Thursday, July 31, 2008

FOX VIDEO: Jason Garrett interview at camp

DMN Blog: Live from Oxnard X: Chris Canty's kicking rear

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 69 with some clouds.

No signs of any country music/reality TV stars in the crowd, so we'll just have to focus on football again.

The Cowboys are in full pads, so this should be an extremely entertaining practice after yesterday afternoon's special-teams session. Stretching gets started at about 4:30. Feel free to fire off questions to fill time before the action starts.

4:11 -- Super Bowl XXVIII hero James Washington is back to watch another day of practice. He's chatting up defensive coordinator Brian Stewart while the players warm up.

4:17 -- This will be the first officiated practice of training camp. A crew of zebras is here. This is also the day that the Cowboys get their annual talk about the rule changes and things the refs plan to emphasize this season.

4:20 -- Roy Williams is now talking to James Washington. I really haven't noticed much change in Williams this camp. He certainly hasn't morphed into a great cover man, but that won't matter as much this season, when he'll be covering Wade Phillips in most obvious passing situations. I'm not sure his work ethic has even been an issue. ... It'd be very surprising if fifth-round CB Orlando Scandrick didn't make the 53-man roster. The Cowboys like his potential at cornerback, and he can contribute immediately on special teams after blocking seven kicks at Boise State. ... I don't think Jay Ratliff will be solely a DE. Matter of fact, I would still bet that he'll be the starting NT. Wade Phillips says he wants Ratliff to be ready to play DE, so the Cowboys have the flexibility to create matchup problems with their DL. Not sure that idea has been communicated well to Ratliff.

4:27 -- More answers to reader questions: I doubt Danny Amendola would slip through waivers, but that depends on what he does during preseason games. I wouldn't count on him being on the Cowboys' practice squad, though. ... I'd like to wait a little longer than a week into training camp before declaring that TE Martellus Bennett was drafted too high. The 6-6, 260-pound Aggie has done some good things out here, but Tony Curtis would be the No. 2 TE if the season started today.

4:32 -- DeMarcus Ware, who got dinged during yesterday morning's practice, will sit thos one out. He's out there, but he isn't wearing pads.

4:33 -- Stretching just started. More answers: I wouldn't go so far as to say that Orlando Scandrick has more potential than Mike Jenkins. If that were the case, Jenkins wouldn't have been drafted four rounds higher. Jenkins is three inches taller with a lot longer arms and almost as fast. Jenkins will play in the Cowboys' nickel and dime packages. Scandrick won't this season unless there are injuries.

4:36 -- My crystal ball is a bit cloudy in terms of whether Isaiah Stanback will end up being a better receiver than Sam Hurd and Miles Austin. Hurd is the best route-runner and hands guy of the bunch, Austin is the best deep threat, and Stanback is the most dangerous with the ball in his hands. As far as Stanback's development, the coaches compare it to where Austin was a year ago. ... Don't see Marcus Dixon as a realistic candidate for this roster. ... Too early to tell with Courtney Brown, but he's a phenomenal athlete with intriguing playmaking potential at safety. The coaches are eager to see how he tackles in preseason games. ... I could see Keon Lattimore sticking on somebody's roster, but he's just a practice squad candidate here with Tashard Choice the clear-cut No. 3 RB. ... LB Bradie James will have a helmet radio, and I believe FS Ken Hamlin will, too.

4:41 -- Defensive pursuit drills started in an interesting manner at the end of stretching. A bunch of DBs chased defensive coordinator Brian Stewart over to the other field. ... Offense running plays vs. air on field close to fans.

4:45 -- Jerry is yapping in Wade Phillips' ear as the offense runs plays and the defense does position drills. If the conversation is interesting, we'll probably hear it on Hard Knocks. ... Speaking of the HBO show, we'll have major breaking Hard Knocks news tomorrow.

4:47 -- More answers: Junior Siavii is splitting third-team NT reps with Remi Ayodele. They are both roster long shots at this point, especially since Marcus Spears has been working at NT. ... Depth at safety is good enough that a pretty good player might get cut. Pat Watkins, who led the Cowboys in special teams tackles last season, will be here. Courtney Brown vs. Dowayne Davis is one of the better roster spot battles, although there is a chance the Cowboys could go with five safeties. .

4:50 -- The focus of this practice will be the two-minute drill. Should be fun to watch.

4:52 -- The RBs, LBs and TEs are doing a one-on-one blitz drill. Felix Jones got into Zach Thomas' chest and put the seven-time Pro Bowler on the ground. Thomas replied by hopping up and giving Jones a way-to-go slap to the helmet. ... Other than that, the LBs are pretty much dominating. ... WHOA!!!! Check that! Marion "The Barbarian" Barber just unloaded on Tyson Smith, putting him flat on his back. That's unbelievable power, considering Barber only took two steps before delivering the hit. Smith had to be helped off the field by trainers.

4:58 -- Something amazing will have to happen to bump Barber's block from Play of the Day. I'm still shaking my head about that. (And Tyson Smith's head will probably be sore for several days.) It was the kind of hit that you heard if you didn't see it. Got a big, ol', "OHHHHH!" from the crowd. ... Back into non-contact position drills. QBs throwing slants and corner routes to WRs in front of me.

5:01 -- One ref has started earning his paycheck by letting WRs know whether they're out of bounds after catching passes in the corner of the end zone. He signaled incomplete after T.O.'s right foot came down on the sideline. He hasn't put his arms up for a touchdown yet. Yet another example of anti-Cowboys bias!!!

5:07 -- Haven't seen Jay Ratliff described as disgruntled on this here blog or anywhere else. "Shocked" was his word. And, for the record, I think it's in the Cowboys' best interests for him to be ready to play both positions. However, he would prefer to focus on nose tackle. ... Still doing position drills.

5:11 -- Action about to start. I'm headed to the field. Be back with highlights in a bit.

5:26 -- Stuff from inside run first: DE Chris Canty was a beast, making plays in the backfield on back-to-back snaps. ... Marcus Spears got some reps at NT with Jay Ratliff at left DE again. C Andre Gurode and RG Leonard "Bigg" Davis, a pair of powerful Pro Bowlers, opened a big hole for Felix Jones between those two. ... Jones showed his burst by turning the corner against OLB Erik Walden on a counter pitch play. ... Marion Barber made a great cutback in traffic to avoid a tackler at the line of scrimmage. ... Courtney Brown came on a blitz to make a play in the backfield. ... The session ended on a TFL by DE Jason Hatcher. ... Back soon with 1-on-1 passing highlights.

5:30 -- Line of scrimmage was inside the 10 in these drills. ... T.O. was flagged for pushing off against Adam "Pacman" Jones on a fade route. While T.O. debated with the official, Pacman pretended to reach into his pocket and throw a flag. Pacman blanketed T.O. on another fade route, too. ... Another impressive session for Danny Amendola. He made Pacman fall down with a great move on a slant and got wide open on an out against Orlando Scandrick. ... Sam Hurd made Mike Jenkins turn his hips the wrong way on a crossing route. Jenkins did have great coverage on a Mike Jefferson fade route. .... Todd Lowber skied over Anthony Henry to make a nice catch on a fade. ... TE Martellus Bennett made a diving catch with Courtney Brown on his back on a crossing route.

5:36 -- Just wrapped up some punt return work. Would have been more exciting if they actually punted the ball.

5:38 -- More action about to start. They've got red-zone 7-on-7 on the other side of the field and one-on-one pass-rush drills in front of me. I'll sit here and live blog pass-rush drills. ... OLB Erik Walden made an inside move to get past TE Martellus Bennett, but there's no way he'd have that much room to work in a game. ... DE Jay Ratliff beat Pat McQuistan with an outside move. ... Tank Johnson blew by Cory Procter, and Chris Canty did the same to James Marten. ... Nice job by LT Doug Free on Greg Ellis when the vet tried an inside move.

5:41 -- Erik Walden showed good quickness on an outside move vs. Pat McQuistan, but he took too wide of an angle. ... Nice swim move by DE Stephen Bowen to beat James Marten. ... Ellis got by Free with a speed rush, but Free stuck with him and pushed him past the QB. ... NT Junior Siavii bull-rushed Ryan Gibbons, but Joe Berger stood him up the next snap. ... Chris Canty whipped Marten with an inside rip.

5:45 -- Walden needs to work on his technique if he plans to beat a vet like Marc Colombo with an inside move. ... DE Jason Hatcher got by Bigg Davis, but he didn't have a good angle on the QB. ... Andre Gurode roughed up Marcus Spears. ... Chris Canty is abusing anyone who lines up across from him. He sent Kyle Kosier stumbling sideways with a power move. ... Davis just put Hatcher on the ground after standing him up at the line of scrimmage. ... Flozell Adams handled an Ellis speed rush pretty well. ... Spears got stood up by Gurode again.

5:48 -- Canty met his match. Flozell Adams got his paws on Canty with his arms fully extended, and that was that. ... Looks like Kosier accidentally poked Stephen Bowen in his eye. ... Nice swim move by Marcus Dixon to beat Andre Gurode. Then he did the same thing to Kyle Kosier, except he beat him to the other side. DL is giving Dixon major props. ... Canty got inside Adams, but Adams stayed on his hip and pushed him past the QB.

5:52 -- James Marten is struggling in this session. He just ended up on his knees after Tank Johnson made him look like a turnstile. ... Doug Free, Adams' backup at LT, is getting a little work at left guard. He did a good job against Marcus Dixon. (Drills are 1-on-1, but the OL lines up as a unit.) ... Drills over.

5:57 -- Working on kick return stuff, all of it teaching speed.

6:02 -- Still special teams work. ... I've gotten some e-mails from folks wondering whether the Cowboys would consider signing WR Chris Henry, whose suspension will be four games. Never say never with Jerry, but does anybody think it's a good idea to have Henry anywhere near his ex-West Virginia teammate Adam "Pacman" Jones? I don't think Henry is worth the risk of getting Pacman off what appears to be the right path.

6:06 -- 11-on-11 about to start. Be back with highlights after practice.

Dallas Cowboys not biting on Simms rumor


OXNARD, Calif. -- Owner Jerry Jones said there was "nothing there" when asked about the reports of the Dallas Cowboys talking to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about a trade for former University of Texas quarterback Chris Simms.
Jones refused to talk about Simms, citing tampering rules. He also was firm in denying any sort of trade talks between the teams. According to a source, even if the Cowboys have an interest in Simms, they would wait until the Buccaneers released him rather than trade for him.

