Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Raiders host Cowboys to kick off 2009 preseason

Wire services
Posted: 03/30/2009 10:44:30 AM PDT

The Raiders will kick off their 50th season of professional football by hosting the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum in their 2009 preseason opener, the team announced Monday.

The game date still hasn't been determined, but it will be from Aug. 13-17. In all, Oakland will play three of its four preseason games in the Bay Area.

The Raiders then travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers in week 2 of the preseason (Aug. 20-24) before returning to the Coliseum to host the New Orleans Saints in week 3 (Aug. 27-31). Oakland concludes the preseason by facing the Seahawks in Seattle in preseason week 4 (Sept. 3-5).

The Raiders open the regular season in prime time for the fourth time in the past five seasons when they host the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, Sept. 14, on ESPN.

The NFL also announced last week that the Raiders will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in one of three nationally-televised games on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. The contest will mark the Raiders' first Thanksgiving game since 1970.

The Raiders will take on the Chargers at home to open the 2009 regular season in a game that begins at 7:15 p.m. PT.

Dates and times for the remaining 2009 regular season games will be announced by the NFL in April. Preseason dates and will also be announced at a later date.

Cowboys' Ware mum on new deal but happy with what Haynesworth got

Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm brings you hot news and the inside scoop about the NFL

Just got off the phone a few minutes ago with Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware, who is going to be the subject of the main Q&A for our season preview magazine, as he was boarding a plane from San Antonio to Dallas. We covered a number of topics -- you can probably guess a few I felt obligated to ask -- but I had to get something in about his contract situation.

Ware stands as one of the young players who could be hurt badly by a player lockout next year, as he only would have five accrued seasons and would be considered a restricted free agent instead of looking to cash in with a deal that exceeds that which Washington gave to Albert Haynesworth.

Although Ware declined to talk specifics with me, he did say he'd give me a call when he knew something more. (Yet something tells me that call might not come, as nice a guy as he seems.) But he did say he was pretty happy to see a defender get such a crazy deal, which only raises the benchmark whenever Ware hits the open market -- if the Cowboys don't get something done first.

"Usually, quarterbacks and offensive guys get that type of money," Ware told us, "but now defensive guys are getting that type of money because now they are seeing, like [Tony] Romo is the quarterback, but they are seeing also guys that are playing a tackle position or a linebacker position are quarterbacks of the defense and they should be compensated as so because maybe of the plays that they make or the leadership they bring to that defensive squad. So it helps me out a lot and shows me how important defensive guys are too."

DMN: Don't let Greg Ellis know this, but Lawrence Sidbury Jr. is visiting Dallas

by Tim MacMahon

The news, reported by NFL.com, that Dallas will be one of the stops on Richmond pass-rushing prospect Lawrence Sidbury Jr.'s pre-draft tour won't ease Greg Ellis' concerns about his job security.

The 6-2, 265-pound Sidbury Jr. had 11.5 sacks last season as a defensive end for Richmond's Division I-AA (or whatever it's called now) national championship team. His 4.64 40 at the combine was the fastest by a defensive end, a group that included several players who project as OLBs if selected by a 3-4 team.

If the Cowboys draft Sidbury or another pass-rusher in the middle rounds, that won't mean that Ellis' time at Valley Ranch is over. A mid-round rookie might need some seasoning before being ready to play a significant role, especially one making such a major step up in competition.

But the arrival of Sidbury or a similar player -- Texas Tech's Brandon Williams, a Fort Worth native who can come to the Cowboys' Dallas Day, comes to mind -- would essentially close the door on Ellis continuing his career with the Cowboys after this final season of his contract.

DMN Blog: Cowboys to open stadium with Tennessee preseason game

by Todd Archer

The Cowboys know when and who they will play in their first game at their new stadium in Arlington - in the preseason anyway - and that is Tennessee.

The Cowboys will host the Titans on Aug. 21 with a national television from Fox at 7 p.m. While some may look at this game as Vince Young's homecoming, it might just be remembered more for the football opener of the $1.1 billion stadium.

The Cowboys will open the preseason at Oakland on Aug. 13. The Cowboys' third preseason game will be Aug. 29 at home against San Francisco and the finale will be Sept. 4 at Minnesota.

The NFL is expected to release the full regular-season schedule early in April, perhaps by the end of the week. According to a source, the Cowboys will open up at Denver on Sept. 13 followed by a primetime opener on Sept. 20 at the new stadium, likely against an NFC East foe.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Player Update: Marion Barber, RB


While Marion Barber will certainly remain the most valuable runner in Dallas' backfield, head coach Wade Phillips has stated that he and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett would like to figure out ways to utilize both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, along with Barber, in order to maximize the effectiveness of all three, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: "If a guy can play and help your team in a certain role, you want to utilize him," Phillips said. "The chemistry of the team is better when more players contribute. I think we have that at running back." Both Jones and Choice proved that they could be effective NFL backs in their rookie seasons last year and that they each deserved a role in Dallas' game plan. Still, you can bet that Barber would be the goal line back and, while he may not receive quite the same full workload that he did for much of 2008, he should still be a top-10 running back in 2009.

DC.COM Blog: Wade Must Set A Different Tone

Posted by mickshot at 3/27/2009 5:30 PM CDT on truebluefanclub.com

Wade Phillips can’t win for losing these days. He was heavily criticized for not talking to the media for the past two months, and then when he talked the past few days at the NFL owners meetings, he was heavily criticized for what he did say.

What’s a coach to do?

If it were me, and I’m thinking you, too, quit being such a nice, accommodating guy. Killing reporters with niceness is not working. So is being so politically correct with everything he says. Might as well start keeping score. Few got away with such personal attacks when Jimmy and Bill were here. And the verbal sparring didn’t take place. Each just set that tone. Walk-offs were well timed. That’s what Wade must do otherwise this is going to be a long season for him.

Also, while we’re on all this, just once I want someone to say Terrell Owens was released because he was such a controlling, self-centered, ego-maniacal player who had to make everything about him and more difficult for his quarterback. Sure he worked hard. Sure he played hard. Sure he appeared to be a good teammate. Sure he had good numbers.

But at what price, both tangible and intangible? There was the team and there was Terrell. And even if I’m wrong, who else out here would you make that mistake about?

Come on, bottom line is if the Cowboys are right about Roy Williams, this team can go 9-7 with T.O. as they did in 2006 and 2008 or without him as they did in 2005. And who knows, they might even go 10-6 and actually make the playoffs.

To think it’s still only March.

Mickey Spagnola

Friday, March 27, 2009

Credibility check reveals Dallas Cowboys' Phillips has lost his

by Jean-Jacaques Taylor

Jerry Jones removed the duct tape from the only NFL head coach under a gag order this week and let him speak during the owners' meeting.

The removal of duct tape was necessary because head coaches must talk if they attend, per league rules. Still, it was a bad idea.

All Phillips did is remind everyone why Jerry should've already hired Mike Shanahan.

After the most sensitive coach in franchise history spent some time whining about all of the meanies in the local media, he actually said it usually takes four years to find out whether a coach is any good.


Mike Tomlin won a Super Bowl in his second season, and he's never had the privilege of having 13 Pro Bowl players on his team. Ken Whisenhunt took the Arizona Cardinals, among the worst franchises in sports for decades, to the Super Bowl in his second season.

And let's not even talk about first-year coaches such as Miami's Tony Sparano, Atlanta's Mike Smith and Baltimore's John Harbaugh who took teams to the postseason that didn't make the playoffs the previous season.

We've spent much of the off-season talking about all of the things Tony Romo must do to regain favor in the Cowboys' fractured locker room. Yes, it's fractured no matter how much Jerry wants you to believe it isn't.

Well, Romo isn't the only person who needs an image makeover.

So does Phillips.

He arrived two years ago preaching family and loyalty, a wonderful concept but one that's hard to sustain in the cutthroat world of professional football. That's because winning and losing takes precedence over everything else.

Talk to enough players since the season ended, and they'll tell you they're disappointed Phillips declined to address the players after the debacle in Philadelphia.

He also lost the respect of some players when he let former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, the only coach he brought with him from San Diego, take the brunt of the criticism for a string of poor defensive performances and stripped him of his play-calling duties after six games. Later, Phillips took credit for the team's defensive resurgence before its December meltdown.

Just so you know, Stewart viewed Phillips as a mentor and father figure. That's not how you treat family. And it's certainly not how you display loyalty.

Now, Phillips will vehemently disagree. He'll say a change had to be made.


This isn't about firing Stewart. That happens in sports. It's not personal. The criticism comes from betraying a friend.

Players and assistant coaches aren't blind. They must wonder if Phillips did that to Stewart, his most loyal ally, then what is he capable of doing to others.

Phillips can regain credibility in the locker room, but it won't be easy.

Not as a lame duck coach – Phillips is in the final year of his contract – coming off a disastrous finish to a disappointing season. The first time the Cowboys lose a couple of games in a row or go through a rough patch, the coach is going to be inundated with questions about his job security.

Of course, Jerry could alleviate that by giving Phillips an extension, but we all know that's not going to happen just like we know if Dallas doesn't make the playoffs and end this dreadful 12-year streak without a playoff win, then Phillips and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will each be unemployed.
There's no tangible evidence to suggest Phillips can stop this organization's downward spiral.

Look at his track record.

In Denver, he followed a 9-7 season with a 7-9 year before getting fired. In he went 21-11 in his first two seasons in Buffalo before dipping to 8-8 and getting fired.

It's not my job to be the eternal optimist and paint a rosy outlook. I deal in reality.

It's hard to see Phillips convincing the players that he's going to be considerably more demanding in Year 3 than he was in Years 1 and 2.

His career record is 67-45, not including two stints as an interim coach, but head coaches are judged their postseason success, when the competition is fierce and the pressure is most intense.

Phillips is 0-4 in the playoffs.

Stars Aligning For Cowboys Opener In Denver

Although the NFL has already announced a few games for the 2009 season, including Raiders at Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the full schedule won't be made public until late April. But according to multiple reports, the Cowboys could be slated to open the season against the Broncos at Invesco Field on Sept. 13.

The Broncos, who haven't hosted a game on kickoff weekend since 2004, have apparently requested to play in the Mile High City in Week One. If the NFL honors Denver's preference - and the league does try, when these requests are in reason - the opponent would have to be the Cowboys.

