 2020.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good group of coaches here and really good personnel that are going to continue to get these guys ready to play the regular season.”

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “the thoughts of the entire organization are with Aaron and his family” in a statement released by the team.

“Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others,” Steinbrenner said. “Our only priority at this time is Aaron’s health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery.”

Boone played in the major leagues from 1997 to 2009. He was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 shortly before getting traded to the Yankees. Later that year, his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York.

Boone is a third-generation major leaguer; his grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues, and his nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

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