Simms appears to be not long for the Tampa Bay roster. It’s also no secret the Cowboys would like to add another young quarterback with NFL experience to the roster.

But coach Wade Phillips said the team is happy with backup Brad Johnson. Phillips admits Johnson is not going to win many beauty pageants with his arm, but he is what the Cowboys want as a backup: a reliable, proven veteran who is going to throw to the right guy and not make mistakes.

"Certainly the arm strength is not what Tony Romo is," Phillips said. “But his experience, his knowing the offense, and he’s a winner, he’s won everything. He’s the guy that has a ring. We feel like we can win with him."

Johnson helped take the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title in the 2002 season.

DMN Blog: More Jay Ratliff

by Calvin Watkins

Don't be too hard on Jay Ratliff, the Cowboys' starting nose guard. Ratliff is being moved to defensive end, for now, to give the defensive line some different looks.

Marcus Spears has practiced some as the nose guard and Tank Johnson's emergence has been a real positive to the defensive line.
Ratliff is concerned about the move because he's switched positions for a long time. In his sophomore year at Auburn, Ratliff moved from tight end to defensive end.

Then his senior season he moved from end to tackle.

In the pros, he was drafted in the seventh round to play end.
Last season, he took over for an injured Jason Ferguson and made the Cowboys give him a long-term deal with his solid play at nose tackle.
Now the team is thinking of moving him again, so it's pretty understandable where he's coming from. But when you think about it, the Cowboys are pretty much better with a rotation.

Five reasons Dallas Cowboys veteran Greg Ellis has proved his worth


Greg Ellis has led the Cowboys in sacks six times in his, the second-most in club history behind Harvey Martin (seven).

1. Despite being disgruntled at times the past few years, Ellis remains a team leader and an inspirational player because of his tireless work ethic and attention to detail.

2. After suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in his left leg in 2006, Ellis returned in 2007 to have a career season, recording 12.5 sacks, earning his first selection and being named the Comeback Player of the Year.

3. Ellis is content, despite being leery in the off-season about the Cowboys trying to phase him out because of their interest in giving backup Anthony Spencer more playing time. The Cowboys have assured him he remains a big part of their plans. "Antennas go up and say, 'Is this done to really rest me or to replace me?’ "Ellis said. "Wade [Phillips] has let me know, 'Greg, we want you here. The plan is not to just phase you out.’ So that’s what we’re going off of."

4. He might not have been the bona fide superstar like Randy Moss — the player many people think the Cowboys should have taken in the 1998 draft instead of Ellis — but he has been a mainstay in the lineup. Ellis has started 140 of 146 regular-season games he has played, missing just 12 games in 10 years because of injury.

5. Starting his 11th season with the team, Ellis is tied with tackle Flozell Adams as the longest-tenured Cowboys players. Both were drafted in 1998, Ellis in the first round and Adams in the second round. The club record for most seasons of service is 15 shared by Ed Jones (1974-78, 1980-89), Bill Bates (1983-97) and Mark Tuinei (1983-97).

AUDIO: Ware on the Irvin Show - 7/31/08

Amendola progress report


Every year, for any team at training camp there are quite a few undrafted hopefuls vying for a roster spot and steals the spotlight.

One Texas native follows that storyline this year for the Cowboys, former Texas Tech wide receiver Danny Amendola.

Several reports indicate Amendola has a strong shot a making the team. The one thing against him, is his height. At 5'10'', teams may count him out but Danny is hoping to prove himself like other smaller receivers in the NFL.

"You know, size really isn't everything," Amendola said. "Guys have been proving that for a long time with receivers like Wayne Chrebet and this last year with Wes (Welker) and guys like that. So, size really doesn't matter a whole lot."

"I'm definitely rooting for him because he is the underdog," Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas said. "It's like myself when I came in because of his size really that's the only reason why he is labeled an underdog. He's a playmaker."

DMN Blog: Hard Knocks

by Barry Horn

In a conference call this morning, Jerry Jones was so enthusiastic about the Hard Knocks experience at training camp, I had to ask him this question:

"Would you be open to undergoing a similar experience throughout the regular season?"

The Cowboys owner hesitated for just a moment. His reply: "We would welcome it."

Imagine that."Hard Knocks: the 2009 Season with the Dallas Cowboys."

I'll address more of the Hard Knock life in Saturday's edition of Hot Air, which through the magic of the Internet should be available on Friday afternoon.

USA Today: Cowboys are the only offseason A+

DMN Blog: Live form Oxnard X. Ware gets day off

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 69 with some clouds.

No signs of any country music/reality TV stars in the crowd, so we'll just have to focus on football again.

The Cowboys are in full pads, so this should be an extremely entertaining practice after yesterday afternoon's special-teams session. Stretching gets started at about 4:30. Feel free to fire off questions to fill time before the action starts.

4:11 -- Super Bowl XXVIII hero James Washington is back to watch another day of practice. He's chatting up defensive coordinator Brian Stewart while the players warm up.

4:17 -- This will be the first officiated practice of training camp. A crew of zebras is here. This is also the day that the Cowboys get their annual talk about the rule changes and things the refs plan to emphasize this season.

4:20 -- Roy Williams is now talking to James Washington. I really haven't noticed much change in Williams this camp. He certainly hasn't morphed into a great cover man, but that won't matter as much this season, when he'll be covering Wade Phillips in most obvious passing situations. I'm not sure his work ethic has even been an issue. ... It'd be very surprising if fifth-round CB Orlando Scandrick didn't make the 53-man roster. The Cowboys like his potential at cornerback, and he can contribute immediately on special teams after blocking seven kicks at Boise State. ... I don't think Jay Ratliff will be solely a DE. Matter of fact, I would still bet that he'll be the starting NT. Wade Phillips says he wants Ratliff to be ready to play DE, so the Cowboys have the flexibility to create matchup problems with their DL. Not sure that idea has been communicated well to Ratliff.

4:27 -- More answers to reader questions: I doubt Danny Amendola would slip through waivers, but that depends on what he does during preseason games. I wouldn't count on him being on the Cowboys' practice squad, though. ... I'd like to wait a little longer than a week into training camp before declaring that TE Martellus Bennett was drafted too high. The 6-6, 260-pound Aggie has done some good things out here, but Tony Curtis would be the No. 2 TE if the season started today.

4:32 -- DeMarcus Ware, who got dinged during yesterday morning's practice, will sit thos one out. He's out there, but he isn't wearing pads.

4:33 -- Stretching just started. More answers: I wouldn't go so far as to say that Orlando Scandrick has more potential than Mike Jenkins. If that were the case, Jenkins wouldn't have been drafted four rounds higher. Jenkins is three inches taller with a lot longer arms and almost as fast. Jenkins will play in the Cowboys' nickel and dime packages. Scandrick won't this season unless there are injuries.

4:36 -- My crystal ball is a bit cloudy in terms of whether Isaiah Stanback will end up being a better receiver than Sam Hurd and Miles Austin. Hurd is the best route-runner and hands guy of the bunch, Austin is the best deep threat, and Stanback is the most dangerous with the ball in his hands. As far as Stanback's development, the coaches compare it to where Austin was a year ago. ... Don't see Marcus Dixon as a realistic candidate for this roster. ... Too early to tell with Courtney Brown, but he's a phenomenal athlete with intriguing playmaking potential at safety. The coaches are eager to see how he tackles in preseason games. ... I could see Keon Lattimore sticking on somebody's roster, but he's just a practice squad candidate here with Tashard Choice the clear-cut No. 3 RB. ... LB Bradie James will have a helmet radio, and I believe FS Ken Hamlin will, too.

4:41 -- Defensive pursuit drills started in an interesting manner at the end of stretching. A bunch of DBs chased defensive coordinator Brian Stewart over to the other field. ... Offense running plays vs. air on field close to fans.

4:45 -- Jerry is yapping in Wade Phillips' ear as the offense runs plays and the defense does position drills. If the conversation is interesting, we'll probably hear it on Hard Knocks. ... Speaking of the HBO show, we'll have major breaking Hard Knocks news tomorrow.

4:47 -- More answers: Junior Siavii is splitting third-team NT reps with Remi Ayodele. They are both roster long shots at this point, especially since Marcus Spears has been working at NT. ... Depth at safety is good enough that a pretty good player might get cut. Pat Watkins, who led the Cowboys in special teams tackles last season, will be here. Courtney Brown vs. Dowayne Davis is one of the better roster spot battles, although there is a chance the Cowboys could go with five safeties. .

4:50 -- The focus of this practice will be the two-minute drill. Should be fun to watch.

Cowboys rookie making zone less of a mystery

Tom Orsborn-Express-News

OXNARD, Calif. — With his long arms, speed and willingness to mix it up, Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Mike Jenkins has all the makings of an excellent man-to-man cover corner.

“I'm very confident in man coverage,” Jenkins said at training camp. “I've played it my whole life, from high school up. I like to be real physical, get up in the receiver's face, jam.”

Unfortunately for Jenkins, the Cowboys also have plenty of schemes involving zone coverage, something the former South Florida star isn't as comfortable playing.

That was apparent Wednesday when Jenkins got increased reps along with Adam Jones and fellow rookie Orlando Scandrick at left corner in place of the injured Terence Newman.

“I came from a college system that was completely different,” Jenkins said. “In college, we ran a lot of man and a lot of Cover 2 (which requires corners to jam receivers at the line before releasing them to the safeties). Here, we run a lot of Cover 4 (zone), a lot of playing off. I have to catch up on that. I'm a little uncomfortable because I'm thinking too much.”

But Cowboys secondary coach Dave Campo says that's a good thing because it means Jenkins is trying to learn the new system.

“He's just not used to it,” Campo said. “If he's worried about it, that's good for us because it means he's going to get better.”

In addition to Campo, Jenkins has Newman in his corner. A day after learning he'll be sidelined for the next three weeks with a strained groin, the 2007 Pro Bowl choice was on the field wearing shorts and a T-shirt tutoring Jenkins.

“He's coaching me,” Jenkins said. “He's watching pretty much every play, helping out.”

The Cowboys selected Jenkins 25th overall because they thought he was the most ready-to-play player in a deep class of corners.

“He needs to learn the game a little bit, but he's got that instinct,” Campo said. “He's an outstanding athlete. The guy can run and jump. He's got good feet, quickness and movement.

Everything you want. He just has to put it all together. Once he gets his footwork down, he'll be tough because he's got the long arms and he gets on people.

“Remember, he's a young player. We just need to keep grinding away.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Williams has new expectations with Cowboys

Associated Press

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) -- Roy Williams was only a rookie and just beginning to build his reputation as a hard-hitting safety the last time he was on the field with coach Dave Campo.