All Broncos home games are played at 3:15 p.m. (CT), and since CBS (which always televises games between two AFC teams) is scheduled to air the U.S. Open tennis tournament that afternoon, the network will not have an NFL game. Whenever an AFC team hosts an NFC team, the game is carried by FOX.

This is where the Cowboys come in. The AFC West is playing the NFC East in the league's rotation this season, with the Broncos set to host Dallas and New York, and travel to Washington and Philadelphia. Since the league announced early this week NFL Network will show the Broncos-Giants game on Thanksgiving night, one can surmise the Cowboys will be back in the thin air of Denver on opening day.

The Cowboys are expected to open their new stadium in Arlington with a nationally televised game the second week of the season.

-Josh Ellis

DMN Blog: Wade Phillips wants all three RBs involved in offense

by Tim MacMahon

Here's a crumb from Wade Phillips' breakfast chat with reporters yesterday at the owners' meetings: Phillips said he believes the running game will be a bigger factor for the Cowboys and wants the offensive coaches to find ways to get all three tailbacks involved.

"If a guy can play and help your team in a certain role, you want to utilize him," Phillips said. "Not only for the team but also for the overall morale of the team that, 'Hey, I've got this role and I can help the team win,' instead of just sitting on the bench all of the time. They practice better. Everything, the chemistry of the team is better when more players contribute. I think we have that at running back."

The Giants proved last season that a three-back system can work, using their "Earth, Wind and Fire" trio to lead the league in rushing.

The Cowboys' trio is probably more talented. One-time Pro Bowler Marion Barber is one of the league's most physical backs, and Jerry Jones has made it clear he wants "The Barbarian" fresh when it's time to finish games. First-rounder Felix Jones averaged an eye-popping 8.9 yards per carry in his abbreviated rookie season. And, after toe injuries sidelined the two guys above him on the depth chart, fourth-rounder Tashard Choice showed down the stretch that he can produce against the NFL's elite defenses.

The Wildcat would be one way to get multiple backs involved, and Phillips wants Jason Garrett and Co. to figure out other ways to feature one of the team's biggest strengths.

Wade Phillips has not requested contract extension

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:15:29 -0700

Calvin Watkins, of The Dallas Morning News, reports Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips has not requested a contract extension or asked the team to pick up the option of his deal, even though he is entering the final year of a three-year contract. Phillips' agent, Gary O'Hagan, said the team has not opened any discussions.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

FWST Blog: Stephen Jones on Ware negotiations

The Cowboys' top priority this off-season was getting outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware signed to a long-term deal. Ware is entering the final season of his rookie deal.

Ware's price went up when the Washington Redskins signed defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a record $41 million in guarantees.

"He's obviously a top defensive player and has played like one," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said of Ware. "I'm sure [Ware and his agent] have got their eye on [Haynesworth's deal]."

-- Charean Williams

Roy Williams/Tony Romo workouts might not be too productive

by Tim MacMahon

The news that Tony Romo was throwing passes to Roy Williams during unofficial voluntary workouts at Valley Ranch gave folks reason to believe the QB and coachable WR could get on the same page.

Now comes news that Williams is extremely limited in the workouts due to the foot injury that bothered him all last season.

"I'm pretty healthy. I'm running around with the other guys," Williams told the team's official Web site. "I haven't cut yet. I'm just running straight. I'm kind of scared a little bit to cut."

How productive can the workouts be if Williams can't run any routes other than gos? (Williams might say that he doesn't run any other routes anyway.)

Romo and Williams might be establishing rapport and chemistry during these workouts. But the fact that Williams isn't running routes -- and Troy Aikman is among the many who have criticized his sloppy route running -- seems like it ought to be a pretty big concern.

Williams, however, sure doesn't sound worried. He thinks it's funny that folks doubt his ability to be the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver.

"I'm not sure why I can't do it all of a sudden," Williams told the team site. "I [was the No. 1 receiver] at Texas. I did it in Detroit, although no really saw me all the time. And now I'm here in Dallas. Every time I've come to Texas Stadium, I came in there and had big games. So now I'm not sure all of a sudden why people don't think I can do it here with the Cowboys. I know what I can do.

"It's just funny to me. I look forward to hearing people say 'I'm sorry for saying that he couldn't.' That's what I want to hear."

Phillips blames Romo injury for failed season

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Reporters started arriving at Wade Phillips' breakfast table at 6:55 a.m. Wednesday morning. This was supposed to be the one day the Jerry Jones gag order was lifted, although Phillips had gone rogue a couple of times during the NFL owners' meeting.

I arrived on the scene a little late because Andy Reid was kind enough to ask me to share some dry cereal and buttered toast with him as I made my way toward the Phillips table. As he'd told another publication Tuesday, Phillips said he never protested Jones' unprecedented gag order because he'd grown tired of trying to refute the various reports coming out of Valley Ranch. He made a reference to "yellow journalism" and then said that certain members of the media had engaged in "name-calling" that had become far too personal. (He may have been referring to a prominent journalist from Grand Prairie, Texas, who insists on referring to Phillips as "Coach Doofus").

"I won't say I enjoy, but I've talked to the media, all the media and been quite honest with them," said Phillips. "I think they've taken it a little bit far in some situations. I've got to be more mindful now. That's part of it. If people are just going to go after you no matter what you say, then don't say anything in some cases."

But actually Phillips did a nice job addressing several topics. He was typically thin-skinned at times (We're 22-10 for goodness sakes!), but he was also funny and quite forthcoming. The scary thing for Cowboys fans, though, is that Phillips and Jones both seem to think Tony Romo's injury last season was the only thing that held the club back.

"We needed one more win and we would've been a lock in the playoffs," Phillips said. "We lost two of three without Tony. That one game cost us the playoffs."

Phillips said he's excited about having a capable backup quarterback in Jon Kitna, whom the Cowboys obtained in a trade with the Lions. Phillips praised Kitna's arm strength and likes the fact that he's played with Roy Williams.

"Roy Williams loves him," gushed Phillips. "[Kitna's] excited about being a Dallas Cowboy."

Wearing a yellow dress shirt and blue tie, Phillips talked for about 45 minutes. When a reporter from the Palm Beach Post kept asking about the Bill Parcells regime, Phillips pointed to the fact that his regime had gone 22-10 in two years. And he reminded us that the previous group had gone 34-32. For those of us who know Phillips, this is very familiar territory. My former colleague Todd Archer deftly asked a question regarding whether Phillips was grateful to have a third year in Dallas based on the fact he was quickly dismissed in both Denver and Buffalo.

"Well, in most cases it takes four years to find out how good a coach is," Phillips said.

And while that might be true, Phillips isn't the type personality who's given four years to succeed. The coach also took time to praise T.O. for his contribution over the past two seasons.

"He works hard, he tries to win and he has great talent and produces," said Phillips. "The big thing is replacing his numbers. We have some young players that will help us do that."

Phillips also joined Jones in praising the work of undrafted wide receiver Miles Austin.

"He's a good receiver," said Phillips. "He was really coming on last year when he got banged up. That hurt his progress. He has the speed, size and hands. I think he has the chance to be a real force for us."

Short lunch break (two hours sound OK?) and then I'll be back with some Andy Reid.

09 owners' meeting, Dallas Cowboys, Miles Austin, Tony Romo, Wade Phillips, Roy Williams, Jon Kitna, Jerry Jones

Cowboys like Safety Michael Hamlin

3/24/2009 - Clemson Pro day: Michael Hamlin was not sure how Tuesday's Pro Day at Clemson was going to work after he came up gimpy nine days ago at the Athletes Performance Center in Pensacola, Fla. "After last Sunday, I was not even expecting to work out today," the former Clemson safety said. "I got more done than I expected." But Hamlin, who hurt his hamstring, said he started feeling better early last week and decided he was going to suck it up and make the best of it. It's a good thing he did because it appears he quite possibly helped his status for April's NFL Draft. "Hopefully, I have moved myself up a little bit," he said. He must have done something right because scouts from Houston, Dallas, Miami and Cincinnati all approached him Tuesday and talked to him about how he could fit in their system. He plans to try and meet with each of them again in the coming weeks. Hamlin has already spoken to Seattle, New England, San Diego, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the New York Jets. In all, there were 25 teams in attendance to watch more than 20 former Clemson players workout in hopes of trying to improve their stock in the draft or maybe earn an invitation for a free agent tryout after the draft. Hamlin, who only did position drills, hopes the three-hour session moved him up the draft board. "I got to the point where I just sucked it up and did as much as I could today," he said. - Will Vandervort, CUTigers.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AMERICAS' TEAM ADVOCATE Blog: Felix will be a star...

Felix Jones' rookie season ended after game 6 vs. the Cardinals. That was about when their players started dropping like flys. That day in Arizona Dallas lost 2 pro bowlers and a potential star. Felix will be back stronger in 09. A look at this guys' stats at Arkansas would make any fan salivate. I believe the 7.7 average per carry is the second best average in collegiate history. Especially since his gaudy college average per carry continued in his shortened NFL rookie season. This guy has been consistantly star quality. Now he was doing it against the big boys. Here are his Razorback numbers,......

Year Attempts Yards Avg. Tds.
2005 99 625 6.3 3
2006 154 1.168 7.6 6
2007 133 1,162 8.7 11
Totals 388 2,956 7.7 20


2008 30 266 8.7 3

At Arkansas, Jones added 383 yards receiving on 39 receptions. To see Jones show his big play ability in just 30 carries is great! Jones had a KO return for a TD also in what at the time was a big game vs. the Eagles. Both he and fellow draft pick Tashard Choice showed that they are more then capable of the 4.5 per carry mark that makes a runningback a top flight back. The two rookies combined averaged 6 yards a carry in 08. God I love this football team! This team has had so many great players in their history. There is alot of excitement to look forward to. The media says Jerry is the worst owner around, the clowns wish he was. They make it sound like the organization is a circus. Yea, all the way to the top.

Jerry likes Stanback at QB this year in WILDCAT offense

per espn 103.3 the fan. From what im hearing here on the radio someone talked to jerry at the combine & sounds like romo is not the future anymore lol. Stanback will get a serious look this year in training camp to be the starter wow what a turn-around. No wonder they want pat-white.

