Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vegas: NFL Point Spreads For Week 9

Week Nine NFL Football Point Spread
NFL Spreads 11/2 - 11/3, 2008

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog
11/2 1:00 ET At Minnesota -4.5 Houston
11/2 1:00 ET Jacksonville -7.5 At Cincinnati
11/2 1:00 ET Tampa Bay -8.5 At Kansas City
11/2 1:00 ET At Cleveland -1.5 Baltimore
11/2 1:00 ET At Buffalo -5.5 NY Jets
11/2 1:00 ET Arizona -3 At St. Louis
11/2 1:00 ET At Chicago -13 Detroit
11/2 1:00 ET At Tennessee -5* Green Bay
11/2 4:05 ET At Denver -3 Miami
11/2 4:15 ET Atlanta -3 At Oakland
11/2 4:15 ET At NY Giants -8.5 Dallas
11/2 4:15 ET Philadelphia -7 At Seattle
11/2 8:15 ET At Indianapolis -5* New England

Monday Night Football Point Spread

11/3 8:35 ET At Washington -2 Pittsburgh

Byes: Carolina, New Orleans, San Diego, San Francisco

Player Update: Brooks Bollinger, QB

Source: RotoTimes.com

Peter King of Sports Illustrated commented that he would be surprised if Brooks Bollinger doesn't see some action in next Sunday's game against the defending champion Giants.

Our View: Aging gunslinger Brad Johnson has little ammo left in his arm, and his inability to get the ball downfield is stifling the Cowboys' passing attack, namely Terrell Owens. Bollinger is far from a solid option, but would be viewed as an upgrade over Johnson if called into action.

Player Update: Terence Newman, CB

Source: RotoTimes.com

The Cowboys are hopeful to get Terence Newman back after their bye in Week 10, according to the Dallas Morning News. He is recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Our View: The team is not counting on Adam Jones being reinstated from his suspension. The Cowboys' secondary will be vulnerable this weekend against Eli Manning and the Giants' aerial attack.

Player Update: Jason Witten, TE

Source: RotoTimes.com

Updating an earlier report, coach Wade Phillips said there is a chance Jason Witten could play Sunday against the NFC East rival Giants at the Meadowlands, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: Phillips unfortunately did not comment on Witten's sore ribs, or whether any ribs were broken. Witten was scheduled for an MRI today.

Player update: Felix Jones, RB

Source: RotoTimes.com

Coach Wade Phillips stated that he doubts Felix Jones will be ready to return in Week 9 against the Giants, according to the Dallas Morning News. He is recovering from a hamstring injury.

Our View: The dazzling rookie was averaging 8.9 yards per carry prior to getting hurt, and hopefully he won't slow down when he returns.


Posted by Mike Florio

With Terence Newman out due to an injured groin and Pacman Jones gone for having his head in his rear end, the Cowboys might be losing another cornerback for Sunday’s showdown against the Giants.

Anthony Henry suffered a “deep thigh bruise” against the Bucs on Sunday, and is questionable for Week Nine.

If Henry can’t go, rookies Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick would start against the Giants.

Jenkins, Scandrick, and second-year player Alan Ball were on the field for Tampa’s final drive during Sunday’s 13-9 win by the Cowboys. The Bucs failed to convert on fourth down in Dallas territory.


by George Willis
Source: www.nypost.com

A FUNNY thing happened on the way to Sunday's showdown between the GiantsNew York Giants and Cowboys at Giants Stadium. The once high-scoring, made-for-TV Cowboys have taken on the personality of the vanilla Giants.

A lot of it has to do with the injury to quarterback Tony Romo and three losses that jeopardized the Cowboys season before a desperate 13-9 win over the Bucs last Sunday. Now it's no longer about what celebrity Romo is dating, Terrell Owens' latest rant or Adam Pacman Jones' rehab woes.

Instead, the Cowboys (5-3) are focusing on old-school football: limiting their turnovers on offense, using their speed on defense and winning ugly if they have to. Sound familiar?

That's how the Cowboys beat the Bucs at Texas Stadium, and it's the same approach they'll use against the 6-1 Giants, a team Dallas lit up for 45 and 31 points last year before losing 21-17 in the playoffs.

With Brad Johnson at quarterback, Dallas took few very risks against the Bucs, finishing a game without a turnover for the first time in 22 games. It was also the Cowboys' first win in 58 games when scoring fewer than 20 points. Usually, the Cowboys rely on their talent to dominate opponents. Against the Bucs, they needed all the intangibles they could muster.

"I think they just played with more fervor or enthusiasm, whatever you want to call it," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said yesterday. "They made up their minds they weren't going to be denied and they played the way they could play. No turnovers is a key. That keeps you in the game."

Phillips was under fire last week after three losses in Dallas' four previous games. But owner Jerry Jones awarded him the game ball after beating the Bucs, and the coach gushed about his team's heart.

"They have a lot of pride and they felt they haven't played well enough and they stepped up," Phillips said. "It was an important win obviously. People know we'll be stronger after the bye, but need to play well and win some games."

A win is a win, but the Cowboys didn't scare the Giants with how they beat the Bucs. Dallas converted just 3-of-15 third down situations and Johnson passed for just 122 yards as he struggled with accuracy: 19 completions in 33 attempts. On paper, it should be a feast for the Giants' defense.

"For us to go out there and get a win would be really big for this team," Giants linebacker Mathias KiwanukaMathias Kiwanuka said during a conference call yesterday. "Obviously, (it) would say a lot and do a lot for our positioning."

The Giants have a chance to bury the Cowboys deeper in the division standings, but must first deal with questions about whether they might be taking Dallas lightly, which would be absurd. Washington (6-2) is a half-game behind the Giants in the NFC East, and the Cowboys, who have a bye next week before traveling to Washington, could make some noise with back-to-back wins.

"The fact that we're moving back into the division and that it is the Dallas Cowboys (who) are coming off a win, I would think we will be very excited about the game," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

The Giants trying to fend off over-confidence isn't how this game was envisioned a few months ago when the high-scoring Cowboys were the popular pick to win the Super Bowl. Now the Cowboys' only chance to win Sunday is to beat the Giants at their own game.

Johnson gets booed, but wins

The Associated Press

IRVING, Texas - Brad Johnson didn't mind the boos. He gladly traded them for a victory.

In his second start subbing for injured Tony Romo, Johnson repeatedly threw passes that probably wouldn't get first downs but also likely wouldn't be intercepted. His safety-first approach annoyed the home fans - until the Dallas Cowboys walked away 13-9 winners over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Johnson passed for a measly 122 yards and the Cowboys gained only 172, their fewest ever in a victory. His aim was off on several potential scores, but he came through on a 2-yard touchdown pass to newcomer Roy Williams just before halftime that proved to be the game-winner.

Fittingly, it capped a drive sustained by four Tampa Bay penalties.

"We knew going in it was going to be an ugly game at times," Johnson said. "Third-and-long, check it down, let them boo you - that's OK by me. ... You've just got to manage the game."

Considering Dallas had lost two straight games and three of four, the Cowboys (5-3) were happy for any kind of win.

More significant for coach Wade Phillips was the defense giving up its fewest points all season. Phillips took a more active role this week, including telling coordinator Brian Stewart which plays to run.

"I just thought if I got more involved, it would help," Phillips said.

In the game's final minute, the Bucs were driving for a potential go-ahead score when they faced fourth-and-5 from the 18 with 19 seconds left. Under heavy pressure, Jeff Garcia threw an incompletion. As the Cowboys ran around celebrating, offensive lineman Jeremy Trueblood threw his helmet in frustration.

"It was lost in the first half," said Garcia, who was 28-of-44 for 228 yards. "We had them on their heels. There were some great drives and we didn't execute. Those missed opportunities ended up haunting us."

The Cowboys were stopped on two third downs, but kept the ball because of a horse-collar tackle, then a pass interference.

After all that, the Cowboys had 6 seconds left and risked time running out by trying one more play. Johnson threw high and Williams used his 4-inch height advantage over cornerback Phillip Buchanon to snag it.

Young players key for Cowboys

By Roy Lang III

IRVING, Texas — A young defense rose to the occasion in the wake of injuries Sunday while an aging offense didn't handle similar adversity quite so well.

The Dallas Cowboys won, however, holding off Tampa Bay 13-9 at Texas Stadium.

The stress won't soon end for the Cowboys (5-3) as a bye week (Nov. 2) is sandwiched by road trips to their predecessors in the NFC East — the New York Giants (6-1 on Sunday) and the Washington Redskins (6-2 on Nov, 9).

The injuries keep coming, too.

Sunday, tight end Jason Witten (ribs) and cornerback Anthony Henry (quad) left the game with injuries.

The instrumental duo is added to a laundry list of missing players, including quarterback Tony Romo, running back Felix Jones, cornerback Terence Newman, linebacker Anthony Spencer and safety Roy Williams.

Monday, head coach Wade Phillips said the availability of Witten and Henry is "unknown" for the battle against the Giants.

Defensively, the Cowboys responded against the Buccaneers. Rookies Michael Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick drew praise from Phillips and their teammates.

The duo combined for nine tackles and solid coverage in a time where Dallas' top three defensive backs were shelved.

"I grew up a lot," said Jenkins, the 25th overall selection (South Florida) in this year's NFL Draft, who made his second start at cornerback in place of Newman (abdominal) and Adam Jones (suspension). "I just went with my instincts."

Solid play may be expected out of a decorated first-rounder, but Scandrick's performance was a bit more surprising. The fifth-round selection from Boise State immediately caught the eye of Phillips.

"Orlando played really well at nickelback," Phillips said. "He's gotten better and better. Nickel may be his permanent position when Newman comes back.

"He covers well man-to-man. He was even telling other guys what adjustments to make."

Even the superstars on a struggling offense took notice of the new characters on the other side of the ball.

"We definitely appreciate the way (the defense) played," wide receiver Terrell Owens said. "We're a young squad on defense. They are getting better and better each week. That bodes well for us going into the latter part of the season."

Owner Jerry Jones praised Phillips, who took a more active role in the play calling from defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.

"Brian didn't lose his job or anything like that," Phillips said. "He does a great job. I just felt like if I got more into it, it would help. I don't know that it helped any; we conversed on a lot of things. I make the direct calls, and he backs me up."

The offense has disappeared since Tony Romo was sidelined with a broken pinkie. And the slump cannot be attributed to inexperience. In Romo's absence, 40-year-old Brad Johnson hasn't brought much of a spark to the previously potent Cowboys.

In two games, Johnson has thrown for 356 yards. He has two touchdowns and three interceptions. As expected, Johnson's lack of mobility has cost the Cowboys. He's been sacked six times in two games while Romo was brought down just seven times in six games.

