Now that Looney has become the starting center under the serious circumstances of Travis Frederick's battle against a rare neurological disorder, the career backup plans to keep his sense of humor.
"Things are still the same," Looney said Thursday, almost exactly a year after a similar throng of reporters surrounded his locker to discuss his antics in practice at team headquarters.
"Football is a game. And I'm going to come out here and have fun every day doing it. Sometimes it's not going to be perfect. But at the end of the day, this is a game and I've got to enjoy it."
Looney and the rest of the Cowboys will have Frederick on their mind as they prepare to start the regular season. The 27-year-old Frederick will likely miss the visit to Carolina on Sept. 9 and any number of games after that.
The Cowboys simply don't know how long Frederick will be out as he undergoes treatment for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune condition that causes the body to attack a network of nerves around the brain and spinal cord.
Weakness is one of the primary symptoms, in some cases signaled by burning sensations similar to what football players call "stingers," usually injuries around the neck. That's what Frederick was describing to the team when the Cowboys were still in California for training camp.
Frederick was cleared by a specialist in the Los Angeles area over concerns about his neck. But symptoms persisted after the Cowboys returned to Texas. He got the diagnosis this week and was in his third day of treatment Thursday.
The 2016 All-Pro said in a statement issued by the team that treatment will continue for several days. And while Frederick and his teammates are optimistic he will return soon, nobody can say when.
Most people recover from even the most severe cases of the disease, but some will continue to have some degree of weakness, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth missed the second half of the 1993 season with Washington because of Guillain-Barre and wrote on Twitter that he didn't fully regain his strength for a year. But Schlereth played until 2000 and won two Super Bowls with Denver after the diagnosis.
"It's tough," said 2014 All-Pro guard Zack Martin, one of Frederick's best friends on the team. "During training camp, he really didn't know what was going on. He was kind of telling us how he was feeling. It's tough that he didn't know until a couple of days ago."
Owner Jerry Jones said he was relieved to get the diagnosis but deflected several questions about the severity of the illness Dolphins Elite Jerseys , which likely will determine how long Frederick is out. Frederick said he was encouraged by doctors telling him they thought they caught the disease early.
In retrospect, there was a telling moment early in camp in California when Frederick was uncharacteristically pushed back several feet right after the snap by defensive tackle Antwaun Woods in one-on-one drills. A frustrated Frederick shoved Woods, causing a brief scuffle.
"It's amazing to me that he's been out here going through two-a-days and creating half the fights because he probably wasn't satisfied within himself how he was responding (as) I look back on it," Jones said. "But that's Frederick."
Jones didn't want to discuss the idea of adding another center, although the Cowboys did sign undrafted rookie Jacob Ohnesorge this week.
"I haven't and I don't have a plan as to how we'll work through this relative to the position on the team," Jones said.
Martin, the right guard, has taken snaps at center occasionally since joining Dallas but is still viewed as an emergency option. He will miss the rest of the preseason but expects to be ready for the opener after hyperextending his left knee in the exhibition loss to Cincinnati last weekend.
Looney, who turns 28 next week, has started 13 of 59 games in six years. He has played all 32 games in two seasons with the Cowboys, with three starts. Looney started a career-best six games in his only season with Tennessee in 2015.
"Joe's played more football with the ones this year than he ever has," coach Jason Garrett said. "I think we're playing better in combination because of the reps he's gotten. He's a veteran. He's poised. He's composed. He's smart. I think he's fit in really well."
The 315-pound Looney didn't fit into Elliott's jersey very well. The increased importance of his role 鈥?replacing a four-time Pro Bowl player who hasn't missed a game in five seasons 鈥?doesn't mean Looney has stopped thinking about his next gag.
"You've got to be the same person every day," he said. "It's unfortunate what's going on right now. We're praying for Travis and wish nothing but the best for him. I'm definitely going to crack some jokes when I see him."
The Cowboys can use the humor right now.
ATLANTA (AP) — There are times that come along in the NFL, when the confluence of bountiful drafts, stars in their prime and a still-manageable salary cap align to put a team in position to win a championship.