Cowboys owner: Romo off limits in any trade

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he "wouldn't trade Tony (Romo) for anybody."

Jones laughed off rumors that Romo isn't passionate about football and that he'd deal him for Jay Cutler. Jerry also said Romo and new No. 1 WR Roy Williams started training together three weeks before voluntary work began. Mar. 24 - 7:59 pm et
Source: ESPN.com

ESPN: Ten most popular American sports teams

DANA POINT, Calif. -- In a fortuitous bit of corporate synergy, the NFL and ESPN Sports Poll collaborated on a study to determine the nation's most popular individual pro sports franchises.

Owners and team executives viewed the results of the poll this week during their opening gathering at the St. Regis Hotel. NFL teams captured six of the top 10 spots in the poll, including the Black and Blue's own Green Bay Packers at No. 2.

By one measure, the poll means that in 2008, the Packers had the second-highest percentage of supporters among all U.S. pro sports franchises.

"We're a very recognizable brand and I think we still have a national following," Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said. Here's the full list for 2008:

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. New England Patriots
5. New York Yankees
6. Los Angeles Lakers
7. Indianapolis Colts
8. Boston Red Sox
9. New York Giants
10. Atlanta Braves

ESPN Blog: Jerry expresses love for Miles Austin

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

DANA POINT, Calif. -- After a three-hour stakeout that took several twists and turns, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke with the Beast -- and a handful of other reporters.

There were several economic questions that a lot of you won't care about, so let's quickly skip to the good part. For the first time since his surprising decision to release T.O., Jones admitted that he made the move because he thought it would make Tony Romo a better quarterback. He said he never sought input from Romo while deciding what to do with T.O, but in the end, he thought the combination of Roy Williams and Miles Austin was a more appealing option.

That's when my ears really perked up. Jones has talked about Austin's potential in the past, but on Tuesday he indicated that the undrafted wide receiver was already in T.O.'s league.

"If [Austin's] close, then you're ahead of the game," said Jones.

I then asked Jones if he truly thought Austin could be as good as T.O., which quite honestly, sounded absurd to me.

"I certainly think he has a chance to be or I would've never released Terrell."

This was a whole new angle for Jones. So far, we'd heard him talk about how Williams was poised to have a breakout season once he had an entire offseason with the club. Now, he apparently thinks Miles Austin is a Pro Bowler in waiting.

Lots more to come on Tony Romo, including a classic quote from Jones regarding his quarterback's private life. Chew on this stuff and I'll return in a little bit.

DMN Blog: Spencer Cleared

by Todd Archer

Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones said linebacker Anthony Spencer, who was arrested earlier this off-season for an incident in Indianapolis, has been cleared by the legal system.

Jones was not sure if Spencer would still be subject to penalty by the NFL for violating the personal conduct policy, and coach Wade Phillips said he's not sure if the team would impose any kind of penalty on Spencer.

The Cowboys fined tight end Martellus Bennett earlier this year for a video in which he made inappropriate remarks while wearing a Cowboys helmet. Bennett has appealed the fine, but Jones said nothing has been resolved.

Spencer was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after refusing to leave a nightclub.

FWST Blog: Wildcat for Cowboys

The Wildcat likely is coming to the stadium near you. Jerry Jones said the Cowboys could draft a quarterback to use in the Wildcat, a formation made popular by the Miami Dolphins with running back Ronnie Brown taking the snap in the shotgun offense.

"We may want to do some things and our offense this year with a third quarterback," Jones said. "That's something other than be there as a backup to the second quarterback and be there in case you lose all the quarterbacks and be there not certainly as a development prospect, but we could hopefully find a quarterback with a set of skills that we could put some packages in for."

Jones added that third-year receiver Isaiah Stanback, a former quarterback at Washington, also could be used in a Wildcat formation.
The Cowboys have never used the Wildcat formation.

-- Charean Williams

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Kansas City Chiefs will wear "Dallas Texans" Uniforms against the Cowboys

by Adam Teicher, ateicher@kcstar.com

The Cowboys and Texans shared the Dallas market in competing football leagues in the early 1960s but never settled the matter of supremacy on the field.

They will get a chance this season. The Texans, who in 1963 moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs, will play the Cowboys at Arrowhead Stadium. The NFL on Monday granted the teams permission to wear their original uniforms and helmets from their inaugural seasons of 1960.

“Personally, that’s something I’m excited about,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. “Even though the Cowboys weren’t part of the AFL, their history is linked with that of the AFL and the Chiefs.”

The Chiefs will wear the same throwback uniforms and helmets for two other games this season. Both will come against a rival from the AFC West. One will be at Arrowhead, the other on the road.

The game against the Cowboys might mean the most to Hunt. His late father, Lamar Hunt, founded the Texans and the AFL in 1960. The NFL launched the Cowboys that same season to battle him for the Dallas market.

The Cowboys chased the Texans out of town after three seasons. Because they played in separate leagues, the teams never played one another.

“I have no doubt my father challenged (Cowboys owner) Clint Murchison probably many times during those three years,” Hunt said. “I’m sure the NFL told Clint he couldn’t play a team from that upstart league. So we’ll finally have a chance to do that.
“This will be a fun way to remember what happened 50 years ago.”

The Chiefs and Cowboys have played eight times in the regular season since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. Dallas won five times.

•CHIEFS-COWBOYS ON OPENING DAY? The NFL announced the nationally televised games from the opening weekend of the season. Neither the Chiefs nor the Cowboys are involved, so it’s possible their game could be played on opening weekend.

KCStar: Chiefs-Cowboys on Opening Day?

•CHIEFS-COWBOYS ON OPENING DAY? The NFL announced the nationally televised games from the opening weekend of the season. Neither the Chiefs nor the Cowboys are involved, so it’s possible their game could be played on opening weekend.

Denver is another possible opponent for the Chiefs that weekend. The league is looking to promote the 50th season since the launch of the old AFL. The league matched two original AFL franchises, the Bills and Patriots, in one opening weekend game and two more, the Chargers and the Raiders, in another.

DMN Blog: Raiders will be Thanksgiving Day opponent

by Pete Aldrich

Barry Horn just called to report that the Oakland Raiders will be the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day opponent.

He also said the Cowboys won't be in a prime-time slot in Week 1. They'll have a Sunday afternoon game on the road.

More coming later ...

PFT: NFL Passes Four Safety Proposals

Posted by Aaron Wilson

The NFL passed four safety proposals today at the annual NFL owners meetings, enacting several rule changes that includes banning the use of wedge-blocking on kickoffs, according to John Clayton of ESPN.com.

The league also passed rules to protect players from blindside helmet-to-helmet contact on blocks and for defenseless receivers from being forearmed or hit with shoulder blocks in the head or neck. The league also took additional measures to make onside kicks safer.

The wedge is a longtime football tradition, but the NFL Competition Committee changed the rule because of concern about injuries.

The rule governing blindside blocks could be dubbed the Hines Ward rule.

It’s in response to Ward’s jaw-breaking block on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers last season. Now, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed if a player doles out a blindside block to the helmet of a defensive player by brandishing a forearm, shoulder or helmet to the head or neck.

Plus, defensive players will be flagged for unnecessary roughness if they hit a defenseless receiver in the head or neck with a forearm or shoulder.

UPDATE: Here is the formal language for the rule change involving the wedge block being outlawed: “After the ball is kicked, no more than two receiving team players may intentionally form a wedge in an attempt to block for the runner. An illegal wedge is defined as three or more players lined up shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other.”

DMN Blog: T. Archer: Wade Philips Speaks

Wade Philips speaks:

Here we talk about the defensive coordinator move:

Stewart's firing was difficult for Phillips because he has such a close relationship with Stewart from their days together in San Diego. Stewart has yet to resurface in the NFL as an assistant but he will be paid through this season.

"It was something we had to do, so that's what we did," Phillips said. "He understood the whole thing and I kept him well-informed as to what was going on and what we were doing. I think he'll bounce back because he's a really good coach ... We've shown improvement on defense [the last two seasons] and Stew had a lot to do with that."

Phillips said "it wouldn't be fair to bring somebody in or move somebody up and have me basically do it," Phillips said, "so that's what we're doing."

Are there enough hours in the day?

"You see it more with offensive coaches but a lot of offensive head coaches are offensive coordinator," Phillips said. "I think it's possible to do on the defensive side also. Throughout the years a lot of guys had done it more offensively than defensively and that it's a little easier than defensively because you've got to make game decisions offensively some. So game-wise, I've got to be on top if it both ways, which is a little harder but as far as getting ready during the week it shouldn't change that much."

On Roy Williams and replacing TO:

Among the things on the to-do list for the Cowboys is replacing Terrell Owens' statistics. He scored 38 touchdowns in three seasons, but Wade Phillips likes what he has in Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd at receiver.

It's possible the Cowboys look to the draft for another receiver as well, even if owner and general manager Jerry Jones said it is not a must.

"That's what we've got to address," Phillips said of loss of Owens' stats. "He had over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last year and the year before he had more than that. We do think we have good players, young players especially, that we think can come through. And plus we've got Roy Williams."

Williams and Tony Romo have already had regular throwing sessions this off-season and the formal off-season program does not start until March 30. But clearly the Cowboys need those two to hit it off on the field in order for the offense to function at a high rate.

"[Williams] can help us and I think he will once he gets in with the quarterback and the off-season and the regular season and preseason and all that," Phillips said. "He's got great talent and he works hard. He's going to fit in well with our guys."

ON the FA signings:

Here's Wade Phillips' take on all three

Brooking, who played under Phillips for two years in Atlanta: "He's a five-time Pro Bowler and he can play in the nickel and play well," Phillips said. "I think he still has a lot left."

Olshansky, who was a three-year starter for Phillips with the Chargers: "I think he's got some [pass rush] potential that hasn't been tapped enough. He's one of the strongest guys in the league and we've got to get him to utilize that as far as pass rush. But he's such a strong run player it helps your front seven."

Sensabaugh, who spent his first four years in Jacksonville and was coached by Dave Campo and DeCamillis: "Sensabaugh's a cover safety. He can play strong [safety] but he can cover well, so that gives us some versatility. They can't split out a tight end on us or a back. He can play the slot guy and play man to man so he gives us some versatiluty at strong safety that we hadn't had."