Dallas has scored 27 points in the past two weeks. The Cowboys had scored at least 27 points in four of its six games under Romo.

"I'm glad the defense came to play (Sunday)," wide receiver Patrick Crayton said. "They saved our butts.

"We got the 'W,' so that's all that matters."

Romo is expected to miss Sunday, but could return with the help of the bye for another divisional showdown with Washington.

Despite two ugly performances, Owens is confident Johnson can get the job done against the Giants.

"I understand we have to do some things to get the chains moving," Owens said. "Brad is going to do the best job he can back there. We just have to make plays for him."

And for Phillips, who has been put on the hot seat by many.

"You guys (in the media) try to create the negativity," Owens said. "We just have to concentrate and worry about how we feel about each other in the locker room. That's all that really matters."

Cowboys re-thinking quarterback plan for Giants

By Jaime Aron

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

IRVING — Even on a rare "victory Monday," the Dallas Cowboys found themselves inching toward controversy. At quarterback, no less.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips opened the door by hesitating on whether backup Brad Johnson will remain the starter Sunday against the New York Giants in what should be the final game Tony Romo misses because of a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand.

The only other quarterback on the roster is Brooks Bollinger. He's started 10 games in his six-year career, nine with the New York Jets in 2005 and one last year for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings cut him after he went 6 of 18 for 62 yards in a loss to Dallas in the preseason finale, and the Cowboys signed him a few weeks later. He was the emergency quarterback the first seven games, moving up to No. 2 on Sunday, but he has yet to take the field.

How could Johnson lose the job despite guiding Dallas to a win over division-leading Tampa Bay?

Well, he guided the offense to only 172 yards, the fewest ever in a game the Cowboys won, and he wasn't even close on some throws to open receivers.

In postgame interviews, Phillips and team owner Jerry Jones praised the 40-year-old backup for managing the game, especially for keeping Dallas turnover-free for the first time this season. Those misfires must have looked a lot worse on the game film, because Monday afternoon Phillips danced around the quarterback questions.

He started with a simple "no" when first asked if there would be a discussion about making a change. When asked if it was a possibility, he said, "Well, we'll talk about that as it comes along. I haven't had all the meetings today yet, as far as where we are as far as everything is concerned. But, you know, Brad, winning the game is the key thing with a quarterback."

Directly asked if Johnson would start against the Giants, Phillips rephrased the previous answer. "We'll see. I would expect that. I don't know why it would change."

Asked why he wouldn't just say Johnson was the starter, Phillips said: "OK, he's going to start." Everyone laughed, including Phillips.

Phillips said it was too early to know if tight end Jason Witten (ribs) and cornerback Anthony Henry (thigh) will play against the Giants.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

DMN Blog: Roy Williams trade pays off

by Tim MacMahon

It's really not fair to judge WR Roy Williams' impact after a two games for a couple reasons. He's learning the Cowboys' playbook on the fly, and Brad Johnson is playing quarterback.

However, pro-trade folks can point to Williams' touchdown catch and say the deal already delivered one win to the Cowboys.

Williams caught a simple fade for a 2-yard touchdown (the game's only TD) on the first half's final snap. He was pretty confident when he got to the line of scrimmage and saw CB Phillip Buchanon was playing press-man on him.

"I kinda smiled a little bit," said the 6-3, 220-pound Williams, who basically boxed out the 5-11, 186-pound Buchanon before leaping to make an easy catch.

Jerry Jones didn't kinda smile when talking about the blockbuster trade acquisition's first TD as a Cowboy. The owner smiled from ear to ear.

DMN Blog: Jerry Jones gave Wade Phillips the game ball

by Tim MacMahon

Jerry Jones stood in the Cowboys' locker room in St. Louis last week and gave Wade Phillips the dreaded vote of confidence.

Jerry stood in the Cowboys' locker room in Irving today and gave Phillips the game ball.

That might have been a first for Jerry. He couldn't recall for sure, but handing the game ball to his head coach after a win is certainly rare.

"Wade Phillips did his job today," said Jerry, who praised Phillips "gutsy" calls and shrewd psychological moves. "Today was a big victory for this team. It gives us a chance to stay in the hunt of where we want to be at the end of the year."

DMN Blog: Cowboys 13, Buccaneers 9: One outstanding, ugly win

by Tim MacMahon

This isn't the kind of ugly win that you complain about.

This is the kind of ugly win that might save a season.

Who cares whether it's pretty when a team in a tailspin finds a way to beat a good team? That's what the Cowboys did today - without Tony Romo, Terence Newman, Felix Jones, Jason Witten and others. That means the Cowboys will be above .500 when the cavalry (hopefully) comes after the bye week.

After a week of gloom and doom, the Cowboys came up with their best defensive effort of the season, which allowed Dallas to get away with poor quarterback play. And Dallas did it with two rookies and a second-year seventh-rounder playing cornerback for the entire fourth quarter.

Wade Phillips deserved all the heat that came his way the last month. He deserves a lot of praise for this performance - for putting together an outstanding defensive game plan and keeping a troubled team together.

Much, much more to come after returning from the winners' locker room.

Cowboys overcome shaky QB with stout defense vs. Bucs

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Brad Johnson's aim was off and the boo birds were roaring at Texas Stadium. Somehow, the Dallas Cowboys pulled out of their midseason slump anyway.

Johnson made up for several missed chances at touchdowns by throwing one to newcomer Roy Williams at the end of a drive sustained by four defensive penalties, and the much-maligned Dallas defense made it hold up for a 13-9 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Cowboys (5-3) gained only 173 yards, but with coach Wade Phillips taking a "more active" role in his defense, they put the clamps on Jeff Garcia and the Bucs (5-3). Tampa Bay got two first-quarter field goals and another in the third quarter, but that was it.

The Buccaneers were driving for a possible winning touchdown until a fourth-down pass to Jerramy Stevens fell incomplete under heavy pressure with 13 seconds left. As Dallas players bounced around in celebration, Tampa Bay tackle Jeremy Trueblood threw his helmet in frustration.

Johnson, starting for the second straight week because Tony Romo has a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, was 19-of-33 for only 122 yards. His longest pass went for just 14 yards, and it was on a dump-off to running back Marion Barber. Johnson also was sacked three times.

The Cowboys were sent back to the bench with loud boos after several first-quarter drives ended in punts and again in the fourth quarter. But fans wound up going home happy as Dallas ended a two-game losing streak and won for only the second time in five games.

Romo-less Cowboys hope turnaround starts

By Jaime Aron
The Associated Press

IRVING - Watching from the sideline today, injured Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is bound to have all sorts of things running through his mind.

Seeing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit Texas Stadium is sure to trigger memories of their last visit, on Thanksgiving Day 2006. In only his fifth career start, Romo threw five touchdown passes, tying a club record and proving to a national audience he was the real deal.
He also began a move toward pop-culture fame, getting to know halftime act Carrie Underwood and impressing another country singer in the stands, Jessica Simpson.

But Romo prides himself on being an in-the-moment sort of guy, so he probably won't dwell on all that, especially not with the way things are going for his club.

Dallas (4-3) wasn't clicking on offense even before Romo broke the pinkie on his throwing hand, and now 40-year-old backup Brad Johnson is being asked to get things going. The Cowboys are hoping rust was to blame for his ugly effort last weekend in St. Louis, but it didn't really matter because the defense continued a run of awful outings. Special teams have been a problem since training camp, their trouble stopping returners compounded by losing both their main return guys.

Fallout from this teamwide cave-in includes three losses in four games, the lone exception a creaky home victory against winless Cincinnati.

Coach Wade Phillips told his position coaches to start helping out with special teams before the St. Louis game, and last week he took a more active role with the defense, which likely will include calling some plays. He'd probably be willing to let owner Jerry Jones - or even Simpson - call some plays if that would snap his club out of the funk that's already produced as many losses as it had all last season, despite having as much talent or more.

"I'm very surprised, very disappointed, pretty much embarrassed at this point," said Terrell Owens, who has yet to have a 100-yard game. "We just haven't played up to our capabilities yet."

Tampa Bay (5-2) and its staunch defense doesn't seem like a great opportunity to turn things around. But a home game against the Bucs should be easier than what the Cowboys face next: a road game against the reigning Super Bowl champion, division-leading New York Giants.

Lose both, and Dallas, the preseason NFC favorite, would have a losing record going into its bye and Romo's projected return Nov. 16. There's no telling what other changes might be in store by then, especially if Jones loses the patience he's shown thus far.

It's enough to make Romo start thinking about Carrie and Jessica instead.

"This is definitely a very important time in the season; everyone understands that when you get to a position, record-wise, where we're at," Romo said last week, a bulky wrap on his aching hand. "Winning a football game this week helps out a lot of things."

In studying the Buccaneers all week, perhaps the Cowboys recognized a model of how a team can stick together when things get tough.

Tampa Bay has lost two narrow games and has bounced back with a lopsided win each time. The Bucs have kept winning while plugging in backups at running back, receiver and quarterback. They've also kept their poise while facing real-life adversity - the death of kicker Matt Bryant's 3-month-old son.

"I'm a bit concerned about the number of injuries, but I'm really proud of this team," coach Jon Gruden said. "They play really hard and, at times, if you watch them carefully, they play pretty good."

Receiver Ike Hilliard was hospitalized last Sunday after being sandwiched by two Seattle tacklers. He came away with a concussion and still was feeling symptoms at midweek, making his status uncertain. With Joey Galloway out since the opener (foot) and Maurice Stovall (hamstring) out last week, Antonio Bryant might be the lone representative of the club's top four receivers.

The running back rotation is a mystery, too. Carnell Williams had knee surgery 13 months ago and just this week returned to practice; can he be ready to make his season debut? If so, it would be great timing because Warrick Dunn is battling a pinched nerve in his back. Fullback B.J. Askew is trying to get over a hamstring problem.

Then there's the quarterback. Jeff Garcia was benched after losing the opener but regained the job after Brian Griese got hurt. He's been good the past two weeks, looking more like the guy who made the Pro Bowl last season.

While the patchwork on offense is admirable, defense makes this team go.

The Bucs have forced the most three-and-outs in the NFL, have given up the lowest percentage of touchdowns once teams get within 20 yards of the end zone, and their 15 takeaways are second in the NFL. They're also among the stingiest in things like points and yards per game. They've even scored three touchdowns on defense.

"They're flying to the ball, creating a lot of havoc," said Johnson, who remembers them doing the same thing in 2002, when he was the starting quarterback on their Super Bowl champion squad.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jay Novacek Picks Cowboys over the Bucs

Source: nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/3690072/

"The little problems are starting to pile up for the Cowboys. Their overwhelming talent had offset a lot of those issues this season -- and still can -- but this is a crucial game. They have to quit making mistakes, making dumb penalties, etc. If they're mistake-free, this is a Dallas win.

