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Dak set for surgery on compound ankle fracture

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott was hospitalized with a compound fracture in his right ankle suffered on a third-quarter run against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Prescott was forced to leave the game on a cart and in tears. He was taken to an area hospital where he was set to undergo surgery on the ankle Sunday night.

Prescott was hurt with 6 minutes, 33 seconds to play in the third quarter while being tackled by Giants defensive back Logan Ryan after a 9-yard run.

AT&T Stadium was hushed as Prescott was examined by Cowboys’ medical personnel for several minutes before leaving on the cart. Players from both teams, as well as former Cowboys head coach and current Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, consoled Prescott as he left to a big cheer. He raised his right hand in acknowledgement.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was shown standing in his suite, but he appeared to head down to the locker room to check on the quarterback. Dallas announced the extent of the injury and the surgery after the game.

Andy Dalton replaced Prescott and helped finish off a scoring drive that ended with Ezekiel Elliott‘s second touchdown of the game to give Dallas a 31-23 lead. The Cowboys ended up winning 37-34 on a last-second Greg Zuerlein field goal set up on a Dalton-to-Michael Gallup 38-yard pass.

Dalton finished 9-of-11 for 111 yards.

“It sucks. Yeah it sucks,” Elliott said after the game. “I know we won; it just sucks to lose Dak, our leader. And I was talking to the guys and it’s going to take all of us. It’s going to take all of us to fill that void that we’re going to be missing from 4. Just gotta go out there and play for him.”

Prescott was off to a record-setting start to the season, with three consecutive games passing for at least 450 yards. He entered the week with 1,690 passing yards, an NFL best and the most by a Cowboys quarterback through four games in team history.

While the immediate concern is Prescott’s health, the quarterback’s future also is part of the equation.

He is playing on a one-year franchise tag that is worth $31.4 million as he and the team were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal. The Cowboys offered Prescott, 27, a five-year deal worth $34.5 million per season and more than $100 million guaranteed, but he opted to play this season on the tag, hoping for larger commitment.

Prescott has been remarkably durable in his career. He had not missed a start (69) in his career and missed just two snaps this season as he was getting evaluated for a potential concussion against the Atlanta Falcons. He played the final two games of last season with a right shoulder injury that limited his mobility.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Prescott’s 69 consecutive starts is the sixth-longest streak from the start of a rookie season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Only Tom Brady and Russell Wilson have won more games than Prescott’s 41 since 2016.

Prescott’s injury adds to a growing list for the Cowboys.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who signed a three-year, $18 million deal as a free agent, suffered a season-ending torn quadriceps on the first day of padded practices in the summer.

The Cowboys (2-3) either have or have had nine starters or significant contributors on injured reserve this season, including Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (neck), Sean Lee (sports hernia/pelvis), Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone), La’el Collins (hip), Blake Jarwin (knee), Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring), Anthony Brown (ribs), Joe Looney (knee) and Cameron Erving (knee).

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Stephen A. Smith reacts to Dak Prescott’s ankle injury vs. the Giants and reminds us why he wants the Cowboys to pay him.

The Cowboys signed Dalton, 32, to a free agent deal worth $3 million guaranteed and up to $7 million after a nine-year run as the Cincinnati Bengals‘ starting quarterback. Dalton took the Bengals to the playoffs four times but was unable to win a postseason game.

The previous time the Cowboys lost their franchise quarterback to injury in-game came in 2015, when Tony Romo suffered a re-break of his right collarbone against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 26, 2015. Romo suffered the initial break in a Week 2 win against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys finished that season with a 4-12 record, starting four different quarterbacks — Romo, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore.

Romo was on the national call for CBS for Sunday’s game.

In 2018, Dallas wide receiver Allen Hurns suffered a dislocated ankle in a wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks not far from where Prescott was injured.

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The Most Vulnerable Incumbent In The House Is A Democrat, But Republicans Are Defending More Competitive Seats

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In the face of a whirlwind presidential campaign and massive fundraising numbers coming out of marquee U.S. Senate contests, it’s easy to overlook what’s happening in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives. That might be because Democrats look like strong bets to hold onto power there. In fact, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast is most confident about the House, as the Deluxe version of our model gives Democrats a 95 in 100 shot at retaining control of the House, better than Joe Biden’s 88 in 100 chance of winning the presidency or the Democrats’ 74 in 100 chance of capturing the Senate.1

However, even if Democrats do hold onto the House, that doesn’t mean they’ll retain every seat they control. In fact, there are a number of seats they might lose, including that of Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the most vulnerable House incumbent seeking reelection in 2020. The Deluxe version of our House forecast only gives him about a 1 in 4 shot of winning in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District against Republican Michelle Fischbach.