Carpenter was on the Cowboys' trading block

Source: RotoTimes.com

Bobby Carpenter was on the Cowboys' trading block, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: That was before they lost Kevin Burnett to San Diego though, and they may be more reluctant to unload Carpenter now. Carpenter was the 18th overall pick in the 2006 draft, but he served mainly on special teams the last two seasons.

Monday, March 23, 2009

DMN Blog: Cowboys get 2 compensation picks

by Todd Archer

The NFL just announced the compensatory picks and the Cowboys have been awarded fifth and sixth round selections in next month's draft.

The Cowboys were given the picks for losing running back Julius Jones to Seattle and cornerback Jacques Reeves to Houston last year in free agency.

The Cowboys now have 11 picks in the draft with one pick in the second round, two in the third, two in the fourth, three in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the seventh round.

Compensatory picks cannot be traded.

DMN Blog: Cowboys' 2009 home opener likely for Week 2

by Todd Archer

The Cowboys were shut out of the national prime-time games in the first week of the season, which means it is likely they will christen their new stadium in Week 2.

Despite their drawing power, executive vice president Stephen Jones was not surprised the Cowboys were left out of the opening prime-time slots.

"Our time will come," Jones said. "We usually get our fair share."

Jones acknowledged there are more scheduling issues to deal with at the new stadium because of when the Rangers are at The Ballpark, but the Cowboys have been working with the league and the Rangers about a plan. The Rangers have home afternoon games on Sept. 13, 20 and 27. It has also made an issue of the exhibition games as well.

"It's a challenge but Tom Hicks and Tommy [Hicks], they have been very good to work with so there's no complaints there but it's something that's going to have to be worked around," Jones said. "Historically, not just for us but other NFL teams, baseball stadiums always are first out, so we've got to work around that and work with them if we can."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dallas Cowboys: My Ideal Draft

by Jamal James

With the most exciting part of the offseason quickly approaching, I'm ready to start diving into draft guides, looking at YouTube highlights, and discussing the college pick 'em. Unfortunately, it's not as exciting as previous years because the 'Boys foolishly traded away a No. 1 and a No. 3 for Roy Williams.

Now, I believe Roy Williams can and will be an 80-90 catch, 1,100-1,300 yard, 8-12 TD receiver in the No. 1 role because he's very talented, but the price was clearly too high. But, of course, what else can you expect from Jerry Jones.

To start, lets identify the needs. As far as trying to find an immediate starter, well there really isn't a spot where a rookie is going to immediately start. By signing Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky, and Gerald Sensabaugh, Dallas found reasonably priced players, who are starting caliber at the three holes in the starting lineup. Three solid signings I believe.

Brooking isn't what he used to be, but he still is a decent block shedder and a good tackler, which is what you need inside in the 3-4. He's a liability in coverage, but despite what the team says I think he's a two-down base package player who's there to play the run and cover small areas.

At worst, I see him no worse than Zach Thomas, who was passable as a starter. In fact, Brooking fits the system better because he's bigger and better at shedding blocks, whereas Zach Thomas was like Velcro when a blocker got to him.

I'm not too knowledgeable on Gerald Sensabaugh, since I've rarely seen him play since leaving UNC, but from what some Jacksonville fans have told me he was very improved last season in coverage and a solid supporter against the run.

He nabbed four picks, a good number for a safety, and four times as many as our safeties had combined last season. I do know he has the Combine record for vertical leap with 46 inches and he's a very good athlete, so automatically it should be better than Roy "Meatball" Williams or Keith "LOL WTF is coverage" Davis.

Olshansky is a tremendous signing IMO. A very good run stopper, with a very strong base and came at a very good price. He has experience with Wade's defense and he's probably about equal all-around to Chris Canty, who went to the Giants for a hell of a lot more money than he was worth. He may not rush the passer as well, but he's only marginally behind and stops the run better.

Brooking is 34 and has almost completely lost it though, and Sensabaugh is a one-year deal, so those clearly aren't long term fixes, unless the 25-year-old Sensabaugh plays great and earns a long term deal like Ken Hamlin did in 2007 (who, unfortunately, slacked off in 2008).

Thus, you can include ILB and safety (free or strong, Dallas sees them as interchangeable anyway) high in the list of needs with our first pick.

I would love to get a young tackle to develop before Flozell Adams is no longer capable (it may already be too late). Lump that with a high round need. A nose tackle capable of spelling Ratliff is a need now that Tank is rightfully gone.

Ideally, I would love to get a guy like Boston College's Ron Brace who can probably start right away at nose tackle, which would allow Dallas to flex Ratliff out to a more natural end position and put Marcus Spears's ass on the bench to be depth. Otherwise, this is a later round need.

If a receiver like Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt falls (doubtful) into striking range, I would move up for one of them. I like Miles Austin and believe he has a future, but he needs to prove he can stay off the injured list and keep developing. Regardless, Crayton's 30 and Hurd is a special teamer, so getting a guy who can be a No. 2 or No. 3 by next year is key.

I would like a versatile G/C combo guy since the depth there is weak. Montrae Holland is good depth, but Cory Proctor is awful and I can't believe Dallas intends to keep him. Ugh.

And last but not least, DRAFT A QUARTERBACK. This was the Ron Wolfe model, as Packers GM he drafted a quarterback every single year despite having Brett Favre. If the guy can develop into an NFL caliber quarterback, that is absolutely golden.

You'll either have a capable backup (obviously, as we saw with Brad Johnson, this is critical) or you have trade bait. Wolfe was able to find Mark Brunell (fifth round, later traded for a third and a fifth), Aaron Brooks (fourth round, later traded for a third rounder), and Matt Hasselbeck (sixth round, later was used in a trade with a seventh round pick for a third rounder and a seven spot move up in the first round). All guys the Packers were able to develop and get increased value for.

I'm a staunch believer in the best player available approach. To me, that means where need and value best meet. I don't want to reach for my biggest need when there's a much better player on the board for a lesser need or a potential need. Thus, here are some guys I like that could be around.

Round Two

I'm going to assume Ron Brace, Louis Delmas, Sean Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Kenny Britt are gone. Shame.

A guy I really do like, however, that could be available in this area is Alabama FS Rashad Johnson. Nick Saban, whose schemes are very complex, called him one of the smartest players he's ever coached. Some call him a coach on the field.

One thing the Cowboys sorely lack is intelligence in the back end. Hamlin did an OK job, but I love Johnson's instincts. He had 94 tackles and six interceptions in 2007 and 89 tackles/five picks in 2008 and was constantly near the ball when it went downfield. He's a solid tackler as well.

There were questions about his size and his athleticism, but after playing at 185 during the year, he bulked up to 203 for the Combine and still ran a 4.5, which was better than expected. At 5'11", he's not ideal height, but he'll be a solid find for the Cowboys in round two. Brian Robiskie is another good pick here, but I'll take Johnson over him.

The Cowboys select...FS Rashad Johnson, Alabama

Rround Three

We have the Browns' third round pick as a result of a trade in the 2007 draft, so it's pretty early.

The guy I really like here, if he reaches this point, is Jarron Gilbert, the DT out of San Jose State. He's a thick, athletic player who does well rushing the passer and routinely takes on two blockers and beats them. He's a guy who provides some much needed depth on that defensive line, and can perhaps maybe take the place of an underwhelming Marcus Spears.

Beef up that DL at pick 69.

Another guy that could be useful here is South Carolina OT Jamon Meredith or Florida WR Louis Murphy (yes, lol Florida receivers I know, but Murphy has potential).

The Cowboys select... DT/DE Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State

Round Four

Dallas has two fourth rounds picks, and there is still plenty of talent in this round. Dallas has picks 97 and 113.

At pick 97, I'm looking for some depth along the OL. Hopefully, a little luck and a good interior lineman falls to our selection. A couple of guys I'm looking at include Kraig Urbik and Eric Wood. I would select either one, but if I had to choose it would be Eric Wood.

He's a three-time All-Conference player and a four-year starter at center, with very good strength and decent athleticism. He's looked good in workouts thus far this offseason and again is said to have a first rate football IQ.

For all the talent Andre Gurode has, he's about as dumb as a rock and can't snap a ball for his life. Wood can play center or guard in the pros, and intelligence and versatility is just what this line needs an infusion of.

For the second, fourth-round pick, one guy I think has big potential is ILB Jasper Brinkley. After starting early in his college career, he faced a season-ending knee injury and redshirted, then came back with less impact than he had before the injury.

However, he went to the Combine and proved he wasn't robbed of his athleticism, running a 4.67 in the 40 and a 35.5 inch vertical. He also has plenty of size (6'2", 252) and is an absolute thumper inside. The guy was a late first-early second round prospect before getting hurt, so getting him here is a good value and fits a need.

The Cowboys select... C/G Eric Wood, Louisville & ILB Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina

Round Five

Again, Dallas has two selections in this round, No. 148 and No. 158. Keeping to form, I still want to beef up those lines. As I mentioned before, we need a guy who can spell Ratliff at the nose.

One guy that looks appealing is from a small school called Stillman, nose tackle Sammie Lee Hill. He has perfect size for playing a two gap at 6'2", 329. Despite this, he's surprisingly quick off the ball and gets into the backfield at a solid rate, racking up 29.5 TFL and 12 sacks over the past two seasons.

I think he's a good sleeper candidate and a guy who gives us some bulk inside when we take Ratliff out for a breath or even potentially flex him out to end on occasion as is being rumored.

With the No. 158, I would like to get a receiver into the mix. Someone who has field stretching speed, like Ole Miss WR Mike Wallace. While he wasn't overly productive for the Rebels, the guy has pure, unteachable speed.

With Miles Austin being the only real deep threat on the team, we could use a guy like Mike Wallace to back the safeties up. He led the SEC in yards per catch the past two years with 18.8 in '07 and 20.1 in 2008, so he's proven he has the ability to get deep against the top collegiate competition. He's also a very good return man, which can be another role he could fill in Dallas.

Behind and even including Roy Williams, the receivers in Dallas are littered with injury and talent question marks. Can Miles Austin or Sam Hurd or Isaiah Stanback stay healthy? Can Stanback transition to WR? Can Patrick Crayton finally run faster than linebackers? Will Roy Williams be a good No. 1? etc...

