With the Cowboys going through their second workout of training camp, Romo spent the bulk of the workout off the field. He was not in uniform and left the field after the pre-practice warmup was finished. Brandon Weeden took the first-team snaps.
Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys want to be mindful of Romo's back injury in back-to-back workouts and standing around can cause issues. The Cowboys will have their first padded practice Saturday, and Romo and club officials said he will take the team snaps during the afternoon session.
"It's just purely precautionary," Jones said. "I think Tony knows that we're getting ready to get into the competitive part of practices [Saturday] and he just decided he wanted to make sure he was rolling and ready and wanted to not push it here. He's been going pretty good between all the conditioning and running and getting himself back into shape. Having a big two or three days here he just wanted to take [Friday] to rest up a little bit and get ready. He doesn't want to miss anything that's competitive and everybody agreed that was a good idea."
Jackson walked off the field under his own power during a team drill late in the session. He did not return.
Tight end Tony Moeaki and safety Kenny Ladler both left practice with hamstring injuries and did not return.
Friday night's practice also saw the return of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. After passing his conditioning test Thursday, Dareus was in full pads and participated in team drills Friday, recording a "sack" of quarterback EJ Manuel early in practice.
Dareus was joined in practice by defensive tackle Alan Branch, who also passed his conditioning test Thursday.
Tight end Chris Gragg, who was released from the hospital after being treated for heat-related issues, was on the sidelines but did not participate. Linebacker Randell Johnson, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list, also did not participate.
Fullback Evan Rodriguez returned to practice after being released from the hospital earlier week.
Indianapolis' talent and depth took a significant hit late Friday afternoon when Ballard suffered tough luck in practice for the second straight year. He tore his left Achilles, likely ending his season.
There was a sense that Ballard's injury was severe when owner Jim Irsay talked to the media on the practice field shortly after the third-year running back was taken off on a golf cart.
“When you see someone like Vick Ballard go down who's worked so hard to get back, it's tough, but it happens," Irsay said. "... He's still young, and he's got a full career ahead of him.”
It was less than a month ago that Ballard got a hit during teammate Robert Mathis' charity softball game and took his speed to another level as he rounded first base toward second.
Now Ballard faces the tough reality that his NFL career could be in jeopardy because he's torn his ACL and Achilles within 10 months of each other. Both of his injuries happened in practice during non-contact drills. His two injuries easily make you forget that it was just two years ago that Ballard led the Colts in rushing with 814 yards as a rookie in 2012.
As was the case last season, the Colts now have depth concerns in the backfield after they hoped their running game would complement quarterback Andrew Luck's arm.
Bradshaw has dealt with neck problems each of the past two seasons, so there's legitimate questions about his durability. Richardson's struggles have been well documented, and it doesn't help that he was held out of practice for precautionary reasons Friday. If there's a player outside of the rookies who needs to be on the practice field it's Richardson.
The Colts have running backs Chris Rainey and Daniel "Boom" Herron on the roster, but both of those players lack experience. They've combined for 35 carries in their career.
Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson is always working the phones trying to improve the roster. He'll be working the phones even harder now to make up for the loss of Ballard.
If it was up to him, he'd be out there again tomorrow. Realistically, he believes he can be back on the field within six to eight weeks.
"I would hope," Mathieu said. "Still puts me right around the bye.
"That's ultimately what I'm pushing for."
Eight weeks exactly would be the Cardinals' bye in Week 4, allowing him another few days to prepare for his return before the Cardinals travel to Denver. Arizona coach Bruce Arians said it won't take long, once Mathieu's healthy, for the free safety to get back into football shape.
"Him? A day," Arians said. "That's all he does. He's watching tape and coaching (rookie safety) Deone (Bucannon), and so it's a matter of him getting healthy."
Mathieu was placed on the preseason physically unable to perform list earlier this week while he continues to rehabilitate from a torn ACL and LCL. During the conditioning test, Mathieu ran a series of 40-yard sprints under the watchful eye of a trainer.
He wasn't quite at full speed but was still outpacing some of his teammates.
"I can run faster than that," Mathieu said. "But like I said, I didn't want to come in here trying to steal the show, so I kinda chilled and I saw B.A. looking at me and I kinda slowed down and not run as fast. It was all for fun."
