Cowboys headed to Ground Zero before Giants game

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Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback for the New York Giants on Sept. 11, 2001. He visited the memorial with his wife over the summer.

That's when the Dallas coach decided he wanted to bring the Cowboys to ground zero before they played the Giants this weekend.

So the Cowboys changed their schedule to New York a day early so they could have dinner at 1 World Trade Center.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also owns the company that handles food there.

''We weren't there for real long,'' Garrett said of his summer trip to New York, ''and I'm like, `This is a really, really inspirational thing. And we need to get our team here.' The way it worked out was we were going to play New York after the bye, so it felt like we had a little bit of time to do it.''

Garrett said one of the things that struck him was the number of people involved in building the memorial.

''They're quoted in videos throughout the tour and an overarching theme is, `This building is made of steel and cement, but really the foundation of this building is people,''' Garrett said. ''And I really believe that for the time and how everyone there responded to this adversity and this tragedy.''

Running back Joseph Randle said he was in third grade and remembered the reactions of his mom and his teachers as he prepared to visit the site.

''Even at a young age, I knew it was a tragedy,'' said Randle, who was 9. ''That's going to be something special for us to go view as a team.''


BIG DADDY: Jadeveon Clowney became a father for the first time on Monday and the Houston Texans outside linebacker has spent much of his free time since then doing one thing.

''I just stare at him more than anything when he's asleep right now,'' Clowney said, beaming.

His son Jahlil Zair weighed in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and is 20 3-4 inches long. The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Clowney is still a little nervous about holding the boy.

''I'm scared that I might break him,'' he said. ''So I just put him in one hand ... and walk around.''

Clowney, the top overall pick in last year's draft, missed last week's game with an ankle injury but should return on Sunday. He's looking forward to being there for his son, said he wants to show him everything in life and that he'd be fine if he wanted to play football like his dad.

Though he's thrilled about the new addition to his family, he thinks he'll enjoy fatherhood more when his son gets a bit older.

''I'm ready for him to get to that age where he can tell me what he wants and stuff. Point at stuff,'' he said. ''That's the fun age. Right now it's just like boring watching him sleep for hours. I just stare at him for like an hour and a half waiting on him to wake up - wanting to wake him up.''

The baby was delivered via C-section and watching the surgery made Clowney nervous that girlfriend Najah Martin was in a lot of pain. ''I was hurting for her,'' he said. ''I was like: `Are y'all supposed to be doing her like that?' It just ... looked like they were pulling her apart. I was like: `Y'all aren't supposed to be doing that.'

''It's not a sight you want to see.''


CLIMBING THE LIST: After missing almost of the 2014 season, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has resumed his rise up the all-time NFL rushing rankings. Last week, he passed Jamal Lewis to move into 23rd place in league history with 10,622 yards. Lewis was the one who had his single-game record broken by a yard by Peterson in 2007, when he rushed for 296 yards as rookie for the Vikings against San Diego.

Peterson has made no secret of his goal to eventually pass Emmitt Smith, one of his childhood favorites, as the career NFL leader. Vikings assistant director of public relations Tom West often keeps Peterson up to speed on the statistics front.

''They do a great job of keeping me abreast with things like that that I'm interested in, just to kind of see where I'm at and kind of put things in perspective for me,'' Peterson said. ''It lets you know that the work you're putting in is paying off. It kind of reminds you of how blessed you are, and when you look at the names that are still yet to be passed, it's just even more motivation to continue doing what you're doing.''

So who's on his radar, between him and Smith's 18,355 yards?

''O.J. Simpson. Of course Jim Brown. Barry Sanders. Eric Dickerson,'' Peterson said smiling. ''There's a lot of guys on there.''


PUMP UP THE VOLUME: The Tennessee Titans have had a very hard time getting started when the ball is kicked off, being outscored 31-3 in the first quarter since jumping to a 21-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of their opener at Tampa Bay. The Titans are 1-4 and have lost four straight since beating the Bucs 42-14.

So coach Ken Whisenhunt tried to change the tempo Thursday, bringing out speakers and turning on the music at the start of practice for the first time since being hired by the Titans in January 2014.

''You try to raise your energy in practice and do some things to help yourself, so when we start on Sunday, we don't have that lull like we did last week,'' Whisenhunt said.

Video director Anthony Pastrana is responsible for dialing up the play lists, a task Whisenhunt says he's happy not to handle because it's impossible to please every musical taste. Whisenhunt said many of these players are used to having music at practice from their college days and like the added touch.

''There's nothing wrong with doing that, getting them a little more upbeat at practice,'' Whisenhunt said. ''If it helps on Sunday, that's great.''


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Teresa M. Walker and Dave Campbell, and Sports Writers Kristie Rieken and Schuyler Dixon contributed to this notebook.


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