For the Atlanta Falcons Jason Sanders Color Rush Jersey , that time is now.
A franchise still scarred by blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl looks poised to make another run at that elusive first title, but the window of opportunity is starting to close just a bit.
Matt Ryan is 33, yet only two seasons removed from an MVP performance.
Julio Jones put off his demands for a new contract until 2019 .
Tevin Coleman is still a year away from potential free agency.
A talented young defense is poised to really make its mark.
“From a player’s perspective, the window is always one year,” said Ryan, who became the NFL’s first guaranteed $100 million player when he signed a massive contract extension during the offseason . “That’s something that you learn the longer you play, that sense of urgency, how quickly it goes by.”
Coming off their Super Bowl disappointment, the Falcons still managed to go 10-6 and earn a wild-card berth in the highly competitive NFC South last season. They breezed past the Los Angeles Rams to start the playoffs before losing a 15-10 heartbreaker to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles .
Atlanta had first-and-goal at the Eagles 9 with just over a minute remaining. But Ryan threw three incomplete passes, the last of them intended for Jones to cap another bitter postseason ending.
The Falcons are hoping to get another chance. Here’s some things to keep an eye on in 2018:
SARK’S SECOND YEAR
Steve Sarkisian is definitely on the hot seat heading into his second year as offensive coordinator .
The Falcons slumped from the league’s highest-scoring team in 2016, when Kyle Shanahan was calling plays, to the middle of the NFL pack under Sarkisian. The offense really struggled in the red zone, capped off fittingly by that goal-line stand in Philly.
It’s worth remembering that Shanahan also got off to a rough start in Atlanta. To increase the chances of a similar turnaround, the Falcons brought in longtime offensive coordinator Greg Knapp as the quarterback coach.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence,” said Ryan http://www.falconsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-isaiah-oliver-jersey , eager to regain his MVP form . “I think Sark’s a lot more comfortable with the personnel, knowing what guys to use in certain situations. I think that just comes with experience, and we all kind of have a feel for his flavor as well.”
In his bid to land a new contract more fitting with his role as one of the NFL’s top receivers, Jones skipped offseason workouts and a mandatory minicamp.
But, on the eve of training camp, the Falcons worked out an adjustment to Jones’ contract and promised to negotiate a new deal in 2019. They knew there was no way to contend for a Super Bowl title without No. 11.
“It definitely gives you a better shot,” coach Dan Quinn conceded.
The 29-year-old Jones has put up four straight years with at least 80 catches and 1,400 yards receiving. He’s also a valuable mentor to the team’s younger players .
Since Quinn was hired in 2015, the Falcons have drafted with a heavy emphasis on defense.
That philosophy has produced three starters out of the first round — Vic Beasley, Keanu Neal and Takkarist McKinley — as well as a number of key contributors in the later rounds, most notably Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell and Duke Riley.
This year, look for rookies Isaiah Oliver and Deandrin Senat to contend for significant playing time.
“A number of guys are going into year two or year three or in some cases, year four http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josh-sitton-jersey ,” Quinn said. “Like a lot of jobs, if you’ve been on this team for a while, you’re getting better.”
One notable exception was Beasley , who struggled with a move from defensive end to outside linebacker. He recorded just five sacks after getting 15½ the year before.
Not surprisingly, he’s back at end.
Devonta Freeman struggled through an injury-plagued season that included two concussions and a sprained right knee.
With all signs that his knee is healthy , Freeman is eager to reclaim the form that made him the NFL’s highest-paid running back. It could be the final season of his dynamic 1-2 pairing with Coleman, which combined for nearly 1,500 yards rushing in 2017. Both are also potent options in the passing game.
“It is awesome to see Free back, feeling like himself,” Quinn said.
For the first time in Quinn’s tenure, the Falcons used a first-round pick on an offensive player, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley.
He’ll slide into the third receiver spot that was held by departed free agent Taylor Gabriel. Atlanta is counting on the rookie to lure coverages away from Jones and help boost the team’s production in the red zone.
“He definitely has all the tools to be a great wide receiver,” Jones said.