The Cowboys select... NT Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman & WR Mike Wallace, Ole Miss

Round Six

Dallas has only one sixth-rounder as a result of the RW11 trade (which we got ripped off for, BTW) when they had two. Again, theme of the day is line, line, line!

Yes, our backups suck that bad that I wouldn't be opposed to taking three offensive linemen in this draft. I think TJ Lang is a sleeper, but he seems to be rising at this point, well beyond this point.

So I go back to the small school, and pull out OT Joel Bell. Bell has solid bulk and a very good frame with 34 inch arms at 6'7", but his athleticism is his most impressive attribute.

He has very good feet (probably the result of growing up in Croatia and Egypt as a soccer and basketball player) and is a good blocker in space at the second level. He's also has a lot accomplishments under his belt, a three-time all-conference player who won the league's award for top blocker. A late round potential sleeper.

The Cowboys select... OT Joel Bell, Furman

Round Seven

Not going into too much detail because guessing at this point who's left is a crapshoot. Dallas has two seventh round picks, one coming as a result of the RW11 trade. Of course, as I ranted about it, I would have to go after a quarterback.

One guy who's been overlooked I believe is Todd Boeckman from Ohio State. While Boeckman has plenty of warts and lost his job to freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor, Boeckman has enticing potential.

He has franchise QB size (6'5", 240), and a very powerful arm, capable of throwing tight deep passes. He's also more athletic than expected, posting a 4.76 and 31" at his pro day.

While he might not be very good under pressure and be prone to bad decisions, he is a guy who took a team to the BCS national title game and wasn't completely terrible in his time as a starter. Selecting this late, you can do worse than Todd Boeckman.

Else, the secondary is thin after the trade of Anthony Henry and while the top three are good. Alan Ball could use competition and there's been talk of him moving to safety anyway.

A couple of guys I think look intriguing include Womapo Osaisai and Lardarius Webb, both fast, athletic guys, but they'll probably be long gone by this point.

I believe Don Carey would be a nice grab here if he lasts. He has good speed, running an official 4.54 at the Combine, and is a pretty good tackler. He is a potential depth increasing pick, who can help out on special teams.

The Cowboys select... QB Todd Boeckman, Ohio State and CB Don Carey, Norfolk State

Total draft:

FS Rashad Johnson, Alabama
DT/DE Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
C/G Eric Wood, Louisville
ILB Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina
NT Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman
WR Mike Wallace, Ole Miss
OT Joel Bell, Furman
QB Todd Boeckman, Ohio State
CB Don Carey, Norfolk State
In my opinion, this would be a solid follow up to last year's very good draft where we hit on five of our six selections. Obviously, with comp picks and trading, the draft won't end up like this, but it's a solid look at what direction I believe the Cowboys should go.

With nine picks (possibly 11 with comp picks), if we hit on even half of them we're stocking our depth good. All nine players are good value I believe, if they all wind up lasting this long.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Carpenter walked among us

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Happy times are here again. The upside to the Cowboys losing former second-round pick Kevin Burnett in free agency is that it creates an opportunity for former first-round pick Bobby Carpenter. In addition to being a go-to guy on ESPN's "First Take," Carpenter has been a valuable part of the Cowboys' special teams unit.

Now Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News thinks that Carpenter can be an adequate replacement for Burnett at inside linebacker: "Carpenter is athletic. He is a workout fiend. He can cover tight ends and backs. He has experience blitzing. Those are musts in this defense as a nickel linebacker. At least give him the chance to really show he can't do it."

You could argue that Carpenter's done a pretty good job showing he can't do it over the past four seasons, but that feels like such a cynical point of view. Is anyone out there holding out hope that Carpenter can be a steady contributor as a nickel linebacker?

I'm willing to listen.

ESPN Insider reporting Cowboys have interest in CB Lucas

A rumor has sprung up via the Dallas Morning News that the Dallas Cowboys might take a look at free agent cornerback Ken Lucas. Lucas would add a veteran presence to the team's defensive backfield, a unit that also lacks depth after Anthony Henry was traded to the Detroit Lions for Jon Kitna.

Playing in all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2008, Lucas had 60 tackles, 10 pass deflections and two interceptions. No matter where Lucas winds up, he's hoping to get better treatment than that which was doled out to him by Steve Smith during training camp prior to this past season.

Friday, March 20, 2009

RUMOR: Peppers-to-Pats losing steam. Now what?

Source: ESPN

After Vic Carucci of NFL.com posted a report earlier this week, saying that the New England Patriots were close to a deal that would grant them Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers in exchange for a second-round draft pick, it would now appear that this outcome is unlikely, unless the people involved are all in on a ruse.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald cites individuals from both parties who have now publicly stated there has been no discussion about Peppers landing with the Pats. Carl Carey, Peppers' agent, told the Herald that while the Pats had not contacted him about Peppers, "we have had preliminary discussions with GMs from other clubs in the league." Pats coach Bill Belichick, in a radio appearance on WEEI, indicated that the team prefers to deal directly with other teams and not with agents such as in this situation. He then cited Matt Cassel as an example of what franchised players should do if they want to be traded: sign the tender, and then ask for the trade.

All of this could be an attempt by Belichick to control the flow of information coming out of New England, and the Patriots could very well be internally considering the trade that has been getting so much play in rumor circles this week. But apparently until Peppers signs the Panthers' franchise tender - a one-year, $16.8 million deal - none of it will come to fruition.

As for the general managers "from other clubs in the league", this could be a number of individuals, but based on what Peppers has said he wants, we can eliminate many. It's likely that Peppers wants a deal similar to what Albert Haynesworth, Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney possess, and he has also stated he wants to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, and for a contending team. A team that was rumored to be in the hunt was the Dallas Cowboys, but Jerry Jones and Co. have been committed to working out an extension for DeMarcus Ware, who is the incumbent sackmaster in Dallas, and having two high-priced players at the same position doesn't make sense. Similarly, the Miami Dolphins could afford Peppers' price tag, but Joey Porter is already on the roster, he of the 17.5 sacks in 2008

2009 Cowboys offseason workouts schedule

It's almost time for the Tony Romo-Roy Williams chemistry building to begin. This will be the top offseason storyline through the OTAs and minicamp. Can these two find a connection they weren't ever close to getting once Williams joined the team?

The Cowboys offseason program begins March 30 and word is Williams has been putting in plenty of workout time at Valley Ranch since the season ended. One of the biggest questions with Williams has always been his drive, but apparently he is showing plenty this offseason.

Here's the offseason schedule....

Offseason program -- March 30

Teaching sessions -- April 7

Dallas Day (for local draft prospects) -- April 13

Rookie minicamp -- May 1-3

OTAs -- May 19-21; 26-28; June 2-4; June 8-10

Minicamp -- June 16-18

- Rick Herrin

Newsday: Jets, Cowboys could pursure Matt Jones

Former Jaguars receiver Matt Jones, who was released earlier this week after spending nearly a week in prison for a probation violation, could draw interest from the Jets and Cowboys, league sources have indicated.

What has to happen before any team signs Jones is for the NFL to decide whether he faces additional sanctions for his probation violation. Jones was suspended three games last year after being arrested in a cocaine possession incident.

Jones is a bit of risk, what with his background, but he is a viable alternative at receiver. We'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Report: Pats, Cowboys on Peppers' list

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Julius Peppers wants out of Carolina and wouldn't mind going to New England. The Panthers will let him go only for what they feel is fair compensation.

The long-running offseason drama involving the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end is nowhere near a resolution, leaving the Panthers without salary-cap space and Peppers' future uncertain.

A day after the Panthers dismissed an NFL.com report that Peppers was close to being dealt to New England for a second-round pick, a person close to Peppers said Tuesday the Patriots are one of the teams for which he'd like to play.

The Dallas Cowboys and two other unidentified NFC teams also are on Peppers' four-team wish list, according to the same person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the trade talks were supposed to remain confidential.

But there are several obstacles that must be cleared before Peppers leaves Charlotte. The biggest is that the Panthers have placed the franchise tag on their career sacks leader. That required them to offer him a one-year tender for $16.7 million that counts immediately against the salary cap, leaving the Panthers no cap space to make any other moves in free agency.

Under the nonexclusive franchise tag rules, Peppers could sign with another team only if that club gave up two first-round draft picks in return. There is precedent for teams letting a franchise player go for less compensation -- Kansas City traded defensive end Jared Allen to Minnesota last year for a first-round pick and two third-round choices -- but any kind of deal now is tricky because Peppers hasn't signed his tender with Carolina.

Until he does, the Panthers are barred from any trade talks involving Peppers. His agent can negotiate with other teams, then can come to the Panthers with a deal for them to accept or reject.

General manager Marty Hurney said in a statement Monday they've not been presented with any trade proposals.

It's also uncertain that the Panthers would be willing to accept only a second-round pick -- as the NFL.com report suggested -- for a player who had 14½ sacks last season and is the cornerstone of their defensive line.

Peppers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft, announced last month that he wouldn't sign a long-term deal with Carolina and wanted to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The Patriots are among the teams that use that defense.

Jacksonville Offering DT Henderson+ Picks for WR help

930 "The Fox" in Jacksonville is reporting the Jaguars have been in contacts with Several teams including the Cardinals Cowboys Saints Browns and Chargers in regards to acquiring Potential WR help in exchange for John Henderson and Draft picks

With Matt Jones and Jerry Porter being released and no interest in bringing back Reggie Williams, 3rd year man Mike Walker now becomes the team's #1 Wide Out. Though the Jags have been mentioned as a possible Torry Holt suitor, the Jaguars front office is rumored to have targeted several players including Anquan Boldin, Lance Moore, Miles Austin, Braylen Edwards and Chris Chambers- who is in a contract year for the Chargers.

The jags pick at #8 ,#39, and #72 in the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft this April.

Newman Clarifies Romo/Simpson Remarks

By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – Terence Newman attempted to clear the air about his remarks about Tony Romo, saying he believes Romo is a great quarterback.

"I've played with this guy for six years, and I played against him in college, so for me to not say that doesn't make sense," Newman said.

Newman was put in a partial firestorm over comments he made to WFAA-TV two weeks ago about Romo's relationship with Jessica Simpson.