Keeping himself in check has been challenging lately for Mathieu, who said it's tough not to go 100 percent on the field. In the seventh month of his rehab, Mathieu can run in straight lines, as he showed Friday, but he expected his hamstring to tighten after running that speed.
They made official the signing of offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, with whom they agreed to a deal earlier this week.
They've placed starting right guard Brandon Brooks, linebacker Ricky Sapp and running back Jonathan Grimes on the active/non-football injury list. David Quessenberry, the Texans' offensive tackle who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins T Lymphoblastic Lymphoma last month, was placed on the active/non-football illness list.
All four players will still count against the team's 90-man roster. All this does is identify that they did not suffer injuries practicing or working out with the Texans.
Ballard was scheduled to undergo an MRI after suffering a left leg injury in practice Friday. He left the practice field on a golf cart.
"When you see someone like Vick Ballard go down who's worked so hard to get back, it's tough, but it happens," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "As soon as you get to camp, those things happen. He's still young, and he's got a full career ahead of him, so we have to do an MRI and see exactly what it is and then go from there. But you really hope to not hear any of that kind of news."
Ballard missed all but one game last season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during practice. He rushed for a team-high 814 yards as a rookie in 2012 and went into this training camp expecting to compete with Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw for the starting position.
Richardson, the No. 3 overall choice in 2012, struggled last year after being traded to the Colts in September. He sat out the afternoon practice for "precautionary" reasons, but did stay after practice to catch balls from the JUGS machine.
Bradshaw, who owns two Super Bowl rings, missed all but three games in 2013 after having neck surgery.
Information from ESPN.com Colts reporter Mike Wells was used in this report.
"I feel great," Hatcher said. "I have to go with the flow. We're on schedule -- I think I'm ahead of schedule. We'll play it slowly when I get back on the field. I want to feel myself."
Of course, if he were indeed ahead of schedule Hatcher might have already returned. But considering the position he plays and the fact he turned 32 earlier this month, there's no need to rush his return. The Redskins need him to be a pivotal player in the pass rush, providing the interior push they have not had much of in recent years.
But Hatcher said his age isn't an issue when it comes to his return.
"It's based on how you take care of your body when you're younger," he said, "and I did a great job taking care of my body. It's one of those things whenever I feel ready and the training staff says I'm ready, then I'll be ready to go. I feel great today. We just have to keep progressing."
- It was an extremely sloppy day, especially on offense. There were drops, false starts and even a fumbled exchange between quarterback Joe Flacco and center Jeremy Zuttah. Flacco and coach John Harbaugh each vented their frustration during practice. It's rare to see Flacco voice his displeasure.
- The best players on Friday were running back Bernard Pierce and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Pierce, who was limited all offseason after having offseason shoulder surgery, eluded defenders between the tackles. This is a good sign for the Ravens, who will likely turn to Pierce to fill in for Ray Rice during the running back's two-game suspension. Jernigan, the rookie second-round pick, spent a lot of the workout in the Ravens' backfield. He repeatedly beat guard Ryan Jensen and pressured Flacco.
- It's never a good thing when the best part of the offense was the cadence. Flacco drew the defense offside three times. He got defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to jump on consecutive plays.
- Justin Tucker missed a kick that was inside 40 yards. This usually doesn't merit a note, except for the fact that this is the first time he's failed to convert a kick this offseason (or at least during the practices that the media is allowed to watch).
- Schedule: The Ravens have their first full-contract practice on Saturday. The three-hour workout begins at 1 p.m. All three coordinators -- offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Dean Pees and special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg -- are scheduled to speak to the media following practice.
- Injury wire: CB Lardarius Webb walked off the field with a minor back injury and didn't return. ... CB Aaron Ross was officially placed on injured reserve. The Ravens signed FS Will Hill, the former Giants free safety who is currently suspended for six games this season. ... CB Dominique Franks (failed conditioning test) remains on the non-football injury list. ... NT Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. ... G Will Rackley (undisclosed) didn't practice.
“Our approach with him throughout training camp is to be very mindful of being out there twice a day, and particularly twice a day on consecutive days,” Garrett said.
After Thursday's workout Romo said he does not have back pain but he has to go through a prolonged daily program to keep his back strong and loose. Romo said he could have done more Thursday but he backed off when the offense did not have competitive drills against the defense. He said the amount of work will pick up once the players practice in pads starting Saturday.