I expect Dallas to work hard at correcting those issues this week. And forget Tony Romo, the offensive line has to play better. If they can't protect Brad Johnson, they can't throw the ball, which makes running the ball even more tough, even if Marion Barber's in the backfield.

Jeff Garcia's been good the last few weeks, which could create problems for Dallas. He's nimble in the pocket and can handle pressure. With him running the offense, the Bucs are capable of stringing together some long drives, which can wear down the Cowboys' defense.

Tampa's got a great chance to win a marquee game. But this game isn't about the Bucs, it's about the Cowboys and what kind of adjustments they make after two straight losses. Pick: Cowboys

Brad Johnson 4-1 Against Former Teams...

Dallas Cowboys QB Brad Johnson is 4-1 as a starter against his former teams with 12 passes and one interception.

Source: kffl.com

Bucs-Cowboys: Longevity Will Be On Display

The Tampa Tribune

Published: October 24, 2008

TAMPA - When Tampa Bay travels to play against Dallas on Sunday, AARP might want to check the endorsement status of Jeff Garcia and Brad Johnson.

Garcia, Tampa Bay's starting quarterback, is 38 and in his 10th NFL season after starting his CFL career in 1994. Johnson, starting for Dallas in place of injured Tony Romo, is 40 and entered the NFL in 1992. The elders will meet as Tampa Bay hopes to continue its development into a premier team.

"I know that there are always young guys coming in and trying to knock you out of the way, or at this point of my career, out the door," Garcia said. "For me, it's about physically staying in good shape and good condition, and mentally, finding ways to keep the game fun.

"It's not always easy because there is a huge strain on you mentally, but if you can enjoy your locker room atmosphere - and we have a great locker room environment with a lot of good people, not just good players, but good people - I think that helps the longevity."

Garcia's other key to longevity is lack of turnovers. Last season, he threw only four interceptions, and so far this season he is 79-of- 114 for 797 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

"I'll say this about both of them, and you can do the research yourself, they take care of the ball," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "Those two guys take care of the ball and they do it in a rare fashion. They don't come in the game and throw into double coverage and make a decision that puts the offense at great risk. They take care of the ball.

"That's the number one reason both are still playing. Number two is they are very good players. Number three, they are great team guys and they are both proven winners."

Anwar S. Richardson

In The Mix

Rookie RB Clifton Smith isn't on the Bucs' active roster. He could be by Sunday, though.

Smith is getting a lot more work in practice than usual this week and could be promoted from the practice squad. Smith said he usually gets a little more work when Warrick Dunn doesn't dress for practice, which typically happens on Wednesday, but the Bucs may be contemplating using Smith as a return man.

Second-round draft pick Dexter Jackson has struggled to make the yards the Bucs are looking for in the return game, and the team is contemplating a change. Smith returned 47 punts for 782 yards and five touchdowns during his college career at Fresno State. He also returned 10 kickoffs for 182 yards.

Injury Report

FB B.J. Askew (hamstring) and WR Maurice Stovall (hamstring) did not practice; WR Ike Hilliard (head), RB Warrick Dunn (back), QB Brian Griese (elbow) were limited; K Matt Bryant (hamstring), LS Andrew Economos (shoulder), G Arron Sears (back) and LB Barrett Ruud (knee) fully participated.

WR Galloway Has Optimistic Outlook, Again

Tampa Bay WR Joey Galloway is optimistic he might be active this week against Dallas after missing the last five games with a foot injury.

"Hopefully. It's Coach's call," Galloway said of Gruden. "I feel better than I did last week. I'm hoping to have a chance to play."

Even though Galloway, who was limited in Thursday's practice, played four seasons at Dallas, he is not motivated solely by the opportunity to face his former team.

"I think the importance of the game itself is the motivation," Galloway said. "We have some goals, and we feel like we've played pretty good up until now and this is just another step. There are a couple of things we're working on. Like I said, hopefully this is the week I get a chance to play. We'll evaluate today and Coach will make a decision either tomorrow or Saturday."

Brad 'The Bull' Johnson goes up against former Bucs team

Chris Harry | Sentinel Staff Writer
October 24, 2008

When Dallas QB Brad Johnson steps to the line of scrimmage Sunday against Tampa Bay, he'll look across at the Buccaneers defense and see LB Derrick Brooks, CB Ronde Barber and SS Jermaine Phillips.

That's it. That's all that's left from the Super Bowl XXXVII team of 2002 that Johnson helped guide to a world championship.

"The further you are away from it, the more you appreciate it," Johnson said. "That's something we get to live with forever."

It's been six years since Johnson was firing passes to Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell and Joe Jurevicius. Much has changed on both fronts, but the memories still remain.

I love that guy," Tampa Bay Coach Jon Gruden said of the player known as "The Bull." "I've texted him and talked to him a few times, periodically. He's special to me and he always will. A world champion. A stud."

Johnson, 40, is getting close to being put out to stud. He's in his 17th season and struggled badly, along with the rest of his offense, in throwing three interceptions, being sacked three times and carding a 45.5 passer rating in an ugly 34-14 road loss at St. Louis that marked Johnson's first start since Dec. 17, 2006, with Minnesota.

He'll make a second for injured Tony Romo (broken pinkie) with the reeling Cowboys (4-3) desperately needing a win against the surging Bucs (5-2), whose defenses appear to be getting better each week.

"I appreciated them when I played there," Johnson said. "And I respect them even more now trying to break them down on film."

Johnson may not recognize the personnel, but he's aware of the Tampa Bay defense after practicing against Monte Kiffin's vaunted "Tampa 2" scheme for four seasons (2001-04), though he's noticed, "Monte has gone to the laboratory a little bit," and added some wrinkles.

The Bucs probably will add some more to take advantage of Johnson's lack of mobility and diminished arm strength. They definitely have a book on him, having watched Johnson thrive behind good decisions -- and lots of checkdowns to running backs -- with them and other teams. That combination has kept him in the league since 1992.


Dallas rookie CB Mike Jenkins, one of the team's two first-round draft choices, will make his second straight start for the Cowboys this week due to injuries in the secondary. Jenkins, who starred at South Florida and was that program's inaugural first-round pick last spring, had six tackles in his baptism start against the Rams last week. . . . The status of WR Joey Galloway (foot) continues to improve, but Gruden was cautious when he asked if he felt better about his veteran's prospects of playing this week vs. last week. "I feel better," Gruden said. "How much better? I'll let you know tomorrow when you ask me again." . . . Galloway, WR Ike Hilliard (head), RB Warrick Dunn (back) and QB Brian Griese (elbow) were limited in practice. FB B.J. Askew (hamstring) and WR Maurice Stovall (hamstring) were held out.

Tampa Bay at Dallas Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26

By Jean-Jacques Taylor & Roy Cummings
For Sporting News

Some folks watch NASCAR for the wrecks. Some folks will watch the Cowboys on Sunday to see if this is the week they'll implode after losing three of four and getting a tongue-lashing from their owner, general manager and part-time head coach.

The Cowboys are a shell of the swaggering bunch that left training camp in Oxnard, Calif., a couple of months ago. This team has been beset by injuries -- Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Kyle Kosier and Terence Newman all missed the last game -- but this team still should be talented enough to win.

Perhaps, every so-called NFL expert overrated this team. The Cowboys look lost on offense, defense and special teams. Right now, they have no identity.

That's bad because they're entering the meaty part of their schedule with their next three games against Tampa Bay, the New York Giants and after a bye, Washington. For the first time since Jerry Jones hired Wade Phillips, he has had to answer questions about whether he still has confidence in Phillips and whether the loss to the Rams could be the harbinger for a coaching change.

Somehow, the quarterback controversy in Tampa Bay, where Jon Gruden has loyalty to no one except the starter on game day, doesn't seem that big of a deal. These days, Gruden is starting Jeff Garcia, mainly because Brian Griese is hurt. Gruden has the team playing pretty well on offense, and the defense is always going to be tough as long as longtime coordinator Monte Kiffin is running it.

The Cowboys, who have already lost three conference games, have lost consecutive games for the first time since 2006. They really can't afford another loss to an NFC team, especially at home, considering they still have road games at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles and Steelers.

Buccaneers Keys For Success
1. Soften up the secondary. The Bucs have done a good job the past two weeks of loosening up opposing secondaries with deep throws early. It will probably serve them well to do the same thing against the Cowboys' banged-up secondary. The Bucs have adequate deep threats in wide receiver Antonio Bryant and tight end Jerramy Stevens, and they'll have a legitimate deep threat if wideout Joey Galloway can make it back into the lineup. By throwing a few deep routes early, the Bucs will create some room underneath for their short passing game, which should allow them to move the ball consistently.
2. Pressure the passer. No matter who starts at quarterback for the Cowboys, the Bucs have to get to him. The Bucs pass rushers have not recorded a sack in any of their last three games, and that has the potential to be a real problem. Tampa Bay's defense is predicated on getting pressure from the front four. Fail to do that, and an experienced quarterback such as Brad Johnson or a real good one such as Tony Romo can pick them apart. The Bucs have a lot of talent in their secondary, but it's not good enough to overcome the problems that can arise if a quarterback has all the time he needs to find open targets.

3. Come out running. The Bucs like to move the ball through the air with short passes, but they'd be better off running against the Cowboys. Running the ball will not only help neutralize a potentially devastating Cowboys pass rush, it will also reduce the potential for turnovers and will work to take the crowd out of the game. The Cowboys are going to be juiced to do something special this week. By hammering away at them and leaning on their greatest offensive strength, the Bucs can control the ball and the pace of the game. That will make it harder for the Cowboys to bounce back with big defensive plays.

Cowboys Keys For Success
1. Don't get blown out early. Brad Johnson is not the kind of quarterback who can bring the Cowboys from behind. The more he's forced to throw the ball, the more his flaws are exposed. He's at his best managing the game, making good decisions and handing the ball off. The Cowboys fell behind 21-7 in the first quarter and 31-7 in the third quarter against the Rams, forcing Johnson to throw 34 passes. If he throws more than 25 passes, Dallas will lose.
2. Run the ball against Tampa's cover 2. Tampa Bay's defense is predicated on not giving up the big play, which is why they play their safeties deep. The Cowboys, who have struggled to run the ball consistently, must get Marion Barber close to 100 yards to have any chance at beating the Bucs. Tampa Bay tries to stop the run with seven defenders, enabling their safeties to play off the line. The Cowboys, who have one of the NFL's biggest offensive lines, don't need to do anything fancy. They need to line up and blow the much smaller Bucs off the line of scrimmage since they won't be dealing with an eighth defender in the box a lot of the time.

