NFL Notes: As Cowboys prep for training camp, Jerry Jones backs Ezekiel Elliott again

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NFL Notes: As Cowboys prep for training camp, Jerry Jones backs Ezekiel Elliott again

OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones interjected some bad-boy anecdotes from his youth, smiled at the thought of life before social media and even asked a couple of questions himself Sunday at his annual training camp opener with reporters.

When the topic is the multitude of off-field issues confronting the Dallas Cowboys -- headlined by star running back Ezekiel Elliott -- their owner, president and general manager can dance with the best of them.

"I can give you the same old excuses -- young, aggressive, got a lot of energy," Jones said. "Hard to paint that picture of the days when it won't be this easy, they won't be as pretty and they won't have the money. Somehow you've got to paint the picture."

Elliott is still waiting for clearance from the NFL on a year-old domestic violence case that prosecutors didn't pursue. The NFL rushing leader last season as a rookie, Elliott didn't help himself with his involvement in a bar fight a week before the Cowboys flew to California for camp.

Jones reiterated his belief that Elliott wasn't guilty of domestic violence in a dispute with his ex-girlfriend last summer in Columbus, Ohio, where he starred for Ohio State. But the Dallas owner still wouldn't speculate on whether Elliott will get suspended.

The Cowboys will have two suspended defensive players when the season starts in pass rushers David Irving and Randy Gregory. Two more could be: cornerback Nolan Carroll (drunken-driving charge) and linebacker Damien Wilson (aggravated assault charges).

Receiver Dez Bryant was late to report at the team's practice facility in suburban Dallas on Friday, a day before he was on the team flight to California. Irving decided to stay in California rather than report in Texas, and running back Darren McFadden missed the charter flight (see full story).

Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald motivated by quest for championship
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Training camp is a drag at this point in Larry Fitzgerald's long and accomplished NFL career. Of course, the quest for the ring is the main reason the 14-year veteran continues to play.

The longtime Arizona Cardinals wide receiver isn't sure what his future holds as far as retirement.

"That's the only reason I'm playing at this point," Fitzgerald said Sunday, the second day of Cardinals training camp. "From a personal standpoint, things I've accomplished, they're fine. But the thing that you will say is out of your control because you're in a team sport is a championship."

Fitzgerald said he feels good, and when retirement comes there won't be a podium or tears because "that's not who I am."

Yet it is important to him to still be productive as a player when he decides to step away. Fitzgerald admitted it would be a struggle to accept a diminished role due to not being able to give 100 percent.

"The end is never really pretty for elite athletes. It never looks good. You watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform or see Tony Dorsett playing for the Denver Broncos. ... It's weird because you're used to seeing them at their most dominant stage," Fitzgerald said. "For me, I really want to do things at a high level and be able to walk away and still be someone who can play at a high level."

Fitzgerald has asked others who are closer to retirement or have retired about their thought process going into it. He's been doing that for the last few years, checking in with the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tony Gonzalez.

For now, he still enjoys being around teammates and staff, asking questions in an effort to improve as a player and setting an example and providing leadership for young players (see full story).

Browns: Rookie Peppers signs, full class under contract
CLEVELAND -- Browns rookie defensive back Jabrill Peppers has signed and now Cleveland's entire draft class is under contract.

Peppers and the Browns had been haggling over guaranteed money on his four-year-deal, which is worth $10.3 million and includes a $5.6 million signing bonus.

The Browns chose Peppers -- one of Cleveland's three first-round selections -- with the No. 25 overall pick. The former Michigan standout played numerous positions for the Wolverines, but the Browns will try him at strong safety and as a kick returner.

Peppers may have been passed over by other teams after he had a diluted urine sample at the scouting combine. Peppers was placed in the first stage of the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he can be cleared from the program after 90 days if he has not positive tests.

Cleveland's rookies were scheduled to report to training camp Sunday night with the veterans arriving on Wednesday. The Browns will open their second training camp under coach Hue Jackson on Thursday.

NFL Notes: Police suspend probe into Ezekiel Elliott for bar incident

NFL Notes: Police suspend probe into Ezekiel Elliott for bar incident

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas police have suspended an investigation into an incident at a bar involving Ezekiel Elliott, the latest off-field issue for the Cowboys' star running back.

Police said Wednesday the investigation was suspended "due to the lack of a complaint," and that no other witnesses had come forward. The statement said investigators had made several unsuccessful attempts to reach the 30-year-old man who was punched in the nose Sunday night.

Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday he hadn't spoken to Elliott about the incident but planned to when players report to the practice facility Friday, a day before the team flies to California for training camp. Elliott wasn't named in the original police report.