Peterson’s chances come down partly to the makeup of his rural district in western Minnesota. The 7th Congressional District is 26 points more Republican than the country as a whole, according to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric,2 making it the most GOP-leaning House seat held by a Democrat. Seeking his 16th term in office, Peterson has won past elections as a Democrat thanks to his moderate views, his anti-abortion stance and his focus on agricultural issues. And as the chair of the House Agriculture Committee, he’s been very attentive to farming interests, especially the sugar beet industry, which is important to his constituency. Still, the rightward shift in his district in the last decade or so narrowed his margin of victory to about 4 points in 2018.

But beyond the seat’s increasingly deep red hue, Peterson is up against his most daunting challenger in years. Fischbach served as the state’s lieutenant governor and, before that, as president of the Minnesota Senate. And unlike recent Peterson opponents, Fischbach has nearly matched his fundraising. On top of that, Republican groups have spent $5 million on her behalf, while Peterson has received a little less than $4 million in outside support. It’s no wonder then that the expert handicappers at The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball all rate this race as a toss-up, which factors into the Deluxe version of our forecast.

However, despite Peterson’s trying circumstances, the good news for Democrats is that his vulnerability makes him a rare bird in 2020. Of the most endangered Democratic-held House seats, Democrats are clear underdogs in just Peterson’s district. In fact, as the table below shows, Democrats are slightly favored in most competitive seats they are defending (races where they have less than a 3 in 4 shot of winning). Just two other Democratic incumbents face toss-up races: Rep. Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District and Rep. TJ Cox in California’s 21st Congressional District.

Endangered Democrats are still mostly favored

Democratic-held seats that Democrats have less than a 75 in 100 shot of winning in the Deluxe version of FiveThirtyEight’s House forecast, as of 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 19

District Democratic Incumbent Partisan Lean Win chance Rating
MN-07 Collin Peterson R+26 24% Likely R
OK-05 Kendra Horn R+13 49 Toss-up
CA-21 TJ Cox D+9 53 Toss-up
UT-04 Ben McAdams R+19 63 Lean D
NM-02 Xochitl Torres Small R+10 64 Lean D
SC-01 Joe Cunningham R+18 64 Lean D
CA-48 Harly Rouda R+8 66 Lean D
GA-06 Lucy McBath R+15 68 Lean D
NY-22 Anthony Brindisi R+12 69 Lean D
NV-04 Steven Horsford D+2 70 Lean D
IA-02 OPEN R+3 71 Lean D
NY-11 Max Rose R+7 72 Lean D
NJ-07 Tom Malinowski R+6 72 Lean D
CA-39 Gil Cisneros R+1 73 Lean D
TX-07 Lizzie Fletcher R+12 74 Lean D

Horn’s race is particularly close, as the district is still heavily red (13 points more Republican than the country as a whole) and she won in 2018 by just 1 point. Meanwhile, Cox is defending more Democratic-leaning turf, but he’s faced scrutiny over owing back taxes and is running against former Republican Rep. David Valadao, whom Cox edged out by a slim margin in 2018 (less than 1 point). And in California’s top-two primary system back in March, Cox trailed Valadao by 11 points, which could be a poor harbinger for the freshman incumbent.

These three seats, plus the others where Democrats are marginally favored, could be especially vulnerable if things go better for Trump than currently expected. Nevertheless, Democrats are helped out by the fact that they have incumbents running in all but one of these seats, and 12 are freshmen incumbents who have raised huge sums of money.

By comparison, Republicans find themselves defending far more vulnerable seats than Democrats despite controlling fewer seats overall. This is mostly thanks to redistricting, retirements and the Democratic-leaning electoral environment. As the table below shows, GOP candidates are underdogs in three Republican-held seats, roughly 50-50 in nine others and have less than a 3 in 4 shot of winning in 13 more.