3. Block the corner blitz. Few teams love the corner blitz from the slot more than the Bucs. It's a staple of their defense, and if the Cowboys don't block it, Ronde Barber will create havoc. It's imperative that Brad Johnson, a 17-year veteran, recognizes when it's coming and attack the area vacated by Barber. That's not as easy as it sounds because Barber times his blitzes so well.

The Bottom Line
In the NFL, watch out for the desperate team. The "desperate team" characterization seems to fit the Cowboys this week because their season may be slipping away, their coach is under significant scrutiny, their owner is mad and they've been embarrassed each of the past two weeks. If this doesn't bring out their best effort of the season, despite their litany of injuries, then they have nothing left to give. This game is not about X's and O's for Dallas -- it's about passion and urgency.
Scoring prediction: Buccaneers 13 - Cowboys 14

Fantasy football: Tony Romo can't "handle" the job

Source: The Times-Tribune

Seems to me like this is the third season in a row that we're talking about Tony Romo's hands and their overwillingness to handle things, or their inability to.

Let's review.

January 6, 2007: Romo botches the snap for a 19-yard field goal attempt against Seattle with 1:19 left to play. Martin Gramatica never gets a chance to kick the ball. Cowboys lose. Romo cries afterward. Cowboys' season over.

January 13, 2008: Romo botches his time off, slips away to Mexico with Jessica Simpson, comes home, and leads the Cowboys to a loss against the Giants. He cries afterward. So does Terrell Owens. Cowboys' season over

October 12, 2008: Romo breaks his pinky against the Cardinals and announces he'll miss four weeks of playing time. No reports of any crying, but Brett Favre no stranger to crying) pretty much calls Romo a wuss and tells him to to gut-it-out and play. Romo doesn't play. Cowboys' season probably over.

October 19, 2008: The Rams beat the Cowboys like (insert inappropriate beating joke here).

Quick question for Cowboys fans; when Tony Romo is healthy does he tackle guys like Stephen Jackson? Get ready for a long season in Big D.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buccaneers (5-2) at Cowboys (4-3)

Source: www.sportingnews.com
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

It's a bigger deal for ... The Cowboys, because the wheels appear to be on the verge of wobbling off the bus, and the schedule doesn't exactly soften going forward, with the Giants and Redskins sandwiching Dallas' bye in the next three weeks. With Romo likely out until the Washington game on Nov. 16, it would seem to be the right move to hitch the offense to Marion Barber. But the Bucs have been excellent in tight spots -- ranking eighth in defending the run (3.7 yards allowed per carry) and No. 1 in red-zone defense.

Still big for ... the Buccaneers, since the NFC South looks to be a dogfight going forward. Chances are, Jeff Garcia, Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn are licking their chops looking at tape of that Dallas defense, which will have Wade Phillips assuming tyrannical control this week.

They said it ...

Cowboys TE Jason Witten: "Everybody's got to play better. You can't say, 'Tony's not playing, that's going to hurt.' What good teams do and great players do is raise their level of play. That's what we've got to do."

Buccaneers DT Chris Hovan: "It's huge to be a team that can win on the road. You take that advantage away from the home team. If you have a strong team that's coming in that can enforce their will on you at their home place, then you're a contender, then we're starting to talk about down the line."

PFW: Phillips willing to do whatever it takes to get Cowboys on track

By Eric Edholm
Oct. 23, 2008

Jerry Jones has said emphatically that head coach Wade Phillips’ job is safe for the remainder of the season, despite the team’s three losses in four games. But there was no hiding the disappointment in either man’s eyes following the loss against the Rams, after which both addressed the team at length and expressed their feelings to the players.

Our sources say that Phillips is conducting business as usual amid speculation over his future in Dallas but that he also is willing to do whatever it takes to improve. He took extreme measures to improve the special teams before the Rams game, asking other assistant coaches to aid special-teams coach Bruce Read, and the units were far more solid in that loss. And we hear that Phillips is personally getting as involved with all his coaches, including putting pressure on offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and reportedly usurping play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.

FWST Blog: Receiving Corp trying to get in Brad's world

That's what tight end Jason Witten said the receiving corps is trying to do. They had trouble getting into Brad Johnson's world last week as the quarterback threw three interceptions. There were times where it was unclear who the pass was intended for.

Tony Romo and Johnson are obviously much different quarterbacks and the results were apparent in the loss to the Rams. Johnson will be the starting quarterback for the next two games against Tampa Bay and the New York Giants, so getting in tune with the signal caller has some urgency.

"Him and Tony have different thoughts," Witten said. "The reads are pretty much the same but just how they view different things. For a lot of us we really haven't played with Brad that much so just getting on the same page with him more than anything else."

- Rick Herrin

Nate Newton: Flozell jumping offsides because of hearing problem

Originally Posted by Maikeru-sama from a sports forum:

I just love listening to Nate Newton. He is on Michael Irvin's show talking about how the Offensive Line can play better and what he and his former teammates would do if they were struggling with a very good pass rusher.

He also stated that someone told him that Flozell Adams was jumping offsides because after a play, he would be talking somebody (not sure who, probably random players) and would have a hard time keeping up with the snap count because he is hearing impaired.

I know when we drafted him, they said he was deaf in one ear and he may be a candidate for RT.

Also, just to paraphrase what he said about what he and teammates would do and what these guys won't do (I think these are true stories):

If my Tackle was having trouble with Lawrence Taylor, I would tell him in the huddle to bring him inside and I am gonna to punch him in the gut or crack his ribs. When he did that, that got Lawrence Taylor off of thinking about getting to Troy Aikman and he had to deal with us.

DMN Blog: Cowboys still claim confidence in Brad Johnson

by Tim MacMahon

I believed the talk coming out of the Cowboys' locker last week about believing in Brad Johnson. I'm a bit more skeptical now that the bus crashed in St. Louis.

But the Cowboys are putting on a brave face publicly, expressing confidence in their 40-year-old backup quarterback.

"We're going to rally around Bull," T.O. said. "He's the starting quarterback and we're going to do whatever we can to create some opportunities for ourselves to win the game. We're going to practice hard this week, give him a realistic look of what's going to be going on on game day and hope for the best."

Added Tony Romo: "I expect we're going to see some good football this week out of him."

Romo likely to miss 2 more games

By Stephen Hawkins Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — Tony Romo's broken little finger has become a big issue for the struggling Dallas Cowboys.

The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who wanted to try to play last week despite the broken pinkie on his throwing hand, said Wednesday he now doesn't expect to play again until at least mid-November.

"I don't know when I'll be back," Romo said. "I think definitely the idea now is to get healthy by that bye week."

That means Romo would miss at least two more games: Sunday at Tampa Bay and the following week at the rival New York Giants. The Cowboys (4-3), who have lost three of their last four games, then take a week off before returning Nov. 16 at Washington.

After being limited in his only practice last week, Romo was still listed as the backup quarterback Sunday at St. Louis. He even threw some passes before the game.

While the pain was tolerable, Romo couldn't take direct snaps. And because of the protective splint on his hand, he needed an extra two to three seconds to get a proper grip before making throws.

"I wouldn't have been able to play at any kind of level that would have helped this football team," Romo said.

Brad Johnson will start again for Dallas, this time against the Buccaneers, who had him as their starter when they won the Super Bowl six seasons ago.

Coach Wade Phillips said Romo didn't participate in practice Wednesday. The coach also said Brooks Bollinger, released by Minnesota at the end of training camp and signed the day after the season opener, will be Johnson's backup this week.

Romo, who started 32 consecutive regular-season games plus two playoff games, was initially expected to miss a month after he got hurt on the first play of overtime in a loss at Arizona on Oct. 12.

But Romo, who said he hadn't even missed a practice since high school, was throwing some passes three days later and indicated he wanted to try to play. He figured if he could manage the pain, he could play, so trainers tried several different protect wraps for his hand.

"You have to protect the finger enough that you can absorb some kind of hit, but to be able to do that, you mask the ability to throw the football, to grab it, to grip it, and that's been the problem," Romo said.

Romo doesn't even anticipate being able to play in an emergency role this week.

"I could go out there and probably be a below average player and I wouldn't help this team," he said. "And I would be risking it."

So unlike last week, the Cowboys go into this week's game knowing Romo will actually be out a month and isn't even an option. That should benefit Johnson and the rest of the offense in preparations.

"Maybe in the back of somebody's mind they thought (Romo) might come in and save the day," Phillips said.

"Just knowing that going in helps everybody, just the ability to know," Romo said. "It will be better for Brad to get all the O-linemen into his cadence and to do different things of that nature."

Johnson, the 40-year-old backup who made his first start since December 2006, was 6-of-18 for 66 yards and an interception before halftime. He finished 17-of-34 for 234 yards with a late touchdown in the 34-14 loss against the Rams.

Phillips acknowledged Wednesday that had the Cowboys needed another quarterback at St. Louis, Bollinger would have played instead of Romo.

When he first got hurt, Romo wasn't sure it was even possible to play with the broken finger. He decided to give it a shot after talking to some other quarterbacks, including Brett Favre. But then Romo finally figured out it involved more than bearing the pain.

"As the week progressed I started to gain a little more confidence in feeling that I could actually do it," Romo said. "Once I couldn't, it would not have been a smart decision. Any type of dog, a linebacker coming, I would have had to eat the ball every time and try to protect my hand."

QB Romo out until at least mid-November


Tony Romo's broken little finger has become a big issue for the struggling Cowboys.

The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who wanted to try to play last week despite the broken pinkie on his throwing hand, said yesterday he now doesn't expect to play again until at least mid-November.

"I don't know when I'll be back," Romo said. "I think definitely the idea now is to get healthy by that bye week."

That means Romo would miss at least two more games: Sunday at Tampa Bay and the following week at the Giants. The Cowboys (4-3), who have lost three of their last four games, then take a week off before returning Nov. 16 at Washington.

After being limited in his only practice last week, Romo was still listed as the backup QB Sunday at St. Louis. He even threw some passes before the game.

While the pain was tolerable, Romo couldn't take direct snaps. And because of the protective splint on his hand, he needed an extra two to three seconds to get a proper grip before making throws.

"I wouldn't have been able to play at any kind of level that would have helped this football team," Romo said.

Brad Johnson will start again for Dallas, this time against the Buccaneers, who had him as their starter when they won the Super Bowl six seasons ago.

Coach Wade Phillips said Brooks Bollinger, released by Minnesota at the end of training camp and signed the day after the season opener, will be Johnson's backup this week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

DMN Blog: Kosier and Watkins practicing/B. Johnson doesn't think he was rusty

by Tim MacMahon

Kyle Kosier is practicing for the first time since re-injuring his foot in the win over the Packers, the only game he has played this season.

We'll find out later whether that means there's a chance that the Cowboys will have their starting left guard for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

SS Pat Watkins is also out there and has a new neck roll. No sign of OLB Anthony Spencer.

