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Staro 08-17-2018, 03:27 AM
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The Dallas Cowboys kept talking up the receivers they already had going into the NFL draft after dumping Dez Bryant in a cost-cutting move.

They ended up having to tout their tight ends as well when ESPN reported on the draft's second day that Jason Witten was planning to retire after 15 seasons to join the "Monday Night Football" crew as lead analyst.

Even with all the talk Taijuan Walker Jersey , Dallas still addressed a pair of positions that figure to look dramatically different after years of Bryant and Witten at or near the top of the club's list of receiving leaders.

A day after drafting receiver Michael Gallup in the third round, the Cowboys traded one of their three picks in the sixth Saturday to the Los Angeles Rams for receiver Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick in 2013 when the franchise was still in St. Louis.

The Cowboys took a tight end with the second of two picks in the fourth round in Stanford's Dalton Schultz. Their first pick in that round was defensive end Dorance Armstrong from Kansas.

"I think we're better because I think we've got a great read on where we were as we sort through Dez, as we sort through the what ifs of Witten," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "I think we've got more clarity now than we did when we started the draft."

As for those players on the roster before the draft, the Cowboys don't expect a No. 1 receiver to emerge because they don't think their offense will be structured that way without Bryant.

Dallas wants quarterback Dak Prescott to feed off the run with 2016 rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott, so free-agent pickup Allen Hurns could be the top receiver without numbers similar to what Bryant posted during his best run from 2012-14.

The Cowboys also signed journeyman Deonte Thompson to go with incumbents Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Dallas took a receiver out of the equation Saturday by sending Ryan Switzer to Oakland for defensive lineman Jihad Ward.

"When you lose a player like Dez and what he's brought to the table throughout his career, we're remaking our receiving room," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "I do think we wanted to do things that, as Jerry has said, that's Dak-friendly."

ESPN reported Friday that Witten was planning to retire to join the network Cheap Marshall Newhouse Jersey , but Jerry Jones said the franchise leader in games, catches and yards receiving hadn't made a decision and wanted the weekend to think about it.

Without Witten, the Cowboys currently have nine career catches from the tight ends on their roster 鈥?all by fourth-year player Geoff Swaim.

Dallas is high on Blake Jarwin and hopeful that former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers can develop. Gathers hasn't played a regular-season game and missed all of his second season after sustaining a concussion in training camp last year.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT NO. 1: Because of all the talk about Bryant and Witten, first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch was overshadowed. The linebacker from Boise State, taken 19th overall, could be a walk-in starter. Jerry Jones likes to compare him to Rolando McClain, a key man in the middle when the Cowboys won the NFC East in 2014. Dallas took another linebacker in the sixth round (Indiana's Chris Covington).

PLAN FOR AUSTIN: Rams coach Sean McVay used Austin as more of a hybrid, with some wildcat and other change-of-pace looks as a runner in the last of five disappointing seasons for the speedy receiver. The Cowboys have similar plans for him, and high hopes for more production than Austin had while the Rams surged to the NFC West title in the first year under McVay after 10 straight losing seasons.

TILTED TOWARD OFFENSE: Six of the nine picks were offensive players. The third-day choices were Schultz, quarterback Mike White of Western Kentucky (fifth round), receiver Cedrick Wilson of Boise State (sixth) and Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (seventh).

STILL NEED: The Cowboys didn't draft a safety despite moving one of last season's starters Saquon Barkley Jersey , Byron Jones, back to cornerback. At the moment, the starters appear to be Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods, a sixth-round pick last year.

Bengals owner Mike Brown says President Donald Trump's numerous tweets attacking NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem have prolonged the issue, which he sees as one of the league's biggest distractions.

Brown noted at the team's annual preseason luncheon Tuesday that the NFL and the players' union are trying to develop an anthem policy that will hopefully please not only owners and players, but fans and the president, too. He said the president's tweets have worked against finding a resolution to the issue.

"I think that worked against us," Brown said. "I think it stirred the pot, it got people looking at it unfavorably, and he has worked that issue for, I suppose Rams Cheap Jerseys , political reasons. It is what it is. It's beyond my pay grade."

Trump has attacked the NFL and players who protested social injustice by kneeling during the "Star Spangled Banner." The league adopted a policy in May that would fine clubs if their players protest on the field, but gave them the option to stay in the locker room during the anthem.

The issue flared again last week when the Miami Dolphins developed a policy that would leave players subject to suspensions, prompting the NFL to try to find a solution with the players' union. Trump tweeted again that players should be suspended for kneeling, and he challenged Commissioner Roger Goodell to make a stand.

Brown said he's seen Trump only once in person. They were in the same courtroom in the 1980s when Trump 鈥?then owner of the USFL's New Jersey Generals 鈥?sued the NFL.

"Unlike some of the (NFL) owners you read about in the newspaper, I have never met Donald Trump," Brown said.

Brown said he considered implementing an anthem policy for the Bengals before the league and the union decided to try for a joint resolution last week.

"Yes, I have thoughts on it," Brown said. "Yes, we had ways of handling it. I'm not so sure that wasn't pretty good, at least compared to others. But that's as much as I'm going to say about this, and let's get on to something else."

Brown's team also is involved in a grievance filed on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid Michael Dickson Jersey Seahawks , who met with the Bengals but wasn't offered a contract. Brown reportedly asked Reid during their visit whether he would continue to kneel during the anthem.

The grievance claims that Reid wasn't signed by any team because of his anthem protests. Brown said he was scheduled to meet with the team's lawyers on Wednesday to discuss the case. He was surprised it quickly became an issue.

"It was a quick-forming thunderhead," Brown said. "I didn't expect it."

Brown is disappointed that the debate over anthem protests has lingered into another season.

"It should never have developed into the issue it has," he said. "Yes, it bothers me that we sit here today talking about the anthem issue."

The Bengals open camp this week coming off a second straight losing season. They haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the sixth-longest streak of postseason futility in NFL history. Brown chose to bring back coach Marvin Lewis for a 16th season even though he has an NFL-record 0-7 in the playoffs.

Brown said he's concerned not only about his team's challenges but also the challenges that the NFL faces with the focus on concussions and pregame protests.

"We have distractions," Brown said. "We have to get beyond them. We have to get beyond the anthem issue. We have to get beyond the concussion issue. There are other things. We're about football. That's what fans want. And this other stuff turns off everybody. We have to get away from it somehow, and it's a challenge for us to do that."

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