During the last five seasons Campo was away from the Dallas Cowboys before coming back as secondary coach, Williams was a Pro Bowl player every year -- and still the team's second-leading tackler last season.

Yet, there have been mounting questions about Williams' ability in pass coverage since he often watched from the sideline on obvious passing downs last year, and how he still fits into the Cowboys defense.

Williams certainly didn't help change such perceptions when he admitted in a radio interview during the offseason that there were times he hoped passes weren't thrown his way because he knew he couldn't cover the receiver.

Then teammate Terence Newman, repeating what former coach Bill Parcells once told him, said Williams at times last season was "looking like a deer in the headlights" -- though Newman later emphasized that he didn't say that's how Williams looked all the time.

"Sometimes when you hear a lot of negative things, you start to think maybe they're right and it changes your mentality and how you go about things," Campo said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm as positive as I can be because I think the kid ... still has what it takes to be a Pro Bowl player."

Walking off the field after practice at training camp long after the rest of his teammates had already gone inside, Williams said the criticism and the questions don't surprise him. He considers that part of the job.

"The only thing that really bothered me is for people to say that I'm not a team player," Williams said.

"You can say whatever you want but don't question if I love my teammates or if I care for them."

Sure he still wants to be on the field as much as possible, but Williams said he will do whatever he's asked to do in the Cowboys defense. Even if that means coming off the field on certain plays.

Campo considers Williams an unquestionable starter, though after a week of training camp, it hasn't been determined exactly what the safety's overall role will be and in which packages he will play.

Along with his renewed Christian faith, Williams is wearing a new number (No. 38) and has rededicated himself as a player.

"I just have a new expectation of life. Things are totally different. I am living a different way and I am really excited about this season," he said.

Jerry Jones can see a renewed focus in Williams, though the owner insists that Williams has nothing to prove to him.

"I don't look at it that way. He's not with me," Jones said. "Coaches were talking about him the other day. He's doing any and everything asked of him, and he's really got a good feel of what we're trying to do."

Williams' new spiritual attitude won't change how hard he plans to play -- or hit.

"I can't believe people would even fathom the thought as far as me getting softer," said Williams, who turns 28 next month. "People have been saying that I'm getting softer, my love for the game is going. I think that is foolish of people to say."

Two years ago, Williams got a new contract through 2010. He is one of the NFL's highest-paid safeties, making about $3.7 million this season.

Williams had worn No. 31 throughout his NFL career and the jersey used to be among the league's top sellers. He decided at the end of last season to switch to No. 38 because "eight in the Bible is a new beginning." It is also the number he wore in college at Oklahoma.

Bradie James, the only Cowboy with more tackles than Williams last season, appreciates the way the safety is approaching the season -- and how that can help the Cowboys.

"He's come out and he's been working," James said. "I think what he's heard about himself, it's put a fire under him. I'm happy, he can't do anything but help us make more plays and win more games. So that's good."

Notes: CB Adam "Pacman" Jones again played on both sides during practice Wednesday. Jones had worked primarily on the right side behind starter Anthony Henry until starting left CB Terence Newman sustained a groin injury Monday that will have him out at least three weeks. ... Pro Bowl LB DeMarcus Ware left the field early from the morning practice feeling "dizzy a little bit" after getting "dinged in the head," coach Wade Phillips said. Phillips said Ware was OK. ... Players were in shorts for the afternoon session, which was devoted to special teams.

Newman not worried about injury

Tim McMahon, of The Dallas Morning News, reports Dallas Cowboys CB Terence Newman (groin) told KTBB-AM's David Smoak that he is not worried about his injury. "I'm not worried at all. It's not that severe of an injury. It's more right now, being so early, you don't want to rush to get back and then have to deal with something else down the line. A lot of times, one injury can lead to another injury if you do rush back, because you're compensating one way or another, so we're just taking our time, letting it heal, and trying to get ready towards the end of camp," Newman said.

FWST Blog: Ware shook up, Ball hurt...(Ware's fine, just dizzy)

Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus left practice early Wednesday after suffering a blow to the head. He was escorted off the field by the trainers.

"He got dinged up a little bit," coach Wade Phillips said.

Backup cornerback Alan Ball suffered a sprained left ankle.

The Cowboys practice again later this evening. The status of both players is unknown.

DMN Blog: Live from Oxnard IX: Get fired up for some special teams!!!

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 71 degrees and sunny.

OK, folks, I'm gonna shoot straight with you. This practice won't be very exciting. It's focused solely on special teams.

Special teams work in training camp tends to be heavy on teaching, light on real competition. It's not like they're letting Deon "Cricket" Anderson loose to be a wedge buster out here or anything.

So, if it's a little slow after the jump, don't get too worked up. However, you should feel free to fire off questions and/or turn this post into a chat room and discuss whatever is on your Cowboys-intensive minds.

5:25 -- Be back in a little while. Todd Archer has assigned me attendance-taking duties.

5:46 -- Only guys not in uniform: CB Terence Newman (groin), WR Daniel Polk (hamstring), CB Alan Ball (ankle), CB Quincy Butler (hamstring) and LB Tearrius George (knee). ... Nick Folk nailed all his field goal attempts (30-40 range).

5:49 -- Now working on kick return. First group out there: (front line, L to R) Pat Watkins, Bobby Carpenter, Justin Rogers, Martellus Bennett, Kevin Burnett (second level, L to R) Tony Curtis, Cory Procter, Pat McQuistan and Anthony Spencer. They're rotating guys as returners, including Miles Austin, Isaiah Stanback, Felix Jones, Danny Amendola, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Mike Jenkins.

5:53 -- Nick Folk is not exactly booming kickoffs. Several have fallen short of the 10-yard line. And I'm not counting the onside he just squibbed. ... Wade Phillips said he likes what he sees from Marcus Spears at NT, but I can't say Spears has done anything that raised my eyebrows. Then again, it's not like he's been getting blown off the ball. .... Phillips talked about position flexibility being a key with the DL, because it gives the coaches freedom to move guys around and create favorable matchups. ... Now working on squib kicks, high kicks to second level, etc. Stephen Bowen has stone hands.

6:10 -- Here is the first group out there with Nick Folk on kickoff coverage: Courtney Brown, Miles Austin, Justin Rogers, Kevin Burnett, Anthony Spencer, Deon "Cricket" Anderson, Bobby Carpenter, Sam Hurd and Mike Jenkins.

6:20 -- A horn just sounded, but I think that was just too wake up reporters. More fast and furious blog action on the way.

6:25 -- First-team punting squad has Pat Watkins and Sam Hurd as the gunners, Tony Curtis and Deon "Cricket" Anderson as the upbacks, L.P. Ladouceur as the long snapper with Kevin Burnett and Anthony Spencer to his left and Justin Rogers and Martellus Bennett to his right. Oh, and it appears that Mat McBriar is holding off Jay Ottovegio in the intense punting competition.

6:41 -- If you wanna fill your evening reading about the Cowboys, check out my acquaintance Matt Mosley's Camp Confidential on (Mosley will upgrade to friend status if he follows through on his promise to give me some air time on his ESPN Radio show.)

Cowboys-Bucs have talked about trade for Simms

Cowboys-Bucs have talked about trade for Simms

The Dallas Cowboys remain interested in trading for quarterback Chris Simms if the Bucs will lower their asking price of a mid-round pick.

The Cowboys are believed to have communicated their interest in Simms last May but the Bucs have insisted on a third or fourth-round pick.

Simms has taken very limited or no reps in 7-on-7 and team drills since starter Jeff Garcia arrived in training camp Monday.

"I understand the situation,'' Simms said Tuesday. "I don't know what the plan is, but I understand the situation.'

Simms, 27, has been throwing after practice with quarterbacks coach Greg Olson and rookie quarterback Josh Johnson. He is among five quarterbacks in training camp with the Bucs, a list that includes Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown and Johnson.

Former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson is currently Cowboys' the No. 2 passer behind starter Tony Romo. Johnson turns 40 in Sept.

Wait till December to believe in the 'Boys

by Mark Kriegel

OXNARD, Calif. - Here in a town best known for producing strawberries, lima beans and gangbangers, the Dallas Cowboys are endeavoring to transform training camp into a theme park. An immense, inflatable entranceway proclaims the "Cowboys Experience."

The makeshift complex boasts enough corporate sponsorships to qualify as a NASCAR site. Cowboys merchandise seems a mandatory purchase for the fans who throng the practice field. They chant and cheer for the quarterback and their new corner.

"Way to go, Adam. We love you."

What's true for the former Pacman Jones is true for them all. The people of Oxnard care deeply for the team from Dallas, heaping praise and adoration on the entire roster. But it's not just Oxnard, of course. HBO, which will offer this training camp as a reality series, loves them, too. So does Jessica Simpson. Sportswriters and oddsmakers have made them a favorite to play in the Super Bowl. It's good to be a Cowboy.

Maybe too good.

I have no quibble with the notion of Dallas as America's Team. The Cowboys deserve it, having made a cult of victory and commerce with a whiff of sex. But their popularity is unwarranted when considered in relation to the last decade. For all the talk of a Cowboys renaissance — you've heard it since 2003 when Bill Parcells signed on as coach — this team still hasn't won a playoff game since 1996. Even worse, for all the fashionable talk of an impending Cowboys Super Bowl — just the acquisition of oft-arrested Adam Jones makes them more talented than last year's team — they are coming off an ignominious collapse.

But here in camp — a theme park that offers T.O. in lieu of Mickey Mouse — you feel none of that heat, none of that pressure, none of the desperation that usually arrives in the wake of defeat. Regret doesn't seem to be weighing heavily on anyone's mind.

I asked coach Wade Phillips what could be learned from the disappointing way last year's team finished, or rather, did not.

"Besides I can't coach very good?"

"Yes, besides that."

"Last year was last year and it's over with."

It was a curious response from a coach who recently told an audience of high school he'd be getting "the ring finger ready" for championship jewelry.

After Tuesday's practice, Phillips spoke vaguely of "learning lessons." But he was more intent on emphasizing that the inevitable turnover on a roster meant that this year's team was not last year's.

"We'll have a new team," he said.

Not really. You can add a high-profile guy like Adam Jones, but the core remains the same. This is the same team that collapsed last season.

Maybe the coach, who seems like an awfully nice guy, wants last season to be over. But it's not. What's more, his job depends on an entirely different outcome, something in line with what the Cowboys are, which is to say the most talented team in the conference.