Brad Johnson doesn't think he was rusty
by Tim MacMahon

To the untrained eye, Brad Johnson looked pretty bad in Sunday's blowout loss to the Rams. A reporter was probably trying to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt when he asked whether the 40-year-old felt rusty in his first start as a Cowboy.

"I think what was more important was pre-snap penalties and playing from behind, and having some turnovers," Johnson said. "But I feel like I'm throwing the ball well. I feel comfortable in the system. We just have to eliminate those kinds of things, so we don't have to play from behind."

Not to nitpick, but three of the four turnovers were interceptions thrown by Johnson. And the Rams had chances to pick off several other passes.

If Johnson wasn't rusty, the Cowboys are really in trouble.

FWST Blog: T Newman to increase his workload

Cowboys defensive back Terence Newman said on a weekly Cowboys radio show that he plans to increase his workload tomorrow by jogging. He's missed the past few weeks with a sports hernia. Newman also said he hopes to come back after the bye week.
- Mac Engel

ESPN Mosley: Romo tries a different approach this week

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The Cowboys spent part of last week hinting that Tony Romo might start against the Rams despite the fact the team's medical staff had projected him to miss three games. Owner Jerry Jones fueled a lot of the speculation with optimistic comments on his weekly radio show Friday.

Now, it seems like Romo is facing the reality that he may miss two more games. Speaking on Terrell Owens' radio show Tuesday evening, Romo all but ruled himself out for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

"I'll say it will be Brad [Johnson]" Romo said. "Brad is going to go this week, unless something different happens that we don't foresee. It will be very difficult to change."

I think it was important for Romo to send a message to his teammates last week that he was willing to sacrifice his health in order to help them win. But the "will he or won't he" story line leading up to the game only served as another distraction for the Cowboys. By declaring himself out for Sunday's game early in the week, Romo is giving the team a chance to truly focus on winning with Brad Johnson.

Or maybe he's simply running a misdirection play like his owner. If Romo sits out the next two games, there's a good chance the Cowboys are 4-5 when he returns.

By the way, it also sounds like the splint on his right hand may need to be tweaked. After praising the athletic trainers, Romo said they would go "back to the drawing board."

DMN: BLOG: UT Roy Williams settling in just fine

by Brian Davis

New receiver Roy Williams won't get to play with Tony Romo for a few more weeks, but the Odessa, Texas, native will be ready when No. 9 returns.

Williams signed autographs and raised money for the World Hunger Relief Fund on Tuesday. He also served up some grub at the Pizza Hut near Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. (Excellent work, Yum!). Williams said he's trying to learn the playbook and get ready to help out more on Sundays. He's certainly settling into the neighborhood. Williams was already trying to close on a house.

"I've been sheltered up there in Detroit," Williams said. "I can blossom now in the good city of Dallas.

"I think I can work and complement T.O. on the other side. I'm not worried about balls, I promise you that. I'm worried about W's. That's all I care about. To these fans, they're all upset that we're 4-3. I know the expectations are high for the Dallas Cowboys. But you can very easily be 0-6. How would you feel then?

"We're a winning ballclub that's hit a couple of bumps in the road. But we'll get that smoothed out."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette snippet on Cowher and the Cowboys

Here's a Q&A in this Pittsburgh newspaper with Ed Bouchette. Take it, FWIW...

Rivers_Jaw: Any known interest from Cowher to go save the big D?

Ed Bouchette: I have heard that Jerry Jones might secretly be checking out Bill Cowher to see if he has any interest in becoming the coach of the Dallas Cowboys. I don't know if Bill's interested, but it would be a perfect spot for him and just what the Cowboys need.


wrozell: Do you think Cowher could handle working for Jones?

Ed Bouchette: Yes. If Bill Parcells could do it, Bill Cowher can. I don't know that Jerry Jones is that difficult to work for. He's certainly no Al Davis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

DMN Blog: Cowboys sign Saftey to fill Roy Williams' spot

by Todd Archer

Having suffered a broken right forearm for the second time this season, Pro Bowl strong safety Roy Williams was put on injured reserve Tuesday.
The Cowboys signed Daren Stone, who worked out for the team earlier in the day. Stone played in 12 games for Atlanta last season and had 10 tackles. He had an interception in the preseason before he was cut. The 6-3, 215-pound Stone played at Maine.

A vastly underrated talent, Stone not only proved to be a punishing tackler from his strong safety position, but is also drawing considerable interest from NFL teams as a potential candidate to play outside linebacker in a Cover-2 scheme. With his speed and range, this reliable tackler is ready to make an impact at the next level.

Stone competed as a defensive back and wide receiver at Lockport High School, serving as team captain in 2002. He recorded the most tackles by a defensive back in school history and was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. He added first- team All-League and second-team All-Western New York honors as a senior. He also garnered second-team All-League honors in basketball and first-team All-Western New York accolades in track.

Stone enrolled at Maine in 2003, seeing limited action in 11 games as a free safety. That year, he totaled five tackles (four solos). As a sophomore, he shifted to strong safety, starting nine of 10 contests. He sat out the Rhode Island game after being suspended for missing classes. He still managed to rank third on the team with 77 tackles (47 solos), including 3.5 stops for losses. He intercepted four passes for 61 yards in returns and one touchdown and deflected three other throws.

Again on the move, Stone started the team's first eight games of the 2005 season at strong-side cornerback. He was limited late in the year by a right ankle sprain that forced him out of the starting lineup, but he delivered 41 tackles (30 solos) with a sack and 5.5 stops for losses. He gained 28 yards on five interception returns and broke up three passes, earning third-team All-Atlantic Ten Conference honors.

In 2006, Stone was named All-Atlantic Ten second-team. He shifted positions again, taking over strong safety chores in 10 games. He sat out the Shaw contest (coach's decision), but produced 50 tackles (30 solos) with four sacks and 7.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused a fumble, intercepted one pass and batted away five others. He also scored on a 21-yard blocked punt return.

In 41 games at Maine, Stone started 27 contests. He recorded 173 tackles (111 solos) with five sacks for minus-47 yards and 16.5 stops for losses of 85 yards. He gained 96 yards with a touchdown on 10 interceptions and scored on a 21-yard blocked punt return. He deflected 11 passes and caused one fumble.


Positives: Long-limbed athlete with a well-defined, muscular upper body, tight waist and minimal body fat (four percent)...Bit high cut, but has good thickness in his thighs and calves and room on his frame to carry at least another 10-15 pounds for a possible move to linebacker, without having the additional bulk affect his overall quickness...Very physical open-field tackler with the range to make plays along the perimeter...Flashes good explosion behind his hits and is an efficient wrap-up tackler...Shows the sudden burst to close on plays in front of him and is very physical with tight ends and backs in press coverage, using his hands to effectively reroute...Tough athlete who plays with pain...Has loose hips, but because he is high-cut, he struggles some in transitioning out of his backpedal...Shows very good ball skills, reacting instantly on screens and does a good job of understanding route progressions and combinations, handling the switch-off flawlessly...Has the hip flexibility to get back in the play when he over-pursues and does a fine job of timing his leaps in jump ball battles...Has an explosive burst shooting the gaps and though he wasn't used often on the blitz until his senior year, he shows the ability to shed blocks and penetrate quickly to pressure the pocket...Has good rip, swim and spin moves to surprise a lethargic offensive lineman and generate good back-side pursuit... Takes proper angles to the ball and greatly improved his tackling ability in 2006, keeping his head up, arms extended and pads low to wrap and secure...Has natural hands for the interception and gets great elevation to attack the ball at its highest point...Very smooth dropping off in the zone...Has an explosive closing burst and hip snap turning on the ball...Understands run defense schemes and can mirror receivers down field...Quick to recover and adjust when the ball is in flight...Times the pass perfectly and consistently gets in front of the receiver to try and get a piece of the ball...Comes up hard to fill the lanes in run support...Extends his hands properly going up for the interception...Can strike, jolt and wrap-up the opponent with force...Smooth switching off in the zone and frequently makes the big hits in one-on-one situations...Plays with a cornerback's quickness and a linebacker's aggression...Very rare to see him caught out of position, as he won't be fooled by play-action or pump fakes...Has enough strength to split double teams when playing inside the box.

Negatives: Can get overaggressive at times, which takes him out of the play...Has problems dealing with the underneath pass, allowing too much cushion on the receiver... Gets too high in his stance (high-cut) and, despite good hip rotation, he gets off balance in his backpedal and looks sloppy coming out of his breaks, taking soft angle cuts...Has made good improvement timing his leaps in 2006, but in the past, he would tend to jump too early, resulting in big catches for the opponent (see 2005 Hofstra game)...Can play cornerback in a pinch, but because of backpedal issues, he loses mirror with the opponent running deep routes...Efficient wrap-up tackler, but will revert to ankle biting or taking a side, allowing the ball carrier to side-step the hit...Must keep his pads down in transition, as he tends to round his breaks when he doesn't...Struggled a bit in the classroom and needs several reps to digest the plays...Will play with pain, but his play is greatly affected when he is hurt...Sometimes gives too much cushion to slot receivers, giving up the play underneath...Twice suspended by the staff for academic issues...Hits with good power, but his weight room totals are marginal (295-pound bench).

Compares To: STUART SCHWEIGERT-Oakland...Stone is a big, physical tackler with experience at all secondary positions. Like Scheigert, he hits like a linebacker and has outstanding range. He's a bit high-cut and this causes problems transitioning out of his breaks. He is best playing in the zone rather than in man coverage, as he might have good timed speed, but will lose mirror covering receivers deep. He has a good feel for the ball, but might struggle grasping a complicated playbook. He showed improvement in 2006, but while he generates pop on contact, he is still an ankle biter with inconsistent tackle technique.

Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo status unclear for Sunday against the Tampa Bay Bucs

DALLAS (AP) -- The Cowboys aren't sure when quarterback Tony Romo will be able to play again because of the broken pinkie on his throwing hand.
Romo walked through the locker room when it was open to reporters Monday, but grabbed a pair of shoes from his locker and left without answering questions. His right hand was wrapped.
Asked about Romo's status, Coach Wade Phillips responded, “To be determined. I think it's going to be similar to where he was last week.”
Romo, after being limited in his only practice last week after getting hurt, was listed as the backup rather than the third quarterback Sunday. The two-time Pro Bowler threw some balls in warmups before the game and after halftime.
“He could have gone in, but we didn't feel like he'd be effective if he had gone in,” Phillips said.
Brad Johnson, the 40-year-old backup -- and former Buc -- in his first start since 2006 for Minnesota, struggled. He was 6-of-18 for 66 yards and an interception while the Rams built a 24-7 halftime lead, then finished 17-for-34 for 234 yards with a TD pass in the final 2 minutes.
While the return of Romo could provide a spark, Phillips said there were a lot of factors that still had to be considered before the quarterback's status was determined this week.