Newman answered a question about Troy Aikman's assertion that Romo does not grasp what it means to be the Cowboys' quarterback.

"He won 13 games and everything was perfect," Newman said in the interview, referring to the Cowboys' 13-3 regular-season record in the 2007 season. "But now after this past season, it was, 'Is he doing enough for the team? Is he working hard enough? You know, he's got this girlfriend, so ...'

"I think that once he inherited the starting quarterback job and his relationship got into the national media attention, I think that that was something that definitely hurt and took away from Tony Romo being a great quarterback."

The comments never aired on television, but the full interview was put on WFAA's Web site.

Reached Monday, Newman said that, despite the public perception, he doesn't believe Romo's relationship with Simpson affects him.

"The thing they don't see is he might go [out of town] but at the same time he comes back and works out," Newman said. "He's been in there the past couple of weeks with the rest of us. Roy Williams and me and a bunch of guys are in there busting our butts, and he's right there with us. They don't see him working out. They don't see what he puts into the preparation."

Efforts to reach Romo were unsuccessful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

NFL Notebook: For Cowboys owner, mum is the word


INDIANAPOLIS -- Jerry Jones wants to be the sole voice of the Dallas Cowboys.

During this weekend's NFL scouting combine, nearly every team sent coaches or front office officials -- or both -- to the media room to speak with reporters. Even New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick showed up at the podium, the first time that has happened since this format began in 2001.

But the Cowboys, one of the league's marquee teams, were noticeably absent.

NFL officials did not give a statement but said they tried to get a representative from each team to appear. They estimated only five teams did not send anyone, including the usually chatty Cowboys. The reason? Owner Jones wants to be spokesman for the team during the offseason, not letting coach Wade Phillips even speak.

"Where I'm coming from here, I just want to make sure you're not getting bits and pieces of information," Jones told The Dallas Morning News. "That's not doing anybody any good, and you're not making accurate reports."

Jones hasn't said whether outspoken receiver Terrell Owens will return, and he offered no new information on Owens' future this week.

OPENING EYES: Few doubted West Virginia quarterback Pat White's ability to run. There was more concern about his ability to throw. Perhaps not any more.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock met with reporters after Sunday's quarterback workouts and said White's performance was one of the best of the day.

"He threw the (heck) out of the ball," Mayock said.

Many scouts considered White too small for the NFL, with his listed height and weight at 6 feet 1, 192 pounds last season. Some also wondered whether he could run an NFL offense after working out of the Mountaineers version of the spread.

But with things changing in the NFL, White may be the beneficiary. Last year, the trendy offense was the "Wildcat," a design that seems perfect for White's skills.

Even Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian, whose team is not looking for a quarterback, acknowledged White was one of the more impressive players in workouts Sunday.

"He's an intriguing guy," Polian said. "He can throw it. We've seen it with Slash (Kordell Stewart) and with Antwaan Randle El, and I think we'll continue to see that in the game."

ANDRE'S MISSTEP: Alabama tackle Andre Smith's strange behavior at the scouting combine has only added to the questions surrounding his character. After being suspended for the Sugar Bowl because of alleged improper dealings with an agent, he unexpectedly left the combine Saturday.

It's not unusual for a player to leave early. But not informing combine officials caused a problem for a player who could be taken No. 1.

"You just hope it's a little bit of immaturity because if he handles the thing correctly, there's no issue and we're not sitting here talking about it," Mayock said. "Every year, kids don't compete at the combine and we don't worry about it. This kid didn't handle it the right way."

There is talk that Smith's draft stock could slip because of his recent actions.

"That's why you have to do your homework," Mayock said. "I kind of say, 'Watch out, buyer beware.' "

MR. VERSATILE: Missouri's Jeremy Maclin figures he has four ways he can impress the NFL scouts. Maclin led the nation in all-purpose yardage in 2008, and several mock drafts project him as a first-round pick. In 2007, he was the only college player to score touchdowns rushing, receiving, returning a punt and returning a kickoff.

"You get the ball in your hands, I just look to make plays," he said. "Every time I touch the ball, I look for the end zone. I definitely look to change the game. I consider myself a game-changer."

DMN Blog: Don't believe a word Jerry Jones says about wide receivers

by Tim MacMahon

Jerry Jones said recently that receiver won't be a draft priority for the Cowboys. That statement ought to cause Cowboys fans to study up on Ohio State's Brian Robiskie, Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias, Florida's Louis Murphy and other receivers who could go in the late-second/early-third range.

Jerry seems to struggle telling the truth when discussing the receiver position.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King pointed out two recent examples in last week's Monday Morning Quarterback.

• "We have no plans to trade for a receiver. No. No trade for a receiver.'' -- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, last Oct. 6, asked if he was in the market to acquire a receiver, specifically Detroit's Roy Williams.
• "He will create a dimension that just adds to everything. As you know, Roy Williams can go out there and make spectacular catches, and he can sky up and has great hands.''
-- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, Oct. 14, announcing the trade for Detroit's Roy Williams.

• "If I gave you the answer you want to hear, then you would have had it. The fact that you don't have it ought to tell you something. It really should.''
-- Jones, Feb. 18, implying that what he thought reporters wanted to hear -- that he was going to cut Terrell Owens -- was not going to happen, and Owens would return to the Cowboys for the 2009 season.

• "We have made a decision to move forward without [Owens]. We will move on now with a new team -- a new attitude -- and into a new stadium.''
-- Jones, March 4, in a team statement announcing he was cutting Owens.

You might also recall Jerry raving last spring about the impact he expected Terry Glenn to make in 2008. Of course, Glenn was cut during the first week of training camp after refusing to accept a split-salary agreement.

DMN Blog: Cowboys have made sure they don't need to reach in draft

by Tim MacMahon

Jerry Jones said something during his stop in Arkansas that made a lot of sense.

"The good news with our team right now is we can go about any direction we want to in the draft and pick the best player," he said.

That's true because of the Cowboys' low-key work in free agency. When free agency opened, the Cowboys had three glaring needs: defensive end, inside linebacker and safety. They plugged those holes by signing Igor Olshansky, Keith Brooking and Gerald Sensabaugh to reasonable offers.

Brooking (two years, $6 million) and Sensabaugh (one year, $1.75 million) are stopgaps, but their presence means the Cowboys don't have to draft an immediate starter at any position. (A rookie safety could beat out Sensabaugh, but the Cowboys aren't in big trouble if that doesn't happen.)

The Cowboys still have plenty of draft needs (ILB, S, OL, NT, QB, WR, CB) but now they're looking for depth and players who can develop into frontline guys in a few years. And they should have 11 selections after getting a pair of late-round compensation picks. They can afford to go with the best-player-available approach, with tailback the only position on the roster there's not realistic opportunity to upgrade.

"We can do what last year gave us the best example ever of doing," Jerry said last week on 105.3 The Fan, "and that is literally let it fall and let the best player there come give us a bargain and we'll get a good football player."

The two examples Jerry cited: fourth-round RB Tashard Choice and fifth-round CB Orlando Scandrick, who proved what good values they were as rookies despite entering the season buried on the depth chart.

How long before Matt Jones becomes a Cowboy?

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

I say the over and under is two weeks.
Jacksonville released Matt Jones, who has had all sorts of off-the-field issues, this morning. Anyone who has followed the Cowboys knows Jerry Jones has a huge man crush on the former Arkansas receiver.

Jones, a former quarterback at Arkansas, is the epitome of a first-round bust. He's a fantastic athlete but has never been a real difference-maker at receiver.

He caught just 65 passes for 761 yards and two touchdowns last season before being suspended for the final three games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

But the Cowboys might be willing to take a chance on him. What am I saying?

You know Jerry will take a chance on him. If Jerry had T.O., Pacman Jones and overrated Tank Johnson on the team last year, you better believe he'll add Jones to the roster if he can.

After all, he signed gun-toting Gerald Sensabaugh last week to play safety.

Whatever Jones' flaws, he can run. He had 13 catches of more than 20 yards in 2007. Without T.O., we all know Miles Austin is the only receiver with speed on the roster.

Adding Jones would give the Cowboys another player who can stretch the

Cowboys close to signing Lucas?

Cowboys on the Verge of signing Veteran CB

There's some talk that Ken Lucas is close to a deal with the Cowboys?

Anybody hearing about this?

Mike Francesa and Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo. from Mad dog sports is saying that the Cowboys will sign Lucas as a Starter' Nickel.

They also have said that the Cowboys are quietly shopping Greg Ellis for picks or a package with picks to gain a high pick.

The one deal that they said would work for the Cowboys would be with the Detroit Lions for pick #33.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jones: Cowboys won't rush to draft receiver

The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says drafting a wide receiver isn't a priority this year, even after the departure of Terrell Owens.
"One of the reasons that I made the decision on Terrell Owens was because I thought so much of our young receivers. Not only Roy Williams ... but our other young receivers - Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, those are guys that will now have a chance," Jones said. "It would really have to be a real opportunity for us to go there.

"The good news with our team right now is we can go about any direction we want to in the draft and pick the best player."

Owens was released two weeks ago and signed last weekend with the Buffalo Bills.

Jones, a former Arkansas Razorbacks player, was in Little Rock on Thursday to be honored by Easter Seals as its 2009 Arkansan of the Year. He was accompanied by three Cowboys: quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and running back Felix Jones.

There were reports of a rift last season between Romo, Witten and Owens. Reporters were not permitted to talk to Romo or Witten.

Jerry Jones did speak briefly to reporters about next season.

"We've got a great core base put together. We've made some changes in the offseason. We think that's going to really be very helpful - both sides of the ball and on special teams," he said. "We've got a chance to get as many as nine players in the draft, and we'll need about 80 percent of those to be players."

Time for salaries to come back down

By Karl Terry: PNT columnist

Will our ailing economy finally bring salary figures back into reality?

With regular folks hit hard by the current downturn the outcry over CEO salaries has turned pretty ugly. Automaker CEOs got the message pretty quickly after each of the Big Three hopped individual private jets to Washington in order to beg for a handout a few months ago.

Other corporate bigwigs on the public dole have recently had to cancel fancy annual retreats after the collective public began looking down our noses at them. There have been layoffs and pay freezes for lots of common workers but I’m not so sure CEO pay has taken the hit it needs to experience to bring things back in line.

