Monday, June 15, 2009

Cowboys Team Report

Yahoo! Sports
Jun 12, 2:05 am EDT

Inside Slant

Jerry Jones’ flip-flop on possibly bringing back troubled cornerback Pacman Jones looks to be a strong indication that the Cowboys are more than concerned about their depth and experience at cornerback.

The Cowboys have lost Jones and veteran cornerback Anthony Henry(notes) from last season’s roster, leaving Terence Newman(notes) as the team’s only cornerback who has started a full season in the NFL.

Jones and the Cowboys aren’t shy with their praise of second-year cornerbacks Mike Jenkins(notes) and Orlando Scandrick(notes). But they are largely unproven and behind them are a bunch of undrafted youngsters and late-round rookies.

Given Newman’s injury history, any concern the Cowboys have about the cornerback spot would appear warranted. While Newman’s ability is unquestioned, he has not played a full season since 2006. But one thing is certain: This group is not lacking confidence, which all starts with Newman.

“I think we’re going to be one of the top secondaries out there,” Newman said. “We’ve got all the talent.”

Newman is feeling healthy—better than he has in years—but how the cornerback corps lines up behind him is uncertain.

Jenkins switched from No. 31 to No. 21 after Pacman’s departure, which speaks volumes about his mindset and his confidence in his own ability. Perhaps nobody in the secondary displays more of a cool confidence than Scandrick, who played well early in his rookie season in 2008. Scandrick talks the talk, but also walks the walk.

Newman believes the whole crew has looked the part in OTAs, leading to his proclamation that this could be one of the top secondaries in the league.

“Both of them are great athletes to start,” Newman said. “They’ve both started working on technique heavily and you can tell. It pays.

“Jenkins was kind of rusty as far as a press corner. That’s all he did. But there were certain technical errors that he made last season, and he’s worked hard in the offseason to correct those. You can tell it when we watch the film and Campo is telling him great job and that’s the way it’s supposed to be done.

“Orlando, he was pretty good at press anyway. He’s just working on technique as well, trying to protect our craft. Both of them have come a long ways.”

Notes, Quotes

• Running back Tashard Choice(notes) is getting a look as the point man in the Cowboys’ Wildcat offense. WR Patrick Crayton(notes) handled the ball most of last week. Now Choice is taking the snap from center.

“I like it, I have a chance to get the ball in my hands,” Choice said. “They are looking at it to see how they like it. They got to have somebody who can run and throw. Most times it’s a running back.”

• WR Travis Wilson(notes) remains hampered by a knee injury and could be facing surgery. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said the team might have to sign another receiver. But don’t expect it to be former Jaguars receiver Matt Jones(notes). Owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys have no interest in Matt Jones, who also attended Arkansas. Still there is a need at receiver.

The Cowboys practiced with only five healthy wide receivers on Tuesday: Veterans Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton and rookies Kevin Ogletree, Manuel Johnson(notes) and Julian Hawkins. Miles Austin(notes), Sam Hurd(notes) and Mike Jefferson(notes) all missed practiced for precautionary reasons because of pulls and strains.

• LB Keith Brooking(notes) played 11 seasons with the Falcons and plans to finish his career with the Cowboys. He said making him more comfortable is that he is familiar with Wade Phillips’ defense from his days as the Falcons coordinator.

“I know this sounds weird with me being from Georgia and all, but I can’t think of a better place to finish up my career than with than the Dallas Cowboys,” Brooking said. “It’s helped a lot that I’ve been in this system before and I’ve already started to recognize a lot of things that we’re doing. There is always that transition period, but being in this system before and playing with Wade before has really helped.”

Quote To Note: “I think I established who I am and what I can do. This year is to let them know that I’m for real.”—Cowboys second-year running back Tashard Choice.