Ship sinking! Cowboys must dump Phillips

By Tim Cowlishaw
The Dallas Morning News

It was right there in front of Jerry Jones' eyes.
And he missed it.

There is no more shining example of how the radical move of an in-season head coaching change can work than the one being offered by the St. Louis Rams.

Dead in the water at 0-4, the Rams fired Scott Linehan during their bye week and promoted Jim Haslett.

Last week's two-point win against Washington seemed a bit of a fluke, predicated as it was on gathering in three Redskins fumbles.

There was nothing remotely lucky about the Rams' thorough 34-14 destruction of the Dallas Cowboys at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

What has been gathering steam for a month reached something of a crescendo as the Cowboys played by far their worst game of the Wade Phillips era. And frankly, it should be the last game of the Phillips era, but Jones made it clear afterward there will be no coaching changes made.

"It really isn't about changes people-wise as much as it is changes within the people, within the coaches and players," Jones said.

No, Jerry, it really is about changing the people. This team is 1-3 during the past four weeks, a win against winless Cincinnati the only highlight.

Paying Phillips to fade off into the sunset would not cure all of this team's problems by any means. For one thing, the presumed next head coach, Jason Garrett, has for now removed himself from the "hot coordinators" list with his work during the past four weeks.

Phillips' low-key demeanor and aw-shucks approach might have elevated a team that had been beaten down by four years under Bill Parcells. But all of that is gone now.

It's just a team of uninspired excuse makers who take their cue from the head coach.

To his credit, Phillips didn't offer any of his trademark excuses Sunday, but, really, he couldn't. This wasn't about a break or two here or there, a blocked punt, a game that got away.

The Cowboys scored the first seven points, then just sat back and took it for more than three quarters as the Rams scored the next 34 points.

"We've all had stinkers before, but we haven't had one here," Phillips said. "That's what bothers me."

Phillips continues to coach a team that is assessed dumb penalties, that apparently doesn't know an illegal shift from a legal one. Brad Johnson certainly didn't cover himself in glory with his three-interception day in place of Tony Romo, but Johnson had plenty of company on both sides of the ball if you are looking for fall guys.

Rams rookie Donnie Avery looked like he could get open deep any time he wanted to. Steven Jackson (maybe we can still blame this whole thing on Parcells for not drafting him and wanting Julius Jones) ran for 160 yards.

When the defense wasn't getting lit up, Pro Bowl tackle Flozell Adams was getting his helmet handed to him by, among others, backup end James Hall.

The Cowboys owner talked about the need to right this sinking ship before it's too late.

"I understand the fear of continuing down the slope and not playing well," Jones said. "This sobers me up more than any game we've had. This is not the same feeling I had with the other two losses."

For those defeats, you could make excuses, and, very willingly, the head coach did.

This time he couldn't. And he shouldn't be left in place to come up with more excuses as to why a team with so much talent is heading towards the bottom of the NFC East.

There is no way to truly deliver a message of urgency to a collection of players and a coaching staff without, figuratively, cutting off the head.

Replacing Phillips with Garrett installed as the interim head coach would send a message to not just the football world but the locker room. It would spell out clearly that not just the results but the effort or lack thereof that produced a 1-3 stretch is not going to be tolerated.

Jones has acted boldly, swiftly, impetuously in the past.

This might be all of the above. But, really, it's the only way out of the darkness.

You could see it on the Rams' sideline Sunday. Unfortunately, Jerry wasn't looking in that direction.

Expect the Cowboys to continue heading in the wrong one.

How about them Cowboys?

by Ben Smith
The Journal Gazette

And now for our weekly tackle-eligible shovel pass around the National Cowboys League, aka “If Jerry Jones And Al Davis Aren’t The Same Person, Why Do You Never See Them Together?”, aka “Hey, Didn’t You Used To Be Brad Johnson?”:

• Speaking of all things Cowboys, America’s Team continued to dress up like the Raiders and parade around. In this week’s installment, the Most Awesome Team In The National Football League (as voted on by the Cowboys) got pan-seared by the lowly Rams, 34-14. Johnson, filling in for Tony Romo, turned out to be creamy filling, throwing three picks. And Stephen Jackson down-cased the Dallas “D” to a “d.” In a related development, Jones denied he was Al Davis. Wade Phillips, meanwhile, denied he was Lane Kiffin.

Cowboys: Super Bowl studs to duds in seven games

By Stephen Hawkins | Of The Associated Press
October 21, 2008

With three losses in four games, reality has finally hit the Dallas Cowboys.

Those 13 wins and 13 Pro Bowl players last season that led to Super Bowl expectations this season? None of those mean anything now.

''It's like we've been riding a wave. Now, the wave is gone. We're just like everybody else,'' linebacker Bradie James said Monday. ''No matter what the talent is, publicity, whatever goes on here, it doesn't really matter.''

Not a day after a 34-14 loss at St. Louis, with the Rams reeling off 34 consecutive points after Dallas scored on the game's opening drive.

Less than halfway through the season, the Cowboys (4-3) already have as many losses as they had all last season. The only victory the past four-game stretch was a lackluster performance at home against winless Cincinnati, the NFL's only seven-loss team.

''Our identity is missing. We need to realize and figure out who we are and what we are going to be and be it and live and die by it,'' nose tackle Tank Johnson said.

That could apply to the entire team though Johnson was referring specifically to the defense, which allowed 160 yards rushing and three touchdowns by Steven Jackson, the running back Dallas passed on in the 2004 draft and got Julius Jones instead.

America's Team came into the season with such high expectations, and started by winning its first three games. The Cowboys now are in third place in NFC East and their only division victory came against Philadelphia, the only team below them in the standings.

Owner Jerry Jones is having to answer about second-year coach Wade Phillips' job security. Jones on Monday reiterated his postgame comments that no coaching change is planned.

''That kind of talk comes up with coaches all the time when things aren't going well,'' said Phillips, 17-7 with the playoff loss included. ''Things aren't going well here, I understand that. But it's not going to affect how we prepare this week.''

Before a much-needed bye in two weeks, Dallas plays a pair of division leaders. It hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday, then visits the rival New York Giants.

''Now it's time for us to come together, not only find solutions, but find a cure, and really the only thing that cures that is winning,'' James said.

Phillips expressed his disappointment but said he and the players were ''determined to turn this thing forward and better.'' The coach also indicated that changes would be made.

When pressed about what kind of changes, Phillips said that wouldn't necessarily be lineup or personnel changes.

LEFTOVERS: Cowboys coach feels the heat

Source: Las Vegas Review Journal

After Sunday's debacle by the Dallas Cowboys in their loss at St. Louis, one Dallas columnist is calling for Cowboys coach Wade Phillips to be fired.

"There is no way to truly deliver a message of urgency to a collection of players and a coaching staff without, figuratively, cutting off the head," wrote Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News.

The Cowboys have lost back-to-back games, including Sunday's 34-14 clunker to the 2-4Rams. Dallas has won once in its past four games -- over winless Cincinnati.

Added Cowlishaw: "What has been gathering steam for a month reached something of a crescendo as the Cowboys played by far their worst game of the Wade Phillips era. And frankly, it should be the last game of the Phillips era, but (owner Jerry Jones) made it clear afterward that there will be no coaching changes made.

"It's a team of uninspired excuse makers who take their cue from the head coach."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Latest from Ed Werder...changes in Dallas

Originally Posted by wayne motley from a sports forum:

Werder just reported that while Wade did not say this directly, that it seemed clear to Werder that Wade was taking over the defensive playcalling from Brian Stewart and would call the game himself.

Apparently, there had been some dissention between assistant coaches and players over what was being called during the games.

If Werder is correct, this might be interesting to see on Sunday. If nothing else, this change may light a fire under the defense because I believe they think a great deal of Wade Phillips.

FWST Blog: Romo wearing bigger cast, still not talking

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rolled through the locker room quickly on Monday hoping not to be seen, grabbing a pair of running shoes out of his locker. He had his right pinkie in a cast and put it under his left arm when the TV cameras spotted him.

Romo had a sizable cas on his hand and barely looked up and didn't talk with reporters. It remains unclear if he will return this week. Romo also did not talk after the Rams game Sunday afternoon.

- Rick Herrin

Jerry Jones: Wade Phillips will 'absolutely' finish the season

by Tim MacMahon

Jerry Jones hasn't changed his mind about keeping the head coach around after a night of surely restless sleep.

"Absolutely, he's going to finish the season," Jerry told DMN business reporter Brendan M. Case on a conference call about the Cowboys' business venture with the New York Yankees. "That isn't even a remote consideration."

We'll see whether Jerry sticks to his guns if the Cowboys have a four-game losing streak and sub-.500 record entering the bye week.

"That's out of the question," he said. "No. Absolutely no circumstances at all."

NFL Point Spreads For Week 8

Week Eight NFL Football Point Spread

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog

10/26 1:00 ET At Baltimore -7 Oakland
10/26 1:00 ET San Diego -3.5 New Orleans
(At London)
10/26 1:00 ET At NY Jets -11.5 Kansas City
10/26 1:00 ET Buffalo -2 At Miami
10/26 1:00 ET At Dallas Off Tampa Bay
10/26 1:00 ET At Philadelphia -8 Atlanta
10/26 1:00 ET At New England -7 St. Louis
10/26 1:00 ET At Carolina -4.5 Arizona
10/26 1:00 ET Washington -8 At Detroit
10/26 4:05 ET At Jacksonville -7 Cleveland
10/26 4:15 ET At Pittsburgh -2 NY Giants
10/26 4:15 ET At San Francisco Off Seattle
10/26 4:05 ET At Houston -10 Cincinnati

Monday Night Football Point Spread

10/27 8:35 ET At Tennessee -3.5 Indianapolis

DMN Blog: Network studio talk: It's Wade's fault

by Barry Horn

At Fox, CBS, ESPN and NBC all fingers are pointing at the coach of the Cowboys for the team's ineptness.

On the Fox set, the campaign to replace Wade Phillips with one of their own has already begun. CBS has the better candidate but that didn't come up.

While the official Cowboys blogging staff is on the Greyhound home from St. Louis, see what the TV experts are saying about the sad state of the team.