I had hoped Terrell Owens would be a trendsetter for professional sports salaries coming back to earth after the Dallas Cowboys released him recently because he was too much trouble and had too big a salary. Alas, fans in Buffalo are welcoming the wide receiver to the Bills organization with a $6.5 million one-year contract.

I realize football careers don’t last long and an injury can bring them to a halt prematurely but the numbers seem a little insane.

Staying with football for a minute, take for instance the Cowboys. According to a USA Today online database of pro sports salaries, Dallas paid out $146.4 million in salaries to its 53-person roster.

The median salary on the team is listed at $1.326 million. While Dallas is No. 2 in salaries in the NFL, my team, the Denver Broncos, ranks toward the bottom of the list at $95.5 million. If the whole league dropped to that level they would still be paying out salaries totaling mor than $1.5 billion.

The figure of a billion dollars has always boggled my mind, even though these days the ultra-rich commonly use that word to talk about their wealth.

Lately we’ve been talking about the national debt

closing in on $11 trillion. Now that’s a figure that is hard to get your mind around.

I’ve been told, though I can’t check it out because the $5 desk calculator I use doesn’t have nearly enough space for digits, that one way to understand that number is to go back to the time of Christ (more than 2,000 years) and start spending $1 million a day — and by 2009 you still wouldn’t have spent that much money.

Others tell me the debt we’ve achieved is equivalent to $35,000 per man, woman and child in our nation.

I don’t know if paying Terrell Owens or banking executives less salary will solve our national debt problems or not. I do know we’d all feel better about shouldering our portion if we knew T.O was juggling the figures in his bank account every month just to come up with rent like the rest of us.

Jerry Jones thinks Romo can be better without Owens

By Eric Edholm
March 14, 2009

After waiting to make the move to cut Terrell Owens and having publicly wavered on the issue before then, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke steadfastly in his belief that Tony Romo will be a better quarterback without Owens to throw to. Speaking on The Fan 105.3, Jones called cutting Owens a “Romo-friendly” move and said he thinks WRs Roy Williams and Miles Austin will improve enough to make up the difference on the field. Jones said: “I do believe where we are at Tony’s options, where to get the ball and where to go, I do think this is going in the direction of Romo-friendly. … That was one of the first things I had at the top of my list was [that] this decision is good for Romo.” Team sources say not having to answer about Owens on a weekly basis most certainly is going to ease the quarterback’s dealings with the media. But Romo also becomes the face of the franchise, meaning more blame will fall on his head when the team loses.

Felix Jones & Jerry Jones Visit Little Rock

The Associated Press

Jerry Jones was honored as Easter Seal's Arkansan of the year Thursday night. Jerry brought along Felix Jones, Tony Romo, and Jason Witten to the ceremony.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says drafting a wide receiver isn't a priority this year, even after the departure of Terrell Owens.

"One of the reasons that I made the decision on Terrell Owens was because I thought so much of our young receivers. Not only Roy Williams ... but our other young receivers -- Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, those are guys that will now have a chance," Jones said Thursday night. "It would really have to be a real opportunity for us to go there.

"The good news with our team right now is we can go about any direction we want to in the draft and pick the best player."

Owens was released last week and later signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Jerry Jones Strikes Back: Cowboys Owner/GM Makes Same Mistake After Reset Button

by Rad Ponte

It was just over a week ago that the Dallas Cowboys released star wide receiver Terrell Owens. Shortly after, the Cowboys also released safety Roy Williams.

With these releases, along with that of Adam “Pac-man” Jones, all signs appeared to be pointing toward a very good thing for fans of the "Big D." Owner Jerry Jones had finally admitted to himself that there was a problem with locker room chemistry!

As a longtime fan of the Cowboys, it was a great moment for me when I realized that Jones had come around. Knowing the talent on Jerry’s roster, and hanging the hope of a united locker room in 2009, I was instantly thinking, "Super Bowl!" (I know it's an over-reaction, but like I said, I am a Cowboys fan, and it goes with the territory.)

But after a mere five days of happiness, Jerry Jones took it all away.

The Dallas Cowboys signed Gerald Sensabaugh. My first thought was “Who is Gerald Sensa...what’s his last name again?” This being the case, I decided to get on the Google machine and see what kind of player Jones brought in to compete for the starting strong safety job.

I typed his name in the search bar, and the suggestions came down in the little drop box. The first listing: “Gerald Sensabaugh AK-47." The next was “Gerald Sensabaugh arrested.”

This discovery immediately put my dreams of a Super Bowl on hold.

It turns out Sensabaugh has been arrested at least three times in his last four NFL seasons. His most recent arrest was just last February, when he was pulled over for driving with a suspended license. The arresting officers found three guns in the trunk of his car, including an AK-47.

I don’t have a problem with people carrying guns for self-defense, but who really needs an AK-47 with them at all times?

This is obviously Jerry’s kind of guy. This is the guy that is going to bring the media back to Valley Ranch!

After all, half of the daily media crew was at Valley Ranch to follow Terrell Owens, not the Cowboys. Many of them are headed north to await the impending disaster in Buffalo.

The other half of the daily media crew simply realize that with Owens, Williams, and Pac-man gone, this might be a good time to take a much needed break. After all, reporters on the Dallas Cowboys beat don’t usually get much time to rest in the offseason.

Jerry was obviously unhappy with the absence of “drama” at Valley Ranch for those five days (Jerry calls it "drama," most people call it "distraction"). I can only imagine his disappointment, when on the third day of the post-Owens era, there was considerably less talk of his team on any of the national sports shows. He knew that the Buffalo Bills owner, Ralph Wilson, had stolen his spotlight.

Determined to get back his headline position, Jones went out and bought himself some drama.

I don’t mean to bash on Gerald Sensabaugh. I don’t know a lot about him other than what I have read. He may very well be a great locker room guy and a natural born leader. I just think that we could have found another great teammate and leader without all the extra baggage.

Dallas Cowboys ready to pick best player on board, Jones says


The Dallas Cowboys didn't make any "splash" additions during the first two weeks of free agency.

But they have gone about the business of filling needs and building their roster for next year with four free-agent signings and a trade.

Owner Jerry Jones is pleased enough with the Cowboys process that he said Thursday night in Little Rock, Ark., that they can go into draft with the emphasis of taking the best available player.

Jones said the Cowboys don't have any pressing needs and that includes the receiver position — even after the departure of leading pass catcher Terrell Owens last week. Owens said he was satisfied with Roy Williams taking over for Owens as the lead receiver and is excited about the continued development of young receivers like Miles Austin and Hurd.

"One of the reasons that I made the decision on Terrell Owens was because I thought so much of our young receivers. Not only Roy Williams ... but our other young receivers — Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, those are guys that will now have a chance," Jones said Thursday night from Little Rock where he was honored by Easter Seals as its 2009 Arkansan of the Year. "It would really have to be a real opportunity for us to go there.

"The good news with our team right now is we can go about any direction we want to in the draft and pick the best player."

The remarks were reported, by The Associated Press.

Owens signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills three days after being released by the Cowboys.

Jones was accompanied on the trip by three Cowboys: quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and running back Felix Jones.

There were reports of a rift last season between Romo, Witten and Owens. Witten and Owens have yet to to comment about Owens' departure and reporters were not permitted to talk to Romo or Witten on Thursday night.

Regarding next season, Jones said he likes what the -Cowboys have done. They opened free agency with a trade for backup quarterback in Jon Kitna and the signing linebacker Keith Brooking to fill the weakside linebacker spot. They added a special teams contributor in linebacker Matt Stewart.

Then over the last week they have shored up holes at defensive end and strong safety with the signings of Igor Olshansky and Gerald Sensabaugh respectively. Olshanky will replace Chris Canty (Giants) at right end and Sensabaugh will replace strong safety Roy Williams, who was released.

"We've got a great core base put together. We've made some changes in the off-season. We think that's going to really be very helpful -- both sides of the ball and on special teams," he said. "We've got a chance to get as many as nine players in the draft, and we'll need about 80 percent of those to be players."

Although the Cowboys will target the best player in the draft, positions of interest are cornerback, defensive line, safety, receiver and offensive line.

There is a definite need at cornerback where Cowboys have only five cornerbacks on the roster. And with the team talking of moving Alan Ball to safety, only Terence Newman, 2008 rookies Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins and Arena League veteran Michael Hawkins are left at the position. The Cowboys could use some veteran experience, not to mention more bodies at cornerback for depth purposes.

Cowboys To Meet With Western Illinois LB Jason X. Williams..

Josh Buchanan, of NFLDraftBible.com, reports the Dallas Cowboys will meet with Western Illinois LB Jason X. Williams in mid-April.

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #21 OLB, #247/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 7
2007: 11 GP; 11 GS; 42 Sol-107 TT, 16.5 TFL, 8 SK, 4 PBU, 2 QBH, 2 FR, 5 FF; Named to the AFCA FCS All-America Team and the Associated Press All-America Second Team... a first-team all-Gateway honoree... runner-up for Gateway Defensive Player of the Year Award... led the Gateway in three defensive categories - sacks (8), tackles for loss (16.5) and forced fumbles (5), and ranked third in tackles (107)... ranked among the nation's top 50 defensive players in tackles for loss, total tackles and sacks... his five forced fumbles ranked fifth nationally and tied a school record... helped anchor a defensive unit that ranked among the top-25 nationally in five categories - scoring defense (18th), total defense (21st), pass defense (22nd), sacks (23rd) and pass efficiency defense (25th)... named the team's defensive MVP at the annual awards banquet...2006: 11 GP; 11 GS; 41 Sol-92 TT, 10.5 TFL, 3 SK, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 3 FF; Was the only linebacker to start all 11 games... earned honorable mention all-Gateway honors... ranked eighth in the league in tackles, averaging 8.4 per game... had more tackles than any sophomore in the league (92)... also had three sacks (-29 yards)... ranked seventh in the conference with 10.5 tackles for loss (-47 yards)... forced three fumbles, including two at Missouri State... 2005: 10 GP; 2 GS; 14 Sol-23 TT, 1 TFL, 1 BLK; Started the final two games of the season at strong safety... appeared in 10 games, missing only the Iowa Wesleyan contest... totaled 23 tackles, including 14 solo stops... 2004: Redshirted.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cowboys Team Report

Yahoo! Sports
Inside Slant

T.O. is gone.