Dallas' loss to the New York Giants, eventual Super Bowl champions, was memorable, as most big playoff upsets are memorable. "The Giants made 52 yards in the second half," owner Jerry Jones said, "and we still didn't finish it."

"If you change four, six, seven plays it's a different game," said the tight end, Jason Witten. "They made the right plays at the right time."

But the problem — at least if you're a Cowboys fan — wasn't a single game. It was the month-long decline that preceded that game. On Nov. 29, the Cowboys beat the Packers as Tony Romo outplayed his childhood idol, Brett Favre. At 11-1, Dallas looked like the best football team outside of New England.

The Cowboys went 2-3 the rest of the way. They squeaked by Detroit, 28-27. They lost to Philadelphia at home. They beat Carolina on the road before concluding the regular season by getting blown out in Washington, 27-6.

"It definitely wasn't our best football," said Witten. "... We played bad against Philadelphia. We didn't even show up against Washington. Now our mindset has to be that we're going to play our best football in December."

Leonard Davis, the veteran guard, spoke of not playing "like you already got it made into the playoffs."

Was that the problem, I asked, playing like you already had it made?

"It could have been," he said. "I don't know. I didn't take a survey."

Maybe someone should have polled the players. Someone should have reminded them that the plaudits were premature, and the team itself, immature.

"You gotta finish," Jones told me after practice. "You gotta finish everything. Finish every drill. Finish every practice hard. The place to start is right here."

Then he was off, smiling, greeting, signing, appearing. Nowhere in the Disney kingdom is there a more dedicated host then Jerry Jones. Still, the Cowboys should know: either they finish the season or they finish their coach.

Crayton may hold key to Cowboys' season

By ZACH DUNCAN, Scripps Howard News Service professional football

The Dallas Cowboys certainly felt they addressed their biggest concerns in what was one of the busier 2008 offseasons for an NFL franchise.

Need another running back after letting Julius Jones walk? They drafted two impact ball carriers in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

They bolstered the secondary by adding Adam (no longer "Pac Man'') Jones, and kept the offensive line intact by re-signing Flozell Adams.

Dallas even locked up cornerstones running back Marion Barber, cornerback Terence Newman and receiver Terrell Owens with long-term extensions.

If there was a problem, owner Jerry Jones was quick to whip out the checkbook without hesitation.

But despite the transaction hustle and bustle, there's still one point of concern that worries me.

Can Patrick Crayton be the No. 2 receiver the Cowboys desperately need to stretch the field?

Owens and tight end Jason Witten are the focal points in Dallas' passing attack, but neither can render an offense more vertical like the departed Terry Glenn could.

Crayton did make 50 receptions for 697 yards and seven TDs last year, but his most memorable play was the one he didn't catch -- the crucial drop against the Giants in the Divisional Playoff loss at Texas Stadium.

And if Crayton is the second wideout, who lines up in the slot? Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback combined for 24 receptions a year ago.

Letting Glenn go wasn't a bad decision. A receiver who relies on speed rarely can keep his production up once he reaches his mid-30s.

But not targeting another wideout either in the draft or via a trade could eventually haunt the Cowboys if none of the youngsters emerge.

(Zach Duncan writes for the Wichita Falls Times Record News.)

Camp Confidential: Cowboys' Phillips stays cool on hot seat

By Matt Mosley

OXNARD, Calif. -- It's not often that a coach goes 13-3, sends 13 players to the Pro Bowl and begins the next season firmly on the hot seat. But that's exactly where Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips sits after his team's divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants in January and the $3 million retainer fee that owner Jerry Jones paid offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

It took one day of training camp for local columnists to write that there was nothing Phillips could do to save his job. According to their theories, even a Super Bowl appearance wouldn't do the trick because then the Cowboys would certainly risk losing Garrett's services.

Ever since the loss to the Giants, the media has been begging Phillips to display anger and take full responsibility for what happened. But he hasn't taken the bait.
"The blame goes on me anyway. I was stupid last year," he said sarcastically. "I balk when people try to ask a question that they already know the answer they want. I did the best I could do. If a coach is hard-nosed, he'll be labeled as too tough on players. If he's not tough enough, then people complain, too."

Phillips said he definitely would have said something if he felt he could have done better in that loss, but he thought he had put his team in the best situation to succeed.

Now as expectations soar once again, you have to wonder whether Phillips is in a no-win situation.

Key questions

Could this be former first-round pick Roy Williams' last year with the Cowboys?

Once among the most feared players in football, Williams has become an enigma on this team. He flourished under the guidance of former free safety Darren Woodson, but he hasn't been the same since Woodson retired in 2004. He has become a lightning rod for both fans and the media, and caused a lot of drama this past offseason. He went on a local radio show and talked about his fear of one-on-one coverage, and then veteran teammate Greg Ellis publicly wondered why Williams was working out at 6 a.m. and avoiding his teammates. It didn't help that another teammate, cornerback Terence Newman, went on a local TV show and talked about how Williams had a "deer-in-the-headlights look" when he was in coverage.

When defensive coordinator Brian Stewart had finally heard enough, he summoned Williams to Valley Ranch for a meeting to clear the air. Williams, not known for his thick skin, had been reading reports that he could be cut during training camp. Stewart says that nothing is farther from the truth and that Williams will play a large role in the defense.

"I had to let him know that I didn't want his first child," Stewart said Tuesday. "I just need him to play within our system. He looks great and he's doing exactly what we wanted him to do."

There was the perception among members of the organization that Williams didn't always do what he was told because he didn't have any fear of being replaced. Owner Jerry Jones had basically instructed Phillips to make Williams a dominant player again. Now, the approach has changed. The Cowboys want the best 11 players on the field, and in certain passing situations, that won't include Williams. This year, the Cowboys hope to use cornerback Anthony Henry on some of the top tight ends.

The Cowboys are admitting that players such as Chris Cooley and Jeremy Shockey have been Williams' kryptonite, and they're going to limit his exposure to one-on-one situations.

So will Williams be back in 2009? It's certainly not guaranteed. And that's a pretty big change in philosophy for Jones.

How will the Cowboys deploy Marion Barber and Felix Jones?

The Cowboys gave Barber a lucrative extension and took Jones with the 22nd pick overall in the draft. Barber's punishing style is what defines him, but the Cowboys don't want to ask him to carry the ball 20 times per game. They hope to use Barber and Jones like Sean Payton used Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush during the Saints' playoff run two years ago. They've devised plays where the backs line up together and Jones goes in motion to the slot or to the outside. The main purpose is to put the elusive Jones in space and let him use his speed.

In a perfect world, Barber would carry the ball 15 to 18 times and Jones 10. The Cowboys would like to get Jones at least 12 to 15 touches per game. Right now, they're trying to figure out whether Jones can pick up blitzes. He's definitely a willing blocker, but at 6 feet, 212 pounds (very generous), he doesn't need to be in those situations much. At Arkansas, Jones didn't catch many passes, but he has shown nice hands so far in camp.

Can Tony Romo win a playoff game?

Romo was superb in big regular-season games against the Chicago Bears (at the time), the Giants and the Green Bay Packers. He loves the big stage, but he desperately needs to get the playoff monkey off his back. Like it or not, the Cabo trip with Jessica Simpson and family will follow him around until he knocks down the door in the playoffs.

His teammates and coaches aren't concerned about his "celebrity quarterback" status, which is something former coach Bill Parcells told him to avoid at all costs. When reminded of Parcells' golden rule, Romo laughed and said the rule was instituted before camera phones became available.

For better or worse, Romo has never cared about the perception people have of him, and doesn't apologize for how he conducts his business off the field. On the field, teammates and coaches know that he works harder than anyone. He's the player who sets the tone in the locker room with his charismatic nature, and everyone follows. He and Garrett have a great relationship, and this season Garrett has felt comfortable adding several new wrinkles to the passing game. (Hint: The skinny post to T.O. will have a few variations.)

Market watch

Cowboys fans will have their eyes on cornerback Anthony Henry and defensive end Marcus Spears this season. Spears, a former first-round draft pick who has been somewhat of a disappointment, has two years left on his contract. Sort of under the radar, former Grambling defensive end Jason Hatcher is starting to challenge for Spears' starting spot.

Spears is a solid run defender who actually makes more plays behind the line of scrimmage than people realize, but he's not a difference-maker in the pass rush. Phillips' defense had 62 sacks in his last year in San Diego and he covets those types of numbers in Dallas. The Cowboys already take Spears off the field in the nickel defense. He might start to see more time inside.

Henry is one of those players who sort of limps around but always seems to find the ball. Despite a nagging injury, he had six interceptions last season. Most believe that Adam Jones will eventually take his job, but you can't find any Cowboys coaches who will say that. Henry is a versatile player who may spend the last few years of his career at safety. But don't put him there yet. Coaches have said there's no way that Jones will beat him out at starting corner in camp.

Newcomer to watch

Adam Jones and linebacker Zach Thomas have a chance to make the most immediate impacts. Thomas isn't showing any ill effects from the concussions that ended his 2007 season in Miami. He has changed from No. 54 to No. 55, but his aggressive style is still the same. The Cowboys' coaches chart who has the most tackles (bumps) in each training camp practice, and Thomas is the leader by far. He looks fast, and it hasn't taken him long to figure out his role in the Phillips 3-4. He and Bradie James will be competing to see who gets the most tackles.

Jones is obviously the talk of camp. He does something memorable almost every practice -- even if it's getting burned deep by T.O. The other day, Jerry Jones was bragging about his new cornerback's ability to field six punts. That's right, he caught six consecutive punts without ever putting one of the balls down.

"I've seen five before," said the owner, never short on hyperbole. "But I've never seen six."

Observation deck

This offensive line came together under current Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, but it has really taken to new offensive line coach Hudson Houck. Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, a huge Sparano supporter, said that Houck is more laid-back than Sparano. Gurode also said that he could barely talk to anyone for three weeks after the playoff loss to the Giants because, "I just kept asking myself what I could've done differently." One other offensive line note: Flozell Adams made weight for the second consecutive training camp, a new record for him. … The only positive thing to come out of Terence Newman's groin injury (out three weeks) is the opportunity for the Cowboys to get a closer look at several young players. Cornerback has become a position of strength for the team after it almost held Dallas hostage last season. First-round pick Mike Jenkins could make an immediate impact, but young players such as Orlando Scandrick and Alan Ball are also having strong camps. The toughest decisions will come at this position. … Phillips said that he's leaning toward keeping Brad Johnson as the primary backup to Romo. He loves the fact that Johnson has led a team to a Super Bowl, and thinks people make too much of his lack of arm strength.