Cowboys SS Roy Williams broke his right forearm again Sunday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season

Williams lasted two quarters in his return from the original break and his loss further weakens a paper-thin secondary, especially in run support. Special teamer Keith Davis took his place Sunday. If Williams goes on injured reserve, Sunday could mark the last game he's played in a Cowboys uniform.
Source: Dallas Morning News

DeMarcus Ware registered seven tackles (all solo) and three sacks in Week 9 against the Rams, bringing his season total to nine sacks

Ware is on fire. He has a sack in each of Dallas' first seven games and one in 10 straight contests dating back to 2007, tying him for the NFL record. The fourth-year edge rusher should break the mark in Week 8 against Bucs LT Donald Penn. Ware currently ranks first in the NFL in sacks. Dolphins OLB Joey Porter and Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley are tied for second with 8.5.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett revealed after Sunday's game that the Cowboys never intended to put in Tony Romo (pinkie)

Romo was allowed to warm up before the start of the second half, but the score was too far out of reach to risk an in-game switch to an injured QB. "Tony was throwing the ball all right, but I don't know that he was ready to play," coach Wade Phillips added. "And it wasn't a situation where we were really in the game." Despite Brad Johnson's terrible effort, the Cowboys may not be in a rush to get Romo back for Week 8 against Tampa.
Source: Dallas Morning News

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after Sunday's blowout loss to the Rams that head coach Wade Phillips' job isn't in doubt

"I think there can be a change in effort, intensity, those kind of things," Jerry said. "But I'm not talking about the kind of change with coach or coaches or philosophy." Still, Phillips' job security could become week to week as long as Dallas keeps losing. His heir apparent is already on the staff in offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Source: Dallas Morning News

Torry Holt said the Rams discovered some holes in Dallas' Cover 4 look while preparing for Sunday's blowout victory

Their scouting set up Donnie Avery's 42-yard touchdown in the first quarter that set the tone for the rest of the game. Avery was able to get a couple of steps on Cowboys CB Anthony Henry with a fairly simple post route.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Sunday, October 19, 2008

St. Louis Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys, 34-14

Source: www.star-telegram.com

Not much went right for the Dallas Cowboys in a 34-14 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Brad Johnson started in place of Tony Romo and finished the day with one touchdown and three interceptions.


Posted by Michael David Smith on October 19, 2008, 1:50 p.m. EDT
The Dallas Cowboys’ first drive went very well.

Everything since then? Not so much.

With Tony Romo sidelined by a broken pinkie, quarterback Brad Johnson has had a fumble and an interception. Marion Barber has lost a fumble, the Cowboys’ defense is playing badly without cornerbacks Terence Newman and Adam “Pacman” Jones, and the Rams are up 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.

It’s looking so bad right now that former Cowboy Daryl “Moose” Johnston, calling the game for Fox, said of Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, “This thing is starting to get away from you.”

Before the game it was reported that Romo would play only if things got “completely haywire.” A 21-7 deficit might suffice.

Ware ties record with sack in 10th straight game

The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 1:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 1:59 p.m.

ST. LOUIS - DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys tied the NFL record with a sack in his 10th straight game on Sunday.

The outside linebacker stopped Marc Bulger for a 1-yard loss late in the first quarter. The St. Louis Rams quarterback was scrambling after fumbling a snap from shotgun formation and then getting the ball back.

Ware tied the mark set by Denver's Simon Fletcher from Nov. 15, 1992 to Sept. 20, 1993.

Though he shares the NFL record, Ware remains one game shy of the franchise record. The Cowboys recognize Harvey Martin's 11-game streak from 1976-77, a run that ended five years before the sack became an official statistic, as their number to beat.

Cowboys inactives for Rams game

Source: RotoTimes.com

Cowboys inactives: QB Brooks Bollinger (3rd), S Pat Watkins, RB Felix Jones, CB Terrance Newman, G Kyle Kosier, G Joe Berger, OT Doug Free, LB Anthony Spencer.

Our View: Tashard Choice will be the backup to Marion Barber with the absence of Felix Jones.

Tony Romo will be the No. 2 quarterback for the Cowboys in their game against the Rams, according to the NFL Network

Source: RotoTimes.com

Our View: It was thought that Romo (broken pinkie) may serve as the No. 3 QB behind Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger, but it looks like he'll get the call should Johnson go down.

Brad Johnson will start for the Cowboys today

Source: RotoTimes.com

Adam Schefter of the NFL Network confirmed that Brad Johnson will start for the Cowboys today in place of the injured Tony Romo (fractured pinkie). Coach Wade Phillips said, "He's an experienced winner. There's a lot of backup quarterbacks who go in and play, but the team has to believe in the guy. A guy who has all of the experience and has won all of the games he's won and takes command like he does, has prepared to play every week, I think the team reacts positively to."

Our View: Brooks Bollinger will serve as the No. 2 quarterback as well. Johnson could be rusty in his first start of the season, but does have a favorable match-up against the Rams' 25th ranked pass defense.

Tested Cowboys Try To Refocus On Football

Cowboys soldier on without Romo, 'Pacman'

Cowboys (4-2) at Rams (1-4)

Time: Noon. TV / Radio: KCIT-TV, KARX (95.7-FM). Line: Cowboys by 7. Weather: Dome.

Cowboys: QB Tony Romo now says he wants to play with the broken pinkie on his throwing hand. If he doesn't, 40-year-old Brad Johnson would take over, so Cowboys' passing game could be limited. Can receiver Roy Williams, acquired from Lions on Tuesday, help right away?

Rams: The Rams just beat the Redskins, who had already beaten the Cowboys, who are now banged up, so ... Rams will still need to find some offense to pull off another upset.

Fantasy outlook: Marion Barber, averaging 4.0 yards per carry with four rushing TDs, may have a bigger role in the Cowboys' running game because RB Felix Jones also is hurt. Marc Bulger has thrown only two TD passes vs. two INTs for Rams.

Injuries: Felix Jones is out two to four weeks with knee injury, punter Mat McBriar gone for year with broken foot. ... Rams defensive back Ricky Manning Jr. (broken leg) is out for year.

Prediction: Cowboys 20, Rams 17.
- Terry Bannon, Chicago Tribune

Bettis: Don't worry about the Cowboys

By Lance Lahnert

One future NFL Hall of Fame running back says Dallas Cowboys fans should calm down.
Even if injured Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo doesn't play today, or during the next month, Dallas will not only survive, but thrive in the NFC East.

That's from the mouth of Jerome Bettis, an NBC analyst who ranks fifth on the NFL all-time rushing list with 13,653 yards.

Bettis, who retired after the Steelers 2006 Super Bowl champion season, visited the Boys Ranch football team last week for an upcoming halftime feature scheduled to be aired by NBC on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21.

Bettis said the Cowboys won't miss suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for a second, and Dallas fans shouldn't frown because Brad Johnson is under center rather than the popular Romo.

"Obviously, losing Tony Romo is a bigger issue than ''Pacman''," Bettis said while watching Boys Ranch players practice. "But Brad Johnson has been around and is a veteran. He knows how to win. He can make every throw. He's a wily veteran so he knows what to do with the football.

"I don't see the Dallas Cowboys in that bad of shape."

Bettis said with Romo sidelined, look for the Cowboys to rely on their running game anchored by Marion Barber.

" A lot of people are saying 'Oh, this is the doom,''' Bettis said.

"But now, with Tony Romo out they can really get down to Cowboys football, which is running the football. That's the part of the Cowboys game that has been lacking. And it wasn't because they couldn't run, they didn't have a commitment to running.

"Tony Romo is the star so you are getting T.O. passes and all these guys the ball. But there is only one football, so you can only do so much."

Bettis dismissed the fact the Cowboys defensive backfield is depleted by injuries and left almost bare of depth without the suspended Jones.

"I don't think losing "Pacman'' was that significant," Bettis said. "He hasn't done anything. From a defensive standpoint, he had been a solid cornerback. Nothing special. So I don't think they lose a lot there. Then on special teams, he hadn't made an impact.

"The "Pacman" Jones situation, in my opinion, will probably help them more than hurt them. It will take away a distraction they don't have to deal with. They understand the situation, and it's full speed ahead."

Bettis said running the football is where it's at for any NFL team desiring to win consistently.

"Now, this (Romo) injury forces the Cowboys to do what they should have been doing in the first place, and that's run the football," Bettis said. "Everything comes off of the running game. Play action pass. Deep balls in the throwing game. It all happens if you can run the ball.

"The problem has been Dallas couldn't run the ball. Washington comes in there and beats them because they can't run the football. When you have to throw it like that you aren't going to win. Look at Arizona. Now they are forced to run, and in essence, that's better for them."


Posted by Mike Florio on October 19, 2008, 7:46 a.m. EDT

Prior reports indicated that new Cowboys receiver Roy Williams would sign a five-year, $45 million deal with $20 million in guaranteed money.

Per Adam Schefter of NFL Network, the guaranteed money is $27 million.

And that number matches the total value of the three-year extension Terrell Owens signed earlier this year.

You sure you’re still OK with that arrangement, T.O.?


Posted by Mike Florio on October 19, 2008, 7:49 a.m. EDT

Adam Schefter of NFL Network confirms that Brad Johnson will be the starting quarterback on Sunday for the Cowboys.

But Schefter says that Tony Romo is not expected to play, due to his fractured pinkie.

This likely means that Romo will be the No. 3 quarterback, behind Johnson and Brooks Bollinger.

If nothing else, the uncertainty regarding Romo’s status forced the St. Louis Rams to prepare for both Johnson and Romo. With only so many reps in practice and only so many hours to break down film, it’s always a benefit to force an opponent to take two possible quarterbacks into account during preparations for the game.

Cowboys soldier on without Romo, Jones


ST. LOUIS - Hands down, the St. Louis Rams had the title of most discombobulated NFL franchise the first quarter of the season. Now, it's the Dallas Cowboys' turn to experience turmoil.

The Cowboys (4-2) were supposed to be the class of the NFC after winning 13 games and sending a league-record 13 players to the Pro Bowl last season, and may still live up to expectations. They're a wounded franchise entering Sunday's game, evening the field a bit against a team that profited from a coaching change and upset the Redskins on the road after an 0-4 start.

"There's always something going on with the Cowboys, I think," coach Wade Phillips said. "If there wasn't, we're going to make something."

It's been a tumultuous week in Dallas.

_Cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was suspended at least four games on Tuesday for violating the league's conduct policy, one day after quarterback Tony Romo was lost for perhaps a month with a broken right pinkie. The offense is probably now in the hands of 40-year-old Brad Johnson, although Romo was holding out hope he could play this week after being able to practice.

_Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Roy Williams was acquired just before Tuesday's trade deadline from the winless Lions for three draft picks, including a first-rounder, and the Cowboys plan on using him Sunday.

_Punter Mat McBriar was placed on injured reserve with a broken foot. He was hurt when the Cardinals blocked his punt and returned it for the winning touchdown in overtime.

"To be honest, I don't care about what's going on with the Cowboys," St. Louis cornerback Ron Bartell said. "We have our own problems.

"Honestly, I think it's going to make them even more focused and that much tougher to play. When you get a team down like that, they seem to rally _ just like we did last week."

