FRISCO, Texas — Ezekiel Elliott was finishing the early stretching at the first practice since ending his long holdout with the Dallas Cowboys when the star running back was called to the front of the group.
Cheers rose from teammates Wednesday before Elliott led a brief set of jumping jacks to get the workout moving again.
The two-time NFL rushing champion is back with the Cowboys thanks to a new $90 million, six-year extension that makes Elliott the highest-paid player at his position — and just in time for the regular season. Dallas hosts the New York Giants on Sunday.
“It was really hard. Super hard,” Elliott said of an absence that was in its 41st day, covering all of training camp and the preseason.
The final breakthrough came before dawn the day of the most important practice so far leading to the opener for the defending NFC East champs.
Elliott said the support from teammates on display for reporters was the same thing he was getting behind the scenes since the Cowboys reported to California for camp without him July 25.
“Calls, texts,” Elliott said. “I mean, one of my teammates told me don’t come back without a deal. I mean, just support like that from this group of guys meant everything. It definitely would have been harder if things were the opposite.”
Elliott will get $50 million guaranteed. The $15 million-per-year average on the extension surpasses the $14.4 million Todd Gurley got from the Los Angeles Rams last summer. Gurley’s guarantee was $45 million.
Brown upset at Raiders over fines
Star receiver Antonio Brown said Wednesday that the Oakland Raiders have fined him close to $54,000 for missing a practice and walkthrough last month.
Brown posted a letter on his Instagram account from general manager Mike Mayock saying that he was fined $40,000 for an unexcused absence from practice on Aug. 18 and $13,950 for skipping a walkthrough in Winnipeg on Aug. 22.
Brown also wrote on the account: “WHEN YOUR OWN TEAM WANT TO HATE BUT THERE’S NO STOPPING ME NOW DEVIL IS A LIE. EVERYONE GOT TO PAY THIS YEAR SO WE CLEAR.”
Mayock had given Brown a public ultimatum following the missed practice to be “all in or all out.” Coach Jon Gruden said after Brown returned to the team two days later that Brown was “all in,” but he then missed the walkthrough in Winnipeg.
“Please be advised that should you continue to miss mandatory team activities, including practices and games, the Raiders reserve the right to impose additional remedies available under the Clubs Discipline Schedule, the CBA and your NFL Player Contract, including, but not limited to, additional fines and discipline for engaging in Conduct Detrimental to the Club,” Mayock wrote in the letter.
Packers’ career interception leader dies
Bobby Dillon, the Green Bay Packers’ career leader in interceptions who lost his left eye following two childhood accidents, died Aug. 22 in Temple, Texas.
He was 89.
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The New York Times reported that Dillon’s daughter, Karen Gooch, said the cause was complications of dementia.
Dillon played safety for Green Bay from 1952 to 1959, setting the franchise record for interceptions with 52, including four against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in 1953.
Dillon returned five interceptions for touchdowns and led the Packers in interceptions in seven of his eight seasons, including three years with nine: 1953, ‘55 and ‘57.
Beckham ‘ready to go’ for opener
Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play in the preseason as the Cleveland Browns were extra careful with their prized new superstar.
But the three-time Pro Bowler, famous for one-handed catches, fashion risks and theatrics, practiced and showed his teammates why he’s one of the NFL’s highest-paid wide receivers.
“Worth every penny,” safety Damarious Randall said Wednesday.
Beckham was deemed “ready to go” for Cleveland’s home opener against Tennessee on Sunday by coach Freddie Kitchens, who is anxious to see an offense featuring the high-profile receiver, quarterback Baker Mayfield, receiver Jarvis Landry and running back Nick Chubb — a group that looks potent on paper and in practice live up to expectations and enormous hype.
Rams lawsuit can be heard in St. Louis
The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a lawsuit filed over the Rams’ departure from St. Louis will be heard in a St. Louis courtroom, a defeat for the NFL team’s owner who sought to send the case to arbitration.
The court issued its ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by St. Louis city and county and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which owns the domed stadium where the Rams used to play. It named Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who moved the team to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, the NFL and league owners.
It wasn’t immediately clear if an appeal was planned. Messages left Wednesday with the Rams, Kroenke’s attorney and the NFL were not immediately returned.
Broncos, Empower ink naming rights deal
The Denver Broncos have partnered with Empower Retirement on a 21-year deal to name their stadium “Empower Field at Mile High.”
The Metropolitan Football Stadium District will meet later this week to sign off on the agreement that runs through 2039 and ends a three-year span without a title sponsor for the stadium that opened in 2001.
“It was worth the wait because we found absolutely the best partner,” Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Ed Murphy, president and CEO of Colorado-based Empower Retirement, the nation’s second-largest retirement plan provider, said temporary signage will be in place at the stadium for the Broncos’ home opener against the Chicago Bears in Week 2.