More Chris Simms to Dallas Rumors

Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times report that the Dallas Cowboys are, and have been, interested in Bucs quarterback Chris Simms.
Simms supposedly was the odd man out in Tampa after missing most of 2006 due to a splenectomy and after missing all of 2007 due to a slow recovery of his ability to throw a football. The decision of the Bucs not to cut Simms loose makes sense in light of the apparent fact that the Cowboys have been trying to pry him away.
The Buccaneers reportedly want a third-round or a fourth-round pick, which seems to be on the high side given that Simms was a third-rounder when drafted in 2003 and that he clearly doesn’t fit within the team’s plans.
Simms got some reps early in camp, but has been generally on ice since starter Jeff Garcia returned from an excused absence. Beyond Simms and Garcia, the Bucs have Brian Griese, Luke McCown, and Josh Johnson.
In Dallas, Simms would be a much younger No. 2 option than Brad Johnson, who turns 63 40 in September.

Spears has come into camp noticeably bigger this season


Marcus Spears has come into camp noticeably bigger this season in preparation to play nose guard in the 3-4 defense in Dallas, according to the Star-Telegram. He played mostly end last season but the Cowboys coaching staff fill that he will be better utilized at his new position.

Our View: This is Spears' fourth year in the league and he was pretty average as a defensive end during his first three campaigns. He has added roughly 15 pounds and seems determined to make an impact in his new space-eating role.

Ratliff has been working exclusively at defensive end


The Star-Telegram reports that Jay Ratliff has been working exclusively at defensive end during the first practice Wednesday morning while Marcus Spears worked at nose tackle. "That was something that had been talked about," Ratliff said of switching to defensive end. "But I guess it's a reality now."

Our View: The move gives the Cowboys a bigger body in the middle and possibly a better pass rusher at defensive end. Ratliff has good quickness and energy. He could come up with a healthy number of sacks this season. But he reminds us, "It's going to take some time getting used to it."

Ware was forced to leave Wednesday morning's practice


DeMarcus Ware was forced to leave Wednesday morning's practice early after suffering a blow to the head, according to the Star-Telegram. Ware left the field just before the stretching and post-practice huddle.

Our View: No word yet on the extent of the injury but there's always concern about a possible concussion. Ware was a terror last season and he is expected to be one of the more dominant outside linebackers again this season.

DMN Blog: Live from Oxnard VIII: Pacman gets physical with T.O.

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 65 degrees and cloudy.

What a beautiful morning for a full-pads practice. They're about to start the first of two practices today.

Follow the jump, refresh, etc.

10:55 -- Seems to be a light media presence this morning. Bunch of softies sleeping in, I reckon. You'll be happy to know that Todd Archer, Calvin "Lucky" Watkins and I are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

10:59 -- Michael Irvin and T.O. were talking some good-natured trash to each other a few minutes ago. The crowd started chanting, "Michael! Michael! Michael!" with T.O. egging on the fans.

11:06 -- Stretching just started. ... CB Terence Newman will be on Irvin's ESPN Radio show in a bit. You can listen here.

11:10 -- Answering questions: See this post on Chris Simms. That's a pretty clear indication that the Cowboys aren't comfortable with their QB depth. Richard Bartel will have to prove during preseason games that he's worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. He's got a great arm, but his decision making is shaky. Not sure whether Brad Johnson would be cut if the Cowboys got Simms. ... Isaiah Stanback has improved catching the ball, but he's still had a few drops. He's starting to understand how to use his big frame to shield DBs. ... I'd be very, very surprised if we saw Terence Newman practicing before Dr. Wade Phillips three-week timetable is up. ... Position drills just started.

11:19 -- Nothing exciting happening. Crowd is hushed. ... Hard Knocks has a microphone hanging over the backs, who are running through plays. Wish they would put that mic in the Jerry Jones/Stephen Jones/Tom Ciskowski huddle between the fields. Would like to hear what those fellas are chatting about.

11:24 -- Listening to Brad Sham and Irvin in the ESPN Radio tent to my left. They're explaining that ex-Cowboys C Derek Kennard was nicknamed "Big Juicy" because he tended to sweat a lot, especially on his wide rear, which always perturbed Troy Aikman. Is that more info than folks want?

11:27 -- Per request, here's an update on undrafted WR Daniel Polk. The South Oak Cliff product is sidelined by a sore hamstring. ... Should get some action soon. ... LB Tearrius George (knee), CB Quincy Butler (hamstring) and Newman (groin) are also out again.

11:31 -- WRs are working on catching passes in the back of the end zone after running slants. T.O. dropped the first one, prompting one emotional fan to holler, "That's all right, T.O.! I love you!"

11:34 -- You can't just make a Mike Jenkins/Orlando Scandrick comparison. They've both done some good things. I've seen Jenkins get beat more often, but that's because he's getting more reps against the 1s. ... Cowboys skill players not running plays vs. air. Jason Garrett likes what he sees. "Very nice, very nice," he keeps saying.

11:42 -- 11-on-11 about to start. Be back in a bit.

11:54 -- Several players moved around, as the coaching staff is trying to develop position flexibility. Bobby Carpenter worked both inside LB spots. Adam "Pacman" Jones worked cornerback on both sides. Justin Rogers worked at strong ILB and OLB. Marcus Spears and Jay Ratliff got reps at DE and NT. ... We'll get to highlights from that session later. They're going again, with offense backed down at about its 20. Romo hit T.O. on a deep out the first play and a hook in front of Pacman the third.

11:58 -- Romo went deep to Sam Hurd, but Pacman had great coverage on the go route. ... Kevin Burnett, who is the Cowboys' best cover LB, just had a PBU on an out to Martellus Bennett. He knocked down a pass in the first 11-on-11 session, too. ... Pretty over-the-shoulder by Mike Jefferson on the sideline. Brad Johnson's deep ball was on the money. Yes, you read that right. Evan Oglesby got beat.

12:00 -- Isaiah Stanback went to the ground to scoop a pass off the grass after getting some space on an out route against Mike Jenkins. ... Newman is about to go on Irvin's show. The link is above. ...

12:02 -- T.O. ran a nice zig-zag route to get open against the 1s. He would have gone a long way with it, assuming Alan Ball wouldn't have been able to tackle him. ... Romo put some serious zip on an out to Jason Witten, hitting No. 82 in the numbers before Mike Jenkins could get there. ... They're not tackling, but Patrick Crayton just fumbled after getting bumped by Bradie James. ...

12:05 -- TE Martellus Bennett dropped a pass that hit him in his mitts. He misjudged the out from Brad Johnson, jumping when he didn't need to. ... Nice catch by Tashard Choice on a ball behind him. .... 11-on-11 session over.

12:07 -- Some highlights from the earlier 11-on-11 work: Sam Hurd beat Anthony Henry on a deep slant. ... Henry jumped an out route from Richard Bartel to Mark Bradford and almost picked it off. ... Danny Amendola caught a quick hook and probably would have had his head knocked off by Bradie James, who arrived a beat after the ball. ... Miles Austin made a pretty leaping catch on the sideline in front of Mike Jenkins. ... Special teams drills have started.

12:16 -- Nothing thrilling from special teams drills. ... By the way, news about Terry Glenn potentially signing with the Dolphins is neither surprising nor concerning to the Cowboys. While Jerry publicly left the door open for Glenn's return, they didn't expect that to happen. And they've been pleased with the work of Sam Hurd and Miles Austin so far in camp.

12:19 -- Headed to the field. Be back with highlights later.

12:38 -- I've got all sorts of good stuff from 7-on-7 and pass-rush drill, including a Play of the Day candidate (sorry about slacking on that feature). Will get to it after practice. 11-on-11 coming right at blog central now. ... Witten just caught a curl from Romo. ... Spears at NT, Ratliff at DE. ... T.O. caught a cross with Pacman a step behind and turned on the jets.

12:40 -- Nice coverage by rookie OLB Erik Walden on a pass to Tony Curtis in the flat. But Walden got his butt kicked by Doug Free in pass-rush drills. ... Felix Jones showed his vision and burst by bouncing a draw outside and accelerating through the secondary. ...

12:43 -- Brad Johnson had Isaiah Stanback wide open on a 20-yard crossing route, but he one-hopped the pass. ... Johnson went back to throwing the ball in the flat after that.

12:46 -- Romo missed Patrick Crayton on an out route... Be back in a bit. They're down on this end of the field, and I can't see the corner. Lots of stuff coming after practice.

12:48 -- Check that. Relocated to abandoned Sirius Radio table. ... Pacman broke up a slant to T.O. in the end zone. T.O. was inside Pacman, who got physical and fought for the ball, shoving T.O. to the ground at the end of the play. ... Felix Jones lost his footing on a draw when Jay Ratliff clogged the hole.

12:51 -- Brad Johnson just doesn't look very good. He doesn't make bad decisions, but you're surprised any time he gets the ball downfield to a receiver. He just skipped one in the flat.

12:53 -- Erik Walden got roughed up in pass-rush drills, but he just beat Doug Free on a speed rush for a would-be sack. ... End of practice. Gotta go. Will be back with highlights of earlier 7-on-7 and pass-rush drills, headlined by Courtney Brown's spectacular leaping pick of a Tony Romo pass in the end zone.

1:15 -- Some 7-on-7 and pass-rush drill observations to wrap up this post: I'll have much more on SS Courtney Brown later. His pick was an absolute thing of beauty. He read Romo's eyes and perfectly time his jump to snare a pass Romo was trying to loft to Patrick Crayton in the back of the end zone. ... LB/blogger Kevin Burnett had a great practice. He got his hands on several passes this morning, including a ball over the middle intended for Jason Witten. Burnett batted the ball high in the air but couldn't grab the rebound. ... Miles Austin made a great adjustment to catch a deep ball on the sideline with Alan Ball a half-step behind him. Burnett made hand motions to indicate that Austin was out of bounds, but you can never trust a defensive player on those kind of things. ... Austin didn't catch a ball he should have on a crossing route. The pass was high, but Austin got both hands on it. ... Ball had great coverage to force an incompletion on a T.O. crossing route. ... During from-the-5 work, Isaiah Stanback almost made a highlight-reel, leaping one-hand grab in the back of the end zone but couldn't cradle the ball. He went up with one hand because he used the other to push off on Pacman. ... On to pass rush: Rough session for RT Marc Colombo, a brawler who doesn't always look pretty during practice. He was beat on inside and outside moves by Greg Ellis, and Spencer beat him with an outside move. Colombo made undrafted rookie Darrell Robertson pay, burying the poor kid in the ground when he tried to speed rush. ... DE Chris Canty had impressive bull-rushes against Gs Kyle Kosier and Joe Berger. Canty also had a sweet spin to beat Kosier inside. ... DeMarcus Ware gave LT Flozell Adams fits, just as Ware does every LT the Cowboys face. Adams' best chance when Ware speed rushes is to push him past the play. .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

VIDEO: Hard Knocks Training Camp with The Dallas Cowboys

Have you guys seen this trailer?

