Tony Romo, Chris Johnson, Peyton Manning
Troy Aikman knows a thing or two about back trouble.
As quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he underwent back surgery. So when he addresses the two back operations that current Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has undergone, it merits attention.
Although Romo appears to be making good progress from the back injury he suffered at the end of the 2013 season, Aikman told the Cowboys' official website that there is reason to be concerned with Romo's recovery. As he pointed out, a quarterback can't truly know how much punishment his back can take until he begins playing.
"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age (Romo turns 34 Monday; Aikman was that old when he retired), I would be a bit concerned. I'm hopeful that he's able to come back – everybody is.
"This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."
CHRIS JOHNSON SAYS HE'LL HAVE A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER WITH JETS
Now that he's a member of the New York Jets, Chris Johnson wants the Tennessee Titans to regret sending him packing.
As far as Johnson is concerned, he still has the skills that allowed him to be a 2,000-yard rusher for the Titans, something his former team obviously doubted.
"Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson told the Tennessean. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me. I am very excited about (joining the Jets). It's a team on the rise and I want to make them better. …I still have it."
The Jets now have four running backs, including Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Mike Goodson. Johnson, who reportedly signed a two-year contract worth $8 million, told the Jets' official website that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has discussed the variety of ways he will be utilized in the offense.
"I think I'm going to fit in pretty well," Johnson said. "Just talking to him and to (head coach) Rex (Ryan), who's a guy that likes to run the ball, I think I'm going to fit in very well. We talked about all those things, catching out of the backfield, getting the ball to me in space."
PEYTON MANNING SAYS BRONCOS HAVE TO 'REESTABLISH' IDENTITY
Peyton Manning is ready to put the Denver Broncos' horrendous performance in Super Bowl XXVIII behind him.
And that's the approach he wants his Broncos' teammates to also take when they report Monday for offseason workouts.
"You have to move forward," Manning told USA Today. "You have to kind of reestablish your identity as the 2014 team; 2013 was a good season in a lot of ways, there's no question. It did not end the way we wanted it to, but we have to build off that and try to take it a step further, try to finish.
"There's no question, we kind of have to start over and reestablish the chemistry on this team with all the new players. That's important, and that really starts on Monday."
Part of the Broncos' reestablishing of their identity and chemistry will come from the fact they'll be missing key components from their AFC Championship squad: cornerback Champ Bailey, running back Knowshon Moreno, and wide receiver Eric Decker.
At the same time, the Broncos have several newcomers who are expected to have a positive impact, including defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib, former Browns safety T.J. Ward, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
"We lost some great players and some great friends," Manning said. "That's the worst part about football, when you form some friendships with these guys and really put a lot of hard work in, and just the business side comes into play."
CLAY MATTHEWS: JULIUS PEPPERS WILL HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON PACKERS' PASS RUSH
When healthy, linebacker Clay Matthews has been the most dominant pass-rushing force for the Green Bay Packers.
With the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers to the Packers' defense and the expectation that Matthews will be fully recovered from season-ending thumb surgery he underwent last December, the linebacker can envision having even more opportunities to rack up sacks.
"This guy's (6-foot-7), 290 (pounds); I'm 6-4 on a good day and 255," Matthews told USA Today. "(Opponents are) going to double the big guy, and that leaves plenty of opportunities for me. I haven't had too many one-on-one opportunities, and when you do, you're expected to win – at least in our locker room – the majority of the time, because that's supposed to be a mismatch."
GERALD MCCOY SEES HIMSELF THRIVING IN NEW (OLD) BUCCANEERS' DEFENSE
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy performed well for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, registering nine sacks and earning All-Pro recognition.
He expects to do even better in the defensive scheme of their new coach, Lovie Smith, because it theoretically gives him more opportunities to thrive. It's the same defense that helped the Bucs' star defensive tackle at the time, Warren Sapp, put together a career that would land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Back then, Smith was Tampa Bay's linebackers coach, working with the "Tampa Two" zone-coverage scheme of then-head coach Tony Dungy.
"I talked to Sapp the other day, and I told him, 'I can see now why you loved this defense so much,'" McCoy told the Tampa Tribune. "I said, 'This is going to be fun,' and he said, 'Well, it's not going to be easy, because you have a lot of work ahead of you. You have a lot of responsibility as the under tackle.'
"What he meant was, this defense is going to run how I run, so I have a lot of responsibility. I'm going to see most of the one-on-ones. And when you depend on four guys to get to the quarterback the way we will and the under tackle is supposed to be the key guy, well, I have to get there. But I'm still excited about it.
"First day we got started (for offseason workouts, I pulled the whole defense together before we even started to stretch or anything and told them we have to have a different type of mind set this year. I told them that if this team is going to get to where we want to be, then (just like) the Buccaneers teams of the past, we have to be known for having a great defense."
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