Republicans hold more vulnerable seats than Democrats

Republican-held seats that Republicans have less than a 75 in 100 shot of winning in the Deluxe version of FiveThirtyEight’s House forecast, as of 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 19

District Republican incumbent Partisan Lean Win chance Rating
NC-02 OPEN D+20 <1% Safe D
NC-06 OPEN D+19 <1 Safe D
TX-23 OPEN R+4 27 Lean D
NY-02 OPEN R+7 43 Toss-up
CA-25 Mike Garcia R+2 45 Toss-up
VA-05 OPEN R+7 48 Toss-up
IN-05 OPEN R+15 54 Toss-up
NJ-02 Jeff Van Drew R+5 53 Toss-up
PA-10 Scott Perry R+11 55 Toss-up
GA-07 OPEN R+18 56 Toss-up
NE-02 Don Bacon R+5 58 Toss-up
TX-24 OPEN R+17 60 Toss-up
CO-03 OPEN R+15 60 Lean R
NY-24 John Katko D+6 60 Lean R
TX-22 OPEN R+19 64 Lean R
OH-01 Steve Chabot R+8 65 Lean R
AZ-06 David Schweikert R+16 66 Lean R
IL-13 Rodney Davis R+8 67 Lean R
NC-08 Richard Hudson R+8 67 Lean R
TX-21 Chip Roy R+20 69 Lean R
MN-01 Jim Hagedorn R+12 70 Lean R
MO-02 Ann Wagner R+17 70 Lean R
MI-06 Fred Upton R+3 72 Lean R
AR-02 French Hill R+11 73 Lean R
MT-AL OPEN R+18 73 Lean R

Two North Carolina seats are almost surefire Democratic pickups due to court-ordered redistricting, while retiring Rep. Will Hurd’s seat in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District is leaning toward the Democrats, too. Retirements and primary losses have left five of the nine GOP toss-up seats open, which helps Democrats even if the incumbency advantage isn’t what it once was. Lastly, the 13 seats that lean toward Republicans are all seats that could conceivably flip toward Democrats if 2020 is another “blue wave” election.

Put it all together and you can see why the Democrats’ chances of holding onto the House look pretty good, even if they do have the most endangered incumbent up in 2020.

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Belichick effusive in praise for ‘great’ TE Kittle

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has coached and coached against his share of elite tight ends in a professional career that began in 1975.

But when Belichick looks the San Francisco 49ersGeorge Kittle, he sees one who stands with — and above — the rest.

“Kittle is a great player,” Belichick said. “He does everything well. I’d put him right at the top of the league there, period. His ability to run, catch, get open, after the catch, block, he does everything at a high level. He’s as good as anybody that I’ve coached or as good as anybody that we’ve played against.”

That’s high praise from Belichick who has been the head coach of the Patriots since 2000 and spent most of the rest of his career as either a defensive coordinator or a defensive position coach.

It’s particularly notable since Belichick coached four-time All Pro Rob Gronkowski in New England from 2010 to 2018. Gronkowski is regarded by many as the elite tight end of his generation after earning five Pro Bowl berths, three Super Bowl rings and landing a spot on the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time team.

Gronkowski joined quarterback Tom Brady in signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason after taking a year away from the league.

“He’s as good as anybody that I’ve coached or as good as anybody that we’ve played against.” Patriots coach Bill Belichick on 49ers tight end George Kittle

Speaking to Bay Area media on Monday in advance of the Patriots-49ers game set for Sunday, Belichick was effusive in his praise for Kittle, who owns the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in his first three NFL seasons (2,945) and the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season (1,377).

But, according to Belichick, it’s Kittle’s ability to do everything well combined with coach Kyle Shanahan’s ability to put him in position to succeed, that sets him apart.

“If you pay too much attention to him, he creates opportunities for some of their other outstanding players,” Belichick said. “And if you don’t pay enough attention to him then he can kill you. So, he’s in a great system, he’s a great player. I don’t think there’s a tight end in the league, and we’ve seen a lot of good ones and had a lot of good ones, but I don’t think there’s anybody in the league that does everything overall as well as he does. He just really doesn’t have any weak points at all. Just outstanding at every phase of the game.”

This season, Kittle has 30 catches for 380 yards and two touchdowns. He ranks second in receptions and yards among all tight ends despite missing two games with a sprained left knee.

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Source: Titans face fine as NFL ends COVID audit

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The NFL has informed the Tennessee Titans that its review of how the team handled its coronavirus outbreak has concluded. The organization will face a potential fine, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Individuals will not be disciplined, and there was no discussion of forfeiture of draft picks, according to Schefter.

The team was fully cooperative, as the league inspected the facility and found it to be in compliance.

There were incidents of people not wearing masks, but there was insufficient communication regarding player workouts outside the facility.

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