Orsborn: Phillips has what Parcells always wanted

by Tom Orsborn

VENTURA, Calif. - Without even trying, Wade Phillips has something Bill Parcells always wanted - a team with fierce competitors on both sides of the ball.

Thanks to Jerry Jones' willingness to take on troubled players, the Cowboys have two of the top competitors in the game going at each other during every practice.

Terrell Owens vs. Pacman Jones: It's even got Phillips buzzing.

"That's what the real good playerswhat they want to do," Phillips said Sunday after watching Owens get the best of Jones. "The reason they're good is they're competitors. And so if they think someone is the best or someone is good, they're going to try to meet the challenge rather than dodge the challenge. That's what makes them good players besides talent. They're a lot of talented guys, but they're not great competitors. Terrell wants to go against Pac, too. It goes both ways with our team."

And it's rubbing off on the other guys. Patrick Crayton vs. Terence Newman is another all-out battle each day.

"You notice Crayton goes against Newman or one of our top guys almost every time," Phillips said. "I like competitive guys. I think it makes all of us better. I heard Terrell talk about that going off the field. Someone said, yeah, it was a great play (Owens' TD on a post against Jones), but (Owens) said, "That's good to against people like that. That makes me better."

In the end, it will make the Cowboys better, too.

Newman Likely Out Two Weeks

Posted by rphillips at 7/29/2008 4:59 PM CDT on

This just in from Mickey Spagnola: According to Cowboys associate trainer Britt Brown, MRI results showed cornerback Terence Newman has a slight groin tear that likely will keep him out a couple of weeks.

Technically the injury is a groin strain. In any case, the Cowboys don't want this becoming a long-term injury like his partially-torn plantar fascia last year. The Cowboys are here until Aug. 12, so Newman's last practice in Oxnard might have been Monday.

We'll have more from head coach Wade Phillips after practice.

Dallas Cowboys' Roy Williams is reignited

by Jean-Jacques TAYLOR

OXNARD, Calif. – For years, anger filled Roy Williams' body every time he stepped on the football field.

Maybe it stemmed from the middle school kids who teased him about a learning disability. Even he isn't exactly sure where it originated, but it helped make him a terrific football player.

Jesus Christ took the anger away when Williams became a Christian.

"I was trying to please people of the world and trying to be seen on SportsCenter. I was trying to get glory for all of the wrong reasons," Williams said. "I was trying to get glory for other reasons instead of giving the glory to God. It's all part of the process of what I've been going through."

Most of you don't really care about that.

You just want the Roy Williams who was one of the game's best safeties back on the football field.
Don't be shocked if you get him.

Williams had 115 tackles last year but did not record a sack or tackle for loss. He struggled in coverage, but he wasn't a bad player.

Average? Perhaps. Tentative? No doubt.

None of that really matters now. It's all about this season.

Williams will earn $3.72 million this season to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player. If he is, Jerry Jones will continue making him one of the game's highest-paid safeties. If he isn't, none of us should be surprised if he's wearing another uniform in 2009.

You know it. I know it.

After Monday morning's practice, Williams said he's ready to be a force again. He sounded confident when he spoke. He smiled often and talked about having a good time at practice. He wasn't defensive.

Football, for him, is fun again. It hasn't been the past few seasons.

No one wants to hear year after year how he can't cover. No one wants to hear how committing his life to God over the last few years has made him a lesser player.

Every born-again Christian handles the conversion differently. It takes some longer to find balance than others. Then there's the scrutiny from folks who suddenly expect you to lead a perfect life.

"It's a transition. It's a constant battle to live right," Williams said. "You kind of want to do the things you did in the past, but at the end of the day if it's not giving glory to God, it's not worth it.
"I can't worry about what everyone else is saying. I'm not going to respond to foolish things. I'm not going to question who I am and my relationship with Christ for anybody."

The Cowboys drafted Williams to be a playmaker, and that's what he did in his first three seasons with former assistant Mike Zimmer as the defensive coordinator. Zimmer often played Williams 6 yards off the line of scrimmage and let him create havoc.

The result: seven forced fumbles, 18 tackles for loss and too many knockouts to count.

Bill Parcells wanted Williams to be more versatile, so he began playing him 12 yards off the line more frequently. No safety can consistently make plays in the backfield at that depth.

Last year, Wade Phillips moved Williams 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, which is close enough to allow him to read the guards and still make plays behind the line of scrimmage, but his alignment was inconsistent.

It matters whether Williams lines up 10.5 yards off the ball or 11 yards or 12 yards, especially since he has average speed.

"I probably missed 15 tackles last year because I wasn't lined up right," Williams said. "I'm really focusing on it this year. It's hard when the ball isn't on the hash mark, but that's what I've got to do."

He must also stop thinking about the horse-collar tackle. The NFL suspended him for a game last December for frequently violating the rule prohibiting horse-collar tackles.

"Last year, I really worried about it. This year, I'm not," Williams said. "If it happens, it happens. I can't let that dictate my play on the field.

"I just have a new attitude on everything – life and this season. It's not about showing anybody anything. I'm not trying to prove myself to anybody."

Cowboys notebook: Adams always has Romo's back

By Bob Buttitta (Contact)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Knowing how important the health of quarterback Tony Romo is to his football team, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed a big insurance policy on Romo's health this past offseason when he gave Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams a long-term contract extension.

Adams is an important cog in the Cowboys' offensive machine, protecting Romo's blind side and opening holes for star running back Marion Barber.

With his future secured, Adams showed up to training camp in top shape, and his play through the first few days has been stellar.

"He's one of the strongest guys we have on the team," head coach Wade Phillips said. "I think last year — and I don't know this for a fact — but they told me last year was the first time he came in at the right weight. The weight we put him down for. This year he came under the weight. He's worked hard at what he does.

"I think he gave up one sack the whole last season. ... He has a great disposition as a lineman, and he's a really good team player."

All coaches love players who they don't have to worry about once they step on the field.

"I think you've got to appreciate those guys," Phillips said. "Sometimes you tend to overlook them because they do a good job all the time.

"Those are the kind of guys you've got to tell them every once in a while, Hey, you're a great player, you're doing a great job for us and we appreciate it.'

"He's a smart player, but he doesn't get flustered. I think he has a quiet confidence about him that I think everyone feels, not just him, certainly the quarterback. I think Tony has that confidence in him that we all do."

Newman tweaks groin: Cornerback Terrance Newman got tangled up with a teammate during drills on Monday morning and slightly strained his groin.

Newman spent part of the morning practice in the trainer's tent and then left the field before the rest of the team.

Phillips said there is no timetable on how long Newman might be out while owner Jerry Jones said it is day to day. Phillips added that since they have a lot of corners to look at, there is no sense in rushing the veteran cornerback on the field.

Arkansas connection: Steve Thomas, owner of Steve Thomas BMW in Camarillo and a University of Arkansas graduate, stopped by practice Monday afternoon to visit with fellow Arkansas alum Jones.

Thomas brought his granddaughter Rieanne Thomas with him to practice. The younger Thomas brought a football on which she got the autographs of Jones, Marion Barber and first-round pick Felix Jones, another Arkansas graduate.

Football in Los Angeles: Jones told reporters he is encouraged about the possibility of football returning to Los Angeles. He said he has talked to Ed Roski, co-owner of the Los Angeles Kings and Lakers, who has stated his intent to build a stadium in the City of Industry.

"I am encouraged by the dynamics of the situation," Jones said. "As an owner, we need to find a way to get this done."

Carpenter builds momentum: Linebacker Bobby Carpenter has looked strong throughout the early days of camp. The Ohio State graduate was all over the field during Monday morning's practice, making plays against both the run and the pass. Carpenter is in a battle with Kevin Burnett for playing time.

First pick looking good: Over the last few days, first-round pick Felix Jones has given coaches and teammates a chance to see what kind of potential impact he may have on the offense this season. During a sequence of plays on Monday, the rookie running back took a routine swing pass and made several defenders miss as he made his way down the field. He also showed quickness on a draw play later in the practice and has been blocking well.

With the top team: Mike Jenkins, the team's other No. 1 pick, ran some with the first team on Monday morning. Jenkins is expected to contribute in the nickel and dime packages this season.

Dallas Cowboys feel quake at training camp


OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys tight ends coach John Garrett was in the lobby of the Residence Inn when the plants started to shake.

It was the effects of a 5.4 earthquake that hit Los Angeles at 11:42 a.m. PDT. (1:42 p.m. CDT) The Cowboys' training camp facility in Oxnard is 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

No damage has been reported so far at the River Ridge Facility.

But the earthquake was definitely felt.

The hotel's security staff said they felt the rolling effects of the quake that rattled across the facility. One member of the Cowboys public relations was in the office when her chair began to slightly roll across the room.

The doors on the weight room and locker room area rattled during the quake which lasted several seconds, possibly up to 30.

Rookie tight end Martellus Bennett was watching film when he felt the earthquake that hit Los Angeles. He became a little worried and slightly light-headed. He didn't know what to do. He even thought he might have to go to the training room for assistance.

"I almost got under the table and ducked," said Bennett, who is orginally from San Diego. "I thought I was light-headed. I felt like I was surfing. I was trying to ride the waves."

Cowboys guard Leonard Davis was lying in his hotel room bed and thought somebody was on the other side shaking it.

Outside linebacker Greg Ellis thought something was happening with the winds in Oxnard. He later saw head coach Wade Phillips and joked that he wanted practice to be canceled this afternoon. The Cowboys were not practicing at the time and most players were either doing various radio or TV interviews or hanging out in their rooms. The only practice of the day is set for 4:45 p.m. (CDT). Players came out onto their balconies after the rolling sensation occurred.

The team is staying in two-story buildings at the Residence Inn.

Phillips and running backs coach Skip Peete both did not feel the quake. Neither did kicker Nick Folk, who was hanging out in the hotel hot tub at the time. His parents, however, did feel the shake in nearby Woodland Hills. Folk talked with his parents just after the quake.

Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas, a native of Pampa, said he was eating lunch in his hotel room and started to get light-headed. He thought he was feeling the effects of training camp workouts. He didn't realize he was experiencing his first earthquake until after about 10 seconds.

