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Rico Gathers working hard to be on somebody’s 53-man roster this season

The Cowboys saw tight ends Jason Witten and James Hanna retire this offseason. It leaves a hole at the position even with their selection of Dalton Schultz in the fourth round.

Rico Gathers, who did not play a regular-season game in his first two seasons, acknowledges the opportunity.

He spent his rookie season on the practice squad after playing college basketball, and a concussion kept Gathers on injured reserve last season.

The biggest thing for me this year is just making it to the regular season, Gathers said. I have to make sure I’m healthy and make sure I’m able to be on somebody’s 53-man roster.

The Cowboys took a flyer on Gathers in 2016, using a sixth-round pick on him. He showed signs of development during the 2017 preseason by catching seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the first two preseason games.

But Gathers took a helmet-to-helmet hit from defensive back Kavon Frazier during an August 15 practice, and the concussion ended Gathers’ season before it began.

He was cleared from concussion protocol before Week 7, but the Cowboys elected not to use one of their short-term injured reserve designations on Gathers.

Gutekunst’s old job will now be filled by two people. Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowksi have been promoted to co-directors of player personnel. Sullivan was the director of college scouting the last two years and Wojciechowski is making the move from director of pro personnel.

Matt Malaspina will take over Sullivan’s former job and the Packers made several other promotions in the department. They also announced the hiring of former Browns scout Pat Moore and former NFL defensive back Brandian Ross as college scouts.

That’s the worst call of the century, Manziel said. My whole life I’ve been taught to throw it right at the stick that’s marking the down. … I thought I got it there, he (official) told me I was about a yard short. That’s the first time I’ve heard of that, that’s new to me.

So too was running to the locker room at halftime and being told there still was a final play to run despite the clock having run out.

I’m still learning some things up here, he said. There’s going to be some of those growing pains.

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Mike Schmidt says Spanish-speaking ballplayers can’t be clubhouse leaders

In a stunning development, somebody asked a retired baseball player for his opinions on the modern sport, and he responded with regrettable, out-of-touch quotes.

Remain calm. I’ll explain.

Mike Schmidt, the greatest third baseman in baseball history, was asked if the Phillies should rebuild around outfielder Odubel Herrera. His answer was … uh, oh boy:

My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things, Schmidt, who played for 18 years in Philadelphia, told SportsRadio 94WIP on Tuesday. First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game. Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, ‘Man, you gotta run that ball out.’

[He] just can’t be because of the language barrier that kind of a player.

Things have changed since then. After Friday’s win over the Yankees, the Blue Jays find themselves right back in the thick of the division race. They are still in last place in the American League East, mind, but they are only one game under .500 and just 5 1/2 games out of first place. After finishing April with an 8-17 record and eight games out of first place, they’ve been the best team in the division with a 19-11 record since the start of May.

With the resurgence of the Blue Jays, the American League East is now arguably the most competitive division in the league and possibly the hardest to decipher. If the Blue Jays win on Saturday, every team in the division will have at least an even record. There also isn’t a team that looks as if it’s going away.

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