After Friday's walk-through Romo had a long discussion with executive vice president Stephen Jones and head athletic trainer Jim Maurer.
With Saturday morning's walk-through focusing on special teams, Garrett said he anticipates Romo taking first-team snaps. The Cowboys hold an hour walk-through in the mornings and a two-hour practice in the afternoon on most days. Their first scheduled off-day is Monday.
“The two-a-days can be an issue, and then the back-to-back two-a-days,” Garrett said. "I know we're only out here for a walk-through format, but when you're coming off a back issue like Tony has sometimes just being out on your feet like that can be taxing. So we just want to be mindful as we start training camp, continue to communicate with him and others to make sure we're all on the same page. He's making progress.”
After Thursday’s practice, Stephen Jones said the Cowboys feel good about Romo's health.
"We're not trying to win the East tomorrow,” Jones said on Thursday. “It’s a long training camp and the last thing we want to do is act like we're playing Sunday with him. We want to be conservative but at the same time give him the work he needs.”
However, coach Sean Payton continued to insist that he expects Byrd back sooner than later. And Byrd certainly looked like he was close to returning from offseason back surgery while performing a series of drills off to the side with trainers throughout practice.
In fact, Byrd was one of the last players to leave the field as he was catching balls one-handed from the JUGS machine following practice.
"We will work day-to-day with him, and the good news is it is going to be sooner rather than later," Payton said. "I don't want to put a time on it, but his progress is ahead of schedule. … We are still just getting it to where we feel he is 100 percent. And then clearly before we leave here (The Greenbrier, where the Saints will practice for the first three weeks of training camp) he will be back on the roster.
"It is just a matter of us making sure we feel that he is ready to go at 100 percent and there is no risk of any injury."
Byrd was one of three players held out of practice Friday, along with defensive tackle John Jenkins (pectoral) and offensive tackle Tavon Rooks (back). All three are expected to return soon.
Receiver Kenny Stills also joined the injury list during practice when he pulled up lame with a right quadriceps injury while running a deep passing route. He left the field with trainers and did not return.
Payton said he doesn't expect the injury to be serious, though.
"He had a tight quad two weeks ago when he was training out in San Diego," Payton said. "It is the same right quad. I don't think it is real serious. I will get some more information here with [trainer Scottie Patton]."
Shorts said he expects to be back on the field this weekend.
"Things are going to pop up," he said. "It's football. Things happen. I'll continue to take care of my body. If I'm able to practice [on Saturday], I'm practicing."
Shorts missed most of OTAs and minicamp with tightness in his calf. He was one of seven receivers who were sidelined in the spring with injuries. All but Ace Sanders, who took a leave of absence in the wake of a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, reported to camp completely healthy.
This is a critical season for Shorts, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. His agent has had preliminary talks with Jaguars GM David Caldwell but there's no timetable to get a deal done.
Caldwell said Shorts is in the team's long-term plans and that his injury history won't play a role in the negotiations, but it's something that the team has noted. Shorts has missed 11 games in his three seasons for various injuries and finished last season on IR with a sports hernia.
"Cecil plays so hard that maybe sometimes he gets hurt because he plays so hard and tries so hard and works so hard," Caldwell said. "We don't want him to lose that. That's not a thing that we're concerned about."
Munnerlyn, Zimmer said, has a hamstring injury, while Sendejo is still dealing with the lower back ailment that kept him out for most of the Vikings' spring program. Ford showed up to camp in a walking boot on Thursday, and Zimmer said the tight end had surgery on his foot. He didn't have a timetable on Ford's return, but it's worth noting that tight end Kyle Rudolph missed the last two months of the season with a broken foot last year.
Zimmer made it clear he wasn't happy with Ford tweeting about his injury, adding he'd stressed the importance of discretion on social media in his opening remarks to the team on Thursday evening. "We actually had that meeting last night and then it gets tweeted last night or today," Zimmer said. "They must not have been paying attention in the meeting. So I will fix those things."
The Vikings also had one player not pass their conditioning test on Thursday, Zimmer said. That player won't be participating in the Vikings' first practice on Friday afternoon, though the coach wouldn't say who it was on Friday morning.
The Vikings also released receiver Josh Cooper and tackle Matt Hall on Friday morning, signing receivers Ty Walker and Andy Cruse to take the two open spots on the roster.