Elliott hasn't been cleared by the NFL over a domestic dispute last year in Columbus, Ohio. The 2016 NFL rushing leader also was seen visiting a legal marijuana shop before a preseason game in Seattle last year, and was caught on video pulling down a woman's shirt at a St. Patrick's Day parade.

Jaguars: Police say Fowler hit man, broke his glasses
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler has been arrested in Florida on simple battery and criminal mischief charges.

St. Petersburg police said in a news release that Fowler was arrested Tuesday after getting into a confrontation with a man who made a comment about his driving.

An arrest report says Fowler exchanged words with the man before hitting him. The man's glasses were knocked off and Fowler stepped on them before taking a grocery bag, which included liquor, from the man and tossing it in a lake.

Police say the man wasn't injured.

An attorney isn't listed on jail records.

The Jaguars said in a statement they're gathering more information. Fowler played for the University of Florida and was the Jaguars' first-round draft pick in 2015.

Panthers: Team brings back Hurney as interim general manager
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Marty Hurney believes he is better prepared to make personnel decisions this time around with the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers Wednesday brought back Hurney to be their interim general manager, two days after owner Jerry Richardson surprisingly fired Dave Gettleman.

Hurney was the Panthers GM from 1998-2012. He is credited for building the core of a team that reached the Super Bowl two seasons ago -- most of which still remains intact -- but he also drew criticism for being too loyal to aging veterans by giving out too many big contracts.

Hurney said he needs to more analytical -- and less emotional -- in his decisions.

"When the emotional part takes over then that's not good a lot of times," Hurney said. "... With the great general managers, the analytical part of their brain makes decisions, not the emotional part" (see full story).

NFL Notes: Jerry Jones says Cowboys still exploring latest Ezekiel Elliott incident

NFL Notes: Jerry Jones says Cowboys still exploring latest Ezekiel Elliott incident

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says the club is still gathering details over Ezekiel Elliott's involvement in an altercation at a Dallas bar, the latest off-field incident for the star running back.

Elliott, who was already facing a potential suspension over the NFL's investigation of a year-old domestic case, was involved in a dispute Sunday night that led to a man getting punched in the nose and being taken to a hospital.

Dallas police said the 30-year-old man didn't know who punched him, and the report does not mention Elliott.

Jones said Tuesday he didn't want to speculate about a possible suspension. An NFL spokesman says the league is looking into the latest incident "to understand the facts" (see full story).

Lions: DE Bryant handed another 4-game suspension
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions defensive end Armonty Bryant has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

He can return to the active roster on Oct. 2.

The 26-year-old Bryant re-signed with Detroit in March after he had three sacks in five games.

Detroit signed Bryant after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns at the end of a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. After contributing in Detroit briefly last season, he was suspended three games for violating the NFL's policy on substances of abuse.

Bryant had 5 sacks for the Browns in 2015 and has 11 sacks in his 36-game, four-year career.

Cowboys: Whitehead’s dog returned safely
DALLAS -- Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead says his beloved dog Blitz is back home after someone took the pitbull and demanded a $10,000 ransom.

Whitehead posted a video of Blitz on his Snapchat account early Tuesday with the note: "Look who made it home safely!!! THANKS EVERYONE."

Whitehead told NBC 5 in Dallas he was in Florida last week when Blitz was taken from his Texas home, along with some shoes and bags. Whitehead says he got phone calls demanding he "cut a check" if he wanted to get Blitz back alive, but he refused to pay $10,000 without first getting proof that Blitz was OK.

Whitehead brought Blitz home nine weeks ago and has created an Instagram account for the pup, including photos of him in superhero costumes and a Cowboys shirt.

Jets: New Jersey approves team’s helipad plan
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New Jersey's Transportation Department approved a request by the New York Jets to add a helipad to their suburban training facility, without holding any public hearings on the issue.

Residents of Florham Park opposed the decision, saying the NFL team's facility is only a few miles from the Morristown Airport. NJ.com reports the Jets declined to comment on the approval and wouldn't say when construction would begin.

The Transportation Department issued a letter last week approving the project, spokesman Steve Schapiro said.

The team has been seeking a landing zone at the training facility since 2013, which was put on hold after community opposition.

The team refiled its application in March, arguing it was exempt from local zoning approvals because the training facility is owned by a state agency.

The filing by Florham Park Development LLC, which is associated with the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, said in its filing that the helipad would not be open for public use.

Residents in nearby Madison previously lodged objections in a separate state filing. They declined comment on the approval.