Not long ago the Rams (1-4) were the sad sacks of the NFL, with 17 losses in 20 games and a coaching change after four no-contest losses to start the season. The revival led by the new no-nonsense coach, Jim Haslett, began during the team's bye week.

Haslett preaches the power of positive thinking, of shaking off the inevitable mistakes and big plays, in an effort to change the culture of a downtrodden franchise.

The formula was a success in the first game of his second stint as a head coach. Steven Jackson lost a fumble at the St. Louis 4 on the opening possession that led to an easy Redskins touchdown, and the Rams kept working. Guard Richie Incognito's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty left Josh Brown with a 49-yard field goal attempt at the end of the game, and Brown shrugged off the adversity when he split the uprights.

A miss spoils all the good feeling.

"I really don't like to think about what would have happened if we miss that field goal," Incognito said.

In one of his first acts as head coach, Haslett restored Marc Bulger as the starting quarterback. This week, the Rams re-signed cornerback Fakhir Brown, a Haslett favorite who had been released by Scott Linehan.

"Anytime you win a game, obviously, everybody's upbeat and it's nice to see," Haslett said. "I think the big thing in my situation is no matter what happens, I'll always be the same win or lose, and just try to get them to play well and win as many games as we can."

The Cowboys' challenge is not allowing their recent run of misfortune, the apparent end of the Pacman experiment and the injury that could sideline Romo to drag them down. Wide receiver Terrell Owens, limited to only 23 catches and still looking for his first 100-yard receiving game, said players and coaches should be used to such adversity given the attention the franchise commands.

"I think just with the magnitude of who we are, the games, the way things are playing out now, every game is a must game," Owens said.

Johnson, the only Cowboys player with a Super Bowl ring, is set to make his first start since 2006 with Minnesota and see his first action since the 2007 finale. He's not as mobile as Romo, but the Cowboys will count on his experience for a smooth transition.

"I think the guy that comes in just has to execute the system the way it was run before," Johnson said. "Everybody handles things differently, but really I'm just going to make the reads, make the throws and manage the game like I'm supposed to."

Haslett said he's a Johnson "fan" and doesn't want Rams players to think they're facing an NFL senior citizen.

"For a guy who's 40, he moves around pretty well," Haslett said. "He's not a threat like Tony to run, but he gets in and out of the pocket well. He'll settle down the offense and do a good job."

The Cowboys are already speaking in the past tense about Jones, who started all six games at cornerback after being reinstated from a 17-month suspension that caused him to miss all of the 2007 season with the Tenneseee Titans.

"We don't have him," Phillips said. "I don't think we can count on having him, and we're not counting on having him. We're counting on him being gone, which he is."

Acquiring Williams, a Pro Bowl player in 2006, could open up things for Owens. Because the Cowboys use a somewhat simplistic numbering system for wide receivers, it's expected he can contribute Sunday.

"With that new contract they just gave him, he should play," the Rams' Bartell said. "I'm pretty sure they're going to do whatever they can to get him involved."

A service of the Associated Press(AP)

Even without Romo, Rams are perfect tonic for Dallas Cowboys

Source: The Dallas Morning News

Oct. 19--ST. LOUIS -- Tony Romo took a call from Brett Favre this week. Romo's hero advised playing with a broken finger as long as the pain is tolerable.

Romo should have called his former teammate, Drew Bledsoe, who once tried to play through a painful hand injury and ended up needing surgery and missing the postseason.

By Friday afternoon, all signs -- and by all signs, I mean Jerry Jones on a radio show -- indicated Romo probably would be at quarterback at noon today in the Edward Jones Dome.

And for Cowboys fans, that was a really bad idea.

Somewhere along the way to Saturday night, logic entered the equation, and Jones announced that Brad Johnson will start against the St. Louis Rams.

The fact that Romo is going to suit up remains troubling. What will it take for panic to set in and Romo to be inserted into the lineup?

A couple of three-and-outs? A Johnson turnover? Maybe an early Rams lead?

That Romo has reportedly looked OK throwing the ball is immaterial.

What about taking 70 snaps from center? What about handoffs? What about when he's being sacked by Leonard Little? Will the guy who has more fumbles than anyone other than Jon Kitna since becoming a starter protect the ball or instinctively try to protect the finger?

And if he does protect the ball, what happens to the broken finger?

There's really no logic to playing Romo, no matter how the game unfolds Sunday.

What's the worst that can happen?

Romo can compound the injury and be out longer than the original expectation of three games.

What's the best that can happen?

The Cowboys win the game, which they should be able to do with Johnson at quarterback, anyway.

If you consider yourself an elite team, a Super Bowl contender, then you are supposed to handle the easiest game on your schedule with your backup quarterback. A conservative game plan and a resilient defense should give the Cowboys a two-touchdown victory over the Rams.


For a team that suddenly sports a long injury list and is in somewhat of a state of disarray after three straight poor performances, the St. Louis Rams are the perfect tonic.

Only the Detroit Lions are giving up more yards per game. No team is giving up more points per game (32.8) or first downs per game.

Keep the chains moving, pile up the points, pocket the victory and move on -- that should be the Cowboys' game plan, all with Romo watching from the sideline and giving himself a better chance to play next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they will need him.

Not only are the Rams awful, even more to the Cowboys' benefit, they come into this game disguised as something better than they really are.

In the wake of the Rams' 19-17 upset in Washington last week, the Cowboys can tell themselves, "Hey, they just beat a team that beat us at Texas Stadium. We better be prepared to play."

But that victory came after two weeks of preparation. It came with the Redskins coughing up their first three turnovers of the season, including a fumble that was returned 75 yards for a touchdown.

It came with the Rams piling up 200 total yards.

In other words, this 1-4 team still stinks.

In the four losses that preceded the bye and cost head coach Scott Linehan his job, the Rams never allowed fewer than 31 points. That includes Buffalo's 18th-ranked offense. That includes Seattle's 27th-ranked offense.

With Romo, the Cowboys have the third-ranked offense in the NFL. How far does it slip without Felix Jones and Romo?

I don't think it's all the way to 18th. I know it's not all the way to 27th.

And those teams still punched in at least 31 points, which should be at least 17 more than the Cowboys allow.

Johnson's going to start. That's good news for Cowboys fans. Johnson finishing would be even better.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

DMN Blog: CB Ty Law lobbies to come to Cowboys

by Tim MacMahon

Five-time Pro Bowler Ty Law, 34, would love to play for a Super Bowl contender that needs some veteran help at cornerback. The Cowboys happen to have only one healthy, non-suspended cornerback with any starting experience.

Law, who started every game for Kansas City last season, mentioned Dallas and Green Bay as potential good fits for him to NFL Network's Adam Schefter. He said he isn't looking for a lot of money, but just wants to "feel respected."

Asked about the idea of playing in Dallas, Law said: "That would be a great opportunity, to play for a contender. I just don't want to play for anybody. I want to play for a contender, where I have the chance to go to the Super Bowl. I can help Dallas. I have the experience, I have been there before and I can help get a team over the edge. I'm not going to be a weak link for anybody and I'd love to try to provide some leadership for Dallas."
Law has been working out in Florida and is reportedly in discussions with the Dolphins. He said he would be ready to play right away.

DMN Blog: Injury report surprise: Pat Watkins is out

by Tim MacMahon

SS/core special teamer Pat Watkins (stinger) participated fully in every practice this week, but he has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Rams.

RB Felix Jones (hamstring), OG Kyle Kosier (foot), CB Terence Newman (abdomen) and OLB Anthony Spencer (hamstring) are also out. LB Kevin Burnett (calf) and QB Tony Romo (pinkie finger) are questionable. SS Keith Davis (thumb), SS Roy Williams (forearm) and NT Tank Johnson (ankle) are probable.

Listed as out for the Rams: WR Drew Bennett, CB Tye Hill and RB Antonio Pittman. OT Orlando Pace (thigh) is questionable.

UPDATE: Dallas DE Marcus Spears (illness) was a late addition to the injury report. He did not practice and is listed as probable.

Cowboys still mum on Romo's game status

Source: Log Cabin Democrat

IRVING, Texas (AP) Tony Romo was basically a spectator in the middle of the field when the Dallas Cowboys started practice Friday. Nothing changed after that.

The Cowboys listed their two-time Pro Bowl quarterback as questionable for Sunday's game after he didn't participate in practice, the last one before playing at St. Louis. Romo has a broken pinkie on his throwing hand.

During the early portion of practice open to reporters, Romo mimicked throwing motions and lobbed only a couple of balls, but mostly stood and watched with his injured right hand hanging to his side or clasped behind his back.

Other than confirming Romo's status, coach Wade Phillips wouldn't elaborate when he made a brief appearance in the locker room after practice.

Tight end Jason Witten didn't answer questions, and usually talkative receiver Patrick Crayton responded, "You're not getting anything out of me."

Romo, who hasn't commented all week, didn't appear in the locker room when it was open to reporters. Neither did Brad Johnson, the 40-year-old backup who is in line to get his first start since 2006 for Minnesota.
While on the field, Romo's hand was wrapped with a fabric covering whatever protective device being used to apparently stabilize the pinkie. Only the tips of three fingers were exposed, with the index finger and thumb free.

Johnson and third-teamer Brooks Bollinger threw passes during early drills, with Romo standing nearby watching.

Before practice, Phillips said the team has been considering "a lot of different scenarios" since Romo started throwing Wednesday, three days after the injury that was initially expected to keep Romo out up to three games.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a radio interview earlier Friday that there was no chance that Romo could reinjure the pinkie because of the cast-like protection on his hand.

When Phillips was asked if he had been told Romo couldn't do further damage to the finger, the coach responded, "Dr. Jerry. Whatever Jerry says, I'm going with."

Jones also said the decision if Romo will play will depend on how the quarterback feels Sunday.

"It will be up to him. If he is feeling good and the pain is good, then it's likely he'll play," Jones said. "It's down to can he handle the pain?"

Phillips said it was possible Romo could be active for the game without starting. The coach also said Romo didn't have to go through a full practice to play.

Romo was expected to miss up to a month (three games with an open date) after he broke his right pinkie when he was sacked on the first play of overtime in last weekend's 30-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. But Romo told coaches earlier this week he wanted to try to play.

After throwing on the side Wednesday, Romo was limited in practice Thursday. Phillips said the quarterback felt fine after those workouts.

Before even taking a question Friday, Phillips made it clear the Cowboys were confident in Johnson, who has thrown only 11 passes all in the 2007 regular-season finale since arriving as Romo's backup last year.

"If Brad plays at quarterback, our team is ready to play with Brad. We have confidence in him, we feel like we can win with him," Phillips said. "Tony's really the bonus guy in this situation."