"I thought I was going to pass out," Thomas said. "Things were going from side-to-side."

Defensive linemen Jay Ratliff and Chris Canty were together in their room at the time. Ratliff thought Canty was just shaking his leg on the bed and then realized everything was moving.

"That was scary," Ratliff said. "I have never experienced anything like that."

Said Canty, "The ground moved, and that's not natural."

DMN Blog: Live from Oxnard VII: No Terence Newman

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 68 degrees and cloudy.

Now that Todd Archer has crawled out from under the table, we're ready for another exciting training camp practice.

No Terence Newman (groin) sighting yet. His teammates are in full pads.

Rowdy is roaring around on his four-wheeler. Promise not to mention him again unless he gets in the action, such as when he kicked field goals yesterday. Follow the jump for a whole bunch of serious football stuff. ...

4:22 -- Wade Phillips and Zach Thomas are chatting with each other off to the side of the guys catching punts. Whole bunch of defensive knowledge in that conversation. ... What do you folks think of Jay Ratliff as a short-yardage fullback? He just took a handoff from Brad Johnson, just for fun.

4:28 -- The returners are competing to see how many balls they punts they can catch without putting a ball down. Adam "Pacman" Jones set an unofficial team record with six yesterday, which caused Jerry Jones to utter this classic quote. "Not a lot of people have seen six. Might've seen five, but not six. You're seeing his abilities." Yep, Pacman's ability to catch six punts will definitely play a key role in the Cowboys' Super Bowl run.

4:32 -- Longtime Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt has arrived on camp. He'11 do his Sirius NFL Radio show from radio row about 40 feet to my left.

4:36 -- Stretching just started, and the excitement of it has apparently worn off for NFL Films/Hard Knocks cameras. I only see two on the field, half as many as Friday. I'm sure there will be plenty more once practice gets started.

4:42 -- Stretching over. Pursuit drills for defense. Offense running plays vs. air.

4:44 -- First-round pick Mike Jenkins continues getting reps at left CB with the first-team D. Adam "Pacman" Jones is running with the 2s at right CB. Still no timetable on Terence Newman's return. Dr. Wade Phillips ought to have something for us on that subject after practice.

4:49 -- OK, let's answer some questions. ... I thought we've gushed about Felix Jones a fair amount on this here blog. He's been impressive. Great burst and wiggle. Marion "The Barbarian" Barber has looked fine, but he can't do what he does best in training camp. You can't run over folks if they aren't allowed to tackle. ... Certainly would not say that Zach Thomas looks washed up. Yes, he got de-cleated by Leonard "Bigg" Davis yesterday. That happens to a lot of linebackers. ... NT Junior Siavii hasn't done anything remarkable while splitting third-team reps with Remi Ayodele. There's just not much opportunity for guys buried under Jay Ratliff and Tank Johnson, who have both been very good. ... Anthony Spencer looks like a starting-caliber OLB. He's a good pass rusher who has learned the nuances of the position over the last year, such as how to read the tight end.

4:56 -- LB Tearrius George (knee), CB Quincy Butler (hamstring), WR Daniel Polk and Newman are not practice. Not sure what's wrong with Polk, the South Oak Cliff/Midwestern State product. We'll have some news on Newman soon. Calvin "Lucky" Watkins is confirming as I type. ... Cowboys are doing position drills. Nothing competitive yet.

5:00 -- I'd like to apologize to the guy who was perturbed by my poor reporting on the punt returners during pre-practice warmups. They toss the ball to a staffer after catching the punt. Patrick Crayton might have the strongest arm on the team. Adam "Pacman" Jones throws a decent spiral. Anything else you want to know?

5:02 -- Sore hamstring for Daniel Polk, per Todd Archer. ... Still doing position drills.

5:07 -- QB coach Wade Wilson was out there acting like a cornerback during QB/WR drills. Moves pretty good for an old guy. ... Here comes some competitive stuff. I'm headed to the field. Be back in a bit.

5:10 -- Check that. Staying right here with 7-on-7 coming my way. ... Started with T.O. catching out route on Pacman right in front of the crowd. ... Patrick Crayton went over Alan Ball to catch a deep ball the next play. Pretty pass by Richard Bartel. ... Bartel just connected with Isaiah Stanback on another deep ball. Mike Jenkins stumbled on the play. ... Recent pickup Todd Lowber just burned Pacman deep. ... Great separation by Sam Hurd from Isaiah Stanback on out route. ... Nice PBU by Pat Watkins on curl by Martellus Bennett. Bennett caught an out in front of Roy Williams. ... Drop by T.O. after beating Pacman on a post route.

5:21 -- Undrafted rookie Mark Bradford got open on a crossing route for an easy catch against Anthony Henry. These drills are certainly not what Henry does best. ... Isaiah Stanback beat a jam by Mike Jenkins and made the first-round pick slip on a comeback route. ... Fifth-rounder Orlando Scandrick fell to the ground when Patrick Crayton made his break on an out route. Crayton is killing the backup corners today. ... Sam Hurd is simply too strong for Alan Ball to press him. Hurd easily got open on an out route. Hurd weighed in at 205 when he arrived to camp, up nine pounds from last season. ... Great catch by Isaiah Stanback on a deep ball he had to go to the ground to get. ... Miles Austin just beat Evan Oglesby pretty badly on a deep ball. ... T.O. caught an out route in front of Pacman.

5:22 -- Alan Ball just made a nice play, staying in Crayton's hip pocket on a crossing route and batting the ball away. ... That's it for 7-on-7. ... Couldn't see any of the inside run drills.

5:24 -- Special teams drills about to start.

5:29 -- Terence Newman is on the field, but he's wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a cap. He's got a shoulder around his shoulders and is shooting the bull with T.O. and Co. during a punt coverage teaching drill.

5:32 -- No action. Just teaching drills. Not even punting the ball. ... OL working on pass-block technique at far end of field. DL working on hand technique. QBs chatting with Wade Wilson and Jason Garrett. ... If there was a report that Nick Folk was at the beach during the earthquake, it's wrong. Folk and L.P. Ladouceur were in the Residence Inn hot tub. I know because I could see them from the media tent.

5:56 -- Terence Newman news here. ... Just got back from field. Pass-rush drills stuff first. ... Marcus Spears got some reps at NT. That's in case of emergency, not something you'll see unless the Cowboys are hit by injuries. He got stood up by C Andre Gurode one snap, then beat Gurode to the center's right the next. ... Jay Ratliff got some reps at LDE and looked pretty good against Marc Colombo. ... Backup LT Doug Free was abusing Marcus Dixon. ... Backup LG James Marten handled Stephen Bowen well, but he got bull-rushed by Chris Canty. ... RG Leonard "Bigg" Davis didn't budge against Spears. ... DeMarcus Ware beat Flozell Adams with a nice inside counter-move after trying to speed rush. OL coach Hudson Houck went through some footwork with Flo after the play.

6:01 -- 7-on-7 stuff. ... First bad session I've seen from Sam Hurd. He had two drops. He juggled the ball after running a hook route, and Adam "Pacman" Jones jarred it loose. Then Hurd couldn't come up with a pass after running a post. He was in traffic, but he got two hands on the ball. ... Brad Johnson gave Martellus Bennett a workout, throwing short pass after short pass to the rookie TE. SS Dowayne Davis had a PBU on one. Bennett made a diving catch with Zach Thomas on his back on another. ... Be back in a bit.

ESPN Mosley: Newman Update

Published by's Matt Mosley

OXNARD, Calif. -- Top o' the morning to ya if you're on the West Coast like me. I've been getting up at 5:30 a.m. out of respect for my East Coast readers, but last night I bumped into a prominent member of the Jerry Jones family at dinner and things lasted about four hours longer than I'd planned. But more on that later.

Late last night, a member of the Cowboys' medical staff told me that cornerback Terence Newman's groin strain wasn't anything to worry about. In the past, Newman has begged to return to the field after minor injuries in training camp, but I'm told that he will be held out of Tuesday afternoon's practice and perhaps until Thursday.

It also means that Adam Jones will receive a lot of reps with the first team. The coaches would also like to see how rookie Mike Jenkins looks with the first defense. As I pointed out two days ago, he's struggled so far in camp. He's quick enough to make up for a lot of mistakes, but I've watched wide receiver Miles Austin go up and take balls away from him on three different occasions.

Back with a T.O. exclusive in just a few moments.

ESPN Mosley: NFC Beast Exclusive: T.O. in one-on-one coverage

Published by's Matt Mosley

The Cowboys have made Terrell Owens, Adam Jones, Tony Romo and Zach Thomas off limits for one-on-one interviews -- unless you're wearing an NFL Films T-shirt.

I intended to respect the rule, but that became impossible Monday afternoon. I had walked over to greet Hall of Famer Michael Irvin when T.O. came walking up. He was telling Irvin about some new wrinkles that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett had added to the club's deep routes, so I backed up a few steps to let them talk in peace.

A minute or two later, T.O. started jogging toward me and then he faked an out route in order to demonstrate to Irvin one of Garrett's new additions. Unlike Jones the previous day, I did not bite on the fake -- and I was holding a steno pad and wearing leather sandals.

When he finished with Irvin, T.O. agreed to a brief visit with the NFC East blog, which he kept referring to as Hashmarks. When most of America last saw Owens, he was weeping into a mic in defense of quarterback Tony Romo's supersaver to Cabo.

"That's my quarterback" doesn't have the same passion of Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy's "I'm a MAN!" speech, but it was still an instant classic. The only problem was that most of the country wasn't buying it. The tears didn't fit the selfish profile that T.O. had so carefully crafted in San Francisco and Philadelphia, so we keep waiting for a twist.

Well, it appears we're still waiting. Believe it or not, Owens is viewed as the consummate teammate in the Cowboys' locker room. He's the one player who somehow remembers to text birthday messages to all the quarterbacks and wide receivers. And when he burns a young cornerback in training camp, he'll stop and explain to him why it happened. Oh, and he keeps bringing hundreds of T-shirts to camp for his teammates, which isn't normal protocol for All-Pro receivers. Yesterday, tight end Jason Witten was wearing his "iCatch" T-shirt while Leonard Davis had on an XXXL "iBlock."

Is this really the guy who was doing pushups in his driveway three years ago and standing behind the ubiquitous Drew Rosenhaus as he fired off a series of "next questions?"