Let the Roy Williams era in Dallas begin.

Known as the legend when he was in the college at the University of Texas, Williams has a chance to be just that if he finally realizes his enormous potential with the Cowboys.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones certainly believes in Williams.

He traded three draft picks to Detroit last season and gave him a $45 million contract extension.

And let Jones tell it, making Williams the No. 1 receiver and allowing him to thrive is one of the main reasons he shockingly cut Terrell Owens after three controversial but productive seasons in Dallas.

Owens had to go for Williams to thrive.

“I had to look at Roy Williams and the future that we have with Roy,” Jones said. “I’m excited about Roy, so I’d rather have him than the (three) picks we gave up for him in this draft.”

Jones said he consulted a lot of people before making the final decision and has no plans on looking back.

“It would have been madness to make a decision like that without getting all kinds of input,” Jerry Jones said. “He certainly had a lot of support from his coaches, that’s very important. But by the same token … you’re (always) looking to get younger players on the field. That was important to us.”

Another younger player who will be key for the Cowboys moving forward is Miles Austin. He has the speed to be a game-breaker on the outside but he must develop more consistency and find a way to stay healthy and on the field.

Austin needs to be the stretch the field receiver to take pressure Williams. He says he is ready to make the most of the opportunity.

“Obviously, it’s an opportunity, and I’m excited for the challenge,” Austin said. “It gives me a shot now to get more time and also show the coaches what I can do. But when it’s all said and done, you still have to perform when they call on you.”

But make no mistake about. This is an opportunity for Williams first and foremost. He knows that people will be looking at him. He also knows that people are already questioning him.

Williams was drafted fourth overall by the Lions. But he has only 1,000-yard season and has never caught 10 touchdowns in a season.

Owens had 1,000 yards in each of the last three years with the Cowboys. He also was the only receiver in the league to catch 10 touchdowns in each of the last three years.

Yet the Cowboys let him go partly because of his declining skills.

If Williams has those figures on his resume the next three years he will be considered a huge success.

But right now has to make up for what was a disappointing first impression in Dallas. He caught just 19 passes in 10 games with the Cowboys.

“I know there is negativity on my part,” Williams said.” I just have to produce. I know what I can do. Jerry Jones knows what I can do. I am looking forward to a big year.”

Dallas Cowboys Strategy and Personnel

by Sports Xchange


The Cowboys haven't spent a lot of money, but they have gone about their business of filling needs. They got a new inside linebacker in Keith Brooking and special teams player in Matt Stewart.
They also filled their need for a backup quarterback with Jon Kitna. And most recently they signed defensive end Igor Olshanksy and safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Olshansky got a four-year deal worth $18 million with approximately $8 million guaranteed. He will replace Chris Canty at right end. Canty signed with the Giants. Olshansky came from San Diego where he played under Cowboys coach Wade Phillips to begin his career and is familiar with the Cowboys system.

Familiarity was also a key with Sensabaugh. He came to Dallas from Jacksonville, where he played for secondary coach Dave Campo, a former Cowboys coach. Sensabaugh got a one-year deal for $1.75 million. He will play strong safety alongside free safety Ken Hamlin.

That means that the Cowboys won't move cornerback Orlando Scandrick to safety. The Cowboys still could use a veteran cornerback in free agency.


1. Receiver: The departure of Terrell Owens means the Cowboys will look at a receiver in the draft. Roy Williams will be the focal point, but they need another receiver to stretch the field.

2.Cornerback: The Cowboys traded Anthony Henry. And although they plan to let Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick compete for the starting role at right cornerback opposite Terence Newman, they are thin at the position. They need to sign a veteran and still target a cornerback or two in the draft.

3. Safety: Roy Williams has been cut. Keith Davis is a free agent. The Cowboys don't have any answers and few options at a position that is arguably the weakest on the team. An upgrade is a must. The Cowboys signed Gerald Sensabaugh, but this will still be a focus in the draft.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.




--QB Brooks Bollinger's future with the Cowboys was likely impacted by the signing of Jon Kitna.

--S Keith Davis wants to come back and the Cowboys want him back. Money won't be an issue.

--DT Tank Johnson walked off the field in Philadelphia saying "I'm a free agent." The Cowboys will likely let him keep walking.

--LB Carlos Polk was a good special teams addition. Will likely be resigned to minimum deal and brought to camp.

--LB Zach Thomas will look for a better fit, especially after the addition of Keith Brooking.


--TE Tony Curtis (not tendered as RFA) might be re-signed for minimum salary of $535,000.

--P Sam Paulescu (not tendered as ERFA).


--WR Miles Austin (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) showed enough flashes to earn that tender.

--DE Stephen Bowen (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) will be brought back as insurance for Chris Canty.

--WR Sam Hurd (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) was missed on special teams and could be squeezed out eventually by the addition of Roy Williams.

--OG Cory Procter (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) got an opportunity to play in 2008 but did not to cement himself as a future starter.


--RB Alonzo Coleman (tendered at $385,000) will certainly be brought to camp but the logjam at running back is pretty thick.

--TE Rodney Hannah (tendered at $310,000) showed some flashes at the end of the season and will finally get a chance to push out Tony Curtis as the third tight end.



--LB Keith Brooking: UFA Falcons; $6M/3 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed.

--QB Jon Kitna (trade Lions).

--DE Igor Olshansky: UFA Chargers; $18M/4 yrs, $8M guaranteed.

--S Gerald Sensabaugh: UFA Jaguars; $1.75M/1 yr, guarantees unknown.


--OG Joe Berger: UFA Dolphins; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Kevin Burnett: UFA Chargers; $5.5M/2 yrs, $2M SB.

--DE Chris Canty: UFA Giants; $42M/6 yrs, $8.5M SB/$17.25M guaranteed.

--CB Anthony Henry (traded Lions).

--QB Brad Johnson (released).

--CB Adam Jones (released).

--WR Terrell Owens (released).

--S Roy Williams (released).

Jones: Dallas’ options open

Associated Press - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says drafting a receiver isn’t a priority, even after the departure of Terrell Owens.

“One of the reasons that I made the decision on Terrell Owens was because I thought so much of our young receivers,” Jones said.

“... The good news with our team right now is we can go about any direction we want to in the draft and pick the best player.”

Owens was released last week and later signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Jones, a former Arkansas Razorbacks player, was in Little Rock, Ark., to be honored by Easter Seals as its 2009 Arkansan of the Year. He was accompanied by three Cowboys: quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and running back Felix Jones.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Diner Morning News: NFC East


13 March 2009

QUOTE: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Speech at the Hamilton Club, Chicago

FROM JENNY VERENTAS OF THE NEWARK STAR-LEDGER… Update: An NFL executive familiar with the Giants’ thinking told our Paul Needell he doesn’t expect them to pursue (Anquan) Boldin if he is indeed put on the trading block. Needell is hearing that the Giants and Eagles are among the interested teams. Both teams could use Boldin’s powerful style and 1,038 receiving yards from the 2008 season — the Giants, as they await Plaxico Burress’ future, and the Eagles, who always seem to be wideout-needy. Both teams also have three picks each in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft. After the Super Bowl, it was reported Boldin wanted out of Arizona, but he later appeared open to a new deal with the team. He is expected to want a yearly salary closer to the $10 million per season teammate Larry Fitzgerald earns.

It appears to me, based on the work the Giants have done this offseason, they are going to use their draft choices to improve their skill positions on offense. The Giants have focused on defense in the free-agent market, but with the draft looming, it appears they have the ability take the best players available on offense. Here is a breakdown of key NFC East questions.


1. Who is going to make plays on the ball in the secondary? The Cowboys were one of the worse teams in the NFL in interceptions. They must improve their secondary play.

2. Where is the depth in the offensive line going to come from? Every starter is over 30 years old.

3. Will the Cowboys be able to repair their run defense with the addition of Keith Brooking? They allowed too many big plays in the run game, and some of this was a result of some of the worse safety tackling in the NFL.

4. Who will be the main return man for the ‘Boys? Pacman Jones averaged a “whopping” 4.5 yards per punt return. They need to improve their vertical field position.

5. Will they have enough depth at wide receiver? Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton take a larger role in the offense. Who will fill their roles?


1. Who will assume the No. 1 wide receiver role if Plaxico Burress doesn’t make it back to the field? Domenik Hixon is much better as the third receiver, not as the one. The Giants were 28th in the NFL in dropped passes.

2. Where is the depth in the offensive line? The Giants have been fortunate to keep their line together and avoid injuries. This is the year to add depth to that area.

3. Do the Giants have enough corners? In the NFL, corners are hard to find and harder to keep because of the cost of re-signing them. The Giants can add depth by finding the right corners.

4. How do they improve the kicking game? The Giants ranked 31st in the NFL in allowing returns on kicks, an indication they need additional speed in depth positions.


1. Who will be the offensive tackles for the Birds next season? Will Shawn Andrews be able to contribute to the team?

2. Who will provide depth on the offensive line? Is it Max Jean-Gilles? Winston Justice? Not sure that will work.

3. Will the Eagles ever get a blocking tight end? For some reason, they are anti-blocker at the position. Why not get someone who can at least hold the point of attack? They ranked 32nd in the NFL in converting third-and-one and fourth-and-one. And 32nd in red-zone offense inside the five-yard line. Might want to think about a blocker.

4. Who will complement Brian Westbrook? The Birds are also anti-big back. However, all the numbers show them deficient in short yardage areas.

5. Is it time to think about a young kicker? They were 22nd in field-goal percentage.


1. Can they win and be productive with the same older offensive line? Pete Kendall played better in ‘08 than new signee Derrick Dockery.

2. Who is going to be the kicker? The Redskins were the worst team in the NFL in field-goal percentage.

3. How can they make explosive plays and big plays? They ranked 30th in points scored the last 10 weeks of the season. Do they have enough skill players?

4. Who is going to make Ray Gustini happy and play left end? Losing Demetric Evans to the 49ers almost killed Rapid Ray. Where is the depth on the defensive line

5. Can quarterback Jason Campbell be the player they hoped? Can he solve all the problems?