A very tentative preseason timeline for NFL

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A very tentative preseason timeline for NFL

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
ATLANTA - Here is the timeline the NFL is using as a guide pending ratification by the players of the new CBA. Of course, the players are so pissed at the fact the owners slipped things into the final proposed CBA that they then ratified before the players saw makes this all verrrry tenuous. Pertinent Patriots info is italicized under entries. JULYJuly 23: Voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction permitted until first day of clubs preseason training camps(This is the OTA period)July 23: Pre-2011 League Year Period commences. 2011 Free Agency List to be issued and will become effective on the first day of the 2011 League Year (July 27). Clubsplayers may begin to renegotiate contracts. Clubs may begin to sign Drafted Rookies and their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players. (Work on getting Nate Solder and Co. signed. Make decisions on Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, etc)July 23: Waivers begin for the 2011 League Year.July 23: Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, Undrafted Rookie Free Agents, free agents, and other clubs UFAs, RFAs, and Franchise Players.(14 hours after the start of the league year, the Patriots can start making a run at Mark Herzlich, Nnamdi Asomugha, Matt Roth and Randy Moss). July 24: Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents.(Patriots can sign Mark Herzlich)July 27: 2011 League Year commences at 2:00 PM ET, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA.Free Agency Signing Period begins. Clubs may sign free agents and other clubs Unrestricted Free Agents. Clubs may sign Offer Sheets. Trading period begins.All Clubs must be under the Salary Cap.Top 51 rule applies.(Free agents can be signed)July 27: Expand rosters to 90-man limit.July 27: Training Camps open for all clubs, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA.Day One activities limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. No pads permitted on Day Two or Day Three.(Bill Belichick will love a padless training camp until the brink of August)AUGUSTAugust 9: Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an Accrued Season for free agency.(End your holdout if you opted to start one)August 11-15: First Preseason WeekendAugust 12: Deadline for signing of Offer Sheets by Restricted Free Agents.(17-day period concludes)August 12: Deadline for June 1 Tender to Unrestricted Free Agents.If the player has not signed a Player Contract with a Club by August 26, he may negotiate or sign a Player Contract from August 26 until the Tuesday following the tenth week of the regular season, at 4:00 PM ET, only with his Prior Club.August 12: Deadline: If a Drafted Rookie has not signed a Player Contract by this date, he cannot be traded during his initial League Year and may sign a Player Contract only with the drafting Club until the day of the Draft in the next League Year. August 13-17: Each Club has until five days prior to its second preseason game to provide any tendered but unsigned Exclusive Rights Player or Restricted Free Agent with written notice of the Clubs intent to place the player on the Exempt List if the player fails to report at least the day before the Clubs second preseason game. August 16: Deadline for Prior Club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents. (Four-day matching period conlcudes)August 17: Deadline for June 1 Tender to Restricted Free Agents who have received a Qualifying Offer for a Right of First Refusal Only.August 18-22: Second Preseason WeekendAugust 25-28: Third Preseason Weekend.August 26: Signing Period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents who received the June 1 Tender.August 29: Deadline for June 15 Tender to Restricted Free Agents.If players Qualifying Offer is greater than 110 of the players prior years Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior year contract carried forward unchanged), the Club may withdraw the Qualifying Offer on August 29 and retain its exclusive negotiating rights to the player, so long as the Club immediately tenders the player a one-year Player Contract of at least 110 of his prior years Paragraph 5 Salary, with all the terms of his prior years contract carried forward unchanged.August 30: Clubs reduce rosters from 90 players to 75 players.SEPTEMBERSeptember 1-2: Fourth Preseason WeekendSeptember 3: Clubs reduce rosters to 53 players.September 8-12: First Regular-Season Weekend.September 18-19: Second Regular-Season WeekendSeptember 20: Deadline at 4:00 PM ET for any Club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension. (Logan Mankins needs to be in the house)
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

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Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

ARLINGTON, Texas - Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2. 

The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively. 

With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.

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Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.