"You're going to see Kroy Biermann and Julio Jones participating in practice today," Smith told 92.9 the Game. "Those guys have worked extremely hard getting back. We're going to limit their snaps. They will be as close to full participants as they can.
"Kroy will work two days and take a day off to start with. And we'll evaluate after Week 1. And Julio, we're going to give him a day off every other day to start with. We should have those guys by the beginning of the season at 100 percent and ready to go, and that's the No. 1 goal. We want to be as healthy as we possibly can."
The Falcons have three players starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list: receiver Drew Davis (foot), defensive tackle Corey Peters (Achilles), and safety Zeke Motta (neck surgery). Motta is not expected to play this season.
Smith sounded optimistic about Peters.
"We anticipate Corey Peters to hopefully get off of (PUP) very quickly," Smith said. "He's been working extremely hard off of his Achilles."
"Much like we expected," Payton said of Byrd, who underwent a minor back surgery this summer to alleviate a nagging disc issue.
Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis declined to make any official announcements about whether any veterans will be placed on the physically unable to perform list after they underwent their physicals and conditioning tests on Thursday.
But Payton compared Byrd's situation to that of second-year defensive tackle John Jenkins, who was placed on the PUP list earlier this week when the younger players reported to camp early for their conditioning tests in Metairie. Jenkins underwent minor pectoral surgery this summer and is also expected back soon.
Payton did, however, specify that receiver Joe Morgan is "a go" after Morgan missed all of organized team activities and minicamp this summer while still recovering from last year's knee surgery. Payton said Morgan has healed enough now to do everything, but it will just be a matter of the Saints deciding how quickly to bring him back up to speed.
Payton also addressed the injury that landed rookie offensive tackle Tavon Rooks on the non-football-injury list earlier this week. Payton said it was a minor back issue that he doesn't believe is significant and shouldn't keep Rooks off the field for long.
"Fortunately for us, that's not a big list right now," Payton said of the injuries. "And hopefully it can remain small."
Allen, speaking to five media outlets and the team's Web Site over lunch at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, said an initial MRI of Hayden's ankle in the immediate aftermath of the injury showed no damage. But when the injury did not heal in a timely fashion, a second MRI revealed a stress fracture in the foot and Hayden underwent surgery just after the team's mandatory minicamp June 17-19.
There is no timetable for Hayden's return, though Allen said some players have returned in as few as four weeks time after a similar procedure.
"It's disappointing, both for him and for me," Allen said, "because he's a guy that we're counting on being able to step up and help us this year and he's a young player and he needs the reps."
With the Raiders having only 13 practices in Napa before they break camp and head to Oxnard for a pair of practices on Aug. 12 and 13, it is likely Hayden will miss camp.
Hayden, the Raiders' top draft pick in 2013 at No. 12 overall despite suffering a near-fatal heart injury as a college senior at Houston, had an injury-filled rookie NFL season. He missed a significant portion of his training camp recovering from surgery to remove resultant scar tissue in his abdomen and then played in eight games before going on season-ending Injured Reserve after undergoing sports hernia surgery.
He had one interception, which clinched the Raiders' home victory over the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 6, 2013, a forced fumble and 29 tackles, 23 solo, last season.
Hayden had been penciled in as the first-team right cornerback and, after that first OTA practice on May 27, he said he was "light years" ahead of where he had been a year earlier.
With Hayden's situation, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are Oakland's top two corners a day before the Raiders' first practice. Plus, Allen mentioned the progress of seventh-round draft pick TJ Carrie and fourth-year defensive back Chimdi Chekwa as potential corners in a nickel package. Allen did not say if Hayden's situation put the Raiders in the market for another cornerback.
"Is it a setback? Yeah, it's a setback," Allen said of Hayden. "Is it something that's going to keep him from being able to contribute this year? I certainly hope not. But that will be determined by how fast he's able to recover, how fast he's able to get out on the field. And once he's out on the field, what's he able to do? How's he able to perform?
"It's really about, how does the foot respond and when's he able to be pain free or we can begin to get him out there and start him running and start getting him into football activity."
And Hayden's mindset?
"I think he's frustrated but I don't think he's in any state of despair or anything like that," Allen said. "I think he understands he's got another challenge he's got to overcome … the kid wants to be out there, he wants to play. It's just been unfortunate that he's had some injuries that have kept him from being able to do that."