Well, T.O. doesn't think he's changed that much, but he admits that people are starting to have a different perception of him. He was embarrassed recently when word got out that he'd come to the rescue of an reporter who'd been struck by a vehicle after the ESPYs. He felt like he was doing what anyone else would've done in the situation and was bothered by the fact that some reporters insinuated that it was out of character. Would he have done the same thing for Jeff Garcia?

I didn't have the heart to ask him. He simply thinks that the post-Parcells era has given him a chance to blend in more and be himself.

"A lot of it has to do with the coaching staff," he said Monday afternoon. "They made the whole thing different. Before, it was run like the military. Bill [Parcells] wanted everyone hanging around the facility during the offseason, and I wasn't able to work with my trainer. And when I was rehabbing during the 2006 camp, that came back to haunt me. I tried to come back at 75 percent, but then I had another setback."

Phillips' first training camp was labeled as "Camp Cupcake" because of the laidback atmosphere and the fact that veterans were able to sit out several practices in order to recuperate. This year, Phillips has joked that it should be called "Camp Marshmallow."

"I saw it over the years in San Francisco. [Steve] Mariucci took care of the veterans," T.O. said. "You had to earn your stripes, but eventually he would give you a day to relax. And that's pretty important."

The most surprising thing in our 15-minute conversation was hearing him say that he actually thinks Romo has surpassed him in terms of celebrity -- and that he's fine with it.

"It kinda spreads the wealth," he said. "I'm used to all that stuff, so it's nice to see some other guys be in the limelight."

I thought about taking his temperature at this point, but he seemed somewhat lucid. Asked why he seems so content, T.O. talked about his faith.

"My pastor is in prayer for me the minute something goes wrong," he said. "If he hears me say something on TV that he doesn't understand, he'll text me. I just think people are finally realizing that I am a good guy. And it's nice when you have a lot of prayer warriors out there."

During the first week of training camp, T.O. and cornerback Adam Jones have provided an entertaining sideshow. On Sunday, Jones got in T.O.'s grill during a one-on-one drill and started pumping his arms to fire up the fans. T.O. faked an out and then beat Jones for a 50-yard touchdown.

"It's like Pacman said: Every dog has his day," said T.O. "Things like that prepare you for game-like situations, and it's nice to play in front of a crowd. I had to be a good salesman on that play. He asked me what I was looking at after the play, and I told him I wanted to make him turn his hips on the fake."
With that, T.O. turned and jogged away.

Now, stay tuned for news from around the NFC East. And stop worrying about my itinerary. I'm hitting every camp in the division, so your team will be receiving wall-to-wall coverage soon. In fact, here's my schedule:

Redskins: Aug. 4-6
Eagles: Aug. 10-12
Giants: Aug. 12-14

DMN Blog: Jerry Jones: It isn't Super Bowl or bye-bye for Wade Phillips

by Tim MacMahon

Jerry chatted with us ink-stained scribes for at least a half hour after practice. I caught the tail end, which focused primarily on JerryWorld and T. Boone Pickens' energy ideas.

More on JerryWorld later. Read the front page of the paper for T. Boone Pickens coverage.

The most important thing that Jerry said was that Wade Phillips didn't have to win the Super Bowl to keep his job. Todd Archer will have more on this in tomorrow's paper, but here's the money quote.

"Winning the Super Bowl is not the criteria," Jerry said. "It's wrong to say it's Super Bowl for Wade to keep his job. That's not even a thought for me."

DMN Blog: Day 5 Stock Report

by Tim MacMahon

This idea is shamelessly stolen from Calvin "Lucky" Watkins. Follow the jump to read about five risers and five fallers.


1. CB Orlando Scandrick -- The fifth-round pick had two very good practices yesterday, showing a good grasp of the defense and eagerness to compete against/learn from the best. He covered T.O. well on a couple of deep routes and then peppered him with questions at the end of practice.

2. TE Martellus Bennett - The second-round pick from Texas A&M is showing signs that he's getting it, although he was bowled over by DE Jason Hatcher on one running play. Bennett vs. Tony Curtis for the No. 2 TE spot is one of the camp's best position battles.

3. RG Leonard Davis - Can a Pro Bowler's stock rise during training camp? Yes, if he's as dominant as Bigg was during the morning practice. Seven-time Pro Bowler Zach Thomas, who was de-cleated at least once when they butted heads, is definitely impressed.

4. NT Tank Johnson - He's simply too good for the second-team offensive line, which has to double-team him. We'll start seeing more of Jay Ratliff, who has been impressive all camp, at defensive end. Is Chris Canty/Tank/Ratliff the Cowboys' best DL? Maybe.

5. S Dowayne Davis - He's come a long way when fellow DBs were laughing at him during ball drills at rookie minicamp. Wade Phillips said yesterday that this guy reminded him of Keith Davis (no relation), meaning he might be able to stick because of special teams.


1. OLB Erik Walden - The sixth-round pick really struggled during pass-rush drills yesterday, getting roughed up by backup LT Doug Free and Bennett. He's expected to struggle while making the transition from 4-3 DE to 3-4 OLB, but that shouldn't affect his performance in pass-rush drills.

2. OLB Tearrius George - Can't make the club in the tub, and George has been sidelined for a couple days by a bone bruise in his knee. He's missing out on an opportunity with Walden struggling.

3. CB Quincy Butler - He's sitting out, too, nursing a hamstring injury. Alan Ball is getting reps with the nickel and dime defenses with Terence Newman (groin) out, and Evan Oglesby had picks in both practices yesterday.

4. WR Danny Amendola - It's not that Amendola has done anything wrong over the last couple days. He just hasn't done anything to stand out like he did during the first couple days of camp. And undrafted free agents usually need to stand out in camp to make the team.

5. LB Justin Rogers - It's not his fault he got sick and dehydrated, but missing yesterday's practices doesn't help the cause of a kid moving form OLB to ILB. Bobby Carpenter got the reps as Bradie James' backup that were going to Rogers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dallas Cowboys observations from former pro and scouting director Larry Lacewell

by Jean-Jacques Taylor

Spent some time chatting with Larry Lacewell before practice about the Cowboys' prognosis this year.

For those of you, who have somehow forgotten Lacewell's contribution to the Cowboys - OK, stop all of the laughing and snide remarks right now - he still knows a ton about the game whether you think he was a help or a hindrance to the organization during all of the years he ran the club's draft.
That said, here are a few of his thoughts about the team:

* There are no bad football players on defense. The worst you can say is somebody is pretty good

* There is a lot of good depth on the defensive line

* Even if the Cowboys decided they wanted to upgrade their backup quarterback, there's no one to get. There are a lot of rumors about Chris Simms, but he's still under contract.

* This team has everything it needs to get to the Super Bowl, if it can stay away from key injuries.

* Tony Romo is a wonderfully, talented player who will win a lot of playoff games before his career is over

* Jerry tried hard to get a second receiver, but just couldn't make it happen. It's not the end of the world but you need a good No.2 because teams will double T.O. and take their chances with the Cowboys running the ball and throwing it Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd.

Jones keeps Pacman nickname, starts new chapter

Associated Press

OXNARD, Calif. -- On the field, he is still "Pacman" -- and embracing the nickname he seemed to be wanting to shed not so long ago.

That is what his new Dallas Cowboys teammates and coaches call Adam Jones at training camp. When fans chant the still-suspended cornerback's name, they're yelling "Pacman! Pacman!" And that is what his autograph reads, including the signature he penned on the backside of an infant.

He even introduced himself as "Pac" when meeting some visitors on the field before practice Monday.

"I'm not really shedding the nickname," said Jones, who anticipates being fully reinstated to play this season for the Cowboys.

A month ago, though, Jones said he preferred to be called "Adam or Mr. Jones" instead of the nickname given him by his mother and how he's been known his entire life. His explanation then was that there was "a lot of negativity" with that moniker and it was time for a change.

That declaration came after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cleared Jones to practice and he went through three weeks of workouts.

Asked what was different now in camp, Jones responded to reporters, "It's just for y'all that I'm shedding the nickname. All my teammates call me Pacman. ... Y'all are not my teammates, y'all are not in the locker room and going through the trenches with me."

But neither are the fans clamoring for his autograph on No. 21 jerseys, or the man who held up an infant and had Jones sign the back of the child's outfit.

Regardless of what Jones is called -- "I call him dummy if I want," Tank Johnson said, laughing when asked which name was proper -- off-field issues are what got Jones in trouble and suspended from the NFL last season while he was still with Tennessee. That is what had to change.

Jones was suspended in April 2007 following an accumulation of arrests and legal problems. He has been arrested six times and involved in a dozen incidents requiring police intervention since the Titans drafted him in the first round in 2005.

Goodell hasn't said yet if Jones will be allowed to play in the regular season. That decision might not come until the week of the Cowboys' opener on Sept. 7.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello would only say Monday that a decision on Jones would come "some time before the regular season."

Jones said he is focused on training camp and getting ready to play this season. Not the pending decision by the commissioner.

"I'm not even worrying about that, it will come," Jones said. "All I've got to do is do my part, and I'm doing it."

There is enough else to keep Jones occupied: learning the Cowboys' defense and coverages while getting back into playing shape after more than a year off the field. He hasn't played in an NFL game since 2006, and finally donned pads again when training camp got into full swing over the weekend.

"I've got a lot of fine-tuning to do with my hands and feet. ... But it's coming back," he said. "By the first regular-season game, I want to be ready to rock and roll and I think I'm preparing myself to be ready."

Jones, who is also returning kicks, is trying to match up against Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens as much as possible during passing drills.

When the two were lined up against each other in a drill Sunday, Jones started pumping his arms in the air to spur on the crowd. Then T.O. blew past him with a double move and caught a long touchdown pass from Tony Romo.

On Monday, Jones jammed Owens at the line, but T.O. got past him again. On another play, Jones got tangled up and tripped another receiver downfield when the ball was in the air.

"I look forward to it every day. I relish those moments," Owens said of the one-on-one matchups with Jones. "I think everyone knows that Adam wants to be the best defensive back."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips described the 5-foot-10 Jones as "pretty quiet, a little more introverted" and more physical than he imagined. And somebody excited to be on the field again.

"I can see he's enjoying it, being around the players, being a part of the football team," Phillips said. "He likes to compete."

Phillips has said the team is preparing as if Jones will be on the field for the opener in Cleveland.

For Jones, each day on the field is a step closer to playing in a game again. That's his only focus, not the past off-field issues.

"Everything else is behind me. I thank God for putting me in this situation where I can be with the Dallas Cowboys," Jones said. "The mistakes are behind me and I'm looking forward to the future. ... Not saying I wanted it, but I had good vacation and I'm here to play football."